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Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell (c. 1485 - July 28, 1540) was an English statesman, one of the most important political figures of the reign of Henry VIII of England.

Cromwell was born in about 1485 in London, the son of Walter Cromwell (c. 1463 - 1510), a tradesman. After studying law, he entered the service of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and became a Member of Parliament in 1523. Following the crisis over Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Cromwell came to prominence at Wolsey's expense, presiding over the Dissolution of the Monasteries, whose power he feared. By 1533, he had risen to the position of chancellor, and saw the Act of Supremacy of 1534 through Parliament. As a reward, he was created Earl of Essex in 1540.

Cromwell had supported Henry in disposing of Anne Boleyn and replacing her with Jane Seymour. His downfall was the haste with which he encouraged the king to re-marry following Jane's premature death. The marriage to Anne of Cleves, a political alliance which Cromwell had urged on Henry, was a disaster, and this was the real motive for Cromwell to be charged with treason. He was executed at the Tower of London on July 28, 1540.

The Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1658), was descended from his sister Catherine Cromwell.

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