This course will focus on the lives of three men with immense power in 16th century England which has been retained in their legacies and memories through the centuries. Thomas Wolsey, the Alter Rex; Thomas More, canonised by the Catholic Church as a martyr; and Thomas Cromwell, the architect of the Break from Rome; were titans of the Tudor political world. What does a study of these men tell us about the changing nature of England in the Tudor period? We will look at religious change and humanism, social mobility in Tudor society, the tenuous nature of political power at court, and the downfalls of each. We will consider major interpretations about the importance of these key individuals, and consider how historians’ views have changed over time.
No pre-reading required, but a reading (and listening!) list will be provided to explore after each session.