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The Cover
January 11, 2012

Thomas Cromwell

JAMA. 2012;307(2):123. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1962

Henry VIII of England, who reigned from 1509 to 1547, is remembered chiefly for having six wives and for presiding over the transition of England from a Catholic to a Protestant nation. The disengagement with Catholicism came about because Henry requested an annulment of his first marriage and the Pope would not agree to it. Henry's chancellor, Thomas More, also opposed the annulment, which led to his conviction for treason and execution. Another advisor, Thomas Cromwell, supported the annulment and found a way to bring it about, and consequently he gained influence with Henry, but he ultimately used his influence unwisely and came to the same end as More. More and Cromwell were both patrons of the master portraitist Hans Holbein (1497/1498-1543), whose portrait of a young woman was indirectly the cause of Cromwell's fall from power.