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Who was the real Thomas Cromwell?

Henry VIII's fixer was as complex as Hilary Mantel's fictional portrayal

By Rhodri Lewis   December 2018
Holbein's portrait of Thomas Cromwell that hangs in the Frick Gallery

Holbein's portrait of Thomas Cromwell that hangs in the Frick Gallery

Thomas Cromwell lived an astonishing life. Born into obscurity in 1485 (the year the Tudor dynasty began), he was Earl of Essex when executed 55 years later. Between times he served as the right hand of Cardinal Wolsey and as Henry VIII’s chief minister, directed the dissolution of the monasteries, was touted as a royal match (for the future Mary I), and acquired a reputation for ruthlessly Machiavellian…

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