Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex

by Joshua Horn. Part of the series, Blogging the Reformers. Originally posted here.

Thomas Cromwell was the servant of Henry VIII, king of England. He was born in lowly estate in 1485, and was raised by the king to be one of the principle men of the kingdom. He was a Protestant, and worked to establish the true religion in England. He was the king’s chief minister for eight years, and served him faithfully. His main mistake was to be to faithful to Henry even when he turned against the gospel. Henry was very inconsistent and variable throughout his reign. At one point Henry would incline towards the Protestants, and at another toward the Catholics. In 1540 the Catholics convinced him to arrest Cromwell because he was one of the best proponents of the gospel. The charges presented against him were clearly falsehoods, so the Catholics decided to proceed without trial. Even though Cromwell had always been faithful to him, Henry ordered him to be beheaded. As his hour of death drew near, Cromwell wrote, “Lord! Into thy hands I commend my soul; Lord Jesu! Receive my Spirit! Amen.”1 He was beheaded on July 28th, 1540. Henry later realized that he had executed his most faithful servant, and regretted it until his death.

1 J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2000) volume 4, book XV, p. 224