The most important reason for Wolsey’s fall from power was his failure to gain a divorce for Henry VIII, how far do you agree?
Wolsey’s dismissal from Henry’s court came in September 1529, though Wolsey had a plethora of failures before, his fall his failure to get a divorce for Henry VIII proved to be the most significant. This is because Wolsey’s strength of position depended on whether he got Henry what he wanted and the divorce was the most obvious case of Wolsey’s failure to do so. For this reason, this essay will argue that the most important reason for the fall of Wolsey was his failure to get a divorce for Henry VIII.
Some argue that Wolsey’s failure was due to his alienation ...view middle of the document...
For these reasons we must turn back to the view that the divorce was the most important factor in causing Wolsey’s fall.
The role of factional intrigue was essential to Wolsey’s fall, however the issue of the divorce allowed factions to denounce Wolsey to Henry with increasing effectiveness leading to the fall of Wolsey. Wolsey came from a humble background, being the son of a butcher, and rose to prominence using his natural intelligence and nous. As mentioned before, Wolsey was (generally) an egalitarian - shown through his creation of proportional taxation in the subsidy and his campaign against enclosure. These factors and his low birth meant that he fell out of favour with the gentry. Furthermore, the conservative and boleynese faction were envious of how much power Wolsey wielded over Henry. This power struggle was the cause of much tension and Wolsey ruffled many feathers when he implemented the Eltham Ordinances (1526) which was aimed at reducing the number of people in the Privy Council – so Wolsey could advise Henry all the more. Though it has been argued that factional plans were sufficient to cause Wolsey’s fall, whether the divorce had been obtained or not, it is clear that the Boleynese faction and Conservatives united to oust Wolsey and the divorce was instrumental in their plan to do so. “the pressure coupled with Anne’s skilful management of her lover was enough to break the trust of almost twenty years and destroy Wolsey.” Starkey
I believe that without the divorce, factional pressure would not have been so potent, therefore the divorce is more significant than factions in causing the fall of Wolsey.
The issue of the divorce was of key importance...