Did Thomas Cromwell bring about a revolution in Henry VIII's government?

Last updated: 15/11/2023
Contributor: Paula Morgan
Did Thomas Cromwell bring about a revolution in Henry VIII's government?
Main Subject
Key stage
History: Tudor England
Includes answers
Resource type
Knowledge organisers
Concepts and methods

An information booklet and comprehension questions (with answers) for A-level students who are studying Thomas Cromwell's impact on the governance of Tudor England.

This resource would make a great activity for flipped learning. It could be used as a classic reading comprehension, with students studying the booklet and answering the questions as they go, or else the questions could be used for a factual recall test in class. It could also form the basis for further reading and independent research.

Students can then discuss what constitutes a 'revolution' and whether Cromwell's changes to governance meet these criteria.

The information in the booklet draws on the work of a number of historians with differing views on Thomas Cromwell and his influence on the government of Henry VIII.

An extract from the information booklet:


Thomas Cromwell has been called both a revolutionary and a conservative. Between 1530 and 1540, the household system was replaced by bureaucratic departments, but this was a transformation rather than a break with the past. It is obvious something has changed; it is the extent and originality that are debated.

Elton, in his more recent writings, somewhat softens his original argument, qualifying it by saying that Cromwell improved where improvement was needed and innovated where innovation was needed. His work affected every aspect of government activity, the main areas being the Church, the Crown, administration and Parliament.

A concise summary of Thomas Cromwell’s main changes would include:

  1. the reformed Council of the North
  2. the introduction of county administration to Wales
  3. the establishment of the Court of Augmentation
  4. the establishment of the Court of First Fruits and Tenths
  5. the reforming of the Court of Wards
  6. the introduction of a new breed of professional civil servants
  7. the centralisation of administration and finance in London.

Cromwell’s most innovative side, it could be argued, was the Break with Rome − destroying the power of the Pope in England and setting Henry as Head of the Church of England.

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