Cardinal Wolsey: Renaissance Prelate and Patron


The course begins with the early life and career of Thomas Wolsey. It then traces his rapid rise to power after 1509 under the young Henry VIII and discusses the nature of Wolsey’s relationship with the king. It surveys his extraordinary efforts over twenty years, through warfare and spectacular diplomacy, to promote Henry VIII on the international stage. The course then considers Wolsey’s dominance over the Tudor state and church; the wealth, the opportunities and ultimately the insoluble problems which that dominance brought him. The course will review Wolsey’s educational, artistic and architectural patronage before finally reflecting on his fall from power and his significance in English history.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

Wolsey the Ipswich Boy and Oxford Man: We will trace Wolsey’s origins and education and his early career at Oxford. Wolsey’s rise to Power: Wolsey’s early work for Henry VII, his appointment to the council of Henry VIII, his early relationship with the king and with the Tudor court.

Wolsey and Henry 1509-1520: Wolsey’s work to get Henry on to the international stage from war in 1513 to the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. Wolsey and Europe 1521-1527: The complicated internationally context in which Wolsey had to work and his greatest diplomatic triumph in 1527.

Wolsey as Lord Chancellor: The work Wolsey did in law reform and increasing the effectiveness of the king’s justice; star chamber and ‘poor men’s causes’ Wolsey as Cardinal Legate: This session examines the exact nature of Wolsey’s authority over the Church in England and the use he made of it to enhance royal, not papal, power.

Wolsey as Patron: Picking up on points already made in the course so far, this session concentrates on Wolsey’s artistic and architectural patronage as a Renaissance cardinal. Wolsey at Christ Church: Taking advantage of our location at ‘Cardinal College’ we will look around to see what remains of Wolsey’s greatest educational foundation.

Wolsey’s fall:  This session examines the reasons why, after twenty years of loyal service to Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey fell from power so swiftly. Wolsey’s Legacy: A final session considers Wolsey’s strengths and weaknesses as a person and as a royal minister and asks whether his contribution to the making of ‘Tudor England’ has yet to be properly appreciated.



Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1635.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1440.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1537.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1537.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1440.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1120.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2022 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2022 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2022 - no refunds will be made.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2022. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2022, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.


Professor Glenn Richardson


Glenn Richardson is Professor of Early-Modern History at St Mary’s University in London. He is the author of several books on Renaissance monarchy and late-medieval England’s international relations. He wrote on The Field of Cloth of Gold and in 2020 published WOLSEY for Routledge Press. He has taught many OUDCE summer school courses on the monarchy of England and related topics.


Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registration closes on 1 May 2022.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.