William Paget and the late-Henrican polity, 1543-1547
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This thesis explores the late-Henrican polity through the archive and perspective of William Paget, Henry VIII's secretary at the end of his reign. Paget's papers as secretary (1543-1547), that form the basis of the thesis, are an extensive, unique and relatively under-used source. From this starting-point Paget's role as secretary is explored and he is revealed as the personal servant of the king, whose natural environment was the court. As such he was an influential source of counsel and perhaps the key patronage-broker at court. In this context Paget also had a significant influence over the operation of the dry stamp at the end of the reign. Equally, Paget's role in shaping the function of the secretary and his relations with the recently formed privy council was of considerable importance, providing the template for later Tudor secretaries. Diplomacy in the uncertain world of the 1540s was one of Paget's primary concerns and his priorities can be seen as trying to provide security and stability for the realm. This is revealed not only in his 'Consultation' of August 1546 but also in his diplomacy with the French, the Schmalkaldic League and the Papacy. In this he sometimes found himself at odds with the king and leading a privy council united in a desire for peace. Politically Paget has traditionally been cast as an ambitious politique, the 'master of practices' and part of the earl of Hertford's reform party. Whilst acknowledging Paget's close relations with Hertford this thesis questions the factional interpretation of the last years of the reign and argues that the predominant concern of Paget and his fellow privy councillors was a peaceful succession in which unanimity rather than conflict was the key-note.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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