Dissolution of the Monasteries

Dissolution of the Monasteries

Overview
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
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...

 disbanded monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

, priories
Priory
A priory is a house of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or religious sisters , or monasteries of monks or nuns .The Benedictines and their offshoots , the Premonstratensians, and the...

, convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

s and friaries in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

; appropriated their income, disposed of their assets, and provided for their former members. He was given the authority to do this in England and Wales by the Act of Supremacy, passed by Parliament
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...

 in 1534, which made him Supreme Head of the Church in England, thus separating England from Papal authority
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...

; and by the First Suppression Act (1536) and the Second Suppression Act
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...

 (1539).
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Encyclopedia
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
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...

 disbanded monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

, priories
Priory
A priory is a house of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or religious sisters , or monasteries of monks or nuns .The Benedictines and their offshoots , the Premonstratensians, and the...

, convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

s and friaries in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

; appropriated their income, disposed of their assets, and provided for their former members. He was given the authority to do this in England and Wales by the Act of Supremacy, passed by Parliament
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...

 in 1534, which made him Supreme Head of the Church in England, thus separating England from Papal authority
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...

; and by the First Suppression Act (1536) and the Second Suppression Act
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...

 (1539). Although some monastic foundations dated back to Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon may refer to:* Anglo-Saxons, a group that invaded Britain** Old English, their language** Anglo-Saxon England, their history, one of various ships* White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, an ethnicity* Anglo-Saxon economy, modern macroeconomic term...

 England, the overwhelming majority of the 825 religious communities dissolved by Henry VIII owed their existence to the wave of monastic enthusiasm that had swept England and Wales in the 11th and 12th centuries; in consequence of which religious houses in the 16th century controlled appointment to about a third of all parish benefice
Benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

s, and disposed of about half of all ecclesiastical income.

Context


The Dissolution of the Monasteries in England took place in the political context of other attacks on the historic institutions of Western Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 which had been under way for some time, many of them related to the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 in Continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

; however, the religious changes in England under Henry VIII and Edward VI were of a different nature from those taking place in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Scotland
Scottish Reformation
The Scottish Reformation was Scotland's formal break with the Papacy in 1560, and the events surrounding this. It was part of the wider European Protestant Reformation; and in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the re-establishment of the church along Reformed lines, and politically in...

 and Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

.

On the continent, while the nobles were acquiring a taste for Church plunder, there was the added element of mass discontent against ecclesiastical power and wealth among common people and the lower levels of clergy and civil society. In England the early Reformation was directed from the highest levels of society, but was met with widespread popular suspicion; spilling over, in other occasions and localities, into active resistance.

The dissolution resulted in few modifications to the practice of religion in England's parish churches; and in general the English religious reforms of the 1530s corresponded in few respects to the precepts of Protestant Reformers, and encountered much popular hostility when they did. The Protestant flavour of innovations expressed in the Ten Articles was reversed when Henry VIII expressed his desire for continued orthodoxy with the Six Articles of 1539, which remained in effect until after his death.

Cardinal Wolsey had obtained from the Pope
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...

 a Papal Bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 authorising some limited reforms in the English Church as early as 1518, but reformers (both conservative and radical) had become increasingly frustrated at their lack of progress. Henry wanted to change this, and in November 1529 Parliament passed acts reforming apparent abuses in the English Church. They set caps on fees for probating wills and mortuary expenses for burial in hallowed ground, tightened regulations covering rights of sanctuary
Sanctuary
A sanctuary is any place of safety. They may be categorized into human and non-human .- Religious sanctuary :A religious sanctuary can be a sacred place , or a consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.- Sanctuary as a sacred place :#Sanctuary as a sacred place:#:In...

 for criminals, and reduced to two the number of church benefice
Benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

s that could in the future be held by one man. These sought to demonstrate that establishing royal jurisdiction over the Church would ensure progress in "religious reformation" where Papal authority had been insufficient. The monasteries were next in line.

J.J. Scarisbrick remarked in his biography of Henry VIII:
The stories of monastic impropriety, vice and excess that were to be collected by Thomas Cromwell's visitors may have been biased and exaggerated, although chronicled also by Sir Thomas More. Nevertheless, the religious houses of England and Wales, with the notable exceptions of those of the Carthusian
Carthusian
The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

s, the Observant Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

s, and the Bridgettine nuns, had long ceased to play a leading role in the spiritual life of the country; and other than in these three orders, observance of strict monastic rules was partial at best. Donations and legacies now tended to go instead towards parish churches, university colleges, grammar schools and collegiate churches; which suggests public approbation of such purposes. Levels of monastic debt were increasing, and average numbers of professed religious were falling. Only a few monks and nuns lived in conspicuous luxury, but most were very comfortably fed and housed by the standards of the time, and few any longer set standards of ascetic piety or religious observance. Only a minority of houses could now support the twelve or thirteen professed religious usually regarded as the minimum necessary to maintain the proper round of the Divine Office. Extensive monastic complexes dominated English towns of any size; but most were less than half full.

Nor was it insignificant that Cromwell and Henry, from 1534 onwards, were constantly seeking for ways to redirect ecclesiastical income to the benefit of the crown; efforts they justified by the contention that much ecclesiastical revenue had been improperly diverted from royal resources in the first place. Princes throughout Europe were facing severe financial difficulties due to sharply rising expenditures, especially to pay for armies, fighting ships and fortifications. Most tended, sooner or later, to resort to plundering monastic wealth, and taxing the clergy. Protestant princes might claim a godly authority to do so; Catholic princes might seek the approval of the Papacy. The wealth of the Church offered a standing temptation for secular rulers; and idle monastic wealth was the most exposed target.

Finally, it is probably not coincidental that the dissolution of the monasteries coincided closely with the introduction of the printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 to England. This invention not only aided reformers in spreading their religious texts, it also made redundant the monasteries' most valuable service to the monarch - their painstaking copying of manuscripts.

English precedents


By the time Henry VIII turned his mind to the business of monastery reform, royal action to suppress religious houses had a history stretching back more than 200 years. The first case was that of the so-called 'Alien Priories'
Alien priory
Alien priories were religious establishments in England, such as a monastery or convent, which were under the control of another religious house outside of England...

. As a result of the Norman Conquest some French religious orders held substantial property through their daughter monasteries in England.

