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 5th August 1529

    On 5th August 1529, a peace was signed between Emperor Charles V and Francois I of France. Known as ‘The Ladies’ Peace’, it ended the War of the League of Cognac, one of the many conflicts within the wider Italian Wars of the 16th century. In 1525, Charles V had defeated Francois at the Battle of Pavia and taken him prisoner. In exchange for his freedom, Francois had signed the Treaty of Madrid, which replaced him as a prisoner with his two sons, the Dauphin Francois, and Henri, Duke of Orleans, and ceded disputed territories in Burgundy, as well as Navarre.

    As soon as he was free, Francois disowned the Treaty of Madrid and entered into the League of Cognac against Charles. The League, formed in 1526, included France, England, Venice, Milan, Florence and the Pope against Spain and the Empire. Nevertheless, Charles was victorious again, and it was during this war that the Sack of Rome of 1527 took place. Charles’ victory ended Henry VIII’s hopes for an annulment of his marriage to Charles’ aunt, Katharine of Aragon.

    The peace treaty was negotiated between Louise of Savoy (pictured), Francois’ mother, and Marguerite of Austria, Charles’ aunt. The French princes were returned to their homeland, and Charles’ sister, Eleanor, was married to Francois.

    Read more about these women, and other influential women in 16th century Europe in Sarah Gristwood's Game of Queens here

  • On This Day 4th August 1598

    The 4th August 1598 saw the death of William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Cecil had first come into royal circles in the reign of Edward VI, in the employ of Protector Somerset. After Somerset’s fall, and a brief spell of imprisonment, he reconciled with Northumberland’s regime and became secretary to the Privy Council. He was a Reformist in religion, but not a zealot. He was one of the signatories to the Devise for the Succession that attempted to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne, although he claimed later that he signed only as a witness.

    During Mary’s reign, he held no office. Having acted for the Lady Elizabeth in the management of her estates, on her accession he became her right-hand-man and remained such until his death. He was more radical in religion than the Queen, and he constantly promoted the cause of Protestant rebels in Scotland and the Netherlands. Married twice, both times to ladies of exceptional learning, he is the ancestor of both the Marquesses of Exeter and the Marquesses of Salisbury. Burghley House in Lincolnshire, and Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, are his creations.

  • On This Day 3rd August 1515

    On 3rd August 1515, Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond and one of the richest peers in Ireland died. Butler was a Privy Councillor to Henry VII, and Chamberlain to Katharine of Aragon. On Ormond’s death, there was a dispute over the descent of the Earldom. His heirs-general were his daughters, two by his first marriage, Anne and Margaret, and one by his second. Margaret was mother to Sir Thomas Boleyn. His male heir was his distant cousin, Piers, who took the title of Earl of Ormond. In an effort to mediate the dispute between the two branches of the family, it was planned that Sir Thomas Boleyn’s daughter, Anne, would marry Earl Piers’ son, James. The match never took place, and Anne went on to a greater, or perhaps, more terrible, fate. James went on to inherit the earldom, but was persuaded to renounce it in favour of Sir Thomas Boleyn in 1528. James had his title returned in 1538.

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