This was a big deal. The two men had a major public fight in front of Henry, and their enmity would never be fully contained again.
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer had invited the King and courtiers to dinner at his Lambeth Palace (the London homme of the Archbishops of Canterbury). Somehow the conversation turned to Cardinal Wolsey – a controversial topic. Norfolk had always hated Wolsey, largely because a man of such humble origins had come to hold more power than the premier English duke (this was the same issue Norfolk had with Cromwell). Cromwell had always loved Wolsey, largely because the cleric had given him his first chance at court because he valued talent more than blood (again, this too can be turned around to explain Cromwell’s issue with Norfolk). The discussion became heated, Cromwell charged Norfolk with disloyalty and Norfolk called Cromwell a liar. They technically made up afterwards (Henry insisted – though he did secretly love pitting his advisors against each other) but we all know where the story would end only a year later (spoiler alert: Norfolk won…)
Cromwell did experience a good run for a bit. First, although the Act of the Six Articles (or Whip with the Six Strings, depending on what you believed!) remained the law of the land, Henry fell in love with Holbein’s portrait and married Anne of Cleves who represented an alliance with the Protestant powers even though she herself was technically Catholic. Then Cromwell had Thetford Priory (the resting place for a thousand years of Howard ancestors) closed, and just a little later he was named Earl of Essex…but then Cromwell’s luck ran out. I have several July posts that chronicle his downfall….keep an eye out over the coming weeks.
(I also show this scene in The Path to Somerset – I have to say, it is wild trying to write dispassionately about an event I tackled with so much nuance! I don’t think I will be able to do it when it comes to the sinking of the Mary Rose! I may just have to include an excerpt for that one! 😉 )
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