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This page has been created following feedback by students who require more detail on Henry VIII's actions against the Monasteries. The information comes from a non-web based document and requires extensive re-formating. It has been placed on site "as is" so to be available straight away. This is still work in progress and this page will be re-designed & reformatted over time.


SUPPRESSION OF THE ENGLISH MONASTERIES DURING THE REIGN OF KING HENRY THE EIGHTH

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1 . . . . . . INTRODUCTION TO IMPORTANT PERSONAGES AND PREVALENT SOCIAL CONDITIONS 1520/30's

Chapter 2 . . . . . . THE REFORMATION PARLIAMENT

Chapter 3 . . . . . . DISSOLUTION OF THE LESSER MONASTERIES

Chapter 4 . . . . . . THE LINCOLNSHIRE UPRISING

Chapter 5 . . . . . . THE PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE

Chapter 6 . . . . . . THE SUPPRESSION OF THE GREATER MONASTERIES

Chapter 7 . . . . . . SUMMARY

Appendix . . . . . . .ACCOUNT OF SIR JOHN WILLIAMS FOR PLATE RECEIVED IN ROYAL HOUSE1

 

 

 

 


Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION TO IMPORTANT PERSONAGES AND PREVALENT SOCIAL CONDITIONS IN THE 1520's AND 1530's



In the years 1536 and 1539 A. D. there occurred two events in England that were destined
to alter its whole religious character.  In these two years the King of England, Henry VIII,
forced through the English Parliament two acts that sealed the fate of the Catholic Church in England.
They were the "Act for the Dissolution of the Smaller Monasteries" and the "Act for the Dissolution
of the Greater Monasteries", respectively.  In this paper I will explore the events and the reasons
behind these events, which led to this complete and total break with a religion that had been
embraced by England for centuries.


Naturally, the most important of the people involved in these suppressions was King Henry VIII
for it was during his reign that the monasteries were suppressed.
When Henry's father died in 1509 Henry ascended a throne which his father had made remarkably
secure, he inherited a fortune which probably no English king had ever been bequeathed, he came
to a kingdom which was the best governed and most obedient in Christendom.



1        Upon taking the throne Henry married his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, who was
destined to be a main character in a religious controversy, which shook all of Europe.
After ascending to the throne it soon became apparent that Henry was not as frugal as his father.
Perhaps he was expending all the energy stored up while his father was alive for he was at that time
watched so closely that he might have been a girl. He could go out only through a private door, and
then he was under the supervision of specially appointed people. No one could speak to him. He spent
most of his time in his room, which could only be entered via the king's chamber. He never spoke in
public unless it was to answer a question from his father.

2        One reason for this over abundance of protection may have been that the king, having seen his
oldest son Arthur die shortly after marrying Catherine, feared for the safety of his only remaining
male heir. But, whatever the reason, the result of this forced confinement was that Henry began
engaging in activities, many of them costly, to expend his energy. He held many jousting tournaments,
went hunting and sightseeing and even decided on the most "kingly" of activities, war.
 
3        Within weeks of taking the throne, Henry decided to go to war with France. One of the reasons
causing Henry to arrive at this costly decision was whatever else an English king may have been--and
he was much else--he was still a leader in war. He must still 'venture' himself in battle, to use an
old formula, and blood himself.

4        Henry went to war with France in 1513 and during this campaign a man appeared on stage who
was destined to play a part in the events to follow. Thomas Wolsey had been King Henry VII's chaplain
and had carried out some minor diplomatic duties which resulted in his being named Dean of Lincoln and
made Royal Almoner.

5        When Henry came to power Thomas Wolsey was "firm in the Council and Ascendent in the Church"
but he craved still more power. The war with France gave him his opportunity. It was Wolsey's work, which
made the campaign of 1513 successful. He provided Henry with a well-fed, well-equipped, healthy and
disciplined army. Wolsey rode with Henry throughout the campaign, seeing that the troops built good
shelters against the winter. The war enabled Wolsey to show Henry his organisational abilities. 
"Thus in a year he had been raised--at royal instance--from a mere dean to archbishop, legatus natus
and primate of England."

 "For the next fifteen years England's foreign policy was Wolsey's, . . .".

6        But, as is always the case, the mighty must fall, and when Wolsey was unable to obtain Henry's
desired divorce from Catherine, he fell into disfavor and in November of 1530 he was arrested for
treason and died shortly afterwards.

7        Thomas Cromwell who was the king’s chief minister by 1533 filled the vacuum left by Wolsey’s demise.
It was this man who carried out the suppression of the monasteries. He oversaw the breach with Rome
and the establishment of the Royal Supremacy. He directed the immense operation of the dissolution of
the monasteries. He was either the direct or posthumous founder of the two Courts
(we would say ministries) of Augmentations and First Fruits, which handled the new income from the
dissolved religious houses and the secular Church, and the two courts of Wards and Surveyors, which
were designed to exploit more efficiently the crown's feudal rights and lands.

8        According to Thomas Starkey, who became chaplain to Henry in 1535, England was a land of social
crisis. England was under populated at this time as a result of the black plague of 1348-1349 and
repeated outbreaks of the deadly disease since.

Yf you loke to the cytes and townys throughout thys reame [realm], you schal fynd that in tyme past
they haue byn much bettur inhabytd, and much more replenyschyd with pepul then they be now; . . .

9        This assertion of a notable lack of people is supported by Francis Gasquet who says although
a hundred and fifty years had elapsed before Henry VIII mounted the throne, so great had been the
ravages of the scourge, and so unsettled had been the interval, that the nation was still suffering
from the effects of the great sickness. It could hardly have been otherwise, when in one year,
1348-1349, about half of the entire population was swept away.

10        As a result of this drop in population there were fewer people to feed.  Thus, there was a
"fall in the price of many, though not all, agricultural products".

