When Anne Boleyn caught the king's eye somewhere around 1526, everything for the court and Cardinal changed. Queen Katherine of Aragon was slowly being booted out of the royal marriage, and the Boleyn faction was creeping up slowly but steadily. Cardinal Wolsey - Henry's most trusted and respected helper - was in charge of the annulment proceedings, and when those turned out to be more difficult than originally thought, there were grave consequences.
Nevertheless, Wolsey seemed to do what he could to acquire the annulment for his master, though things did not go his way. The Papal Legates who were sent to make a judgment on the king's Great Matter did not hold the same opinion as the king and Cardinal did, and they deemed Anne Boleyn the king's 'whore' - and stated that the king only wanted to divorce his 'rightful' wife because of his lusty and sinful desire. When Cardinal Campeggio arrived from Rome to make his own decision on the matter, he delayed the proceedings so much that the case was suspended until July 1528. This was the final straw for Henry, and 'proved' to him that Cardinal Wolsey was not doing all that was in his power to help him.
On the way to London to be tried for his alleged crimes, and no doubt handed over to the authorities for imprisonment, Cardinal Wolsey fell ill in Leicester and died on 29 November 1530 - perhaps saving himself from a nasty and unfair end at the king's hand. The grand Cardinal had planned for himself a magnificent and ornate tomb at Windsor for when he died, but he was instead interred at Leicester Abbey without a monument. Later, Henry VIII would plan for Wolsey's proposed tomb to be used for himself, but Lord Nelson would actually lie in it at St. Paul's Cathedral - where it remains today under the dome.
We owe one of the most beautiful representations of Tudor architecture to Thomas Wolsey as well. Hampton Court Palace remains one of the most iconic (if not the most iconic) palaces in Britain, and it certainly shows the Cardinal's skill and interest in fine and impressive buildings. Henry VIII is often given credit for the beauty of this palace, but let's not forget who the palace originally belonged to, and who commissioned it. Let us remember Cardinal Thomas Wolsey on this day and contemplate his sad and sudden fall from grace at the hands of Henry VIII and the combined work of the Boleyn and Aragonese factions - who both sought his destruction for their own gain. It was certainly difficult at this time to be both powerful and popular - as Thomas Cromwell would also find out later. Despite the Cardinal's own mistakes, sins, and power-hungry greed at the Henrican court, I think we can all agree that he was a diligent, devoted, and faithful servant to King Henry, and he left a lasting and impressive legacy. His is certainly a name we recognize instantly when studying the Tudor dynasty and its politics.
Rest in Peace, Cardinal Wolsey!