Some of these were merely agricultural estates with a single foreign monk in residence to supervise things, others were rich foundations in their own right (e.g. Lewes Priory
Lewes Priory
The Priory of St Pancras was the first Cluniac house in England and had one of the largest monastic churches in the country. It was set within an extensive walled and gated precinct laid out in a commanding location fronting the tidal shore-line at the head of the Ouse valley to the south of Lewes...

 which was a daughter of Cluny
Cluny Abbey
Cluny Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was built in the Romanesque style, with three churches built in succession from the 10th to the early 12th centuries....

 and answered to the abbot of that great French house).

Owing to the fairly constant state of war between England and France in the Late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 successive English governments had objected to money going overseas to France from these Alien Priories ('trading with the enemy') whence the French king might get hold of it, and to foreign prelates having jurisdiction over English monasteries.

Furthermore, after 1378, French monasteries (and hence alien priories dependent on them) maintained allegiance to the continuing Avignon Papacy
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

, and so their suppression was supported by the rival Roman Popes
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

, conditional on all confiscated monastic property eventually being redirected into other religious uses. The king's officers first sequestrated the assets of the Alien Priories in 1295-1303 under Edward I
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

, and the same thing happened repeatedly for long periods over the course of the 14th century, most particularly in the reign of Edward III
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

.

Those Alien Priories that had functioning communities were forced to pay large sums to the king, while those that were mere estates were confiscated and run by royal officers, the proceeds going to the king's pocket. Such estates were a valuable source of income for the Crown in its French wars. Some of the Alien Priories were allowed to become naturalised (for instance Castle Acre Priory
Castle Acre Priory
Castle Acre Priory, in the village of Castle Acre, Norfolk, England, is thought to have been founded in 1089 by William de Warenne the son the 1st Earl of Surrey who had founded England's first Cluniac priory at Lewes in 1077. The order originated from Burgundy...

), on payment of heavy fines and bribes, but for the rest their fates were sealed when Henry V
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

 dissolved them by act of Parliament in 1414.

The properties went to the Crown; some were kept, some were subsequently given or sold to Henry's supporters, others went to his new monasteries of Syon Abbey
Syon Abbey
Syon Monastery , was a monastery of the Bridgettine Order founded in 1415 which stood until its demolition in the 16th c. on the left bank of the River Thames within the parish of Isleworth, in the county of Middlesex on or near the site of the present Georgian mansion of Syon House...

 and the Carthusians at Sheen Priory
Sheen Priory
Sheen Priory in Sheen, now Richmond, London was a former Carthusian monastery founded in 1414 within the royal manor of Sheen, on the south bank of the Thames, upstream and approximately 9 miles southwest of the Palace of Westminster...

, others went to educational purposes. All these suppressions enjoyed Papal approval, though successive 15th century Popes continued to press for assurances that, now that the Avignon Papacy had been defeated, the confiscated monastic property would revert to religious and educational uses.

The royal transfer of monastic estates to educational foundations proved an inspiration to the bishops, and as the 15th century waned such moves became more and more common. The subjects of these dissolutions were usually small and poor Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 or Augustinian communities (especially those of women) with few powerful friends; the great abbeys and orders exempt from diocesan supervision such as the Cistercians were unaffected.

The consequent new foundations were most often Oxford University
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 and Cambridge University
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

 colleges, instances of this include John Alcock
John Alcock
John Alcock may refer to:*John Alcock , British Royal Air Force officer*John Alcock , English churchman*John Alcock , English organist and composer...

, Bishop of Ely
Bishop of Ely
The Bishop of Ely is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Ely in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese roughly covers the county of Cambridgeshire , together with a section of north-west Norfolk and has its see in the City of Ely, Cambridgeshire, where the seat is located at the...

 dissolving the Benedictine nunnery of Saint Radegund to found Jesus College, Cambridge
Jesus College, Cambridge
Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.The College was founded in 1496 on the site of a Benedictine nunnery by John Alcock, then Bishop of Ely...

 (1496), and William Waynflete
William Waynflete
William Waynflete , born William Patten, was Bishop of Winchester from 1447 to 1486, and Lord Chancellor of England from 1456 to 1460. He is best remembered as the founder of Magdalen College and Magdalen College School in Oxford....

, Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

 acquiring Selborne Priory
Selborne Priory
Selborne Priory was a priory of Augustinian canons in Selborne, Hampshire, England.-Foundation:The priory was founded in 1233 by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. The bishop initially endowed the priory with lands obtained by gift from James de Acangre, James de Norton, and King Henry III...

 in 1484 for Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...

.

In the following century Lady Margaret Beaufort obtained the property of Creake Abbey (whose religious had all died of Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 in 1506) to fund her works at Oxford and Cambridge, an action she took on the advice of such a staunch traditionalist as John Fisher
John Fisher
Saint John Fisher was an English Roman Catholic scholastic, bishop, cardinal and martyr. He shares his feast day with Saint Thomas More on 22 June in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and 6 July on the Church of England calendar of saints...

, Bishop of Rochester
Bishop of Rochester
The Bishop of Rochester is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Rochester in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers the west of the county of Kent and is centred in the city of Rochester where the bishop's seat is located at the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin...

.

In 1522 Fisher himself is also found dissolving the women's monasteries of Bromhall and Higham to aid St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college's alumni include nine Nobel Prize winners, six Prime Ministers, three archbishops, at least two princes, and three Saints....

. That same year Cardinal Wolsey dissolved St Frideswide's Priory (now Oxford Cathedral) to form the basis of his Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...

; in 1524 he secured a Papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 to dissolve some 20 other monasteries to provide an endowment for his new college. In all these suppressions, friars, monks and nuns were absorbed into other houses of their respective orders.

The conventional wisdom of the time was that the proper daily observance of the Divine Office
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...

 of prayer required a minimum of twelve professed religious, but by the 1530s only a minority of religious houses in England could provide this; and accordingly most observers were agreed that a systematic reform of the English church must necessarily involve the drastic concentration of monks and nuns into many fewer, larger, houses; potentially making much monastic income available for more productive religious, educational and social purposes.

