Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary

In 1529 Cardinal Wolsey is removed from power; he is no longer King Henry VIII’s Chancellor. The Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Suffolk arrive to dismantle Wolsey’s establishment at York Place, which will be turned into a residence for Lady Anne Boleyn. They also demand that Wolsey turn over the Great Seal of England, but Cromwell tells them that, according to law, it cannot be handed over to anyone but the Master of the Rolls.

They return the next day and continue with the removal of Cardinal Wolsey. George Cavendish, Wolsey’s usher, is dismayed at the way all of Wolsey’s belongings are being handled. Wolsey’s treasurer, Sir William Gascoigne, says that he has heard that Wolsey is going straight to the Tower of London, but Cromwell dismisses this. They are going to Wolsey’s other residence (one of many) at Esher.

When Wolsey and his attendants go to the barge to travel to Esher, they hear crowds cheering. As they get closer, they realize that they are in fact booing. Wolsey is broken when he realizes how much he is now hated, remembering the times that he “served” the people in their hardships. Cromwell and Cavendish talk about the fickleness of the public, almost as inconstant as royalty.

The company is met by Patch, Cardinal Wolsey’s fool (jester), who has come with horses. Harry Norris, a friend of King Henry’s, rides up. He gives Wolsey a ring from the king, a sign of his continued love. Wolsey gives Norris in return his reliquary, which supposedly contains a piece of the True Cross. Cavendish is floored by the magnificence of Wolsey’s gift, although Cromwell tells him that he knows someone who can make them cheaply. Wolsey kneels in the mud in gratitude for the king’s gift. He sends Patch with Norris to be a part of the king’s household, much to Patch’s grief. He cries as he is carried away by Norris.

The house at Esher is a filthy mess, quite a comedown from Wolsey’s lodgings at York Place. Some boys are hired to clean it up and furnishings are scavenged so that Cardinal Wolsey will have someplace to sleep. Cavendish and Cromwell speculate as to who will be the king’s Chancellor next. Cromwell predicts that it will be Thomas More, even though More is against Henry’s plan to divorce Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn. Cavendish thinks that More is too “holy” to accept, but Cromwell knows that he will. They talk of the rumor that Anne Boleyn is a witch and that it is by her dark powers that she has entrapped the King of England.