The route to power and wealth that Thomas Wolsey (c. 1470/71 to 1530) followed is extraordinary. From the son of a butcher in Ipswich to one of the most powerful men in northern Europe is unparalleled.
I wanted to think about Wolsey in terms of making himself like the ambitious cardinals of Renaissance Italy. He is remembered in England often as Henry VIII’s ‘fixer’ and being brought down by his failure to attain the annulment of Henry’s marriage to his first queen, Katherine of Aragon. However, in his ambitions Wolsey appears to have styled himself as the senior cardinal in northern Europe – a ‘pope’ figurehead. He was something more than an English Cardinal, Archbishop of York, Papal Legate and Lord Chancellor.
Along his meteoric rise he did have a brief sojourn in Somerset.
From humble origins in Ipswich, he graduated with a BA from Magdalen College, Oxford at the age of 15. Possibly an uncle, Edmund Daunby on this mother’s side, paid for his education. He further studied theology at Magdalen and in 1497 he gained his MA. On the 10 March 1498 (aged about 28), Thomas was ordained a priest in the parish church of St Peter at Marlborough. He was a bursar at Magdalen College from 1498-1500. He was briefly master of Magdalen School and the Dean of Divinity in 1500.[i]
His first benefice was provided by the marquess of Dorset, Thomas Grey (grandfather of Lady Jane Grey). Wolsey had taught his sons, presumably at Magdalen School. This benefice was the south Somerset rectory of Limington, near Yeovil. He was instituted there on the 10 October 1500, when he would have been about 29.[ii]
Whilst at Limington he managed to antagonise Sir Amias Paulet (circa 1457 – 1538) of Hinton St George, who put him in the stocks. In Limington church there is an information sheet which includes the story of how Wolsey in the early months of his appointment had attended the annual fair at Lopen. Lopen is a small hamlet a few miles to the west of Limington – incidentally, a Roman mosaic was discovered at Lopen in 2001. At the fair Wolsey became drunk and disorderly. It is not clear if he had an altercation at the fair with Paulet (Lopen is about 1.5 miles from Paulet’s residence at Hinton St George). However, Paulet, as high Sheriff ordered him in the stocks. Paulet would have been possibly around 43 at the time. Paulet had earned his knighthood for his support of the Lancastrian cause at the Battle of Stoke in 1487 and served Henry VII in other services. In 1501 he had been chosen as one of the gentlemen to greet Katherine of Aragon at Crewkerne (Somerset) as she travelled from Plymouth on route to her marriage with Prince Arthur in London.[iii]
Wolsey was not to stay long at Limington. He continued as rector until 1509 without being present. He managed this by obtaining a Papal Bull on 3 November 1501 which licensed him to hold more than one benefice without residing there. He went to acquire other such livings. Pursuing his ambitions for status and wealth, he was appointed chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1501.[iv] But he did not forget Sir Amias Paulet. Later when Wolsey was Lord Chancellor, he accused Paulet of encouraging heretical teaching at Middle Temple and confined him to London for nearly six years. Paulet had been appointed treasurer at Middle Temple in 1520. Wolsey forced Paulet to carry out costly repairs and building at Middle Temple at his own expense. The source for this story is the biography of Wolsey that was written by his gentleman usher, George Cavendish. According to the account Paulet managed to eventually appease Wolsey by placing Wolsey’s badges over the door of the new gateway at Middle Temple. Paulet was then allowed to return home.[v]
Whilst this may be seen as revenge for the Lopen fair incident, it maybe the heretical teaching that Wolsey was trying to quash. Wolsey looked across Europe and recognised the threat of religious revolution in northern Europe initiated by Martin Luther (1483-1546). Wolsey looked to put down heresy in England. He established Cardinal College at Oxford (nowadays Christ Church) to produce well-educated priests to combat the emerging heresies as he saw it.
After leaving Limington in 1501 and establishing himself within the household of Henry Deane, archbishop of Canterbury, he then moved on again. He managed to get a post as a royal chaplain and from there was sent as an envoy to the Low countries and to Scotland. Henry VIII acceded to the throne on 22 April 1509 and in November 1509 Wolsey became the king’s almoner (chaplain responsible for distributing alms to the poor). It was ageing Richard Fox, the bishop of Winchester that promoted him at court.[vi]
Around 1509 he was in a relationship with a Mistress Lark. Very is little known of her. Two children were born of this relationship. He acknowledged and provided for them.