11        This lack of able-bodied men allowed the hired hand to demand higher wages.
As prices and rents fell and wages rose, many landlords were forced to go into sheep-raising because
it required fewer hands and there was a big demand for wool on the continent.  As a result, the
practice of enclosure

12 came into common usage with disastrous results for the small farmer. The peasants were forced off
their holdings and into the cities where, for the most part, they had to choose between begging and
stealing in order to live. The result was that many towns fell into decay as the people were forced to move.

Ther yn no man but he seth the grate enclosyng in euery parte of herebul land; and where as was corne
and fruteful tyllage, now no thyng ys but pasturys and playnys, by the reson wherof many vyllagus and
townys are in few days ruynate and dekeyd.

13        This statement is supported by Thomas More who said the cause of this  decay is generally
attributed to sheep-farming and the enclosure of lands. Wherever the finest wool was grown, there
noblemen and Abbots enclosed all the land for pasture. They leveled houses and towns, and left
nothing standing except the church, which they converted into a sheep house. They turned all dwelling
places and all glebelands into a wilderness.

14        Just as the common man was having financial troubles, so was the king, the main reason being
war and inflation.

The manner in which war could inflate expenditures can be seen from this run of figures:  1509,
L65,097;  1510, L26,735;  1511, L64,157; 1512, L269,564 (Guienne);  1513, L699,714 (Flanders); 
1514, L155,757;  1515, L74,006; and Wolsey's foreign adventures proved even more expensive, the
expenditures of 1522-3 costing almost L400,000.

15        The economic changes in Europe were also depleting Henry's resources.

Henry's need of  money was due to something that lay deeper than his own extravagance and rapacity. 
The whole of Europe was undergoing great economic changes, in consequence of the discovery of new
trade routes and the importation of gold and silver from America, which depreciated the value of the
coinage. Prices rose and the spending power of any fixed sum of money diminished. As the royal
revenues were almost entirely customary and therefore fixed, it followed that the King was growing
poorer while the expenses of government were constantly increasing as the nation emerged from feudal
into modern life.

16        Obviously, Henry had to find new sources of income and it was to Wolsey that this
responsibility fell. In 1514 Wolsey introduced a "levy on wages, personal property, and rents, which
grew to be a regular part of the system of direct taxation, though it lost its flexibility and
eventually became merely a conventional expression for a parliamentary grant of about L80,000 to L100,000".

17        "In 1522 the cardinal imposed a forced loan on the rich, which brought in L200,000. In the
next year Parliament was summoned and was asked for a tax of four shillings in the pound but the members were
recalcitrant and eventually granted only two shillings."

18        So, in 1524 Wolsey was forced to attempt another forced loan but this time he was met with
resistance. Even "priests denounced the loan openly and preached against it and stood for the rights
and liberties of the people".

19        The reason for the resistance seems to be that the "loan" did not go through parliament and
therefore was not legally binding. The result was that Henry had to cancel his plans for another French invasion
but he did learn a valuable lesson: for the rest of his reign all of his actions would be perfectly "legal".
Wolsey also tried to alleviate some of the problems caused by the practice of enclosure by sponsoring
various anti-enclosure bills but they met with little success. "In 1518 a Chancery order was issued
that enclosures made since 1485 were to be demolished unless it could be shown that they were for the
good of the country. Further orders followed in 1520, 1526, and 1528, but they remained largely dead letters."

20        Undoubtedly the black plague, which had devastated the general populous of England in the
mid-fourteenth century, also had an equally disastrous effect on the monasteries. It was inevitable
that the clergy who tried to help the suffering would themselves become infected with the deadly disease.  Furthermore, it seems logical to assume that the ones to survive would, for the most part be those who
would not get involved but, rather, flee to the countryside. The result was the survivors were the worst of the lot. This hypothesis is supported by various historians. Francis Gasquet says that in the County of
Norfolk, out of 799 priests 527 died of the plague; and William Bateman, the bishop, applied for and
obtained from Pope Clement VII, a bull allowing him to dispense with sixty clerks, who were only
twenty-one years of age, 'though only shavelings,' and to allow them to hold rectories, as one
thousand livings had been rendered vacant by death, as otherwise service would cease altogether.

21        Here we see the beginning of future troubles as unqualified people were given positions of
responsibility. Philip Hughes says that in many respects the monasteries in England never regained what
They now lost [from the plague]. Very few indeed of them--comparatively speaking--were, henceforward, sufficiently staffed even to carry out their primary function of choral prayer in the way this needs to be done.

22        This last assertion is supported by P. J. Helm who says "there were altogether about 825 religious
houses of all types and the average number of persons in the smaller houses was not more than seven or eight".
The future of the monasteries seemed so bleak to some that they felt their end was in sight.

23        When Bishop Fox of Winchester proposed to build a college at Oxford for young monks of his cathedral
priory, his friend Bishop Oldham of Exeter advised him to abandon the plan and in its place to fund a
college for secular priests. 'Shall we build houses and provide livelihoods for a company of bussing
monks, whose end and fall we may live to see? No, no; it is more meet a great deal that we should have to
care and provide for such who by their learning shall do good in the Church and commonwealth.' Oldham's
advice was not ignored, for in 1516 Bishop Fox and he founded Corpus Christi college, Oxford.

24        Thomas Wolsey did not think things were as bad as Bishop Oldham implied but he did recognize that
some of the monasteries were not able to do their jobs. So, in 1524 he appealed to Pope Clement VII "for authority to dissolve a number of 'certain exile'
25        and small monasteries, and to appropriate their
revenues and properties"
26        for "founding Cardinal college at Oxford together with a preparatory or nursery college in his native place, Ipswich".
27        Obviously, Pope Clement VII thought Wolsey's request legitimate for he allowed Wolsey to suppress twenty-eight houses in which the "number of inmates had dwindled to single figures. In only five was there a community of eight or more, and the net income in all but six was less than L200 a year. The total revenue
of all the doomed houses amounted to about L2,300."
28        The man entrusted with all aspects of the legal business of these suppressions was Thomas Cromwell.  Although the king received complaints about the conduct of Cromwell and the other agents assigned to the suppression, Wolsey assured him that the complaints were unjustified.
29        It has been said by many that it was Wolsey who planted in the king's head the idea of
increasing revenues by suppressing the monasteries. He suppressed certain small monasteries and took their revenue and lands. Thereby he trained the men, he set the example, he inaugurated the policy which ended in a prodigious economic Revolution:  the greatest England has ever known.  The dissolution of all monasteries after his death, and the distribution of their lands among the new adventurers. . .

