WOLSEY, wul'zi, THOMAS ( 1475?-1530). A famous English cardinal and statesman. lie was born at 1piwich, in Suffolk. of parents not very exalted in station, his father having been, accord ing to report, a butcher, though there i.s evidence of his having possessed some property. Ile was sent, at the early age then usual, to i/xford, where he entered Magdalen College, and graduated at fifteen. Ile was selected fellow of his college about 1497, and ordained priest in the spring of the following year. 1-le was appointed master of the college school soon after. In 1500 the Mar quis of Dorset, three of whose sons he had edu cated, presented him to the living of Limington in Somerset. Ilis career from this time was marked by a steady rise. Besides receiving two other benefices, he became chaplain to Archbishop Deane of Canterbury, and afterwards to Sir Richard Nanfan, deputy of Calais, who com mended him to Henry VII. As royal chaplain he made many friendships at Court. and acquitted himself so well in special embassies to the King of Scotland and the Emperor that lie rose still higher. Just before Henry's death ice was made dean of Lincoln, and immediately on the acces sion of Henry VIM, royal almoner. Other ec clesiastical dignities followed, and he took his seat in the Privy Council toward the end of 1511.
From this time the life of Wolsey is in effect the history of England• of which he was the practical ruler. The influence which he exercised in public affairs was such as has seldom been enjoyed by a subject. After holding for a short time the deaneries of Hereford and York, he was appointed Bishop of Tonrnay. which had just fallen into the hands of the English, though he never actually obtained possession of the see. In the spring of 1514, however, he became I1ishop of Lincoln, and six months later he was translated to the Archbishopric of York. His foreign policy favored the alliance with France. and gradually led the young King away from the Emperor. Ilis position in Europe was recognized by his nomina tion as Cardinal by Leo X. in September, 1515; and before the year was out he was made Lord Chancellor in \Varham's place. The revenues derived from his various offices were of princely magnitude• and they were further enlarged by subsidies from foreign potentates, anxious to conciliate his favor. He did not bear his honors meekly; in his manner of life he affected a sumptnoua magnificence, and his bearing was ar rogant and imperious. Ile openly aspired to be Pope; and there seemed more than once ground for supposing that this crowning object of his ambitions was actually within his reaeli. lle be ell HU' t he direct representative of the Papacy in 15IS, as legate a la Icre in conjunction with Cardinal Campeggio, and this position was after wards prolonged indefinitely, with increased pow (TS.
Ilis purpose in cementing the alliance with France was not to commit England exclusively to that country, but to put her in such a position that she should control the fate of Europe. In
1521, accordingly, circumstances having changed, we Find him acting as commissidmer for the King in negotiating an offensive and defensive alli ance with Charles V. against France. Ile was obliged to side with the war party in the Council, and the measures which he took to raise money caused him to be very unpopular with the nation at large. Such a man, in fact, could not but. have many enemies, eager, as occasion might offer, to discredit him with the King: and the occasion came when the King set his heart on divorcing Queen Catharine and marrying Anne 'Boleyn. Wolsey was definitely hostile to the King's project, and his negotiations with the Pope for securing his consent to the divorce were conducted, it seemed to Henry, in a half hearted manner. In 1527 he set out for France • as the King's ambassador, and concluded a num ber of treaties with Francis I. at Amiens. But during his absence Henry's displeasure was care fully fanned, and the disgrace of the once pow erful :Minister was accomplished. In 1529 \Volsey was stripped of all his honors and driven with ignominy from the Court. A bill of attainder• was passed against him in the House of Lords, though it was thrown out in the Commons. He retired to Esher, a house belonging to the Bishopric of Winchester which by this time he had acquired, and lived in seclusion until he received orders to go to his diocese of York. Be moved slowly to ward Yorkshire, but on the way was arrested by the Earl of Northumberland at Cawood on a charge of high trea4on. Less than a mouth afterwards (November 29, 1530), as he was be ing conveyed toward London in custody, he died of dysentery at the Abbey of Leicester.
The faults of Wolsey are obvious; lint his pride, ambition, and luxury were counterbalanced by not a few redeeming qualities. He wm: generous and affable to his dependents, not a few of whom remained faithful to him, at considerable risk, in his mi.sfo•tunes. Of learning he was a liberal and enlightened patron; the endowment of Christ Church, Oxford, which he had designed to call Cardinal College, is a monument of this. He was a man of large capacity, and on the whole a faithful, conscientious, and salutary counselor to the monarch who so long entirely trusted him. Consult, besides the State papers of the period, which are condensed in Brewer, Reign of Henry VIII. from Ills Accession to the Death of 1Volscy (London, 1884); Creighton, Cardinal 1Volsey 18S8): Oairdner. "The Fall of Cardinal \Volsey," in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (ib., 1899) and Taunton, Cardinal Wo/ scy (London, 1900) ; and the contemporary Life by Cavendish, as edited by H. Morley (3d ed., ib., 1890).