His son, Thomas Wynter, became archdeacon of Suffolk and Norfolk. His daughter, Dorothy, became a nun at Shaftesbury.[vii] This seems incongruous with the position of a priest, never mind a cardinal. But in Rome there were precedents for such behaviour.
Wolsey would have known of the lifestyle and culture of magnificence of the Papacy. Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia – 1431-1503) was a patron of the arts, including Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo and Pinturicchio. Pope Alexander also had an interest in the development of education. He had influence and links across Europe. In Scotland, supported by King James IV of Scotland, Pope Alexander VI issued a Papal Bull for the founding of King’s College, Aberdeen.
Before becoming pope, Rodrigo Borgia had liaisons with several mistresses. With his favourite, Vannozza dei Cattanei, he fathered four children, whom he eventually acknowledged and legitimised – Cesare, Giovanni, Lucrezia and Gioffre. This legitimisation gave him the opportunity to place the sons in positions of power and marry Lucrezia off to various men of power. The Borgias have been given a uniquely bad press by history and their enemies. It isn’t to say they didn’t do what they did for ruthless ambition. They were just not much different than others in the Italian city states in the 15th and 16th centuries. The issue for them was their Spanish roots, and, of course, their ruthless ambition.
To get an idea of what it was to be ‘cardinal-prince’ in Renaissance Italy, the life of one of Lucrezia Borgia’s children provides a significant insight. She had children with her 3rd husband, Alfonso d’Este, the Duke of Ferrara. One of the children was Ippoliti II d’Este (1509-1572). Ippoliti was someone who cultivated magnificence on a grand scale. His Villa d’Este at Tivoli is worth a visit! He was patron of the composer Palestrina. Many of his household records survive in the archives in Modena – Mary Hollingsworth’s book The Cardinal’s Hat: Money, Ambition and Everyday Life in the Court of a Borgia Prince brings to life the culture of magnificence of a well-educated, sophisticated, and ambitious ‘cardinal-prince’. Whilst d’Este would have been only 21 when Wolsey died, his life and accounts provides a striking insight in the ‘virtue of magnificence’ that Renaissance cardinal-princes took as their right.
Another cardinal, who became pope, that had grand ambitions in magnificence was Pope Julius II. In November 1503, Giuliano della Rovere became Pope Julius II (1443-1513). He was at the centre of the High Renaissance in Italy. Like Alexander VI, Pope Julius II was a patron of the arts, in particular Bramante and Raphael. He also commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) thinks of both Cesare Borgia (the son of Alexander VI) and Julius II as the ideal prince. Julius wanted to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica and to fund his project across Europe he pushed the selling of indulgences. This ambition was met with resistance in northern Europe and fed a growing revolution for a different church that resisted the control and ambitions of Rome.
In England, Wolsey was made a cardinal on 10 September 1515 – the red had added to his splendour with symbolic value. The High Renaissance in Rome had reached its peak. Wolsey saw that it was time for the creation of an outward display of magnificence like his Italian counterparts. He probably had ambitions towards the position of the Papacy but as an outsider to the Italian curia in Rome he stood little chance. What he did was to promote himself as a leading churchman across northern Europe.
Wolsey’s cardinal’s hat in the library at Christ Church (Cardinal College), Oxford. The hat came via Strawberry Hill. Not sure how Horace Walpole acquired it. It does look remarkably well preserved, considering it is nearly 500 years old!