30        It might also be remembered that Wolsey's high-handed actions as legate a latere
31        "rode papal jurisdiction in England to its death. . . .  Wolsey provided for the king and for his civil administration a hint of the manner in which secular and religious controls, vested in the hands of one man, might be used to destroy catholic and feudal liberties and, after victory, to create a national state-church."

32        But, there was one thing the king and Cromwell failed to give proper attention to and it would almost
cost Henry his throne in 1536. They forgot that the commons were greatly displeased with these suppressions
of Wolsey and in some areas reacted violently. Although "there seems to have been little opposition to Wolsey's measures by the inmates of the houses marked for suppression"

33        (there were attempts to bribe Wolsey) "there were here and there signs of dissatisfaction amongst the townsfolk and people of the countryside, when it became known that a monastery in the neighborhood was to be surrendered to Wolsey".

34        "At Tonbridge the townsmen petitioned for a continuance of the priory which they preferred to the
promise of a school with scholarships at Cardinal College, . . ."

35        but it was all to no avail.  At Bayham in Sussex the resistance took the form of violence.

You have heard before how the Cardinal suppressed many monasteries, of the which one called Bayham in Sussex,
the which was very commodious to the country, but so befell the cause that a riotous company, disguised and unknown with painted faces and visors, came to the same monastery and brought with them the canons, and put
them in their place again; and promised them that whensoever they rang the bell, that they would come again
with a great power and defend them. This doing came to the ear of the King's counsel, which caused the canons
to be taken, and they confessed the captains, which were imprisoned and sore punished.

Chapter  2

THE REFORMATION PARLIAMENT



The end of 1530 saw Henry launch the claim to a national immunity against Rome's sovereignty; it saw him announce a personal claim to imperial status which could neither acknowledge nor allow any superior on earth.  It also saw the first attempt to manhandle the clerical estate within his realm.1    

Although all responsibility for the following events must fall upon Henry's shoulders, it seems safe to say that the inspiration for these actions was Thomas Cromwell.  Throughout his political career Cromwell, unlike Wolsey, recognized the value of working through the House of Commons, and it was during his eight year period of ministry, 1532-1540, that the majority of the Henrican Reforms were carried out.

By contrast, outside these eight years, the reign of Henry VIII has scarcely a single creative or revolutionary achievement to its credit.  The King's will-power, his courage, his decisiveness, his immense capacity to inspire adulation, these preserved the integrity of the kingdom and paved the way for the long Elizabethan peace which Englishmen were to enjoy amid a chaotic Europe.  But otherwise his personal touch proved sterile; he was too egotistical, too emotional, too interested in kingly pleasures, too conservative to initiate new techniques of government, new paths of progress for English society.  Yet between the years 1532 and 1540 all is different.  Creation, destruction and change are visible on all sides; . . .2 .

Henry opened his assault upon the clergy on September 29, 1530.  This put them on the defense which was the position they remained in for the rest of Henry's reign.  "In Michaelmas, 1530, fifteen clerics were cited to the King's Bench on praemunire charges, charges, that is, of lesser treason, punishable with loss of goods and imprisonment."3   But these charges were dropped, it seems, by the design of Cromwell.  "The prelates shall not appear in the praemunire, . . .  There is another way devised."4   That "other way" was much more audacious.

A few days after the death of Thomas Wolsey [November 30, 1530], the attorney general filed an injunction in the king's bench charging the clergy with a breach of the statutes of Praemunire and Provisors.  These were statutes of 1351 and 1353 under which a citation could be brought against anyone who sought satisfaction in Rome or elsewhere in cases which fell under royal jurisdiction.  It was charged that the whole English clergy was guilty  in the submission that it had made to Cardinal Wolsey during his legatine administration.  It was irrelevant that Henry had accepted this authority and had supported Wolsey in his exercise of it. The law was clear.  The law was higher than the king.5
The clergy quickly called a Convocation both in Canterbury and York.
The Southern Convocation [in Canterbury] hoped to bribe the king with L40,000 but soon learned that Henry expected much more.  Therefore, on January 24, 1531 they voted to pay the king L100,000 "as a grant to the king in acknowledgment of his defense of the faith against heresy".6   This obvious attempt to bribe the king without admitting their guilt failed when on February 7 Henry sent the grant back ordering the "clergy to confess their guilt and acknowledge him as 'the Protector and Supreme Head of the Church in England' having, moreover, in his dominions a cure of souls".7 
The bishops wanted to add the phrase "so far as Canon Law allows" but Henry rejected this with a counterproposal of "after God".  Finally, on February 11, 1531, the clergy and the king agreed upon the title "the Protector and Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England, whose especial Protector, single and Supreme Lord, and as far as the law of Christ allows, even Supreme Head".
The obvious ambiguity of this phrase was questioned by the presiding bishop of the Northern Convocation, Cuthbert Tunstall.  Bishop Tunstall wanted the phrase "only and Supreme Lord after Christ in temporal matters" inserted but Henry, in his reply, said that "you [Bishop Tunstall] first define the Church as the Body of Christ, and then propose I shall be the head of it in temporal matters, but the church so defined has no temporal matters".8
Bishop Tunstall backed down and the Northern Convocation bought their pardon for L18,840, 0s. 10d.
Bishop Tunstall's reservations about Henry's intentions were proven justified early in 1532 when Parliament went into session.  "Two acts of this session had a permanent effect, and are vital forces to this day in English life:  the act about first-fruits, and the submission of the clergy.  The first is directly anti-papal, the other anti-clerical. . .".9 
The first-fruits act, otherwise known as the Conditional Restraints of Annates, was supposedly designed to prevent the outflow of money from England to Rome but it was actually intended to put pressure on the pope to concede to Henry's wishes.
Since the Tudors came in, forty-seven years before

