Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop

Cardinal Wolsey

1514AD - 1530AD

During the reign of Henry VIII, anti-Catholic sentiment was growing in Europe, with Martin Luther and others protesting against some of its doctrines, leading to the Protestant movement.  At the same time resentment was building about the wealth and corruption of the Catholic church.

One of those under attack was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a prominent adviser to Henry, who was Archbishop of York from 1514 until his death in 1530.  He had an income of perhaps £30,000 a year and built three palaces for himself, including Hampton Court.

When Wolsey failed to persuade the Pope to grant Henry VIII a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, the king stripped the cardinal of government office and property.  But he was allowed to remain Archbishop of York.

One of the stranger charges against him related to the coins that were made in the York Mint.  It was alleged that with 'pompous and preposterous mind, he had enterprised to join and imprint the Cardinal's hat under the King's arms on the King's coin of groats made in the city of York.'  These were the only groats (fourpenny pieces) to have been struck at any mint not under the king's direct control.

While staying at Cawood Castle he was arrested and forced to return south to face treason charges. He died on the journey.