But what may have represented a consensus in general principle, often faced strong resistance in practice. Members of religious houses proposed for dissolution might resist relocation; the houses invited to receive them might refuse to co-operate; and local notables might resist the disruption in their networks of influence. Moreover, the bishops found intractable opposition when they sought to enforce the rigorous observation of monastic rules; especially in respect of their attempts to require monks and nuns to remain within their cloisters.

The King actively supported Wolsey, Fisher and Richard Foxe
Richard Foxe
Richard Foxe was an English churchman, successively Bishop of Exeter, Bath and Wells, Durham, and Winchester, Lord Privy Seal, and founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.-Life:...

 in their programmes of monastic reform; but even so, progress was painfully slow, especially where religious orders had been exempted from episcopal oversight by Papal authority.

Continental precedents


While these transactions were going on in England, elsewhere in Europe events were taking place which presaged a storm. In 1521, Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 had published 'De votis monasticis' ('On the monastic vows'), a treatise which declared that the monastic life had no scriptural basis, was pointless and also actively immoral in that it was not compatible with the true spirit of Christianity. Luther also declared that monastic vows were meaningless and that no one should feel bound by them. Luther, a one-time Augustinian friar, found some comfort when these views had a dramatic effect: a special meeting of the German province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

 of his order held the same year accepted them and voted that henceforth every member of the regular clergy
Regular clergy
Regular clergy, or just regulars, is applied in the Roman Catholic Church to clerics who follow a "rule" in their life. Strictly, it means those members of religious orders who have made solemn profession. It contrasts with secular clergy.-Terminology and history:The observance of the Rule of St...

 should be free to renounce their vows, resign their offices and get married. At Luther's home monastery in Wittenberg
Wittenberg
Wittenberg, officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is a city in Germany in the Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt, on the river Elbe. It has a population of about 50,000....

 all the friars, save one, did so.

News of these events did not take long to spread among Protestant-minded (and acquisitive) rulers across Europe, and some, particularly in Scandinavia, moved very quickly. In Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 in 1527 King Gustavus Vasa
Gustav I of Sweden
Gustav I of Sweden, born Gustav Eriksson of the Vasa noble family and later known simply as Gustav Vasa , was King of Sweden from 1523 until his death....

 secured an edict of the Diet allowing him to confiscate any monastic lands he deemed necessary to increase royal revenues; and to force the return of donated properties to the descendants of those who had donated them. In one fell swoop, Gustav gained large estates and a company of diehard supporters. The Swedish monasteries and convents were simultaneously deprived of their livelihoods, with the result that some collapsed immediately, while others lingered on for a few decades before persecution and further confiscations finally caused them all to disappear by 1580. In Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, King Frederick I of Denmark
Frederick I of Denmark
Frederick I of Denmark and Norway was the King of Denmark and Norway. The name is also spelled Friedrich in German, Frederik in Danish, and Fredrik in Swedish and Norwegian...

 made his grab in 1528, confiscating 15 of the houses of the wealthiest monasteries and convents. Further laws under his successor over the course of the 1530s banned the friars, and forced monks and nuns to transfer title to their houses to the Crown, which passed them out to supportive nobles, who were soon found enjoying the fruits of former monastic lands. Danish monastic life was to vanish in a way identical to that of Sweden.

In Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, too, monasteries came under threat. In 1523 the government of the city-state of Zurich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 pressured nuns to leave their monasteries and marry, and followed up the next year by dissolving all monasteries in its territory, under the pretext of using their revenues to fund education and help the poor. The city of Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 followed suit in 1529 and Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 adopted the same policy in 1530. An attempt was also made in 1530 to dissolve the famous Abbey of St. Gall
Abbey of St. Gall
The Abbey of Saint Gall is a religious complex in the city of St. Gallen in present-day Switzerland. The Carolingian-era Abbey has existed since 719 and became an independent principality during the 13th century, and was for many centuries one of the chief Benedictine abbeys in Europe. It was...

, which was a state of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 in its own right, but this failed, and St. Gall has survived.

It is inconceivable that these moves went unnoticed by the English government and particularly by Thomas Cromwell, who had been employed by Wolsey in his monastic suppressions, and who was shortly to become Henry VIII's chief minister. However, Henry himself appears to have been much more influenced by the opinions on monasticism of the humanists Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus , known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian....

 and Thomas More
Thomas More
Sir Thomas More , also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor...

, especially as found in Erasmus's work In Praise of Folly (1511) and More's Utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

 1516. Erasmus and More promoted ecclesiastical reform while remaining faithful Catholics, and had ridiculed such monastic practices as repetitive formal religion, superstitious pilgrimages for the veneration of relics and the accumulation of monastic wealth. Henry appears from the first to have shared these views; never having endowed a religious house, and only once having undertaken a religious pilgrimage (to Walsingham
Walsingham
Walsingham is a village in the English county of Norfolk. The village is famed for its religious shrines in honour of the Virgin Mary and as a major pilgrimage centre...

 in 1511). From 1518 Thomas More was increasingly influential as a royal servant and counsellor, in the course of which his correspondence included a series of strong condemnations of the idleness and vice in much monastic life; alongside his equally vituperative attacks on Luther. Henry himself corresponded continually with Erasmus; prompting him to be more explicit in his public rejection of the key tenets of Lutheranism, and offering him church preferement, should he wish to return to England.

Process



On failing famously to receive his desired annulment from the Pope, Henry had himself declared Supreme Head
Supreme Head
Supreme Head of the Church of England was a title held by King Henry VIII of England signifying his leadership of the Church of England.-History:...

 of the Church in England in February 1531. In April 1533 an Act in Restraint of Appeals eliminated the right of clergy to appeal to "foreign tribunals" (Rome) over the King's head in any spiritual or financial matter. All ecclesiastical charges and levies that had previously been payable to Rome, would now go to the King. Those who refused to assent to the Royal Supremacy were liable to execution for treason - a fate which befell the London Carthusians and Observant Franciscans in 1535, with the consequent confiscation of their religious houses. By the Submission of the Clergy
Submission of the Clergy
The Submission of the Clergy was a process by which the Church of England gave up their power to formulate church laws without the King's licence and assent. It was first passed by the Convocation of Canterbury in 1532 and then by the Reformation Parliament in 1534...