[1485], more than L160,000 in specie had found its way out of the realm to the pope, through the payments bishops were obliged to make on their appointment--payment, in each case, of a sum equal to a third of the see's annual revenue [other sources say a years profits]. . .".10 
The interesting aspect of this bill was that Henry had a year to enact it.  Obviously it was being used as a Damoclean sword to force the pope to approve of Henry's divorce.  The resistance Henry met in passing this bill demonstrates that, although the Parliament usually went along with Henry, it was not a rubber stamp organization.  Henry had to make three appearances before Parliament before the bill was passed.
One might ask why the Parliament was so hesitant to prevent this outflow of money.  The reason was that Parliament was not as ready as Henry was for such drastic ecclesiastical changes.  This annates bill provided for too many contingencies for the Parliaments taste.  Such as

if the court of Rome endeavored to wield excommunication, interdict, or process compulsory, then all manner of sacraments and divine service should continue to be administered, and the interdict, etc. should not by any prelate or minister be executed or divulged.11 
From the above it is obvious that the majority of Parliament was not yet ready for a complete frontal attack on the clergy but, they were getting there.
On March 18, 1532 the Petitions of the Commons was presented to the king.  This document made twelve basic charges against the clergy of England.  They are:

1)  The clergy in convocation make canons which may contravene the laws of the realm and be prejudicial to the royal authority.  They are written in an unknown tongue, so that simple people do not understand them.

2)  The Courts of Arches and Audience have too few proctors and hence the law's delays.  The King is asked to appoint more proctors.

3) Summoners and Apparitors are constantly citing people to appear in court on frivolous charges.

4)   Fees are generally excessive.

5)   Priests take money for celebrating the sacraments.

6)  Executors find it difficult to obtain probate of wills and have to make long  journeys.

7) Prelates make pacts before instituting men to benefices and such pacts are simoniacal.

8) Bishops and Ordinaries present relations, being minors, to benefices and during their minority enjoy the revenues.

9) The number of holy days is excessive, especially in harvest, and are the occasion of idle and wanton sports.

10) Innocent people are subject to vexatious examination, and kept in prison  without redress.

11)  It is impossible to recover damages for wrongful accusations.

12)  Innocent people defamed as heretics are trapped by subtle interrogations about the high mysteries of the Faith,  and any two witnesses, however unworthy of credence, suffice for condemnation.

The Commons concluded by imploring the intervention of the King, 'in whom and by whom the only and sole redress, reformation and remedy herein absolutely rests and remains'.12 
Critics of Henry's methods and motives are quick to point out that this petition did not originate within the commons but rather was written by Thomas Cromwell.

The Petition really emanated from the Court, as is proved by the fact that there are, amongst the State Papers, four corrected drafts of it, the corrections in these being generally in the handwriting of Thomas Cromwell. . . .13 
But, it should be pointed out that it was common procedure for the royal court to write up these bills, and it seems likely that the commons agreed with the charges for they supported the Petition.
Henry asked the bishops to make a reply to these charges and on April 28, 1532 this was done.

In it [the reply] the clergy asserted their immemorial right, derived from Scripture and the determination of the Church, to manage their own affairs, and emphasized the fact that it was their duty to decree what was true in faith and morals.  They denied that their canons were contrary to the laws of the realm or infringed the royal prerogative.14
They concluded their defense with "an appeal to the King as protector of the English Church. . . ".15

We therefore, your most humble bedesmen and orators, beseech your grace's highness--upon the tender zeal and entire love which your grace doth bear to Christ's faith and to the laws of His Church, specially in this your grace's own realm--of your accustomed and incomparable goodness unto us your said bedesmen, to continue our chief protector, defender, and aider in and for the execution of our office and duty, specially touching repression of heresy, reformation of sin, and due behaviour and order in the premises of all your grace's subjects, spiritual and temporal, which (no doubt thereof) shall be much to the pleasure of God, great comfort to many's souls, quietness and unity of all your whole realm, and, as we think verily, most principally to the great comfort of your grace's majesty, which we beseech lowly upon our knees, so entirely as we can, to be the author of unity, charity, and concord as above, for whose preservation we do and shall continually pray to Almighty God long to reign and prosper in most honourable estate to His pleasure.16 
"The clergy were soon to discover that they had to buy his protection with something more tangible than fair words."17 
On April 30, 1532 Henry sent the Ordinaries' reply to the commons stating, "we think their answer will smally please you, for it seemeth to us very slender.  You be a great sort of wise men; I doubt not but you will look circumspectly on the matter, and we will be indifferent between you."18 
On May 10 Henry followed this statement to the commons with demands of his own.  Henry demanded that the Convocation promise

that they would not make and publish any new canons unless licensed by the king to do so and unless these canons had received the royal assent, and, secondly, they offered the whole existing body of the canon law for the consideration and judgment of a commission to be named by the king.  This commission was to be made up of eight lay lords, eight members of the House of Commons and sixteen of the clergy, and only those parts of the canon law were to stand which the commission approved.19 
The next day Henry continued his assault by addressing

the Speaker and a deputation of the House:  "Well-beloved subjects, we thought that the clergy of our realm had been our subjects wholly, but now we have well perceived that they be but half our subjects; yea, and scarce our subjects; for all the prelates at their consecration make an oath to the Pope clean contrary to the oath that they make to us, so that they seem to be his subjects, and not ours'.20 
The clergy saw the handwriting on the wall and on May 15, with only Bishop John Clerk dissenting, they acceded to the king's wishes.  "The die was cast.  Henry's campaign had shown beyond all possibility of doubt in what sense he took himself to be 'Supreme Head of the English Church and clergy as far as the law of Christ allows.'"21 
When the clergy finally surrendered to Henry he proved to be

