How did Wolsey managed to stay in power for so long?

Wolsey managed to stay in power so long for several reasons, all of which stem from one thing, his ability to keep Henry VIII content and happy. He came to power by pleasing Henry’s foreign policy aims, coordinating an attack on France. He fell from power when he was finally unable to please Henry’s aims, and get him his divorce.

Through out his time as Henry’s “right hand man” he was able to make possible and practical Henry’s desires. Where Wolsey was most successful was in foreign policy. At the time England was a comparatively small player in the “big game” of Europe, but Wolsey was able to make up for the shortcomings of England through planning, foresight, diplomacy and hard work. This brought several successes for England; the first one was the Battle of the Spurs, this was where the English routed the French and they “spurred “sway, hence the name of the battle. Although this was more of a propagandist then a militaristic success, it allowed for a large amount of glory, at least domestically for Henry. As Henry’s main aim in foreign policy was to make himself appear as the “young buccaneer of Europe” and England as a country to be feared and respected, this was certainly a good start. However England at the time didn’t have the men or the resources to become a great military power in Europe, which Wolsey realised, so in order for England to be great she had to be taken down a different root. In 1518, the Treaty of London was this new root; it allowed England and therefore Henry to appear as the arbitrator of Europe.

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The Treaty of London was a “Universal Peace” that all the big powers and many of the small signed. It was Wolsey who came up with the idea (although the original had been the popes) and Wolsey who brought it to fruition, the “glory” that this put on Henry was immense, which pleased him greatly. The other big success in foreign policy under Wolsey was “The Field of the Cloth of Gold” This was where the English and the French met for discussions and to try to form an alliance against Spain. At the time it was considered to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World” because of its lavishness, which its name evokes. Once again this was Wolsey’s idea and once again it was his planning that made it work and once again it made Henry appear far more important than England’s worth merited. These all show how accomplished Wolsey was at planning and organisation but most importantly how good he was at keeping Henry happy, even if there motives clashed, Wolsey was a humanist, but he organised many attacks on foreign powers to keep his masters happy.

Another important role of Wolsey’s was law and order, as Lord Chancellor he was the highest legal person in the country. One of Henry’s major domestic concerns was keeping the Nobles in check, as his father had usurped the throne the Tudor dynasty was relatively new, and the state had no standing army where as the noble all had there own, this all meant that the nobles were potentially dangerous to Henry. Wolsey was able to use his legal power to curtail the Nobility, he did this through several methods, his first was the idea of “impartial justice” implemented under Wolsey