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Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex (circa 1485-1540), Statesman

Sitter associated with 28 portraits
Cromwell rose to power as the right-hand man of Cardinal Wolsey. He was a brilliant administrator and evangelical reformer, ruthlessly pursuing the dissolution of the monasteries. Cromwell can be regarded as one of the architects of the Church of England, and the king's break from Rome. In 1529 he suggested to Henry VIII that he should become head of the Church in England in order to allow divorce proceedings against Henry's first wife Katherine of Aragon. 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.