“Who cannot be sorrowful and amazed that he should be a traitor against your majesty? He that was so advanced by your majesty, he whose surety was only by your majesty, he who loved your majesty, as I ever thought, no less than God; he who studied always to set forward whatsoever was your majesty’s will and pleasure; he that cared for no man’s displeasure to serve your majesty; he that was such a servant, in my judgment, in wisdom, diligence, faithfulness, and experience, as no prince in this realm ever had …
If he be a Traitor, I am sorry that ever I loved him, or trusted him, and I am very glad that his treason is discovered in time; but yet again I am very sorrowful; for who shall your grace trust hereafter, if you might not trust him? Alas!”
Cromwell was actually arrested with the charges of treason, heresy, corruption, and plotting to marry the Princess Mary. Of course, he was a well-known Protestant whose main mission in England was to destroy the Catholic church. King Henry, being sympathetic to the Catholic religion (though certainly not to Rome), could definitely not accept Cromwell's heretical tendencies. His "treason" may have been the result of his organizing the marriage of Anne of Cleves to the King - which was a complete disappointment. King Henry had just about had it with Cromwell, and after years of trusting his advice and working alongside him, he finally put him to death on this day.
Cromwell mounted the scaffold steps and made a speech to the crowd in which he denied his guilt and said:
“Many have slandered me, and reported that I have been a bearer of such as I have maintained evil opinions; which is untrue: but I confess, that like as God, by His Holy Spirit, doth instruct us in the truth, so the devil is ready to seduce us; and I have been seduced.”
He also committed his soul to Christ and announced that there was "no hope in salvation," but he would hope and trust in "Christ's merciful goodness." Then he knelt and endured one of the most gruesome and butchered Tudor executions on record.
No matter how you look at it, it's a sad and unfortunate end to a man who had been raised so high in his 55 years. The son of a smith in Putney became an Earl and one of the King's most trusted ministers - and arguably one of the most powerful men in the country. He had a good run, though that was bad news for many other people, including Anne Boleyn and those associated with her. Thomas Cromwell was an ambitious and manipulative man, but perhaps you had to be just that, in order to be successful at the court of Henry VIII. Unfortunately for him, success would only last so long.
Rest in Peace, Master Secretary.