Field of the Cloth of Gold (Camp du Drap D’Or) – 7 – 24 June 1520
Wolsey had such diplomatic skills that both Francis I of France (1515) and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V turned to him. Francis had become king in 1515 and Charles V became emperor in 1519. The Venetian ambassador at the time described Wolsey as being seven times more powerful than the Pope. In the late spring of 1520, the Field of the Cloth of Gold took place on English soil in northern France as a diplomatic summit between Henry VIII and Francis I. It was an incredible feat of organisation and diplomacy, and Wolsey knew how to do things in style. Wolsey’s stroke of genius was to avoid conflict and do peace in magnificent style. He created a temporary city to accommodate the king of England and the king of France, along with 12,000 noble men, women, and their servants (6000 for England & 6000 for France). This city of the elite was the size of Norwich (at the time England’s 2nd most populous city after London).[viii]
Wolsey had created himself as an international figure, a Renaissance ‘cardinal-prince’, acting as a pope figure for northern Europe. He was at the height of his powers around 1518-20, using his policy of peace-broker to give the smaller nation of England a position on the international stage alongside France, Spain, and Germany. His charisma, oratory, and rhetoric (the art of persuasion) had given him Henry VIII’s ear. He managed to gain enormous wealth with lucrative bishoprics and using his position as Papal Legate to funnel money from the English Church with the probate of wills to his own coffers.
A treatise on the ‘ideal cardinal’, written by the Italian, Ciceronian-humanist Paolo Cortesi (1471-1510) had been published posthumously in Urbino in 1511 – this was De Cardinalatu. Cortesi had worked at the Vatican. It described the moral virtues of the ideal cardinal, such as oratory, rhetoric, justice, peace, etc. It then described how to implement the virtues of an ideal cardinal – the virtue of magnificence: building splendid Renaissance palaces; patronising music and art; of the culture of display; the founding of colleges, libraries, and hospitals. Cortesi saw no problem with the incongruity of the spiritual obligations of a cardinal of the Church and the conspicuous display of temporal opulence. He saw the cardinal as some sort of ‘cultural hero’. Cortesi had studied Vitruvius and Alberti.[ix] This process of magnificence, a brilliant orator, peace ambassador and patron to music, learning, architecture, and art was central to the way Wolsey fashioned his identity. He knew how to position himself, what monarchs wanted and how to give it to them.
Wolsey was ambitious to style himself like an Italian Renaissance ‘cardinal-prince’ with power, splendour, wealth and all the benefits that went with it. Would Machiavelli have seen him as the ideal ‘cardinal-prince’ ripe for the papacy? Wolsey had an eye for creating a presence – striking architecture, art, books, music, stained glass, plate, jewels, magnificent tapestries, and luxurious cloth. In 1514 he set out to create the finest palace that England had ever seen at Hampton Court. Cortesi’s work De Cardinalatu had set out instructions on what a Renaissance palace for a cardinal should be. Wolsey built at York Palace (forerunner of Whitehall), Bridewell Palace and at his country houses. He organised building works for the king. He was versed in Renaissance ornament, such as the terracotta roundels containing the busts of Roman emperors at Hampton Court. These had been executed by a Florentine sculptor, Giovanni da Maiano in 1521.[x]
Sir John Summerson described Wolsey’s palace of Hampton Court:
… the essence of Wolsey – the plain English churchman who nevertheless made his sovereign the arbiter of Europe and who built and furnished Hampton Court to show foreign embassies that Henry VIII’s chief minster knew how to live as graciously as any cardinal in Rome.[xi]
The temporary palace built at the Field of the Cloth of God in 1520, demonstrates that Wolsey understood something of the classical architecture from Renaissance Italy. Or at least employed the craftsmen that were able to create it. The Strand elevation of Somerset House, built circa 1552 by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England, is often referred to as the first attempt to apply the classical orders correctly. However, 30 years earlier Wolsey was thinking about classical building works. He does seem to have been a key driver to the introduction of classically inspired Renaissance architecture and ornament into England.
He had also been to places like Bruges and exposed to fine art, such Jan van Eyck’s from earlier in the 15th C and the luxury goods that were traded there, coming via places like Venice. There were many incomers from the Italian city states, such as bankers and merchants, living in Bruges who brought news, books and taste.
At the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Wolsey was the architect and master. It was here that he created a fabulous display of magnificence. A temporary ‘ideal’ city with a Renaissance-style palace, chivalric castles and pavilions, jousting fields & tilt yards, lodgings, and fountains that spewed wine. It was like no other event that had taken place before. The monarchs of France and England along with the nobility came together for one big gathering of splendour.
