As a man in a powerful position Wolsey slowly but efficiently got rid of his enemies. It is widely believed that he was the mastermind behind the fall of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham and he had several other courtiers tried for adultery through the ecclesiastical court. He even came to the rescue of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor after they had married in secret and was in danger of the King's wrath; Wolsey convinced the King that he should not execute them but befriend them instead.
Wolsey's rise to power was also evident when he was made a Cardinal by Leo X - a post that made the newly appointed cardinal seem untouchable. It was due to Wolsey that the Field of the Cloth of Gold was a succes and the cardinal himself planned every detail of it.
When England's greatest ally, King Ferdinand of Spain, died and was succeeded by Charles V it was a hard blow to the English power on the European continent. But Wolsey saw an opportunity to increase British influence. The pope was eager to gather a new crusade and Wolsey used his position within the church to create the Treaty of London by which it was clear that it was Wolsey (and consequently England) that organized a huge pace summit between twenty European nations. This brought England back into the game that was European politics and power - France seized the opportunity and signed a treaty with the rising England just two days later.
His many powerful positions earned Wolsey a great fortune. He spent a large part of it on rebuilding Hampton Court Palace and decided to found a college at Oxford named Cardinal College (today it is called Christ Church). But the cardinal was haughty and many courtiers hated his arrogance - it was made even worse when you considered his lower background. In this way Wolsey made many enemies within court.
Wolsey was - as always - at the King's command. He appealed to the pope and presented three different reasons as to why the pope should grant the English King his divorce. The first was that the original papal dispensation that had been created when Henry VIII wanted to marry Catherine (who was his brother's widow) was defect. Wolsey pointed to the fact that the dispensation was in obvious contradiction to the book of Leviticus that clearly stated that a man could not marry his brother's widow. His second argument was that the original dispensation was worded in a wrong way. Wolsey's final appeal was that the decision should be decided in England and that he - as a papal legate - would supervise the trial. The pope agreed to the last and sent two papal legates to England including Cardinal Campeggio. But Campeggio was old and the journey took a long time; when he finally arrived Campeggio delayed the trial so much that it had to be put to a hold in July 1529.
This failure sealed Wolsey's fate. His increasing unpopularity had spread to Anne Boleyn's supporters who now saw him as a direct hindrance to her way to the throne and the King was tired of Wolsey's failure to secure the annulment. In 1529 Wolsey was officially stripped of his title as Lord Chancellor and his magnificent castle of Hampton Court Palace which then went to the King. Wolsey was allowed to keep the title of Archbishop of York and consequently travelled to Yorkshire. But on his way he was ordered back to London by Henry Percy, the Duke of Northumberland.
The Cardinal hastily turned around and headed back to London but fell ill. On November 29 1530 Thomas Wolsey died - it was probably the best that could have happened to him for it is almost certain that a trial would have awaited him in London. A trial he could not win.