Cover image for Thomas Cromwell : the untold story of Henry VIII's most faithful servant
Thomas Cromwell : the untold story of Henry VIII's most faithful servant
Borman, Tracy, author.
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Publication Information:
London : Hodder & Stoughton, 2014.
Physical Description:
xiii, 450 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (black and white, and colour), maps (black and white) ; 24 cm
With new insights into Cromwell's character, his family life and his close relationships with both Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII, joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces Tracy Borman examines the life, loves and legacy of the man who changed the shape of England forever.



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DA334.C9 B67 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Popular Materials-Biography

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'This deeply researched and grippingly written biography brings Cromwell to life and exposes the Henrician court in all its brutal, glittering splendour.' Kate Williams, Independent

Thomas Cromwell is known to millions as the leading character in Hilary Mantel's bestselling Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies . But who was the real Cromwell?

Born a lowly tavern keeper's son, Cromwell rose swiftly through the ranks to become Henry VIII's right hand man, and one of the most powerful figures in Tudor history. The architect of England's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the dissolution of the monasteries, he oversaw seismic changes in our country's history. Influential in securing Henry's controversial divorce from Catherine of Aragon, many believe he was also the ruthless force behind Anne Boleyn's downfall and subsequent execution.

But although for years he has been reviled as a Machiavellian schemer who stopped at nothing in his quest for power, Thomas Cromwell was also a loving husband, father and guardian, a witty and generous host, and a loyal and devoted servant. With new insights into Cromwell's character, his family life and his close relationships with both Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII, joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces Tracy Borman examines the life, loves and legacy of the man who changed the shape of England forever.

Author Notes

Tracy Borman is a British writer and historian. She studied and taught history at the University of Hull and was awarded a Ph. D in 1997. Tracy is now Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust, a charity that encourages children to visit and learn from historic properties. She has recently been appointed Interim Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and the Banqueting House, Whitehall. Her works include: Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen, Henrietta Howard: King's Mistress, Queen's Servant, and Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Hilary Mantel's fictional blockbusters Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up the Bodies (2012) have reinvigorated interest in Thomas Cromwell. Penning a new biography of Cromwell, Borman follows the current trend, revising the common historical view of her subject as a cunningly cruel power broker. The portrait she paints of this complex man, who rose from humble origins to extraordinary and ultimately untenable heights, is more subtly nuanced. Though no one can deny Cromwell's ruthless lust for power, she puts it into perspective, analyzing both his personal and public relationships and viewing his actions and motivations through a sixteenth-century lens. An ambitious man of his time and place, he nevertheless intimately enjoyed a rich and varied domestic life. Neglecting neither the public persona nor the private man, Borman provides an insightful biography of a much-maligned historical figure.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Borman, CEO of the U.K. Heritage Education Trust and joint chief curator of the British historic royal palaces, commendably delves into primary and secondary sources in piecing together the remarkable life of a "commoner who had risen far beyond his rightful station in life" to become the king's chief minister. Best known for engineering the fall of Anne Boleyn and easing the way for the Protestant Reformation in England, Thomas Cromwell remains in these pages just as enigmatic as he has always been to historians. Some of Borman's conclusions are based on flimsy evidence, and she relies too much on accounts written by those with obvious political agendas. However, she makes a strong argument that Cromwell's fall from power was engineered by elites who despised him for being a commoner upstart, especially when she points out an incident often overlooked by historians: Cromwell arranged for his son to marry Queen Jane Seymour's sister. Considering the brutality the Tudors inflicted on those whom they perceived as overstepping their bounds, the perception that Cromwell did not know his place, compounded by his arranging Henry's short-lived marriage with Anne of Cleves, sealed his fate. Agent: Jason Bartholomew, Hodder & Stoughton (U.K.). (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

The past decade has provided a bumper crop of material on Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540), with Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning novels and no less than three biographies that provide various evaluations and reestimations of Henry VIII's most famous (and notorious) minister. Borman (Elizabeth's Women) pens a new biography that falls squarely in the reestimation camp, but while the author is on the side of Cromwell's sympathizers, she resists the urge to shy away completely from his more ruthless deeds. The dedication to her subject is apparent, as she delves into every aspect of Cromwell's life and career his early days in Italy, his political beginnings under Cardinal Wolsey, and his meteoric rise and fall at Henry VIII's court in an attempt to uncover the person behind the public facade. Unfortunately, concrete evidence for Cromwell's thoughts is somewhat sparse, necessitating some guesswork on Borman's part and an excellent portrait of Cromwell the statesman, but a murky one of Cromwell the man. VERDICT Though it breaks little new ground, Borman's chronicle is a thorough and pleasantly readable study, much in line with John Schofield's The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell. [See Prepub Alert, 7/21/14.] Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The phenomenal success of the Booker Award-winning novels of Hilary Mantel about Thomas Cromwell (Wolf Hall, 2009, and Bring up the Bodies, 2012) and their dramatization for stage and television has led to renewed interest in the career and life of the English statesman. Borman recounts what little is known of the base-born Cromwell before his career in the household of Cardinal Wolsey, whom he served as legal advisor and factotum. His work included the foundation of what became Ipswich School and Cardinal College (later Christ Church), Oxford. Cromwell survived Wolsey's fall to become the ruthless architect of Henry VIII's break with Rome and master of the constitutional revolution that established the king as Supreme Head of the Church. Borman misreads Cromwell's personal commitment to Protestantism, and she has little to say about the larger European religious scene--something that is critical to understanding both the shifting political alliances and the tortuous course of Tudor policy in the 1530s. The author is at her best when describing how Cromwell detached himself from Anne Boleyn and then orchestrated her destruction. Fittingly, Cromwell's own fall from power and execution in 1540 was largely the result of his efforts in acquiring a new queen, Anne of Cleves. Summing Up: Recommended. Public and undergraduate collections. --Douglas R. Bisson, Belmont University



Excerpted from Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant by Tracy Borman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.