, the English clergy subscribed to the proposition that the King was, and had always been, the Supreme Head of the Church in England. Consequently, in Henry's view, any act of monastic resistance to royal authority would not only be treasonable, but also a breach of the monastic vow of obedience
Vow of obedience
The Vow of Obedience in Catholicism concerns one of the three counsels of perfection. It forms part of the vows that Christian monks and nuns must make to enter the consecrated life, whether as a member of a religious institute living in community or as consecrated hermit...

.

In 1534 Henry had Parliament
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...

 authorise Thomas Cromwell to "visit"
Canonical Visitation
A canonical visitation is the act of an ecclesiastical superior who in the discharge of his office visits persons or places with a view of maintaining faith and discipline, and of correcting abuses by the application of proper remedies.-Catholic usage:...

 all the monasteries, including those like the Cistercians previously exempted by Papal dispensation, to purify them in their religious life, and to instruct them in their duty to obey the King and reject Papal
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...

 authority. In the meanwhile, Cromwell had also undertaken an inventory of the assets and income of the entire ecclesiastical estate of England and Wales, including the monasteries (see 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....

), through local commissioners who reported in May 1535. Once the valuation was complete, Cromwell delegated his visitation authority to hand-picked commissioners; chiefly Richard Layton
Richard Layton
Richard Layton was an English churchman, jurist and diplomat, dean of York and a principal agent of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell in the Dissolution of the Monasteries.-Life:...

, Thomas Legh, John ap Rice and John Tregonwell
John Tregonwell
Sir John Tregonwell was an English jurist, a principal agent of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell in the Dissolution of the Monasteries.-Life:...

; for the purposes of ascertaining the quality of religious life being maintained in religious houses; of assessing the prevalence of 'superstitious' religious observances such as the veneration of relics; and for inquiring into evidence of moral laxity (especially sexual). The chosen commissioners were mostly secular clergy, and appear to have been Erasmian in their views, and dismissive of the value of monastic life. An objective assessment of the quality of monastic observance in England in the 1530s would almost certainly have been largely negative, but Cromwell did not leave such matters to chance. Monastic life, both numerically speaking and in the rigour of religious observance, had been in decline for some time. By 1536, the thirteen Cistercian houses in Wales held only 85 monks amongst them. However, where the reports of misbehaviour returned by the visitors can be checked against other sources, they commonly appear to have been greatly exaggerated, often recalling events and scandals from years before.
In the autumn of 1535, the visiting commissioners were sending back to Cromwell written reports of all the lurid doings they claimed to have discovered. In a few instances, impropriety and irreligion had been so great that the commissioners had felt compelled to suppress a house on the spot; in others, the abbot, prior or noble patron was reported to be petitioning the King for a house to be dissolved. Such authority had formerly rested with the Pope, but now the King would need to establish a legal basis for dissolution in statutory law. Accordingly Parliament enacted the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act
Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act
The Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries – was an Act of the English Reformation Parliament of 1535/36, the beginning of the legal process by which King Henry VIII set about the Dissolution of the Monasteries...

 in early 1536, relying in large part on the reports of "impropriety" Cromwell had received, establishing the power of the King to dissolve religious houses that were failing to maintain a religious life; and consequently providing for the King to compulsorily dissolve monasteries with annual incomes of less than £200 (of which there were potentially 419); but also giving the King the discretion to exempt any of these houses from dissolution at his pleasure. Accordingly, many monasteries proposed for dissolution put forward a case for continuation, offering to pay substantial fines in recompense; and many of these cases were accepted, so that only 243 houses were actually dissolved at this time.

The houses identified for suppression were then visited by a further set of commissioners charged with effecting the arrangements for closure, and empowered to obtain prompt co-operation from monastic superiors by the offer of pensions and cash gratuities. The property of the dissolved smaller houses reverted to the Crown and Cromwell established a new government agency, the Court of Augmentations
Court of Augmentations
The Court of Augmentations was established during the reign of King Henry VIII of England along with three lesser courts following the dissolution of the monasteries. Its primary function was to gain better control over the land and finances formerly held by the Roman Catholic Church in the kingdom...

 to manage it; while the ordinary monks and nuns were given the choice of secularization (with a cash gratuity but no pension), or of transfer to a continuing larger house of the same order. The majority chose to remain in the religious life, and, in some areas, the premises of suppressed religious houses were recycled into newly founded houses to accommodate them. Two houses, Norton Priory
Norton Priory
Norton Priory is a historic site in Norton, Runcorn, Cheshire, England, comprising the remains of an abbey complex dating from the 12th to 16th centuries, and an 18th-century country house; it is now a museum. The remains are a scheduled ancient monument and have been designated by English...

 in Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

, and Hexham Abbey
Hexham Abbey
Hexham Abbey is a place of Christian worship dedicated to St Andrew and located in the town of Hexham, Northumberland, in northeast England. Since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537, the Abbey has been the parish church of Hexham.-History:...

 in Northumberland
Northumberland
Northumberland is the northernmost ceremonial county and a unitary district in North East England. For Eurostat purposes Northumberland is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "Northumberland and Tyne and Wear" NUTS 2 region...

, attempted to resist the commissioners by force; actions which Henry interpreted as treason, resulting in his writing personally to demand the summary brutal punishment of those responsible. The prior and canons of Norton were imprisoned for several months, and were fortunate to escape with their lives; the monks of Hexham, who made the further mistake of becoming involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace
Pilgrimage of Grace
The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular rising in York, Yorkshire during 1536, in protest against Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, as well as other specific political, social and economic grievances. It was done in action against Thomas Cromwell...

, were executed.

This first round of suppressions contributed to popular discontent in the Pilgrimage of Grace
Pilgrimage of Grace
The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular rising in York, Yorkshire during 1536, in protest against Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, as well as other specific political, social and economic grievances. It was done in action against Thomas Cromwell...

 of 1536; an event which led to Henry increasingly associating monasticism with betrayal, as most of the spared religious houses in the north of England (more or less willingly) sided with the rebels; while former monks resumed religious life in several of the suppressed houses. Although Henry continued for a while to maintain that his sole objective was monastic reform, it became increasingly clear that official policy now envisaged the total end of monasticism. Hugh Latimer
Hugh Latimer
Hugh Latimer was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, Bishop of Worcester before the Reformation, and later Church of England chaplain to King Edward VI. In 1555, under Queen Mary, he was burnt at the stake, becoming one of the three Oxford Martyrs of Anglicanism.-Life:Latimer was born into a...

