Scholarship has established the prevalence of a reformist ideal of 'the Commonwealth' in early Tudor England, but concentration on scholars and writings has led to a neglect of affairs and politics. This study attempts to discover the fate of reforming programmes when efforts were made to translate them into reality, and it uses the administration of Thomas Cromwell as a test-case. Cromwell, it is well known, favoured advanced thinkers and promoted much parliamentary legislation; how far can we see him as a proponent of 'commonwealth' politics and what success did we have? A close look establishes him as a man who without formal training practised the techniques of the learned and behaved as an intellectual. He also emerges as an evangelical in religion, a believer in the via media between extremes on which the Church of England was to erect its particular form of religion. As the only experienced parliamentarian in the group, he also knew how to handle the instrument of reform. The study discusses this work in two main respects: reforms in the economy and reform of the law.