less anticlerical than his subjects, and in the last resort he honoured his promise to stand between the laity and clergy.  Having used the Commons as a bugbear to frighten Convocation into handing him its legislative power, he then showed no enthusiasm concerning the rest of the lay demands and refrained from that radical overhaul or abolition of ecclesiastical jurisdiction to which the Commons aspired.  Henry VIII was in fact the manipulator, not the creator, of anticlerical sentiment.22 
This is not to say that Henry's attacks on the Church were over, but he never did allow anticlerical sentiment to destroy "the legal functions of the Church in society".23 
In August, 1532, Archbishop Warham of Canterbury died, and Henry appointed Thomas Cranmer as his successor.  Cranmer returned the favor by granting Henry his long sought divorce on May 23, 1533.
"Also in 1533 [February] Cromwell produced his most critical piece of legislation--the Act in Restraint of Appeals. . .".24  The opening preamble of this bill is very interesting for it defines how Henry viewed England and his position of power.

Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles, it is manifestly declared and expressed, that this realm of England is an empire, and so hath be accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king, the same, unto whom a body politic, compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of spirituality and temporality, be bounden and ought to bear, next to God, a natural and humble obedience, he being also institute and furnished, by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God, with plenary, whole, and entire power, preeminence, authority, prerogative, and jurisdiction, to render and yield justice, and final determination to all manner of folk, residents, or subjects within this his realm, in all causes, matters, debates, and contentions, happening to occur, insurge, or begin within the limits thereof, without restraint, or provocation to any foreign princes or potentates of the world; the body spiritual whereof having power, when any cause of the law divine happened to come in question, or of spiritual learning, then it was declared, interpreted, and showed by that part of the said body politic, called the English Church, which always hath been reputed, and also found of that sort, that both for knowledge, integrity, and sufficiency of number, it hath been always thought, and is also at this hour, sufficient and meet of itself, without the intermeddling of any exterior person or persons, to declare and determine as such doubts, and to administer all such offices and duties, as to their rooms spiritual doth appertain; for the due administration whereof, and to keep them from corruption and sinister affection, the king's most noble progenitors, and the antecessors of the nobles of this realm, have sufficiently endowed the said Church, both with honour and possessions; and the laws temporal, for trial of property of lands and goods, and for the conservation of the people of this realm in unity and peace, without ravin or spoil, was and yet is administered, adjudged, and executed by sundry judges and ministers of the other part of the said body politic, called the temporality; and both their authorities and jurisdictions do conjoin together in the due administration of justice, the one to help the other. . .25 . 
"By calling England an 'Empire', Cromwell designated it a sovereign state, with a King who owed no submission to any other human ruler and who was invested with plenary power to give his people justice in all causes."26  And this is what the bill provided for.

By this act the pope's juridical power over the English layman was utterly abolished; for the act laid down that appeals in cases about wills, marriages, rights of tithes, oblations and obventions should not henceforward be made to Rome but be heard and finally decided within the realm.27 
But the complete breach with Rome was still not achieved.  This act "prohibited appeals on wills, tithes, and fees, questions which concerned the property rights of Members of Parliament, and on marriage [Henry's divorce].  It did not prohibit appeals in cases of heresy."28
Although Mr. Russel is correct in saying that the breach was not complete, ("not till the following year would Convocation declare that he [the pope] had no more authority in England than any other foreign bishop, and Parliament declare Henry head of the English Church"29 ) the point was merely technical.  For this bill interpreted the praemunire statutes in the broadest possible meaning, a meaning that Pope Clement VII could no longer ignore for it was this bill which gave Thomas Cranmer the power to grant Henry's divorce.  The situation is best summarized by Philip Hughes when he says, "To limit the exercise of the pope's jurisdiction, albeit unlawfully, is not necessarily to deny it; to abolish it altogether can hardly be anything else than utter denial".30

Therefore, on July 4, 1533 Clement VII

excommunicated the primate for judging the case, and excommunicated along with him the other bishops who had taken part in the trial, Lee of York, Longland of Lincoln, and Stephen Gardiner.  And on the same day, . . ., the pope excommunicated Henry also, unless, by September he had left Anne and taken back Catherine; also the nuncio was withdrawn from London.31 
Henry's reaction was swift and decisive.  Henry started a propaganda campaign directed against the papacy and reconvened the Parliament.  Henry ordered

that arrangements be made with the bishops for sermons everywhere showing how the pope is subject to the council, and that he is not, by God's law, any more authority in England than any other foreign bishop; and that whatever authority the pope has ever exercised in England had its origins in the king's good pleasure only.32 
Furthermore, it was ordered that "proclamations are to be made, printed and posted 'on every church door in England', of the whole statutes of appeals, . . ., so that none shall be ignorant of the statute, and all men will be prepared to disregard any sentence from Rome against the king".33  In summary, "there should, then, be an assault on the pope at home; and simultaneously a protective league should be organized abroad against his riposte, a league--even--with the admittedly heretical, Lutheran princes of Germany". 34
It is revealing that Henry considered Lutheranism heretical.  Further demonstration that Henry was not a reformer in the usual sense of the word can be found in the Six Articles of 1539.  This act said that

all, who henceforward, denied Transubstantiation were liable to be burnt as heretics and to lose all their property as traitors, those who taught that, in order to receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, communion under both species was necessary, or that private masses were contrary to God's law, or that actual confession of sins to a priest was not necessary to the sacrament of penance, priests who married, and men or women who violated their solemn vows of chastity--all these were to be hanged as felons. . . .35 
Henry also placed before the Parliament in 1534 "five new bills that would work out to the full the implications of the surrender of Convocation in 1531, of the Submission of 1532, of the act of that year about annates and episcopal appointments, and of the Statue of Appeals of 1533".36
As Hughes points out, the reason Henry could now be so decisive was that he

