Aside from the famous six wives, Henry VIII's "faithful servant" Thomas Cromwell has recently come to the fore with both the reading and viewing public alike. There are now more "modern" accounts (both factual and fictional) of the life of this dogged Tudor statesman than you can poke a stick at - and I will share a few with you.
The most current rendition of the life of Thomas Cromwell is Tracey Borman's "Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant" (a copy which sits on my own library shelves). A review by The Independent says: " ... Tracy Borman shows in this excellent, scrupulous biography, Anne’s shockingly fast fall from grace was largely engineered by Thomas Cromwell, a rather plain and overweight Putney-born man in his fifties whose intelligence and daring had made him the king’s closest advisor." The articles goes on further to say that "Borman has scoured the sources to explore the life and personality of the man who in effect created the break from the Church of Rome and her book is an impressive investigation into one of our most elusive characters in history."
This was in comparison to Hilary Mantle's "Wolf Hall" (2009) and "Bring Up The Bodies" (2012) (and the third, soon to be released book in the trilogy - "The Mirror & The Light") whom the same article says "Hilary Mantel’s crafting of Cromwell in her bestselling novels has been a triumph: sensitive, intellectual, brutal, strong. "
For many, however, Thomas Cromwell was not particularly well-known until Hilary Mantel’s best-selling novels (and the series based upon them) brought this protagonist to wider public attention. The Independent article goes further to say: "But the publishers have given Tracy Borman’s biography of Thomas Cromwell an unfortunate subtitle: “The untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant.” It is no such thing. Besides Ms. Mantel’s fictional versions, Ms. Borman lists 10 previous lives of Cromwell in her bibliography."
And well she may - and here are a few worthy tomes to consider:
- "Thomas Cromwell: Servant to Henry VIII (2013) by David Loades
- "Thomas Cromwell: The Rise And Fall Of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister" (2012) by Robert Hutchinson
- "The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant" (2011) by John Schofield
- "Thomas Cromwell" (2013) by J Patrick Coby
- "The Rise of Thomas Cromwell: Power and Politics in the Reign of Henry VIII, 1485-1534" (2015) by Michael Everette
- "Life and Letters of Thomas Cromwell" - 6vols (2000) by Roger Bigelow Merriman
- "The Crown and the Cross: A Biography of Thomas Cromwell" (1950) by Theodore Maynard
- "Thomas Cromwell: Tudor Minister" by B. W. Beckingsale (1978)
- "The Character and Times of Thomas Cromwell: A Sixteenth Century Criticism" (1887) by Arthur Howard Galton
- "Thomas Cromwell" (1991) by Geoffrey Rudolph Elton
- "Policy and Police: The Enforcement of the Reformation in the Age of Thomas Cromwell" (1985) by G. R. Elton
There are indeed numerous books on the English Reformation, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the Reign of Henry VIII in which Thomas Cromwell plays a role not consigned to the shadows.
Further readings & reviews:
- The Guardian: Thomas Cromwell - The Untold Story
- The Telegraph: Hilary Mantle's Thomas Cromwell Is All Wrong
- The Sunday Times: Thomas Cromwell - The Untold Story
- BBC iWonder: Who Was The Real Thomas Cromwell
- The Guardian: Thomas Cromwell Review
- The Financial Times: Thomas Cromwell - The Untold Story
- The New Statesman: Behind The Mantle - In Search of the Real Thomas Cromwell
- The Telegraph: Wolf Hall - The Changing Faces of Thomas Cromwell
- The Weekly Standard: The King's Good Servant
- Reviews In History: The Many Faces of Thomas Cromwell
- English History: Thomas Cromwell - Facts & Figures
- The New Republic: The Real History of Thomas Cromwell