George Cavendish's The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey, manuscript,

George Cavendish's The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey, manuscript,

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Cavendish, George, 1500-1561?
Title: George Cavendish's The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey, manuscript,
Dates: approximately 1700
Quantity: 0.1 Linear feet (1 volume housed with minor collections MS 1235 to MS 1243)
Abstract:The collection consists of a 168 page oblong folio in a late Elizabethan script titled "Thomas Wolsey Cardinall his life & death written by George Cavendish his gentleman usher." It contains both "Preface" and "The history." The Ann Boleyn controversy begins on page 41.
Coll. Number: ms1243(m)

Biographical/Historical Note

"Wolsey, Thomas ([1470]--1530), royal minister, archbishop of York, and cardinal, was the son of Robert Wolsey of Ipswich (d. 1496), often described as a butcher but evidently also a grazier, and his wife, Joan Daundy (d. 1509)... Wolsey's first benefice came from the marquess of Dorset, whose sons he had taught... Following Henry VIII's accession Wolsey became the new king's almoner in November 1509... In February 1513 he became dean of York, and on 6 February 1514 bishop of Lincoln. He was consecrated on 26 March but held the diocese for only a few months. The death of Cardinal Bainbridge at Rome on 14 July 1514 left the archbishopric of York vacant and by 5 August Wolsey had been elected. He was made a cardinal on 10 September 1515... From the end of 1515 Wolsey was also the king's principal minister in charge of domestic matters... At the opening of 1527 Wolsey seemed at the height of his power... By now, however, first the king's decision to divorce Katherine of Aragon, and then the rise of Anne Boleyn, were beginning to alter the political map... the pressure exerted on the king by Anne and her supporters, together with the simultaneous failure of his foreign policy and attempts to secure the king's divorce, combined to make Wolsey's position untenable... he was indicted for praemunire in king's bench... On 13 July 1530 the cardinal's name stood second after Warham's in a list of ecclesiastical and lay magnates begging the pope to consent to the king's divorce... On 1 November William Walsh, a gentleman of the privy chamber, was sent from court to arrest Wolsey, and on the 4th he and the earl of Northumberland formally took him into custody at Cawood on a charge of high treason."--"Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71--1530)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Retrieved February 5, 2009)

"Cavendish, George (b. 1494, d. in or before 1562?), biographer and poet, was born on 21 June 1494... At some point before 1522 Cavendish entered the service of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey as gentleman usher. He remained an intimate member of Wolsey's household until the cardinal's death in 1529. Afterwards Cavendish declined to take service with Henry VIII and retired in 1530 to Suffolk, where he resided until his death, which probably took place before July 1562... Towards the end of his life George Cavendish wrote his prose life of his patron, Thomas Wolsey, Late Cardinall, his Lyffe and Deathe. This was probably written between late 1554 and 24 June 1558; the date of completion is given by Cavendish himself, in the colophon to his holograph (BL, Egerton MS 2402). Cavendish may have been drawn to compose his life as a response to the hostile portrait of Wolsey that appeared in Edward Hall's Chronicle (first published in 1548)." --"Cavendish, George." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Retrieved February 5, 2009)

Over thirty manuscript copies of George Cavendish's The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey written between 1570 and 1700 are known to exist today. In his 1959 edition of this work written for the Early English Text Society, Richard Sylvester lists thirty-one copies, although this particular copy is not among them and therefore may be a slightly later copy. An exceedingly important work of English history, Sylvester locates American copies only at the Folger, Harvard, Huntington, and Yale.

Index Terms

Anne Boleyn, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1507-1536
Great Britain--History--Henry VIII, 1509-1547.
Wolsey, Thomas, 1475?-1530.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

George Cavendish's The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey, manuscript, MS 1243. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

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