, appointed bishop of Worcester
Worcester
The City of Worcester, commonly known as Worcester, , is a city and county town of Worcestershire in the West Midlands of England. Worcester is situated some southwest of Birmingham and north of Gloucester, and has an approximate population of 94,000 people. The River Severn runs through the...

 in 1535, and a reformer with pronounced Lutheran sympathies, had successfully encouraged the wealthier monasteries in his diocese to provide active support in preaching, prayer and charity to their local communities. Latimer wrote to Cromwell in 1538 to plead for the continuation of Great Malvern Priory
Great Malvern Priory
Great Malvern Priory in Malvern, Worcestershire, England, was a Benedictine monastery c.1075-1540 and is now an Anglican parish church.-History:...

, and of "two or three in every shire of such remedy", but by then only total surrender was acceptable. Government lawyers scripted a legal pretext, in that the superior of a religious house (abbot, abbess, prior or prioress) was the "owner" of the monastic property of the house and hence, if the superior were to be convicted of treason, all the property of the abbey would legally revert to the Crown. One major Abbey whose monks had been closely implicated in the Pilgrimage of Grace was that of Furness
Furness
Furness is a peninsula in south Cumbria, England. At its widest extent, it is considered to cover the whole of North Lonsdale, that part of the Lonsdale hundred that is an exclave of the historic county of Lancashire, lying to the north of Morecambe Bay....

 in Lancashire; the abbot, fearful of a treason charge, petitioned to be allowed to make a voluntary surrender of his house, which Cromwell happily approved. From then on, all dissolutions that were not a consequence of convictions for treason, were legally "voluntary" - a principle that was taken a stage further with the voluntary surrender of Lewes
Lewes
Lewes is the county town of East Sussex, England and historically of all of Sussex. It is a civil parish and is the centre of the Lewes local government district. The settlement has a history as a bridging point and as a market town, and today as a communications hub and tourist-oriented town...

 priory in November 1537, when for the first time the monks were offered life pensions if they co-operated, and were not accorded the option of transfer to another house. This created a "stick and carrot" in favour of further dissolution. Abbots and priors came under pressure from their communities to offer voluntary surrender, if they could obtain favourable terms for pensions; while also knowing that if they refused to surrender, they might suffer the penalty for treason; and their religious house would be dissolved anyway. In 1538 applications for surrender became a flood, and Cromwell appointed local commissioners to encourage rapid compliance with the King's wishes, to supervise the orderly sale of monastic goods and buildings, and to ensure that the former monks and nuns were provided with pensions, cash gratuities and clothing. Monks or nuns who were handicapped or infirm were marked out for more generous treatment, and care was taken throughout that there should be nobody cast out of their place unprovided for (who might otherwise have increased the burden of charity for local parishes). The endowments of the monasteries, landed property and appropriated parish tithes and glebe
Glebe
Glebe Glebe Glebe (also known as Church furlong or parson's closes is an area of land within a manor and parish used to support a parish priest.-Medieval origins:...

, were transferred to the Court of Augmentations
Court of Augmentations
The Court of Augmentations was established during the reign of King Henry VIII of England along with three lesser courts following the dissolution of the monasteries. Its primary function was to gain better control over the land and finances formerly held by the Roman Catholic Church in the kingdom...

, who would thereon pay out life pensions at the agreed rate (subject to a 10% tax deduction).
None of this process of legislation and visitation had applied to the houses of the friars. At the beginning of the 14th century there had been around 5,000 friars in England, occupying extensive complexes in all towns of any size. But by the 16th century their income from donations had collapsed, their numbers had shrunk to under 1,000 and their buildings were often ruinous, or leased out commercially. Consequently, almost all friars were now living outside their friaries; many, in contravention of their formal rules, supported themselves through paid employment and some held personal property. In 1538 Cromwell deputed Richard Ingworth, Bishop of Dover
Bishop of Dover
The Bishop of Dover is an episcopal title used by a suffragan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Canterbury, England. The title takes its name after the town of Dover in Kent...

 and former Provincial of the Dominicans
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

, to obtain the friars' surrender; which he did by drafting new injunctions that strictly enforced each order's rule, facing the friars with the choice of compliance with the king's wishes, or starvation. On surrender, the friars received a gratuity of 40 shillings each, but were not offered pensions.

In April 1539 Parliament passed a new law legalising acts of voluntary surrender, but by then the vast majority of monasteries in England, Ireland and Wales had already been dissolved. Some resisted, and that autumn the abbots of Colchester, Glastonbury
Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury Abbey was a monastery in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. The ruins are now a grade I listed building, and a Scheduled Ancient Monument and are open as a visitor attraction....

, and Reading
Reading Abbey
Reading Abbey is a large, ruined abbey in the centre of the town of Reading, in the English county of Berkshire. It was founded by Henry I in 1121 "for the salvation of my soul, and the souls of King William, my father, and of King William, my brother, and Queen Maud, my wife, and all my ancestors...

 were hanged, drawn and quartered
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To be hanged, drawn and quartered was from 1351 a penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reigns of King Henry III and his successor, Edward I...

 for treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

. St. Benet's Abbey
St. Benet's Abbey
St Benet's Abbey is a ruined abbey of the Order of Saint Benedict situated on the River Bure within The Broads in Norfolk England. It is also known as St Benet's at Holme or Hulme.-Background:...

 in Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

 was the only abbey in England which escaped formal dissolution, its estates being transferred directly to the bishops of Norwich
Norwich
Norwich is a city in England. It is the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom...

. The last two abbeys to be dissolved were Waltham Abbey
Waltham Abbey
Waltham Abbey may refer to:* Waltham Abbey, Essex, England* Waltham Abbey , which gave its name to the above town* Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills* Waltham Abbey F.C., based in the same town...

 and Shap Abbey
Shap Abbey
Shap Abbey was a monastic religious house of the Premonstratensian order on the western bank of the River Lowther in the civil parish of Shap Rural, around from the village of Shap, in the Eden District of Cumbria, England...

, both in January 1540.