But things began to change in Rome and the Renaissance-styled ‘cardinal-prince’ was not going to be appreciated in northern Europe. When Clement VII became pope in 1523, the Italian High Renaissance was coming to an end. The Papal States and the rest of Europe were in crisis – the Protestant Reformation was coming to a head; there were power struggles between the leading nations – France & the Holy Roman Emperor; and the Ottoman empire under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566, r. 1520-1566) was invading parts of Eastern Europe. The European conflicts led to the Sack of Rome in 1527. This was ignited by the army of the Holy Roman Emperor (Charles V) not being paid. The Imperial force was mainly made up of the Protestant German Landsknechts (mercenaries) as well as Spanish troops and Italian mercenaries. When they entered Rome on the 6 May 1527, they defeated the militia and Swiss Guard. They then went on a rampage of pillaging, murder, and destruction.
Pope Clement VII escaped from the Vatican via the corridor (Passetto di Borgo) to the fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo. The city of Rome suffered enormous losses as a result of the invasion. Then lack of food and plague depleted the population further.
Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome
It must have been strange for the English to comprehend what was happening to Europe. Within this context there was the concept of ‘empire’ arising within Europe. This would become a greater concern later in the 16th C as the possibilities of the New World become accessible. The interest in Humanism and Protestantism was spreading across northern Europe. The parents of the new generation of English had been caught up with internal civil war with the Wars of the Roses. The wars only ended in 1487 with the Battle of Stoke Field, where Sir Amias Paulet had fought. Now 40 years later religion was having its own civil war. Charles V was seeking dominance and control of Europe and the Papacy.
The powershift meant that Pope Clement VII was under the thumb of Charles V. Katherine of Aragon was Charles’s beloved aunt. Pope Clement VII would not be allowed by Charles to grant Henry VIII an annulment. Wolsey was powerless in Henry’s cause this time. As a cardinal and Archbishop of York, Wolsey was answerable to the Pope. The Pope was under the control of Charles V. As Lord Chancellor of England (1515-1529) Wolsey’s loyalties were to Henry. Serving two masters with different causes was impossible for Wolsey.
It was a complex time in a turbulent Europe. In England Henry VIII faced a lifetime of ambitious men and women trying to influence his power. Katherine of Aragon placed the Church and its ambitions at least equal, if not above Henry. She had possibly imagined herself and Henry like her mother and father – Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. They had fought together to reunify Spain and create it as a major player in Europe. Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) had given them the title of ‘Catholic Monarchs’. They were co-rulers and legitimised as doing God’s work.
It may not just be that Katherine of Aragon failed to provide a male heir for Henry VIII that fuelled his desire to divorce her. She possibly overreached her ambition in the ongoing, complex War of the Holy League (1494-1559). This major conflict was between France, the Papal States, and the Republic of Venice. However, it also drew in the other major players of Europe, of which her parents played their part. In 1513 Katherine served as regent of England whilst Henry was fighting in France. King James IV of Scotland invaded England on behalf of the French king, Louis XII. The subsequent Battle of Flodden field on 9 September 1513 saw James killed and the Scots defeated.[xii] It must have seemed to Katherine that she was a victorious and powerful queen like her mother and a worthy co-monarch to Henry. However, it didn’t work out as that. Henry wanted a queen to produce an heir and not get themselves involved in his affairs or position themself as an equal.
Henry seems to have had people around him that their own ambitions. With Wolsey creating himself as the ‘cardinal-prince’ it must have been appealing to Henry to be the Renaissance king. At the same time nipping at his heels were opportunistic and ambitious families such as the Boleyns, Howards and Seymours. Wolsey helped manage the nobility and ambitious gentry. He held the keys to the kingdom in effect. And he knew how to the subordinate them. At mass he had dukes and earls serving whilst celebrating divine office. He saw himself as a representative of Henry and as Papal Legate he was above the nobility and equal with other monarchs. Whilst careful to defer to Henry, he was criticised for his pride.[xiii] Wolsey’s identity as the leading church authority in northern Europe became a dangerous position when he failed to get Henry’s marriage to Katherine annulled.
