In this first volume of a two-volume edition of the Life and Letters of Thomas Cromwell, R.B. Merriman investigates Cromwell's life as a statesman, presenting his life and work from a political rather than religious bias. He explores Cromwell's background, adventurous early life, his relationship with Wolsey and the latter's subsequent downfall. He also discusses his rapid rise to become Henry VIII's most trusted adviser, his dealings with Cardinal Pole and Henry's disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves and its contribution to Cromwell's subsequent downfall and execution in 1540. The latter part of the book contains the full text of a large body of Cromwell's correspondence between 1523 and 1535, copied from the original manuscripts where available. These vibrant and informative letters make the book an invaluable resource - they are a window into the period, providing insight into political, religious and intellectual culture.