Thomas Wolsey was educated in Ipswich and then studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was ordained around 1498 and became chaplain to the archbishop of Canterbury and later chaplain to Henry VII.
He was known as an efficient administrator and was often sent on diplomatic missions but his real rise in influence came in the reign of Henry VIII, when he was created archbishop of York and a year later the pope made him a cardinal. Soon afterwards the king appointed him lord chancellor.
For the next 14 or so years, he was given the responsibility for more and more state business, eventually gaining almost complete control over England’s foreign policy.
He amassed great wealth which he invested in building both his London home, York Place in Whitehall, and at Hampton Court, 20 miles south west of London. He also founded Cardinal College at Oxford (later King’s College, and now Christ Church). Whilst in Ipswich at St Peters Church stands “Wolsey’s Gate”. It is Grade I listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Not surprisingly increasing arrogance contributed to his lack of popularity, but his downfall came when he failed to arrange the annulment of Henry VIII’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, whose nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, dominated the pope at the time.
Wolsey was accused of treason and arrested near York in 1530 and died in November of that year on his way to London to face trial.