knew that at home he was safe.  He had parliament with him, lords and commons, the landed interest and the traders; and he had for his agent the one political genius of the day, Cromwell.  The churchmen had collapsed before the mere thought of his displeasure, while as yet not a single new penalty had been enacted to punish their opposition [this would be rectified].  Henry now proposed to secure his gains by a system of new personal oaths for all subjects, and of new, even bloody, penalties for disobedience, against which neither rank nor any prestige of honour and holy living would be protection.  The 'reign of terror', as it has been called, that was about to begin was not the cause of the first fundamental assents to the change, but an effect of the ease with which these had been obtained, a means designed to safeguard the change already made and to transform it, where this was necessary, from something notational to reality.37 
The five bills passed by the spring session of Parliament were:
1) The Ecclesiastical Appointments Act:  Determined how vacancies were to be filled.  The king would choose his man who would then be consecrated by an archbishop with no references made to the pope.
2)  Dispensations Act:  Took care of cases which formerly found their solution in papal licenses and dispensations.  The money which formerly went to Rome in these cases now went to the Archbishop of Canterbury who turned most of it over to the king.  Also, all monasteries which, because of papal privilege, were not under the control of the diocesan bishop [about 300 houses] were now under the king's control.
3)  The Submission of the Clergy was now made law.
4)  First Act of Succession:  First act ever passed to regulate the succession to the crown.  Henry's lawful heirs are to be the issue from Anne Boleyn.
5)  This act said "no manner of speaking. . .against the said Bishop of Rome or his pretended power. . .nor. . .against any laws called spiritual laws made by his authority and repugnant  to English  laws  or  the  king's  prerogative  shall be   deemed. . .heresy".38
The passage of these bills was followed on March 31, 1534, by  a thirty-four to four negative vote by the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury to the question of "Whether the Roman pontiff has any greater jurisdiction bestowed on him by God in the Holy Scriptures in this realm of England than any other foreign bishop?"  The schism was complete.
Meanwhile, the pope was finally taking some action on Catherine's dilemma.  On March 23, 1534 (word reached London on April 11) twenty-two cardinals in Rome voted that Catherine's marriage to Henry was  just and Henry must take her back.

Henry, therefore, must take back Catherine, and pay her costs as well as his own.  His petition was answered, his doubts resolved, by the authority which, as the divinely guided interpreter of God's law, he had, seven years before, appealed.39 
Henry's reaction was to further increase his propaganda program.  Therefore, Henry made all the preachers preach an official sermon which denounced the pope.  Henry also published an anti-papal treatise entitled A Little Treatise Against the Muttering of Some Papists in Corners.  It stated the Royal Supremacy. . .had really nothing to do with religion.  It was not a change in religion, . . ., but a matter of politics, the ending of a monstrous usurpation that had been very profitable to the usurper but never justified--a  usurpation always grudged in England and ruinous to the realm.40
Also at this time Cromwell decided that if parliament's chief business was to be the demonstration to Europe that England could get on perfectly well without Rome, then a necessary preliminary was insurance against disaffection, and for this there was nothing more necessary and useful than 'to cause indictments to be drawn for the offenses in treason and misprision concerning the Nun of Canterbury--to know what the king will have done with the Nun and her accomplices'.41
In 1525 a woman named Elizabeth Barton became ill for several months.  "The illness was accompanied by trances, in which she foretold coming events and asserted that the Blessed Virgin had appeared to her and foretold her cure at the neighboring chapel of Court-at-Street."42  She was "cured" as predicted and thus came to the attention of the church.  Archbishop Warham appointed Dr. Edward Bocking, who was the cellarer of the cathedral monastery of Christ Church, to look into the affair.  The commission made a favorable report and in 1525, at the age of sixteen, Elizabeth Barton entered the Benedictine convent of St. Sepulchre near Canterbury.  Dr. Bocking was appointed her confessor and director.
She remained at Canterbury for eight years but was allowed to travel "on visits of devotion, or in her role of spiritual counselor and comforter of those in distress".43
In 1527 the Nun of Kent, as she was now called, came out against the king's proposed divorce from Catherine.  Her fame was such at this time that in 1528 she met with Thomas Wolsey and rebuked him "for his general neglect of his responsibilities and in particular for his share in the divorce proceedings".44   As her fame continued to spread even Henry had an audience with her.  She warned him to stop the divorce or he would be overtaken by catastrophe.
As to whether she was having visions or not, it is hard to say.

In a judgment of character the concurrent testimony of Warham, Fisher, and More and their esteem for Elizabeth Barton over a series of years, must carry considerable weight, and it goes far towards eliminating the possibility of complete and long standing fraudulence.45 
On the other hand it seems plausible to assume she was a sick girl who was easily influenced by those around her.