The local commissioners were instructed to ensure that, where abbey churches were also used for parish worship, this should continue. Accordingly over a hundred former monastic churches remained in use for parochial worship in whole or in part, in addition to the fourteen former monastic churches that continued as cathedrals. Otherwise the most marketable fabric in monastic buildings was likely to be the lead on roofs, gutters and plumbing, and buildings were burned down as the easiest way to extract this. Building stone and slate roofs were sold off to the highest bidder. Many monastic outbuildings were turned into granaries, barns and stables. In a few instances, wealthy urban parishes who were cramped for space purchased a complete former monastic church for their own purpose, and many others bought choir stalls and stained glass windows. Cromwell had already instigated a campaign against "superstitions": pilgrimages and veneration of saints, in the course of which, ancient and precious valuables were grabbed and melted down; the tombs of saints and kings ransacked for whatever profit could be got from them, and their relics destroyed or dispersed. Even the crypt of King Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

 was not spared the looting frenzy. Great abbeys and priories like Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Glastonbury is a small town in Somerset, England, situated at a dry point on the low lying Somerset Levels, south of Bristol. The town, which is in the Mendip district, had a population of 8,784 in the 2001 census...

, Walsingham
Walsingham
Walsingham is a village in the English county of Norfolk. The village is famed for its religious shrines in honour of the Virgin Mary and as a major pilgrimage centre...

, Bury St. Edmunds
Bury St. Edmunds
Bury St Edmunds is a market town in the county of Suffolk, England, and formerly the county town of West Suffolk. It is the main town in the borough of St Edmundsbury and known for the ruined abbey near the town centre...

, and Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury is a town in Dorset, England, situated on the A30 road near the Wiltshire border 20 miles west of Salisbury. The town is built 718 feet above sea level on the side of a chalk and greensand hill, which is part of Cranborne Chase, the only significant hilltop settlement in Dorset...

 which had flourished as pilgrimage sites for many centuries, were soon reduced to ruins. However, the tradition that there was widespread mob action resulting in destruction and iconoclasm
Iconoclasm
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes...

, that altar
Altar
An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship...

s and window
Window
A window is a transparent or translucent opening in a wall or door that allows the passage of light and, if not closed or sealed, air and sound. Windows are usually glazed or covered in some other transparent or translucent material like float glass. Windows are held in place by frames, which...

s were smashed, partly confuses the looting spree of the 1530s with the vandalism wrought by the Puritans in the next century against the Anglican privileges.

The Crown became richer to the extent of around £150,000 (£ as of ), per year, although around £50,000 (£ as of ) of this was committed to fund monastic pensions; and Cromwell had intended that the bulk of this wealth should serve as regular income of government. However, after Cromwell's fall in 1540, Henry needed money quickly to fund his military ambitions in France and Scotland; and so monastic property was sold off, usually at the market rate of twenty years' income; raising over £1,400,000 (£ as of ). by 1547. The purchasers were predominantly leading nobles, local magnates and gentry; with no discernible tendency in terms of conservative or reformed religion, other than a determination to maintain and extend their family's position and local status. The Court of Augmentations retained lands and spiritual income sufficient to meet its continuing obligations to pay annual pensions; but as pensioners died off, or as pensions were extinguished when their holders accepted a royal appointment of higher value, then surplus property became available each year for further disposal. The last surviving monks continued to draw their pensions into the reign of James I.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries impinged relatively little on English parish church activity. Most parish churches had been endowed with chantries
Chantry
Chantry is the English term for a fund established to pay for a priest to celebrate sung Masses for a specified purpose, generally for the soul of the deceased donor. Chantries were endowed with lands given by donors, the income from which maintained the chantry priest...

, each maintaining a stipended priest to say mass
Mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

 for the souls of their donors. In addition there remained after the dissolution of the monasteries, over a hundred collegiate church
Collegiate church
In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost...

es in England, whose endowments maintained regular choral worship though a corporate body of canons
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

, prebends or priests. All these survived the reign of Henry VIII largely intact, only to be dissolved under the Chantries Act of 1547, by Henry's son Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

, their property being absorbed into the Court of Augmentations, and their members being added to the pensions list. Since many former monks had found employment as chantry priests, the consequence for these clerics was a double experience of dissolution, perhaps mitigated by being in receipt thereafter of a double pension.

Ireland



The dissolutions in Ireland followed a very different course from those in England and Wales. There were around 400 religious houses in Ireland in 1530 — many more, relative to population and material wealth than in England and Wales. In marked distinction to the situation in England, in Ireland the houses of friars had flourished in the 15th century, attracting popular support and financial endowments, undertaking many ambitious building schemes, and maintaining a regular conventual and spiritual life. They constituted around half of the total number of religious houses. Irish monasteries, by contrast, had experienced a catastrophic decline in numbers, such that by the 16th century, it appears that only a minority maintained the daily religious observance of the Divine Office. Henry's direct authority, as Lord of Ireland, and from 1541 as King of Ireland
King of Ireland
A monarchical polity has existed in Ireland during three periods of its history, finally ending in 1801. The designation King of Ireland and Queen of Ireland was used during these periods...

, only extended to the area of the Pale
The Pale
The Pale or the English Pale , was the part of Ireland that was directly under the control of the English government in the late Middle Ages. It had reduced by the late 15th century to an area along the east coast stretching from Dalkey, south of Dublin, to the garrison town of Dundalk...

 immediately around Dublin. Outside this area, he could only proceed by tactical agreement with clan chiefs and local lords.


Nevertheless, Henry was determined to carry through a policy of dissolution in Ireland — and in 1537 introduced legislation into the Irish Parliament to legalise the closure of monasteries. The process faced considerable opposition, and only sixteen houses were suppressed. Henry remained resolute however, and from 1541 as part of the Tudor conquest of Ireland, he continued to press for the area of successful dissolution to be extended. For the most part, this involved making deals with local lords, under which monastic property was granted away in exchange for oaths of allegiance to the new Irish Crown; and consequently Henry acquired little if any of the wealth of the Irish houses. By the time of Henry's death (1547) around half of the Irish houses had been suppressed; but many continued to resist dissolution until well into the reign of Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, and some houses in the West of Ireland remained occupied until the early 17th century. In 1649, Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 led a Parliamentary army, seeking to subjugate Ireland to English control, and as part of the campaign systematically sought out and destroyed former monastic houses. Subsequently however, sympathetic Irish Catholic (or nominally Protestant) local landowners housed monks or friars close to several ruined religious houses allowing them a continued covert existence during the 17th and 18th centuries, subject to the dangers of discovery and legal ejection or imprisonment.

