With the death of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey in 1530 an era that was on the wane in England, in all Europe, came to an end and marked the finish of the primacy of the prelate as a man of affairs. Here is Wolsey's ascendancy from the commoner, to the promising student at Oxford, to the role of diplomat, adviser of kings and international policy maker and the setting of the 15th and 16th centuries is no mere backdrop for his role but an integral part of the history of his times and his life. So the English scene, before and at the time of Wolsey' birth, the period of the War of Roses, the preparation for the founding of the Tudor dynasty with Henry VII, and, finally, the entrance of Henry VIII, the monarch whom Wolsey coached in the devious ways of statecraft played their several roles in this late medieval time of stress, which, bringing about great changes in the social order, made it possible for one of Wolsey's birth to achieve prominence among the political power elite. The rapid pace of his advance, his ability to seize an opportunity -- or a patron, started early; at 15 he received his Bachelor's degree and then successively became Master of Arts, Chief Bursar, rector in Somersetshire, chaplain at the court of Henry VII, and, under Henry VIII, judge, social reformer, educator and finally diplomatic counselor to the monarch. Here Wolsey's downfall during Anne Boleyn's rise is attributed to his allegiance to Rome which was greater than that due his king, a loyalty which, given time, was fatal. A biography which is essentially a history book and this is no condemnation for it moves with a certain grace and attractive style.