There can be little doubt that she was eventually exploited by a group of clergy centered on Canterbury--especially one Dr. Edward Bocking, her spiritual director and a monk at Christ Church--who were opposed to the divorce and saw in her a useful weapon with which to harass the king.46 
Under Dr. Bocking's influence, the Holy Maid prophesied that "if Catherine suffered any wrong Henry 'should no longer be king of this realm. . .and should die a villain's death'".47
If it had been any other time, Elizabeth Barton would probably have been safe from persecution, but with the situation as it was in 1533 Henry could not afford to ignore a potential source of trouble.  For "if Bocking and the others had their way, she might have been used to stir the commons and fire serious unrest. . .".48
Another possible reason for Henry's decision to strike against the Nun was that he was moved by news or forecasts of his impending excommunication [for divorcing Catherine] which took place on 4 July in Rome.  In the sequel the chief aim of the king and his minister was to deprive both excommunication and prophetess of their credit by representing the former as effected by the latter, and the latter as deluded or criminal.49 
Therefore, "in mid-July (1533) he [Henry] ordered Cromwell and Cranmer to strike".50   Elizabeth was questioned briefly in July and released.  But in November she was arrested again and "was examined several times by the Council and the Star Chamber"51  and was charged with "having spoken and influenced opinion against the king's divorce and second marriage, . . .".52  We can deduce that sometime during this trial she confessed that "her revelations were imaginary, and had been suggested and encouraged by Bocking and others".53  Now it remained to discredit her in the eyes of the public.  Therefore on Sunday, November 23, 1533, she and her companions. . .were placed on a scaffold at St. Paul's cross to do public penance.54
During this public display the nun was required to hand a form of confession to Dr. Capon, who read it to the people.  "I dame Elizabeth Barton. . .do confess that I, most miserable and wretched person, have been the original of all this mischief, and by my falsehood have deceived all these persons here and many more, whereby I have most grievously offended almighty God and my most noble sovereign, the king's grace.  Wherefore I humbly, and with heart most sorrowful, deserve you to pray to Almighty God for my miserable sins, and ye that may do me good to make supplication to my most sovereign for me for his gracious mercy and pardon.55
But the prayers were unheard for on April 21, 1534, under an act of Attainder (for it was not yet treason to speak against the king), "Elizabeth Barton, the Benedictine Bocking. . .were executed as traitors at Tyburn".56
This whole affair is best summed up G. H. Cook who said although it had no immediate bearing on the general suppression, the affair of the Holy Maid of Kent; in which several religious houses were implicated, had some influence in bringing monks into disfavour with Henry VIII, and hastened Cromwell's plans for the consfication of monastic property.57
Furthermore, Cromwell made sure that the autumn Parliament of 1534 corrected some deficiencies in the king's power.  The most obvious deficiency was the lack of a definition of treason broad enough to handle cases such as Elizabeth Barton's.
The First Act of Succession had given a definition of treason but it made no reference to speaking against the king.

And if any person or persons. . .by writing or by any exterior act or deed, maliciously procure or do. . .any thing or things to the prejudice, slander, disturbance, or derogation of the said lawful matrimony solemnized between your majesty and the said Queen Anne. . .then every such person and persons. . .shall be adjudged high traitors, and. .shall suffer pains of death, as in cases of high treason. . . .58
Therefore, the Treasons Act was passed in November, 1534.  This definition of treason made it a crime to speak against the king.

Be it therefore enacted. . .that if any person. . .do maliciously wish, will, or desire, by words or writing. . .to deprive them [Royal Family]. . .of their dignity, title or name. . .[or] pronounce, by express writing or words, that the king our sovereign lord should be a heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel or usurper of the crown. . .being thereof lawfully convicted. . .shall be adjudged traitor, and that every such offense. . .shall be reputed. . .and adjudged high treason. . .and suffer such pains of death and other penalties, as is limited and accustomed in cases of high treason (emphasis is mine).59
Also, in this same session of Parliament, there was passed the Supremacy Act which gave legal status to the king's new powers.  Let it be enacted that the king. . .shall be taken, accepted, and reputed the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England, called Anglicana Ecclesia; and shall have. . .full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain, and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts, and enormities, whatsoever they be, by which any manner spiritual authority or jurisdiction ought or may lawfully be reformed, repressed, ordered, redressed, corrected, restrained, or amended, most to the pleasure of Almighty God, the increase of virtue on Christ's religion, and for the conservation of the peace, unity, and tranquillity of this realm; any usage, custom, foreign law, foreign authority, prescription, or nay other thing or things to the contrary hereof notwithstanding.60
The Second Act of Succession was also passed in this session.  This act gave the form of the oath which was provided for in the First Act of Succession.

Ye shall swear to bear faith, truth, and obedience alonely to the king's majesty, and to his heirs of his body of his most dear and entirely beloved wife Queen Anne, begotten and to be begotten, and further to the heirs of our said sovereign lord according to the limitation in the statute made for surety of his succession in the crown of this realm, mentioned and contained, and not to any other within this realm, nor foreign authority or potentate:  and in case any oath be made, or has been made, by you, to any person or persons, that then ye (are) to repute the same as vain and annihilate; and that, to your cunning, wit, and uttermost of your power, without guile, fraud, or other undue means, you shall observe, keep, maintain, and defend the said Act of Succession, and all the whole effects, and contents thereof, and all other Acts and statutes made in confirmation, or for execution of the same, or of anything therein contained; and this ye shall do against all manner of persons, of what estate, dignity, degree, or condition soever they be, and in no wise do or attempt, nor to your power suffer to be done or attempted, directly or indirectly, any thing or things  privily or apartly to the let, hindrance, damage, or derogation thereof, or of any part of the same, by any manner of means, or for any manner of pretense; so help you God, all saints, and the holy Evangelists.61
Finally, the Annates Tax  formerly paid to the pope was now ordered to be paid to the king.
This ended the important acts of the autumn session of Parliament and also ended the Reformation Parliament.

The legal settlement was now complete.  It only remained to realize it in a few important public submissions, and to enforce its sanctions against the small band of highly placed recusants.62
Therefore, in April, 1535 "all supporters of the pope's jurisdiction were now ordered to be arrested, and on April 20. . .the priors of the Charterhouse of London, Beauvale and Axholme, and Dr. Richard Reynolds of the Bridgettine monastery of Syon"63 were arrested.  They were charged with "denying the king to be supreme head of the English Church"64 and were sentenced to death.

On May 4 they were put to death as traitors at Tyburn, hanged in their religious dress, against all precedent for the execution of criminous clerks, priesthood and monachism being thereby punished and warned as well as priests and monks.65
As pointed out by Professor Hughes, the fact that they were executed in their clerical garb demonstrated the government's contempt for the clerical estate as did the method of execution.