And what was the idea for England? Did a ‘cardinal-prince’ have a real future in England and northern Europe? The monarchies in Europe must have been concerned about Italian city states. Some of them were republics, like Venice & Florence (although the Medici family were the rulers of Florence in reality). Other states were ruled by leaders who had gained power through military might. Men such as Federico da Montefeltro, who had seized power in Urbino and became Duke. He was a condottiero – commanding mercenary troops in campaigns – as was Francesco Sforza who founded the Sforza dynasty as the Dukes of Milan. What if the mercenary armies turned north? What if Wolsey had further ideas for a shape of Europe?
But Wolsey failed to manipulate the Church to give Henry an annulment to his marriage to Katherine and he fell from grace. After his fall Thomas More was made Lord Chancellor in 1529. Like Wolsey saw the Protestant Reformation in Europe as heresy. More never accepted anything than the supremacy of the Pope as head of the Church. He refused to support the annulment of Henry VIII and Katherine’s marriage. When in 1531 the clergy were required to take the Oath of Supremacy acknowledging the king as the Head of the Church of England, Thomas More refused. He resigned from as Chancellor in 1531. But was able to keep on good terms with Henry. What caused his fall was the refusal to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn and he remained steadfast in his conviction of Papal supremacy. In 1534 he refused to sign the Oath of Succession. He was executed for treason on 6 July 1535. Henry allowed his sentence to be a beheading out of deference to his former office. The execution of Thomas More shocked Europe.[xiv]
Thomas More’s chapel at Buckfast Abbey. In the centre of the altar is a relic (More is a saint in the Catholic Church) – it is his hair shirt.
At his execution he said: ‘I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.’
With Wolsey gone and then Thomas More, Henry’s role in Europe was still problematic as war and religious revolution was destabilising the balance of power. Henry effectively moved towards his own version of ‘Brexit’. He also needed money as his conflict with France had been costly. This was a time for opportunists that had been circling in his court. Anne Boleyn and Henry formally married on 25 January 1533. They had secretly married on 14 November 1532. Anne’s coronation was on 1 June 1533. Katherine of Aragon was pushed out and lived the rest of her days confined to various houses. The final one being Kimbolton Castle where she died in 1536.
Emerging from side lines to kick-start the English Reformation was Thomas Cromwell. In the early 1520s he had been an advisor to Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset and a member of Wolsey’s household. Cromwell carried out the necessary conveyancing that dissolved circa 30 monasteries by 1529 to pay in part for Wolsey’s Cardinal College and a grammar school at Ipswich. At this point Wolsey was falling from power. Cromwell managed to gain favour with Henry. In November 1529 he had become MP for Taunton. In the following year he was appointed to the Privy Council and picked up several positions in service to the king. Cromwell was now Henry’s ‘fixer’ and ‘enforcer’.
The Dissolution of the Monasteries for Henry’s benefit was carried out between 1536 and 1541. Cromwell had already started the process for Wolsey in 1529, bringing that idea to serve Henry’s ambitions. In his desire to flush out the dissenting religious refugees from the Low Countries in England (Anabaptists) Cromwell started the process in 1538 that every parish must record christenings, marriages, and burials.[xv]These records are a great resource for historians!
Anne Boleyn and Cromwell clashed as she criticised a greedy Cromwell for ensuring the wealth from the monasteries went into the king’s coffers and not given towards more charitable enterprises. She also interfered in his policy with Europe. Cromwell was a ruthless and calculating enemy. Her inability to produce a male heir was her weakness. In a twist of fate, she miscarried a son on the same day as Katherine of Aragon’s funeral on 29 January 1536. Cromwell took her down along with other enemies. She was executed on 19 May 1536.[xvi]
It was another queen that would end things for Cromwell – the marriage of Henry to Anne of Cleves. She arrived in England on New Year’s Day 1540. Henry immediately rejected her as it was clear she was not anything like the portrait Hans Holbein had made of her. Cromwell had always made enemies and this time they caught up with him and levelled a variety of charges. He was beheaded on the 28 July 1540.[xvii] In Tudor England serious charges of treason and heresy were often life ending – there was no resigning from office, writing your memoirs and then performing after dinner speeches and talks at literary festivals.
