chapter
Governmental change
Pages 1

With Thomas Cromwell at the helm, the 1530s were a time of important developments in the machinery of government, though most historians would now deny that they constituted the ‘revolution in government’ identified by GR Elton. Most significantly, steps were taken to separate governmental institutions from the king’s household. During the 1530s, Cromwell reconstituted the royal financial institutions into six selfcontained departments. The Exchequer continued to deal with the traditional profits of justice, together with customs and parliamentary taxation, and the Duchy of Lancaster with the revenues from its lands. The Court of General Surveyors dealt with the lands of the crown, the Court of Augmentations with the former monastic lands. Finally, the Court of First Fruits and Tenths was responsible for the income due from the secular church,14 and the Court of Wards and Liberties for the feudal revenues of the crown. The new system was not foolproof; clearly, there was scope for duplication and its corollary, difficulties over demarcation of responsibility, but it was an important step in the process of developing an efficient system of financial administration for the benefit of royal government.