Thomas Cromwell was an infamous figure in the court of Henry VIII. The son of a brewer, Cromwell rose from obscurity to become the Earl of Essex, Vice-Regent and High Chamberlain of England, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He maneuvered his way to the top through intrigue, bribery, and sheer force of personality.
Cromwell pursued Henry's interests with single-minded energy and no little subtlety. Tasked with engineering the judicial murder of Anne Boleyn when she had worn out her welcome in the royal chamber, he tortured her servants and relations to extract condemning information, the organized a "show trial" of Stalinist efficiency.
Cromwell also orchestrated the "greatest act of privatization in English history": the seizure of the monasteries. Their enormous wealth was used not only to enrich the crown, but also to cement the loyalty of the English nobility.
Over the course of his career, Cromwell himself amassed a fortune through bribery and theft, and created many enemies along the way. As meteoric as his rise was, his fall was spectacular--beheaded outside the Tower of London, his boiled head was placed on a spike above London Bridge.
Rich in incident and colorful detail, this is narrative history at its finest. Robert Hutchison has brought the treacherous world of sixteenth-century England vividly to life through the incredible story of one of the most cunning and ruthless men in British history.