Who was Thomas Wolsey? Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Thomas Wolsey.

  • Thomas Wolsey was born in Ipswich, Suffolk in about 1473.
  • He attended Ipswich School and then went on to study theology at Magdalen College, Oxford.

  • Wolsey became a priest in 1498 and he was promoted several times within the Church. At the height of his power, Wolsey held several important positions. He was the Bishop of Lincoln, Canon of Windsor and also Prince Bishop of Durham.
  • In 1515, Wolsey was made a Cardinal.
  • Thomas Wolsey was also a very successful politician. When Henry VIII became King of England in 1509, Wolsey was his almoner (in charge of distributing funds to the poor).

Thomas Wolsey

  • He became Lord Chancellor, and Henry VIII’s key adviser, in 1515.
  • One of Wolsey’s biggest successes was organizing a meeting (named the Field of the Cloth of Gold) between King Henry VIII and Francis I of France to strengthen their relationship. The meeting featured wine, music and two Royal monkeys performing.
  • Wolsey also made big changes to how taxes were collected in England. He changed the taxation system so that the Tudor poor did not pay as much as the rich Tudors.
  • Although popular with King Henry VIII, Thomas Wolsey was unable to arrange the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon (so that he was free to marry Anne Boleyn), and this brought about his downfall.
  • Thomas Wolsey was arrested in 1529. Accused of treason, Wolsey died on 29th November 1530 on the journey to London.
  • Thomas Wolsey was succeeded as Lord Chancellor by Thomas More.
  • Today, Thomas Wolsey is remembered for his great political and religious influence and power, and his passion for architecture – Wolsey lived in and redesigned Hampton Court Palace, a magnificent building near London.
  • A statue of Wolsey stands in his home town of Ipswich.

What next? Learn more Tudor facts by visiting the Primary Facts Tudor resources page.