Margaret Vernon, Thomas Cromwell's Abbess

Henry VIII’s masterful administrator and reformer forged an unlikely friendship with a prioress, as Mary C. Erler explains.

Carthusian monks are hung, drawn and quartered on the orders of Henry VIII. An illustration of c.1535. Bridgeman/Private Collection

Thomas Cromwell has long been recognised as one of the most successful administrators of his time. The survival of his memoranda – his ‘notes to self’ – demonstrates the competence with which he dealt with the minutiae of a senior manager’s daily life, as well as the satisfaction he gained from keeping so many balls simultaneously in the air.

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