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Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  196 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
The definitive biography on the most powerful man in King Henry VIII's court and the protagonist of Hilary Mantel's bestselling series, Thomas Cromwell.

The son of a brewer, Thomas Cromwell rose from obscurity to become the confidant of the King of England—and ultimately one of the most influential men in English history. Cromwell drafted the law that allowed Henry VIII to
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published April 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 659)
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Pete daPixie
Sep 26, 2011 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-tudor
I had recently read Hutchinson's 'The Last Days of Henry VIII' and liked it, so was quite happy to give this a try. 'Thomas Cromwell-The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's most Notorious Minister', published 2007, is a very enjoyable read and a well researched biography on the career of Cromwell.
T.C. escaped the wreckage of Thomas Wolsey in 1529, to climb up the greasy Tudor ministerial pole.
Having risen to Lord Privy Seal, and finally Earl of Essex, his fall came, charged with treason in 1540.
Apr 05, 2014 Aviva rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm surprised by the reviews of this book on this site. While I find the scholarship in this book to be admirable, I am perplexed by the author's open condemnation of his subject. His "editorial comments" and asides about Cromwell's supposed poor character, low birth, avarice, etc. are wholly unnecessary -- if Cromwell was indeed that bad, the facts should speak for themselves. Additionally, Cromwell, like all of us, was a product of his time and I'm not convinced he was truly any worse than the ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Rhiannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know, this book is very, very informative. If you want any facts - any facts at all - about Cromwell's life, you can find them here. In that sense, this book is very good.

However, I have two gripes regarding the layout, and the tone. There were far too many notes at the back, meaning you had to constantly flick backwards and forwards - to the extent that I ended up using two bookmarks, one for the main book and one for the notes. It would have benefitted from some of this detail being part o
This is one of the best Tudor time period biographies I have read and the one to read if you want to know more about Thomas Cromwell. The book is not dry at all, an easy read which is a bonus as far as non-fiction biographies go, The book goes into great detail about Cromwell's early life before Henry VIII and describes his determined rise to power and his downfall at the hands of the hateful Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. I learned a lot about Cromwell and even sympathized with him as I read a ...more
Robert Hutchinson’s biography of Thomas Cromwell was balanced, accurate and highly readable. Hutchinson does a superb job at placing Cromwell within the context of his time. I learned a lot about Thomas Cromwell as a person (his upbringing, long political career and swift downfall) and his considerable impact on English society and government. Hutchinson emphasized that Cromwell played a large role in the dissolution of the monasteries and the violent centralization of power, which gave Henry VI ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He was truly Henry VIII's most notorious and in my opinion, his most loyal servant. He was beset by enemies who were jealous that he became so powerful and wealthy, inspite of his low birth. The book discussed many facets of Cromwell's life and I felt the information was a balance of good and bad. I really enjoyed it.
May 12, 2015 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breezy bio of Henry VIII's least liked minister. Hutchinson gives a straightforward account. He thinks Cromwell was grossly venal even by Tudor standards, and made a huge amount of money overseeing the dissolution of the monasteries as a way of providing his greedy master with money. Whereas the fictional Cromwell in Wolf Hall berates Thomas More for burning heretics alive, the real Cromwell was just as savage as More in dealing with opponents of Henry's religious innovations and threats to the ...more
May 15, 2015 Dawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very dry and difficult to get through. I agree with some of the others that the author doesn't seem to have much affection or even respect for his subject (and why would you write a book about a person you dislike so?). But very thorough. And I didn't know exactly what Cromwell did for Henry VIII before reading this; so many of my other books (both fiction and non-fiction) imply he was Henry's evil genius and/or doer of dirty deeds and certainly don't cover the nitty-gritty.

