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Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister Hardcover – September 15, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rising to power with Anne Boleyn's decapitation and losing his own head over the Anne of Cleves debacle, Thomas Cromwell (1485–1540) was Henry VIII's loyal hatchet man—dissolving Catholic monasteries, breaking with the pope and finding ever more loopholes to justify Henry's marital and financial whims. Hutchinson (The Last Days of Henry VIII) effortlessly explains the business side of the Tudor court in which Cromwell's legal mind excelled while giving a one-sided portrait of controversial Anne Boleyn. Of the five royal wives Cromwell knew, the pockmarked and sadly malodorous Anne of Cleves receives most of Hutchinson's meager sympathy. In spite of considerable research, the focus on Cromwell's professional life means that the man from humble beginnings still eludes readers as anything more than a petty and rapacious loan shark. Unlike contemporaries More and Cranmer, Cromwell seems uninterested in religion, friends or family. But those more interested in the nuts and bolts of Henry's court rather than the monarch's soap opera antics will find this a welcome respite from fictionalized Tudor drama. 8 pages illus., 8 pages of color photos. (Sept.)
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Review

Praise for Thomas Cromwell

"Hutchinson effortlessly explains the business side of the Tudor court in which Cromwell's legal mind excelled....Those more interested in the nuts and bolts of Henry's court rather than the monarch's soap opera antics will find this a welcome respite from fictionalized Tudor drama." --Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st US Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031257794X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312577940
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Hutchinson was Defence Correspondent for the UK national news agency, the Press Association in Fleet Street from 1978-83 before moving to Jane's Information Group to launch Jane's Defence Weekly and becoming Publishing Director, responsible for books, magazines, journals and digital titles. From 1997-2008, he was chairman of the media side of the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee, the unique British system that protects national security in the reporting of military or intelligence issues.
He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, an associate tutor in church archaeology at the University of Sussex, and an expert in the arcaheology of the Reformation. He was appointed OBE in the 2008 New Year's Honours list.
A keen historian and archaeologist, Hutchinson believes that Britain's history provides stories of more drama and passion than could ever be made up for any television or film screenplay. He uses as much original documents as possible in researching his highly-acclaimed books because 'it's good to read the character's own words written at the time'.
He writes a strong narrative, with additional information on people, places and events, provided in the endnotes, so that any questions the reader might have can be quickly answered. 'The narrative is stand alone - it's up to the reader to decide whether to pause in the story to discover extra information'

Customer Reviews

Satisfying, well written, interesting.
tigerlilly
Some books I'm now reading on the English royals are well worth the time, Robert Hutchinson's Thomas Cromwell for example.
Boyd Hone
Robert Hutchison offers no argument, no validation and no justification for the personal assertions he makes.
I. Hudson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on December 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
Thomas Cromwell is a fascinating, though often seriously scary, figure, who generally appears as a bit player in studies of Henry VIII and/or his Queens; therefore I was ridiculously excited to find a study focusing on his life. Robert Hutchinson's biography of, as the subtitle puts it, "Henry VIII's most notorious minister" does not really break much new ground historically, but is written in an entertaining, accessible style and generally quite well researched.

Much of this study focuses on Cromwell's role in the dissolution of the monasteries during the mid-1530s. These sections are fascinating and detailed: my primary interest being in Anne Boleyn's years as Queen, I didn't know as much about the process of the dissolution as I probably should.

His early life and rise to power is dealt with in relatively short compass, but Hutchinson conveys his subject's ruthlessness, ambition, intelligence and ability to manipulate people and events for his own benefit well.

