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Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act

Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act

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The Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries – (citation 27 Henry VIII. c. 28) was an Act of the English Reformation Parliament of 1535/36, the beginning of the legal process by which King Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 set about the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

. It is also referred to as the Suppression of Religious Houses Act 1535, as it was enacted in February 1535 Old Style
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...



From the 14th century onwards, several pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

s had granted licenses for the suppression of religious houses in England.

The breakdown of relations between Henry VIII and the Church in Rome, prompted by his marriage to Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...

, resulted in the Statute in Restraint of Appeals
Statute in Restraint of Appeals
The Statute in Restraint of Appeals – short title Ecclesiastical Appeals Act 1532 – was an English parliamentary Act of 1533, considered by many historians to be the key legal foundation of the English Reformation....

 of 1533, forbidding all appeals to the Pope in Rome on religious or other matters. Pope Clement VII
Pope Clement VII
Clement VII , born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534.-Early life:...

 responded by announcing Henry's provisional excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

, and the hostility between the king and the pope escalated. In the words of John Burton's Monasticon Eboracense (1758) –

Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 met on 4 February 1535/36 and received a digest of the report Valor Ecclesiasticus
Valor Ecclesiasticus
The Valor Ecclesiasticus was a survey of the finances of the church in England, Wales and English controlled parts of Ireland made in 1535 on the orders of Henry VIII....

, a visitation of the monasteries of England commissioned by the King, and soon after passed the Act.

The Act applied only to lesser houses "which have not in lands, tenement
A tenement is, in most English-speaking areas, a substandard multi-family dwelling, usually old, occupied by the poor.-History:Originally the term tenement referred to tenancy and therefore to any rented accommodation...

s, rent
Renting is an agreement where a payment is made for the temporary use of a good, service or property owned by another. A gross lease is when the tenant pays a flat rental amount and the landlord pays for all property charges regularly incurred by the ownership from landowners...

s, tithe
A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products...

s, portions, and other hereditament
In law, a hereditament is any kind of property that can be inherited.Hereditaments are divided into corporeal and incorporeal...

s, above the clear yearly value of two hundred pounds
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

", attacking such houses as dens of iniquity and proposing that those in them should be "committed to great and honourable monasteries of religion" and "compelled to live religiously".


The preamble of the Act states -


The main effect of the Act was to expropriate
Confiscation, from the Latin confiscatio 'joining to the fiscus, i.e. transfer to the treasury' is a legal seizure without compensation by a government or other public authority...

 the lesser religious houses to the King, who (in the words of the Act) "shall have to him and to his heirs all and singular such monasteries, abbeys, and priories, which at any time within one year next before the making of this Act have been given and granted to his majesty by any abbot, prior, abbess, or prioress, under their convent seals, or that otherwise have been suppressed or dissolved... to have and to hold all and singular the premises, with all their rights, profits, jurisdictions, and commodities, unto the king's majesty, and his heirs and assigns for ever, to do and use therewith his and their own wills, to the pleasure of Almighty God, and to the honour and profit of this realm".

This section includes a retrospective
Retrospective generally means to take a look back at events that already have taken place. For example, the term is used in medicine, describing a look back at a patient's medical history or lifestyle.-Music:...

 effect, regularizing suppressions of houses which had already taken place.

See also

  • English Reformation
    English Reformation
    The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

  • List of monasteries dissolved by Henry VIII of England
  • Second Act of Dissolution
    Second Act of Dissolution
    The Second Act of Dissolution , also known as the Act for the Dissolution of the Greater Monasteries, was an Act of the Parliament of England passed in 1539 in the reign of Henry VIII which provided for the dissolution of 552 Catholic monasteries and houses remaining after the Dissolution of the...