Consequences



The abbeys of England, Wales and Ireland had been among the greatest landowners and the largest institutions in the kingdoms; although, by the early 16th century, religious donors increasingly tended to favour parish churches, collegiate churches, university colleges and grammar schools, and these were now the predominant centres for learning and the arts. Nevertheless, and particularly in areas far from London, the abbeys, convents and priories were centres of hospitality and learning, and everywhere they remained a main source of charity for the old and infirm. The removal of over eight hundred such institutions, virtually overnight, rent great gaps in the social fabric.

In addition, about a quarter of net monastic wealth on average consisted of "spiritual" income arising from the appropriation
Appropriation
Appropriation is the act of taking possession of or assigning purpose to properties or ideas. The word appropriation was first used by a Russian theorist named Bakhtin to describe a holistic language theory. The Russian word for appropriation is prisvoenie, which directly translated means ‘to make...

 of parish tithes where the religious house held the advowson
Advowson
Advowson is the right in English law of a patron to present or appoint a nominee to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or church living, a process known as presentation. In effect this means the right to nominate a person to hold a church office in a parish...

 of a benefice
Benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

 with the legal obligation to maintain the cure of souls in the parish, either by endowing a vicar
Vicar
In the broadest sense, a vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior . In this sense, the title is comparable to lieutenant...

 or by appointing a stipend
Stipend
A stipend is a form of salary, such as for an internship or apprenticeship. It is often distinct from a wage or a salary because it does not necessarily represent payment for work performed, instead it represents a payment that enables somebody to be exempt partly or wholly from waged or salaried...

iary priest. On the dissolution these spiritual income streams were sold off on the same basis as landed endowments, creating a new class of lay impropriators
Impropriation
Impropriation, a term from English Ecclesiastical Law, refers to taking the profits from the sale of church property and placing them in the care of a layman or lay corporation for care and distribution...

, who thereby became entitled to the income from tithes and glebe
Glebe
Glebe Glebe Glebe (also known as Church furlong or parson's closes is an area of land within a manor and parish used to support a parish priest.-Medieval origins:...

 lands, albeit that they also as lay rectors became liable to maintain the fabric of the parish chancel. Where the monastery had not endowed a vicar
Vicar
In the broadest sense, a vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior . In this sense, the title is comparable to lieutenant...

, the lay rector was additionally obliged to establish a stipend for a perpetual curate
Perpetual curate
A Perpetual Curate was a clergyman of the Church of England officiating as parish priest in a small or sparsely peopled parish or districtAs noted below the term perpetual was not to be understood literally but was used to indicate he was not a curate but the parish priest and of higher...

.

It is unlikely that the monastic system could have been broken simply by royal action had there not been the overwhelming bait of personal enrichment for gentry
Gentry
Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past....

 large and small, and the convictions of the small but determined Protestant faction. Anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism is a historical movement that opposes religious institutional power and influence, real or alleged, in all aspects of public and political life, and the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen...

 was a familiar feature of late medieval Europe, producing its own strain of satiric literature that was aimed at a literate middle class.

Along with the destruction of the monasteries, some of them many hundreds of years old, the related destruction of the monastic libraries
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 was perhaps the greatest cultural loss caused by the English Reformation. Worcester Priory (now Worcester Cathedral)
Worcester Cathedral
Worcester Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Worcester, England; situated on a bank overlooking the River Severn. It is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Worcester. Its official name is The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester...

 had 600 books at the time of the dissolution. Only six of them are known to have survived intact to the present day. At the abbey of the Augustinian Friars at York, a library of 646 volumes was destroyed, leaving only three known survivors. Some books were destroyed for their precious bindings, others were sold off by the cartload. The antiquarian John Leland was commissioned by the King to rescue items of particular interest (especially manuscript sources of Old English history), and other collections were made by private individuals; notably Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of Anglican theological thought....

. Nevertheless much was lost, especially manuscript books of English church music, none of which had then been printed.
The Act of 1539 also provided for the suppression of religious hospital
Hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

s; which had constituted in England a distinct class of institution, endowed for the purpose of caring for older people. A very few of these, such as Saint Bartholomew's Hospital in London, were excepted by special royal dispensation, but most closed, their residents being discharged with small pensions. Monasteries had also supplied free food and alms for the poor and destitute, and it has been argued that the removal of this and other charitable resources, amounting to about 5% of net monastic income, was one of the factors in the creation of the army of "sturdy beggar
Sturdy beggar
Sturdy beggar is a former British English legal expression for someone was fit and able to work but begged or wandered for a living instead. Sometimes men willing to work but unable to find work were lumped into the same category....

s" that plagued late Tudor England, causing the social instability that led to the Edwardian and Elizabethan Poor Laws. Monasteries had necessarily undertaken schooling for their novice
Novice
A novice is a person or creature who is new to a field or activity. The term is most commonly applied in religion and sports.-Buddhism:In many Buddhist orders, a man or woman who intends to take ordination must first become a novice, adopting part of the monastic code indicated in the vinaya and...

 members, which in the later medieval period had tended to extend to cover choristers
Choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

 and sometimes other younger scholars; and all this educational resource was lost with their dissolution. By contrast, where monasteries had provided grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

s for older scholars, these were commonly refounded with enhanced endowments; some by royal command in connection to the newly re-established cathedral churches, others by private initiative. Monastic orders had maintained, for the education of their members, six colleges at the universities of Oxford or Cambridge; of which five survived as refoundations. Hospitals too were frequently to be re-endowed by private benefactors; and many new almshouses and charities were to be founded by the Elizabethan gentry and professional classes. Nevertheless, it has been estimated that only in 1580 did overall levels of charitable giving in England return to those before the dissolution. On the eve of the overthrow, the various monasteries owned approximately 2,000,000 acres (just under 8 100 km²), over 16 percent of England, with tens of thousands of tenant farmers working those lands; some of whom had family ties to a particular monastery going back many generations.

