Facts and Events
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, ( or ; 28 July 1540), was an English lawyer and statesman who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII of England from 1532 to 1540.
Cromwell was one of the strongest advocates of the English Reformation. He helped to engineer an annulment of the king's marriage to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon, in order to allow Henry to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. After failure to obtain approval from the Pope, in 1534 parliament endorsed the king's claim to be head of a breakaway Church of England, and Cromwell supervised the new church from the unique posts of vicegerent in spirituals and vicar-general.
During his rise, Cromwell made many enemies. He fell from power after arranging the king's marriage to a German princess, Anne of Cleves. Cromwell hoped that the marriage would breathe fresh life into the Reformation in England, but it turned into a disaster for Cromwell and ended in annulment just six months later. Cromwell was arraigned under a bill of attainder and executed for treason and heresy on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540. The king later expressed regret at the loss of his chief minister.