Monday, May 5, 2014

Recently Read: Thomas Cromwell by Robert Hutchinson

I've just finished reading this biography of Cromwell. It was interesting. Even though the author is often quite critical of Cromwell a goodness of sorts still shines through. Well worth reading.

One interesting thing that popped up in the book was an alternative version of the story of Thomas Becket. A version promoted by Cromwell (and dismissed as propaganda by Hutchinson). In this version Becket dies in a riot or melee that takes place after one of his servants is arrested;
Becket had then used 'opprobrious words' and grabbed one of his opponents 'by the bosom and violently shook him and plucked him in such a manner that he almost overthrew him to the pavement of the church'... 'and so in the throng he was slain' - a death 'which they untruly call martyrdom'.

It's also interesting how few direct sources we seem to have for this period of history. The Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys seems to be the main source for half the information relayed. It's a name I'm now quite familiar with as he tends to be the go to eye witness in most history books on this period. I wonder how much of English history relies upon the testimony of foreign writers.

It was also interesting to note that most of the information regarding Henry's relationship with Anne of Cleves seemed to come straight from a single letter written by Cromwell whilst he was imprisoned in the Tower - a letter strangely out of sync with his other supposed pre-execution letters. The story of Henry going in disguise to inspect his bride-to-be before their marriage seems particularly far-fetched.

live at home, serve God and meddle little.