Mantel's More "would chain you up for a mistranslation" whereas her Cromwell would count different translations equally valid. Bring Up The Bodies, like Wolf Hall, consistently conflates the issue of biblical translation with the changes that needed to be made to a corrupt Church, as if in opposing prompt translation of the Bible into English, More and Erasmus were trying to keep English men and women under the power of those who had privileged knowledge. Mantel neglects to mention that humanist scholars wanted a translation but only when a consensus in scholarly opinion prevailed.
But Hilary Mantel is hardly going to make Cromwell put the case for the opposition. Her Cromwell is the poster boy for beating those nasty elitist academic types at their own game: he overcame his humble origins through hard work and natural talent, and thumbed his nose at those who got to the same position through inherited wealth and family influence. In Wolf Hall, Mantel has Cromwell say of the ruling class, "The trick is to always keep them up to their own standards. They made the rules." The appeal of such rhetoric goes without saying, as does its application to modern Britain.
Bring Up The Bodies continues to conflate necessary church reform (rooting out sexual abuse by the clergy, for example) with radical reform (dissolving monasteries that served as schools and hospitals for their communities), presenting Cromwell as a man seeking to liberate all from a hypocritical Church. For those who would use the recent child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church as a reason for making Britain entirely secular, Mantel's Cromwell is a gift.
Yet few in the Tudor Church were as corrupt and hypocritical as Cardinal Wolsey, and when in Bring Up The Bodies Cromwell exacts revenge for old master Wolsey, Mantel's language positively glows with praise: "Four men, who for a joke turned the cardinal into a beast; who took away his wit, his kindness, and his grace." We're meant to like Cromwell for his loyalty to his old friend Wolsey at this point, but his ability selectively to recall only that which suits his ends, his ability to hold a grudge for so long, and his willingness to see innocent men hanged, drawn and tortured, is chilling in the extreme and morally queasy-making- considering how the reader is supposed to identify with him.
The way Mantel treats the issue of torture in Bring Up The Bodies is interesting, as Wolf Hall painted Thomas More as a sadistic torturer, a portrait which the Tudor historian John Guy refutes in his essay on More and heretics in The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More. In Bring Up The Bodies, Mantel is bound by historical record to show Cromwell likewise having to deal with men who won't cooperate when he asks them to. These men were the unfortunate souls Cromwell seized upon when needing expedient reasons to call Anne Boleyn's reputation into disrepute in a court of law, so that she might be found guilty of treason and summarily executed, thus making way for Jane Seymour and easing Cromwell's path into the future. These particular men were easy targets because there was enough circumstantial evidence in their dealings with Anne Boleyn to warrant use in a court of law. Their innocence or guilt was irrelevant: Cromwell was only interested in truths he could twist, truths he could use.