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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Thomas Cromwell Revised

Portrait of Thomas Cromwell. New York, Frick C...
Portrait of Thomas Cromwell. New York, Frick Collection. Oak panel, 76 x 61 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"The ambitious have no friends" - Brian Taggert and Faustus Buck

Thomas Cromwell seems modelled for the role of the devious and manipulative power behind the throne. He is depicted as a ruthless and power-hungry man of ambition who destroyed several notable figures on his ascent to the position as Henry VIII's chief minister. Virtually every portrait I have seen of the man is unflattering. He scowls from his seated position with cold eyes over a long and sharp nose. Danny Webb's depiction of the character in the TV series, "Henry VIII",  takes this image and runs with it in perfect style. He is seen as a scheming and overly-ambitious man. Yet his latest biography challenges this view, presenting a man who was loyal to his family and loved by the common people. He was the most hated man in England, but this may have been as much to do with the influence of his aristocratic enemies, led by Duke of Norfolk as it was to do with his ruthlessness.