Thomas Cromwell: a thug in a doublet?

For most of the five centuries since Henry VIII sent his chief minister to the scaffold, historians have cast Thomas Cromwell as a scheming, rapacious vulture. But does this characterisation really do him justice? Diarmaid MacCulloch investigates

Hans Holbein's portrait of the "pudgy, watchful" Thomas Cromwell. England's aristocracy never forgave this publican's son for proving that a man could govern just became he had talent, says Diarmaid MacCulloch. (Gustavo Tomsich/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the March 2013 issue of BBC History Magazine 

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