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Cromwiml

cromwell, church, kings, wolsey and king

CR'OMWIML, Thomas, EARL or English statesman; b. Putney, Surrey, about 1485; d. 28 July 1540. In his youth he went to the Continent, and was successively common soldier, clerk and trader. In 1514 Wolsey made him collector of the revenues of his see of York, and nine years later he entered Parlia ment where his ability soon attracted attention. In 1524 he became a member of Gray's Inn, and Wolsey now employed him in the work of sup pressing the ' smaller monasteries. On his master's disgrace in 1529 Cromwell defended him with .great spirit in the House of Com mons, and effectually opposed the articles of treason brought against Wolsey. After the cardinal's death Cromwell was taken into the king's service. He was the ready instrument in compassing the royal purposes, by the estab lishment of the royal supremacy in spiritual things, humbling the power of the nobles, and thus making the king an absolute monarch. Honors rained upon him. He was knighted and made a privy councillor; in 1533 he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, and 1534 king's secretary and Master of the Rolls. On the abolition of the Pope's supremacy in 1534 he was created king's vicar-general, and used all his influence to promote the reforma tion. In 1535 he was commissioned to hold a ; eneral visitation of all the monasteries in land, in order to suppress them. In this offi 1 e he acted with great severity and injustice. He became lord•keeper of the privy seal and was elevated to the House of Lords with the title of Baron Cromwell of Oaltham. In 1539 he became • lord high chamberlain, and the following year Earl of Essex. He at length fell into disgrace with the king for the part he took in promoting • his, marriage with Anne of Cleves. Her • person proved disagreeable to

Henry, who fell in love with Catherine Howard, and partly in consequence Cromwell was arrested at the council table on a charge of treason, committed to the Tower, and a bill of attainder— his own favorite engine of tyranny — was passed against him. After piteous ap peals for mercy, which were disregarded by the king, Cromwell was beheaded on Tower Hill, declaring that he died in the faith of the Catholic Church.

Owing to the rigorous suppression of the monastenes, Cromwell has been called monachorum,° athe hammer of the monks.° The Protestant reformation in England was greatly advanced by him; the Church of Eng land as a state-controlled institution has con tinued to exist much as he left it. He ordered that a copy of the Bible should be placed in every church, and an edition of the Bible is named after him. One of his enactments, for which posterity owes him gratitude, was that parish registers of marriages, births and deaths should be regularly kept. Cromwell is not with out his apologists — the chief of whom is Froude; his persecutions, which involved men like Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher, were undertaken from no religious motive, but like all his measures, from a desire to retain the king's favor as a means to his own aggrandize ment. Consult Drayton, 'Historic of the Life and Death of Lord Cromwell' (1609) • Gaird ner, J., 'The English Church in the 16th Century' (London 1902) ; Merriman, 'Life and Letters of Thomas Cromwell' (1902).