Rather disappointingly, the coup that brought down Anne Boleyn - arguably Cromwell's most audacious, if not most significant, political "achievement" - is dealt with in a comparatively cursory way. The events of April-May 1536 cover a mere handful of pages, which surprised me: this was an unprecedented strike against a reigning Queen Consort, who herself wielded more political power than most, if not all, previous Queens of England. It would have been more satisfying if Hutchinson had explored Cromwell's and Anne Boleyn's relationship - which went from one of allies to bitter enmity - in more detail, and engaged in greater analysis of Cromwell's orchestration of her fall, and perhaps, why Henry VIII allowed it to happen.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Laurence R. Bachmann VINE VOICE on May 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Robert Hutchinson is unencumbered by the historian's pretense to go only where the facts lead him. From the very first chapter we are made aware of his disdain for his subject. The reins of government fall into Cromwell's "podgey" hands; colleagues are repeatedly referred to as "henchmen"; his influence extends into "dark" corners, and there are odd, multiple references to the councilor's ever-increasing girth as he aged. As though it were a suspicious outrage for a middle aged man to gain thirty pounds. We are relentlessly informed of insatiable greed and half way through chapter four we had run out of synonyms for ruthless.

This would be fine if Cromwell were merely a 16th century version of Goering or Himmler--a sociopath with power. However, the man was clearly much more. Hutchinson glosses over in a few paragraphs the fact that Cromwell spoke three contemporary languages plus Latin and Greek. By his early twenties he had ingratiated himself to the Frescobaldi family in Italy and had successfully petitioned a pope. This is the son of a smithy and brewer! One would think the unwashed masses rose to power every day in Tudor England for all the attention or praise it receives from this biographer. Indeed the one speech quoted from this period (by today's standards oozes sycophancy. What our author fails to note is that the style was quite commonplace five centuries ago and more importantly the intent was to oppose Henry VIII's campaign against France. Whatever his tone, Cromwell was not afraid to adopt a stance different than the crown's. Further, Hutchinson fails to wonder or note that a man of such modest means could insinuate himself into the circles of cardinals and kings. Clearly Cromwell was more than a butt-wipe.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Katherine LeSueur on March 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best Tudor time period biographies I have read and the one to read if you want to know more about Thomas Cromwell. The book is not dry at all, an easy read which is a bonus as far as non-fiction biographies go, The book goes into great detail about Cromwell's early life before Henry VIII and describes his determined rise to power and his downfall at the hands of the hateful Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. I learned a lot about Cromwell and even sympathized with him as I read about his motives and his never mentioned kind acts of charity to the poor. From his childhood to his botched execution Hutchinson guides the reader through the life and death of one of Henry VIII's most talked about and disliked minister's.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John P. Rooney on February 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Thomas Cromwell" by Robert Hutchinson. St. Martin's Press, New York 2007.
Subtitled: "The Rise And Fall Of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister."

It seems to me, (old reader that I am), that in all the books, plays and movies about Henry VIII, the character of Thomas Cromwell is always maligned. This present book, "Thomas Crowell" by Robert Hutchinson, follows the pattern. In fact, the book's subtitle calls Thomas Cromwell, "notorious minister". The book portrays Cromwell as ruthlessly ambitious, jealous of any person who appears more successful, and ever aware of his own low-born condition. Robert Hutchinson, the author, must have been looking at the contemporary portrait of Cromwell by Hans Holbein (c. 1498-1543), when he describes Cromwell as having "pudgy hands". When I was working on an MA in History, professors would have chastised me for getting "...too personal"... if I said that someone had pudgy hands. I get the feeling that Hutchinson does not like Cromwell.

Page 3: " 'Scruples' was a word unaccountably missing from his vocabulary" and the end always justified his means.

Page 138: "Yes, in truth, Cromwell was as guilty of corruption as sin itself".

The dissolution of the monasteries presented Thomas Cromwell with an opportunity to serve his king, while securing great wealth for himself and ennobling his own condition. On page 102, Hutchinson writes one of the most condemning sentences in the book: "Greed spread like a contagion". He further writes that the Duke of Norfolk, "...anxious not to appear too grasping...", coveted the monasteries at Bungay and at Woodbridge in Suffolk. Other English nobles are treated in a similar fashion.
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