The modern political scene buzzes with talk of crony capitalism. But by historical standards, today’s practitioners are rank amateurs. Just 10 miles southeast of central London stands Hampton Court Palace, a stunning example of the munificence enjoyed by those with connections. Built by the fabled Cardinal Wolsey, chief minister of King Henry VIII, it is a testament to the stunning wealth accumulation made possible by the power of patronage, all the more intense in an economy dominated by royal monopolies and land grants.
Of course, kings being kings, the good Cardinal did not get to enjoy it very long. The splendor of the palace caught the royal eye, and before long Henry VIII decided it was fit for, well, a king. He took it over as Wolsey’s fortunes cratered in the wake of the Great Divorce.
In this video by Historic Royal Palaces, Jonathan Foyle introduces the viewer to the splendors of Hampton Court. The site today offers a blend of Tudor and baroque architecture, the latter being the result of expansions carried out by later monarchs. The Hampton Court website has a wealth of information for people interested in visiting the famous building and gardens.
Photo Credit: Steve Cadman via Wikipedia