Henry VIII, Cromwell, and Anne Boleyn: Yale’s Tudor treasures

View Slideshow 12 Photos

For those who follow PBS or The New York Times bestseller list, Thomas Cromwell's name is a familiar one. The subject of Hilary Mantel’s bestselling trilogy, he burst onto the popular culture scene six years ago in the book “Wolf Hall” and its 2012 sequel, “Bring up the Bodies,” both winners of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The books have sold millions of copies and the third installment is in the works. PBS just wrapped its series based on the first two novels. Cromwell has also taken center stage on Broadway with the Royal Shakespeare Company production based on Mantel’s historical fiction. Fans have followed Cromwell's rise from humble beginnings to become the most powerful man in England, next to Henry VIII. He engineered Henry’s divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and made possible Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. When the king became disenchanted with Boleyn, Cromwell orchestrated her execution, 479 years ago on May 19. His role in Henry’s unhappy arranged marriage to Anne of Cleves paved the way for Cromwell’s downfall. He was executed on July 28, 1540, the day that Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Yale houses a number of paintings, prints, drawings, manuscripts, and coins related to Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, and Anne Boleyn. To view the material, visit Yale’s online digital collections at discover.odai.yale.edu, or the websites of the Yale Center for British Art, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Lewis Walpole Library.