I did notice as well
A well written book and and enjoyable read. Hutchinson clearly sets out his work in a way which is easy to follow. I very much appreciated the notes at the back and the chronology which make for useful reference. Although I am not overly acquainted with the life of Cromwell, I found Hutchinson's arguments concerning his character to be agreeable (whilst other reviewer's felt the contrary) as he provided evidence of significance when arguing his points. Overall, this book made a very useful and c ...more
Jul 22, 2010 Jennifer marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: THL Group Read
*Reading in September with Lyn and Aly*
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 30, 2014 Daniel Kukwa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
At times, this biography threatens to become too obsessed with accountancy details and inventories...and combined with a strangely dispassionate tone, it occasionally descends into clinical dryness. Yet there is no denying that this is a very informative volume, and works a treat as a companion to the literary stylings found in Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" and "Bringing Up the Bodies". It's worth ploughing through some of the actuarial niceties to enjoy the meatier details.
Hercule  Poirot
The part I was most interested in, the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn is covered in the first eighty pages. The rest consists of boring pages very illy written discussing the break up of the montastaries.
Julie Ellis
I was somewhat disappointed in this biography, but I don't think it was all the author's fault. The evidence available for Cromwell's life is a bit thin, and I don't feel that I really got any kind of idea about what Cromwell was really like. The author, however, took the traditional route and portrayed Cromwell as completely Machiavellian. That is the traditional outlook on Cromwell and I feel the story has to be more complex than that. The book was fast paced, and a fun read - but of course th ...more
May 29, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and clear overview of Henry VIII's notorious minister. Hutchinson provides Cromwell's backstory and an overview of his rise and fall. A good starting point.
Nov 10, 2014 Lezley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudors
An interesting read examining the life of a cruel tyrant who actually ruled behind the throne. Henry VIII seems to have overreacted by having Cromwell executed as he had no back-up to replace him. A must-read for Tudor aficionados.
Aug 23, 2014 Betty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writer left me in no doubt as to what his personal opinion of Cromwell is. And that's about all I learnt from this book.
While I find his life interesting, I've never felt much sympathy for Thomas Cromwell. His role in the Dissolution, and ruining the lives of so many people-not to mention Anne Boleyn-made his violent end appropriate. Hoisted by his own petard, as they say. This book did manage to squeeze a bit of sympathy out of me. Mostly because Mr. Cromwell, despite his obvious intellect,chose to hitch his wagon to the corpulent star of Henry VIII, who has to be the most selfish ingrate ever crowned King of E ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was far less interesting than the ither books he's written. Probably because they know so little of his personality, there was so much politics. I can't help but read this and think of the Cromwell in Hilary Mantel's book and play. He comes across far better!
After reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall I wanted to read more about Henry VIIIth's right-hand man Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell rose from very humble beginnings to be the second most powerful and rich man in England. His humble roots however made him a target for the jealous aristocracy. My today's standards Cromwell was not a nice person, corrupt, greedy and willing to do virtually anything to maintain his position.
Robert Hutchison is less sympathetic than Hilary Mantel, but perhaps a little more h
It was actually really interesting since I haven't read much about Henry VIII's religious reforms, but more about his children and wives. For me, since I don't have much knowledge on that aspect of his reign, it was interesting since Cromwell was always in the midst of that throughout his political career. It was a bit obvious that Hutchinson didn't like Cromwell much, nor did he like Henry VIII. Despite learning quite a bit, I would have rather read from an unbiased source or one that kept thei ...more
Aug 20, 2010 bkwurm rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up after reading Wolf Hall which tried to present Cromwell in a positive light but did so by ending its account before the stage trial of Anne Boleyn.

This book gives a much more complete picture of Cromwell. Clearly he was a devoted servant of Henry VIII and it seems his downfall came when he presumed to know Henry's interests better than Henry himself. Having no allies among the nobility, he had relied solely upon the fickle monarch who failed to see how valuable Cromwell was to h
Nov 16, 2015 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to C. by: Goodreads
Shelves: favorites
Insightful and interesting.
Pro: Well researched. Good turns of phrase. Unlike some other historical biographers, Hutchinson does not "pad" his book with irrelevant details and wandering about unrelated events; this boo focuses specifically on Cromwell, events concerning him with only enough digression to put these events into context.
Con: The author obviously dislikes Cromwell and seems incapable of describing ANY action of his in a good light. Overuse of the term "Stalinism".
May 11, 2012 Carrie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book clearly Outlined the historical facts of Cromwell's life. In fact I think I might have learned the same amount of information just by reading the timeline at the back of the book. Like a previous reviewer I felt the author to be very biased and judgmental which gave the book a very distasteful tone for me. I also was looking for more of a glimpse into his personal life and motivations but maybe he records of that do not exist.
Rob Messenger
Apr 06, 2014 Rob Messenger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apr 09, 2013 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book for anyone interested in the life of the Machiavellian Cromwell. Informative and enriching and always a pleasure to read. Hutchinson has a wonderfully non-stuffy approach to history which makes his book less of a chore and more of a delight.

Sep 27, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This book was a very interesting read, but I don't have any particularly strong thoughts or feelings about it. It was relatively well-written and it was very informative. Not the most exciting thing I've ever read, but not horribly dry, either.
Jan 29, 2015 L'aura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios
Hutchinson didn't write a page turner but his research his good and his fascination with the subject didn't ultimately influence his opinion on him. A good read if you're not looking for a too sympathetic narrative.
Jul 21, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, owned
Really enjoyed this book. Found the story of Tudor life under Henry VIII fascinating. Couldn't quite match up the image portrayed of Cromwell with others I have read however. Very well written.
Carol in Bothell
After reading "Wolf Hall" I was curious to know more about Thomas Cromwell. This book satisfied that curiosity but left me repelled by both Cromwell and Henry VIII.
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