Ten years before Cromwell was executed and his head displayed on a spike on London Bridge, Thomas Wolsey had been spared the indignity of being executed by conveniently dying. He had died at Leicester on the 29 November 1530, possibly after slipping into a diabetic coma.[xviii] Sir Amias Paulet of Hinton St George, who had clapped him in the stocks many years earlier, outlived Wolsey by another 8 years. Paulet died in 1538 aged 81, Wolsey was about 59 when he died in 1530. Wolsey had planned a magnificent tomb for himself at Windsor, commissioned from Benedetto da Rovezzano. However, he was buried simply at Leicester Abbey Church and the grandiose monument disappeared – although the sarcophagus and base were later used in 1808 for Lord Nelson’s burial.[xix]
Wolsey had achieved spectacular and unparalleled success. But he couldn’t control the events of Europe and made far too many enemies who criticised his pride, his agenda, and his extravagance. In the end the ‘virtue of magnificence’ embodied by the Italian Renaissance ‘cardinal-princes’ did not fit with English sensibilities. England was set to have its own Renaissance.
[i] Sybil M. Jack, ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2012, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/29854 [accessed 25 August 2021].
[ii] Jack, ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’.
[iii] D. J. Ashton, ‘Paulet, Sir Amias (c. 1457-1438)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2012, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/21611 [accessed 25 August 2021].
[iv] Jack, ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’.
[v] Ashton, ‘Paulet, Sir Amias (c. 1457-1438)’.
[vi] Jack, ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’.
[vii] Jack, ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’.
[ix] Weil-Garris, Kathleen & John F. D’Amico, ‘The Renaissance Cardinal’s Ideal Palace: A Chapter from Cortesi’s “De Cardinalatu”, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 1980, Vol. 35, Studies in Italian Art History 1: Studies in Italian Art and Architecture 15th through 18th Centuries (1980), pp. 45-119+121-123, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4238680 [accessed 19 August 2021]
[x] ‘Conservation research: The questions and answers – Terracotta Roundels’, History Royal Palaces, https://www.hrp.org.uk/about-us/conservation-and-collections/conservation-research/#gs.9rtgwb [accessed 23 August 2021].
[xi] Sir John Summerson, Architecture in Britain: 1530-1830 (New Haven: Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, 1953), p. 28.
[xii] C.S.L. Davies & John Edwards, ‘Katherine [Catalina, Catherine, Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/4891 [accessed 25 August 2021].
[xiii] Jack, ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’.
[xiv] Seymour Baker House, ‘More, Sir Thomas (1478-1535)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/19191 [accessed 25 August 2021].
[xv] Howard Leithead, ‘Cromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex (b. in or before 1485, d. 1540)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6769 [accessed 24 August 2021].
[xvi] Leithead, ‘Cromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex (b. in or before 1485, d. 1540)’.
[xvii] Leithead, ‘Cromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex (b. in or before 1485, d. 1540)’.
[xviii] Jack, ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’.
[xix] Jack, ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’.
Ashton, D. J., ‘Paulet, Sir Amias (c. 1457-1438)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2012, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/21611 [accessed 25 August 2021]
Davies, C.S.L. & John Edwards, ‘Katherine [Catalina, Catherine, Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/4891 [accessed 25 August 2021]
Hollingsworth, Mary, Princes of the Renaissance (London: Head of Zeus, 2021)
Hollingsworth, Mary, The Cardinal’s Hat: Money, Ambition and Everyday Life in the Court of a Borgia Prince (New York: The Overlook Press, 2005)
House, Seymour, Baker, ‘More, Sir Thomas (1478-1535)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/19191 [accessed 25 August 2021]
Jack, Sybil, M. ‘Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71-1530)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2012, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/29854 [accessed 25 August 2021]
Leithead, Howard, ‘Cromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex (b. in or before 1485, d. 1540)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6769 [accessed 24 August 2021].
Summerson, Sir John, Architecture in Britain: 1530-1830 (New Haven: Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, 1953)
Thurley, Simon, The Building of England (London: William Collins, 2013)
Weil-Garris, Kathleen & John F. D’Amico, ‘The Renaissance Cardinal’s Ideal Palace: A Chapter from Cortesi’s “De Cardinalatu”, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 1980, Vol. 35, Studies in Italian Art History 1: Studies in Italian Art and Architecture 15th through 18th Centuries (1980), pp. 45-119+121-123, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4238680 [accessed 19 August 2021]