Wolf Hall (2015) Episode1


In 1529, as Cardinal Wolsey receives news of his dismissal as Lord Chancellor, his lawyer, Thomas Cromwell, reminisces about how he and Wolsey met and the events leading up to the Cardinal’s downfall.


Wolf Hall EP1 characters

Historical background
  • Anne Boleyn’s Irish Fiance

Wolf Hall EP1 Anne's fiancé

Anne Boleyn was recalled from France in 1522 to marry her Irish cousin, James Butler. The marriage was to resolve a dispute her father Thomas Boleyn had with James’ father Piers, the powerful Irish nobleman, over the Ormond inheritance and title. —The Anne Boleyn Files

Cardinal Wolsey found out about the relationship between Anne and Henry Percy, the son and heir of the Earl of Northumberland, in around 1523. Percy was married off quickly to Mary Talbot.

  • Tyndale’s New Testament

Wolf Hall EP1 Tyndale's new testament

Tyndale’s New Testament translation was completed in July 1525. The first copies reached England in 1526.

William Tyndale (1494-1536) was an English scholar who is well known for his translation of the Bible into English.

  • Sack of Rome (1527)

Wolf Hall EP1 sack of rome

Sack of Rome, (6 May 1527). Victory over the French at Pavia in 1525 left the forces of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, dominant in Italy. In 1527 these forces stormed the city of Rome and embarked on an orgy of destruction and massacre, terrorizing the population and humiliating Pope Clement VII. —Britannica

Many feared at the time and since of a repeated sack of Rome. That, coupled with the pope’s virtual imprisonment, compelled the pope not to grant Henry VIII an annulment to his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, the Emperor’s aunt.

  • Thomas More

Wolf Hall EP1 Thomas More

Thomas More, English humanist and statesman, chancellor of England (1529–32), was one of the most famous of the humanists. In 1516 the first edition of More’s Utopia was published; it criticized many aspects of life in contemporary Europe and established a whole new type of writing and outlook on life (“utopianism“).

More, like other humanists, had criticized many aspects of the church, but he was unwilling to split from it; he thought that if religious unity amongst Christians was undermined, the result would be disaster for Europe and civilization. So he came to believe that Protestants were heretics who had to be eradicated. —J.P.Sommerville

More fiercely suppressed Tyndale’s New Testament.

After Wolsey fell, More succeeded to the office of Lord Chancellor. As chancellor, More was responsible for burning Protestants.

  • Battle of Garigliano

Wolf Hall EP1 Garigliano

The Battle of the Garigliano (1503) was the battle second of two major Spanish victories won in Naples during 1503 that saw the French expelled from the south of Italy.

Cromwell fought with the French against a Spanish army at the battle of Garigliano. The Italian wars were notorious for the extensive use of mercenary troops, and Cromwell would have been one of many foreigners – Swiss pikemen, German landsknechts – fighting on Italian soil at this time. —Historyextra

The Italian Wars (1494 – 1559) were a series of conflicts that involved most of the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, the Republic of Venice, most of the major states of Western Europe (France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, and Scotland) and Ottoman Empire.

  • Thérouanne

Wolf Hall EP1 France

In 1523, Cromwell obtained a seat in the House of Commons as a Burgess.

The purpose of the Parliament was to raise a subsidy for yet another French campaign and Cromwell’s speech argues vigorously against it, citing the difficulties of war in a foreign land; the cost; the danger of a king with no son, and only an eight-year-old daughter as heir, adventuring himself in warfare; and most of all, the pointlessness of the exercise. He refers to Henry VIII’s previous conquests as having

cost His Highness more than twenty such ungracious dogholes could be worth to him’. —Tudor Times