Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Question from Lauren - Great Master of the Household

What was the position of 'Great Master of the Household'?

I see that Wikipedia has an article on 'Master of the Household', which I assume is the same thing, but this is just from 1660 onwards. Who were Henry VIII's great masters of the household and how important a position was it?


Anonymous said...

I believe it was only held once, by Charles Brandon. It was to do with the merging of the two households in Henry's Palaces, the names for which have gone from my head, sorry, but basically they were the Privvy Chamber of the King and the general household. They combined under the rule of the Brandon as the Great Master to streamline everything and prevent squabbling between the two, but I believe it stopped being referref to as such on his death...But I could well be wrong!

Foose said...

It was a short-lived innovation of Thomas Cromwell, which did not long survive his death. In the words of David Loades (Henry VIII, 2011, Chapter 5 "The Court of King Henry"):

"Thomas Cromwell, like Wolsey, became worried about how much the [king's] household was costing, and rightly believed that this was due largely to the existence of large numbers of traditional perquisites. He therefore decided to abolish both the chief offices, the Lord Chamberlain [who oversaw the domus regie magnificencie, the Chamber, where the king lived with his gentlemen in attendance] and the Lord Steward [who ruled the domus providencie, charged with the actual work of maintaining the royal household], replacing them with a single Great Lord Master. Like the Privy Chamber this was modelled on the French system, and was intended to improve efficiency by unifying control. Ironically, the changes were implemented in the very year of his fall, 1540. The King must have consented to them, but he had to will to persist. As early as 1543, he had appointed a new Lord Chamberlain, and the Lord Great Master thereafter became little more than the Lord Steward under another name until the whole traditional structure was restored in 1553."

Foose said...

Sorry, the king had "no will" to persist, not "to will."