Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell, son of a Putney blacksmith, rose to be the most powerful man in England after the King.

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  • On This Day 16th July 1517

    On 16th July 1517 Mary, the French Queen, gave birth to the second of her four children by her second husband, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. The little girl was named Frances.

    Frances was married at the age of sixteen, to her second cousin, Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset, by whom she had three daughters - Jane, Katherine and Mary. Frances, although she seems to have been close to her cousin Mary, later Mary I, as evidenced by records of them playing bowls and cards together, and giving and receiving gifts, followed her husband into religious reform.

    After the premature deaths of Frances’ own brothers and half-brothers, the title of Duke of Suffolk, which reverted to the Crown, was re-granted to Frances’ husband. In 1553, Frances’ daughter, Lady Jane Grey, was proclaimed Queen – an event that led to disaster for the whole family. Frances was forgiven by Mary, but her husband and Jane were executed.

    Frances made a second marriage to a man of much lower rank – more on that here.

  • On This Day 15th July 1553

    On 15th July 1553, the Duke of Northumberland arrived in Cambridge with a body of soldiers, his intention to being to capture the Lady Mary, so that his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, could accede as queen. But Northumberland and Lady Jane had no support. As soon as he had left London, his colleagues turned on him, and he met with nothing but hostility in the countryside.

  • On This Day 14th July 1514

    On 14th July 1514, Christopher Bainbridge, Cardinal of York, died at Rome. It was rumoured that he had been poisoned by Silvester de Gigli, the Bishop of Winchester. Bainbridge, born in 1460, came from a comfortable, but not wealthy, family in Cumbria, and had a distinguished career as Master of the Rolls, then Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of York in 1508. He was appointed as England’s Ambassador-Extraordinary to Rome, and, in 1511 named as a Cardinal by Julius II. His career was progressing well, when he died of poison. One of his chaplains, Rinaldo de Modena, was accused of murdering him in revenge for a punishment. Rinaldo implicated the Bishop of Winchester, who was Bainbridge’s rival for influence. Rinaldo then retracted his confession, and died, also in mysterious circumstances, in prison. Bainbridge is buried in the English College in Rome.

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