If you could use some help managing Wolf Hall‘s complex machinations and maneuvers, revisit 15 key moments from Episode 1: Three Card Trick. Clear up questions about timelines and Thomases, note allies and enemies to watch, and accompany characters to seats of power…and exile.
1. October, 1529: York Place, London
Duke of Norfolk: Well I am here now and I will chew you up. Bones, flesh and gristle!
The Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk burst in upon Cardinal Wolsey at York Place by the King’s orders to strip the Lord Chancellor of his power. King Henry’s most trusted advisor has fallen. But in the shadows, Thomas Cromwell whispers into Wolsey’s ear. He has chosen his alliance with the Cardinal.
2. October, 1529: York Place, London
Cavendish: What it is to serve a prince.
Cardinal Wolsey: The gentlest, wisest prince in Christendom. I’ll not hear a word against Henry from any man.
Forced to flee his palace at York Place, Wolsey still maintains his loyalty to King Henry and his hope that he can regain the king’s favor.
3. 1521 (Eight Years Earlier): Windsor Castle
Cardinal Wolsey: We brought your daughter—Lady Anne—back from France to marry into Ireland. Now I hear she danced at the court masque with young Harry Percy?
At the height of his power, Wolsey makes an enemy of the Boleyns when he questions Anne’s virtue and demands that she be married off quickly.
4. 1527: York Place, London
Cardinal Wolsey: But now the Queen can’t give the King a son. So, now the Queen must not have been a virgin after all. Henry says that he’s lived all these years in an unlawful marriage. Hence the sin.
After eighteen years of marriage and no son, Henry entrusts Wolsey to convince Rome to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon.
5. 1529: Esher Place
Cardinal Wolsey: They won’t rest until they have my head. You should leave me, Thomas. Gardiner has.
From his northern exile, Esher Place, the humiliated and ill Wolsey urges Cromwell to desert his mentor, align himself with the Boleyns and save himself.
6. 1529: Esher Place
Mark Smeaton: I’m going to leave. He says he’ll send me to the Lady Anne. I think she’ll like me well enough, don’t you?
The arrogant young musician is eager to rid himself of Wolsey’s house and ply his charms on Anne Boleyn. Cromwell will not forget his insults.
7. 1529: London home of merchant Antonio Bonvisi
Thomas Cromwell: No, let’s have this straight. Thomas here says ‘I’d spend my life in the church, if I had a choice. I’m devoted to things of the Spirit. I care nothing for wealth, for the world’s esteem is nothing to me.’ So how is it I come back to London and find you’ve become Lord Chancellor?
Cromwell sees More’s condemnation of Wolsey as sanctimonious hypocrisy, and his hypocrisy as dangerous.
8. 1527: York Place
Thomas Cromwell: She hasn’t forgiven you for that business with Harry Percy. Cavendish tells me she’s sworn vengeance on you.
Cardinal Wolsey: The poor chit of a girl. The King will have her in his bed by summer. By autumn he’ll tire of her and pension her off.
With the Pope held the Holy Roman Emperor’s prisoner, Wolsey sees an opportunity to advance Henry’s divorce. But he dismisses the increasing importance of Anne Boleyn to his King.
9. 1527: Austin Friars
Grace: I’m too warm.
Thomas Cromwell: Go back to bed, Grace, sweetheart. Are you going to wear those angel wings all night?
Grace: ‘Till I say my prayers.
The next day, the “sweating sickness” will snuff the life from his little angel, his other daughter, Anne, and his wife, Liz.
10. 1527: Gray’s Inn
Thomas Cromwell: For Christ’s sake man, do you think you can crawl out of your hole because Cardinal Wolsey is away. All that means is that More has a free hand to pursue us, to brand us heretics. Wolsey protects us.
Little Bilney: Wolsey? Wolsey burns bibles.
Thomas Cromwell: More will burn men.
In a secret gathering, Cromwell warns fellow supporters of Tyndale, whose English translation of the Bible will usher in the Protestant Reformation, of More’s ruthlessness.
11. June, 1529: The Legatine Court, Blackfriars, London
Queen Katherine: And by me you have had many children, although it pleased God to call them from this world, which was no fault of mine. And when you had me first—as God is my witness, I was a true maid, without touch of man.
Humiliated and defending her virtue, her marriage, and her crown, the Queen is forced to declare her innocence and appeal to her husband’s conscience before an assembly of bishops.
12. June, 1529: The Legatine Court, Blackfriars, London
Stephen Gardiner: The Emperor won’t take kindly to the Pope helping to have his Aunt cast off the throne. I don’t think your papal envoy in there is likely to give the King what he wants, do you? And when he doesn’t, Wolsey will be finished. And then I’ll feel sorry for you.
Thomas Cromwell: Except you won’t.
Stephen Gardiner: Except I won’t.
Gardiner, Wolsey’s former secretary, defected from the Cardinal when he was stripped of his power. He gloats at the canniness of his decision and relishes the prospect that Cromwell will fall along with his mentor.
13. October, 1529: York Place, Anne’s new residence
Anne Boleyn: Very nice. Very nice Master Cremuel. But try again. One thing. One simple thing we asked of the Cardinal. And he would not.
Thomas Cromwell: You know it wasn’t simple.
Anne gives Cromwell five minutes to make Wolsey’s case, but her mind is already made up against the Cardinal.
14. 1527: Gray’s Inn
Thomas Cromwell: I need a seat in Parliament again.
Thomas Cromwell: Because if I’m not there to speak for the Cardinal they’ll kill him.
Cromwell can perhaps save his patron with a seat in Parliament, where the Cardinal faces 44 indictments. His last time in Parliament, Cromwell opposed the King.
15. 1529: Greenwich Palace, Henry’s main London seat
King Henry: Master Cromwell, your reputation is bad. You don’t defend yourself?
Thomas Cromwell: Your Majesty can form your own opinions.
King Henry: I can. I will.
Cromwell has survived his encounter with Henry, advocating for the Cardinal, unscathed. In doing so, he has caught the interest of the king.