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Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex

Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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Cromwell was a statesman who rose to power as the right-hand man of Cardinal Wolsey. He was an effective administrator and ruthlessly pursued the dissolution of the monasteries. Cromwell can be regarded as one of the architects of the Church of England. In 1529 he suggested to Henry VIII that the king should become head of the Church in England in order to allow divorce proceedings against Henry's first wife. He later negotiated Henry's fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves and was created Earl in 1540. However, the failure of the king's marriage and accusations of treason by his powerful enemies led to his execution.

National Portrait Gallery, London



late 16th C


oil on panel


H 78.1 x W 61.9 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Purchased, 1914

Work type



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National Portrait Gallery, London

St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London WC2H 0HE England

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