It has been argued that the suppression of the English monasteries and nunneries contributed as well to the spreading decline of that contemplative spirituality which once thrived in Europe, with the occasional exception found only in groups such as the Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 ("Quakers"). This may be set against the continuation in the retained and newly established cathedrals of the daily singing of the Divine Office
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...

 by choristers and vicars choral, now undertaken as public worship, which had not been the case before the dissolution. The deans and prebends of the six new cathedrals were overwhelmingly former heads of religious houses. The secularised former monks and friars commonly looked for re-employment as parish clergy; and consequently numbers of new ordinations dropped drastically in the ten years after the dissolution, and ceased almost entirely in the reign of Edward VI. It was only in 1549, after Edward came to the throne, that former monks and nuns were permitted to marry; but within a year of the permission being granted around a quarter had done so, only to find themselves forcibly separated (and denied their pensions) in the reign of Mary. On the succession of Elizabeth, these former monks (happily reunited with both their wives and their pensions) formed the backbone of the new Anglican church, and may properly claim much credit for maintaining the religious life of the country until a new generation of ordinands became available in the 1560s and 1570s.

Although it had been promised that King's enhanced wealth would enable the founding or enhanced endowment of religious, charitable and educational institutions, in practice only about 15% of the total monastic wealth was reused for these purposes. This comprised: the refoundation of eight out of nine former monastic cathedrals (Coventry
Coventry Cathedral
Coventry Cathedral, also known as St Michael's Cathedral, is the seat of the Bishop of Coventry and the Diocese of Coventry, in Coventry, West Midlands, England. The current bishop is the Right Revd Christopher Cocksworth....

 being the exception), together with six wholly new bishoprics (Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

, Chester
Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

, Gloucester
Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

, Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, Peterborough
Peterborough
Peterborough is a cathedral city and unitary authority area in the East of England, with an estimated population of in June 2007. For ceremonial purposes it is in the county of Cambridgeshire. Situated north of London, the city stands on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea...

, Westminster
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

) with their associated cathedrals, chapters, choirs and grammar schools; the refoundation as secular colleges of monastic houses in Brecon
Brecon
Brecon is a long-established market town and community in southern Powys, Mid Wales, with a population of 7,901. It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powys, it remains an important local centre...

, Thornton
Thornton
The given name Thornton originates from the Old English, means "settlement walled by strong thorn hedges" or "thorny estate dweller". May refer to:-United Kingdom:*Thornton, Angus*Thornton, Buckinghamshire*Thornton, East Riding of Yorkshire...

 and Burton on Trent, the endowment of five Regius Professor
Regius Professor
Regius Professorships are "royal" professorships at the ancient universities of the United Kingdom and Ireland - namely Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dublin. Each of the chairs was created by a monarch, and each appointment, save those at Dublin, is approved by the...

ships in each of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the endowment of the colleges of Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

, and Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...

 and the maritime charity of Trinity House
Trinity House
The Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond is the official General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales and other British territorial waters...

. About a third of total monastic income was required to maintain pension payments to former monks and nuns, and hence remained with the Court of Augmentations. This left just over half to be available to be sold at market rates (very little property was given away by Henry to favoured servants, and any that was tended to revert to the Crown once their recipients fell out of favour, and were indicted for treason). By comparison with the forcible closure of monasteries elsewhere in Protestant Europe, the English and Welsh dissolutions resulted in a relatively modest volume of new educational endowments; but the treatment of former monks and nuns was more generous, and there was no counterpart elsewhere to the efficient mechanisms established in England to maintain pension payments over successive decades.

The dissolution and destruction of the monasteries and shrines was very unpopular in many areas. In the north of England, centring on Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

 and Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

, the suppression of the monasteries led to a popular rising, the Pilgrimage of Grace
Pilgrimage of Grace
The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular rising in York, Yorkshire during 1536, in protest against Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, as well as other specific political, social and economic grievances. It was done in action against Thomas Cromwell...

, that threatened the Crown for some weeks. In 1536 there were major, popular uprisings in Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

 and Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

 and a further rising in Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

 the following year. Rumours were spread that the King was going to strip the parish churches too, and even tax cattle and sheep. The rebels called for an end to the dissolution of the monasteries, for the removal of Cromwell, and for Henry's daughter, and eldest child, the Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 Mary
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

 to be named as successor in place of his younger son, Edward
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

. Henry defused the movement with solemn promises, all of which went unkept, and then summarily executed the leaders.

However, when Mary
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

 succeeded to the throne in 1553, her hopes for a revival of English religious life proved a failure. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

, which had been retained as a cathedral, reverted to being a monastery; while the communities of the Bridgettine nuns and of the Observant Franciscans, which had gone into exile in the reign of Henry VIII, were able to return to their former houses. But Mary's hopes of further refoundations foundered, as she found it very difficult to persuade any other former monks and nuns to resume the religious life. Two houses of friars were refounded, but this was only possible through importing professed religious from Holland and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. In spite of much prompting, none of Mary's lay supporters would co-operate in returning their holdings of monastic lands to religious use; while the lay lords in Parliament proved unremittingly hostile, as a revival of the "mitred" abbeys would have returned the House of Lords to having an ecclesiastical majority. In 1554 Cardinal Pole, the Papal Legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

, negotiated a papal dispensation
Papal dispensation
Papal dispensation is a reserved right of the Pope that allows for individuals to be exempted from a specific Canon Law. Dispensations are divided into two categories: general, and matrimonial. Matrimonial dispensations can be either to allow a marriage in the first place, or to dissolve one...

 allowing the new owners to retain the former monastic lands, and in return Parliament enacted the heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 laws in January 1555. In less than 20 years, the monastic impulse had effectively been extinguished in England; and was only revived, even amongst Catholics, in the very different form of the new and reformed Counter-reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 orders, such as the Jesuits.

See also


  • 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...

  • Little Jack Horner
    Little Jack Horner
    "Little Jack Horner" is a popular English language nursery rhyme. It has the Roud Folk Song Index number of 13027.-Lyrics:The most common modern lyrics are:Little Jack HornerSat in the corner,Eating a Christmas pie;He put in his thumb,...

    , a children's rhyme allegedly based on the episode.
  • Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom and the states that pre-dated the UK, was dominated by forms of Christianity for over 1,400 years. Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys, regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century,...

  • Cestui que
  • Charter of Liberties
    Charter of Liberties
    The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, was a written proclamation by Henry I of England, issued upon his accession to the throne in 1100. It sought to bind the King to certain laws regarding the treatment of church officials and nobles...


External links