Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Naked to Mine Enemies: The Life of Cardinal Wolsey, Charles W. Ferguson has written a biography of one of the most important ministers in Tudor English history. Yet the book is more than a biography, as the author goes to great lengths to place the subject in his historical context. He explains the impact of many differing events to demonstrate that the world into which Thomas Wolsey was born was a rapidly changing one.

Another important aspect of the book is the author’s attempt to investigate the personality of his subject. While coming from somewhat humble surroundings, Wolsey quickly learned how to use power and to enjoy luxury. To his rivals, this power made him a hated man. From his lofty position as lord chancellor of England and cardinal legate, he forced the English nobility and manipulated heads of state to do his will. Church leaders were overpowered or circumvented to obtain his goals or those of his king, Henry VIII. Yet, in the end, when he had the power to grant Henry’s request for a divorce, Wolsey refused to go against the wishes of the Cath-olic church. This decision led to his downfall.

Perhaps his fateful decision was not so strange. The church helped him to come to the attention of the Tudor dynasty, and thus to gain power. Wolsey rarely wanted to fulfill all the duties that his various church offices would bestow upon him; he simply wanted the power and wealth that they brought. In fact, he never traveled...

(The entire section is 419 words.)