Thomas Cromwell

The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant
Narrated by: Julian Elfer
Length: 14 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (382 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Thomas Cromwell has long been reviled as a Machiavellian schemer who stopped at nothing in his quest for power. As Henry VIII's right-hand man, Cromwell was the architect of the English Reformation, secured Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and plotted the downfall of Anne Boleyn, and upon his arrest, was accused of trying to usurp the King himself. But here Tracy Borman reveals a different side of one of the most notorious figures in history: that of a caring husband and father, a fiercely loyal servant and friend, and a revolutionary who helped make medieval England into a modern state.

Born in the mid-1480s to a lowly blacksmith, Cromwell left home at 18 to make his fortune abroad. After serving as a mercenary in the French army, working for a powerful merchant banker in Florence at the height of the Renaissance, and spending time as a cloth merchant in the commercial capital of the world, the Netherlands, Cromwell returned to England and built a flourishing legal practice. He soon became the protégé of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and then worked his way into the King's inner circle. As Henry's top aide, Cromwell was at the heart of the most momentous events of his time and wielded immense power over both church and state. His seismic political, religious, and social reforms had an impact that can still be felt today.

Grounded in excellent primary source research, Thomas Cromwell gives an inside look at a monarchy that has captured the Western imagination for centuries, and tells the story of a controversial and enigmatic man who forever changed the shape of his country.

©2014 Tracy Borman. Recorded by arrangement with Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about Thomas Cromwell

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"Behind the Scenes" of Wolf Hall!

I came to appreciate the perspective of Thomas Cromwell through the fictional work of Hilary Mantle's Wolf Hall and the follow-up novel Bring up the Bodies. This drew me to this biography highly-touted and it did not disappoint!

This book combined with the perspective of Hillary Mantel and various other books that I've read has lent a broader perspective of the man who was or may have been Thomas Cromwell. I appreciated his Machiavellian approach to the world. It also gives me great pride to think that a man who came from nothing and yet achieved so much change in the world. He wasn't perfect. He was self described as a Ruffian, and I think that is appropriate. The days of protagonists being squeaky clean are over and I think that's appropriate. History is never squeaky clean.

I'm not a fan of revisionist history per say however I do believe that history should be revisited once new evidence is brought to light or new documentation reveals allows us to draw correlation and theorize a new direction for a person in history. Similar to Richard III, we are finding out so much that otherwise was left to propagandistic historical recording. Whereas today I think we try to use more factuality and are not scandalized as easily. I think the same has been allowed with Thomas Cromwell and I am glad for it because otherwise I would have believed he was a very foul human being otherwise.

9 people found this helpful

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narration is very well done & book is quite good

Would you listen to Thomas Cromwell again? Why?

yes, I think it is a great window on the Tudor period

Who was your favorite character and why?

not sure on that one

What does Julian Elfer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

this narrator is about the best one I have heard yet on Audible. I hope he does more in the history section..as that is what I am mostly interested in.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

no , but it is quite interesting

Any additional comments?

great narration

15 people found this helpful

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AMERICAN APPETITE

While Hilary Mantel wets American appetites for Thomas Cromwell with “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies”, Tracy Borman offers a British perspective.

“Thomas Cromwell” is shown by Mantel and Borman to be a commoner with uncommon intelligence. He rises from a blacksmith’s son to become among the most powerful government administrators of the 16th century. Cromwell is the consummate power behind the throne of King Henry VIII. He manages to reform the Roman Catholic church in England, the power of aristocratic government, and the wealth of the British throne; all the while placating a volatile and often shallow King.

In Borman’s final assessment, Cromwell is convicted of treason for failing to protect the King from his marriage to Anne of Cleaves. However, Borman suggests the underlying cause for Cromwell’s demise is that he was a commoner among aristocrats who resented his power. In an epilogue Borman notes that authors picture Thomas Cromwell as villain and savior in different revisionist eras. He is a villain for destroying the power of the Roman Catholic Church. He is a savior for reforming the transgressions of the church. He is a Machiavellian terror in some histories; he is a clever lawyer and statesman in others.

Borman’s history of Cromwell resonates to some because it reminds one of Trump’s ascension to the American presidency. Though Trump is no King, he is an aristocrat of wealth surrounded by billionaires of the same aristocracy.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent biography on Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell achieved superlative power while serving Henry VIII. This book is very enjoyable, because in hearing the story, one learns about the daily lives of people nearly 500 years ago. The narration is first class.

2 people found this helpful

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Pragmatic and filled with interestng and fact.

interesting approach to compelling and factual lifestyle traditions of the age. Would have been difficult to capture the man without this complete profile. Will listen again soon and highly suggest to those interested in the history of this fascinating time.

5 people found this helpful

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great book

Factual and does justice to Cromwell. A man highly complex, amoral at times but deeply concerned for the poor in London and the plight of old widows and advancing the Reform movement in England and profiting off it.

5 people found this helpful

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Meh

I purchased this book on preorder so excited was I about its release. However, it is extremely dry. I don't mind that too much but I won't rave about it either. I much prefer someone who discussed the "what ifs" and "speculates" (just a little) about the endless possibilities based on documentation. This enriches the text and requires more than a "history lesson." Borman does neither. What you'll get here is is facts layed one atop the other until the end. If you read Wolf Hall and just want to fact check then this will give you that...but if your looking for something exciting like "The Creation of Anne Boleyn" then keep moving on.

16 people found this helpful

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Pronunciation making me insane

This is a good book, and this is not a critique of the text. Nor of the performance, really, which is fine. There is one thing that drove me totally insane. The narrator changes the way he pronounces the name "Chapuys" as the book goes on. He starts by saying "Chappy" for a few chapters, then starts saying "Chapay" for a while. Then he transitions to "Chappis," after which he makes a dramatic shift and starts saying "Chay-puss." I'm not even done yet and I have a horrible suspicion he's going to change it again before the book ends. I really truly do not care how he pronounces it (I have always pronounced it as you would in modern French, but who knows if that's right), I just wish he would PICK ONE pronunciation and stick with it. It's all I can think about when I'm listening to this. Otherwise, good book, decent reading.

1 person found this helpful

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A must read

The book is well researched and is a fascinating account of Cromwell’s life. If you are an English history buff you will really like this book. Not at all dry and the performance was great!

1 person found this helpful

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Not for the car

I listened to this while driving and I had a hard time following all the intricate intrigue details and all the players when half my brain was distracted driving. I think it also might have been better in print so I could go back and reference who people were. Otherwise great book and good narrator.

1 person found this helpful