What was the famous request made by Cardinal Wolsey to Thomas More?  

What was the famous request made by Cardinal Wolsey to Thomas More? 


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jbelfiore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII of England and also bore the title Cardinal Archbishop of York. Wolsey was deeply involved in planning and executing a scheme to legitimize Henry VIII's intent to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Thomas More was a rising public servant to the monarchy of England who was appointed under-sheriff of the City of London in 1510. In 1514, More was appointed Master of Requests in Parliament and then Privy Councilor to King Henry VIII, where he began to work more closely with Cardinal Wolsey.

In 1515, Cardinal Wolsey asked Thomas More to accompany King Henry and Wolsey on a diplomatic mission to Calais, France to engage the Holy Roman Emperor, King Charles V. The mission sought to undermine the marriage treaties that both Henry and Charles had with France and to advance relations between England and the Holy Roman Empire, an objective supporting Wolsey's desire to gather allies supporting King Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. In a famous meeting at Gravelines in 1520, Henry and Charles sign the Treaty of Calais in which they promise military support to one another and promise not to negotiate any separate agreements with France for the two years following.

It was during this five-year period abroad that More wrote his famous novel Utopia, which further cemented More's reputation as a thought leader in the morals of public service and governance and advanced his favor with both King Henry and Wolsey. More increasingly served as a political liaison between the King and Wolsey and was made under-secretary of the Exchequer in 1521. More was knighted the same year. More eventually replaced Wolsey as Lord Chancellor to Henry as Wolsey's overwrought schemes unwound.

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