He was then hanged with a thick rope, and almost immediately cut down.  He was stripped of all his clothes, except for his hair shirt.  He was disemboweled, his heart was torn out and rubbed in his face, he was dismembered and one arm sent to be nailed above the door of the Charterhouse.66
On June 19 three more members of the London Charterhouse were similarly executed.
Following these executions were the executions of Bishop Fisher on June 22, 1535 and Thomas More on July 6, 1535.  They were both convicted of refusing to take the oath of supremacy.
At this time Cromwell decided to use the king's new powers of visitation to compile the "Valor Ecclesiastious, a detailed assessment of all clerical incomes from those of bishoprics down to those of vicarages and chapels"67, in order to collect the newly reinstated annates tax.

Cathedrals, collegiate churches, parish churches, monasteries, convents and hospitals, all were summoned to produce their estate books and accounts.  Their officials were heard on oath, their stewards and bailiffs and tenants; and soon the king knew to a farthing exactly how much the Church owned. . . .  All was done according to a well arranged plan, and set down in orderly form, so that the king would know just what his new ecclesiastical revenue ought to be, that annual tenth of the income of every benifice--clerical or monastic--and that the tax of a whole year's income paid every time a benifice changed hands.68
Naturally many of the houses tried to represent their holdings as being less then they were.  Ironically, these lies would return to haunt them.

Chapter 3

DISSOLUTION OF THE LESSER MONASTERIES


In January, 1535 Henry appointed Thomas Cromwell "vicar-general with authority to undertake, by himself or his agents, a general visitation of churches, monasteries, and clergy".1
Therefore, in July, 1535 Cromwell appointed various men to the task of visiting monasteries once again.  This time there stated purpose was

to enquire whether divine service was duly observed, how many inmates there were and how many there ought to be, particulars of foundation and endowment, what special rules there were and how far kept, how well the Benedictine rule was followed, whether woolen shirts were always worn, and so on.2
After acquiring this information, it would be decided how to improve the religious life.  But, the "real" purpose of the visitations seems to have been to gather enough incriminating evidence to justify at least partial suppressions in order to help alleviate Henry's fiscal problems.
As was pointed out earlier in this paper, the importation of American bullion was causing international inflation at this time.  Henry was also faced with the possibility of invasion by Spain or France in retaliation for his anti-papal actions of the last six years.  This necessitated his allocating more money to the military.
It is possible to understand why, with these pressing monetary needs, the king's eye would fall on the church as a way to solve his problems.  The monasteries "had a gross income of a hundred and sixty thousand pounds and a net income of a hundred and thirty five".3  "The property of the Church represented between one-forth and one-third of all the land in England. . .".4
In July, 1535 Thomas Cromwell sent his agents to visit the monasteries.

The four principal visitors were Richard Layton, Thomas Legh, John ap Rice and John London.  The first two were doctors of the university of Cambridge, London an Oxford doctor.  The first three were, at this time, men in the middle thirties, Dr. London was somewhere about fifty.  He was a priest, and so was Layton; the other two were laymen.5
They carried with them

two documents, a list of instructions, which was in fact a long questionnaire to be administered to each of the religious, and a set of injunctions to be issued at the end of the visitations.6
The "instructions" consisted of seventy-four questions for the religious and twelve separate questions for the nuns.  Among the questions were:

the number of the religious; revenues and possessions and title deeds of the house; the rule; whether the novices were taught the rule, how they were educated and whether money was demanded for their admission; observance of the religious obligations, e. g. use of a common dormitory, common refectory, and of the official costume or habit; observance of the discipline of fasts, of silence and the rule of enclosure.  Had any of the community abandoned the religious life?  How was the superior chosen?  Were his relations with the other sex correct?  Had he favourites in the community?  Did he favour his relatives at the expense of the monastic revenues or sell presentations to livings?  Did he submit his accounts to the community and care for the property?  Was there an inventory and was the convent seal kept from misuse?  Were sick religious treated well; the duties of hospitality practiced; the archives well preserved?  Were the subordinate officials competent and faithful?  The nuns were asked whether they had made their professions in real freedom; how they occupied their time when not in choir; whether their relations with clergy and laymen were correct, and how often they went to confession and received Holy Communion.7
The injunctions

began by reminding the abbot and community of the two oaths they had recently taken in respect of the Acts of Succession and Supremacy, and the first injunction laid down that 'the abbot. . .shall faithfully, truly and heartily keep and observe, and cause, teach and procure to be kept' all the laws and instructions relating to these two great issues, and that superiors 'shall observe and fulfill by all the means that they best may, the statutes of the realm made or to be made for the suppression and taking away of the usurped and pretended jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome within this realm'.8
The injunctions went on to reduce the number of clergy by dismissing children who had been dedicated to the cloister by their parents, dismissing those who had entered as boys and those who confessed they were in the wrong vocation.  Furthermore, the monks were forbidden to leave their precinct.  "Also, that women, of what state or degree soever they be, be utterly excluded from entering into the limits or circuit of this monastery. . .unless they first obtain license of the king's highness or his visitor."9  It was ordered "that they shall not shew no reliques, or feigned miracles, for increase of lucre, but that they exhort pilgrims and strangers to give that to the poor that they thought to offer to their images or reliques".10
It must have been known that some of these rules were unenforceable.  Henry and Cromwell must have planned to use the inevitable infractions as grounds for suppression.  This is supported by Professor Knowles who says the injunctions were intended to "drive them [the monks] either to petition for release or to disobedience which could be punished by suppression".11
 But, whatever the intention of the visitations and injunctions, the result was suppressions.

In March 1536 sufficient evidence had been collected to justify Henry appearing himself in Parliament to declare the iniquities of the monks in the lesser monasteries [income of L200 or less a year}, to suggest their dissolution, and to claim that their wealth should be appropriated to his own use.12
Parliament agreed and shortly afterwards passed the "Act for the dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries" (this bill is in the Appendix) which suppressed all monasteries "with a community of no more than twelve and a net income of less than L200 a year".13  The opening line of this bill says that "manifest sin, vicious, carnal, and abominable living is daily used and committed among the little and small abbeys. . ."14  and this is why they must be closed.
We have no record of what Henry said to Parliament.

It was much later said that Parliament was presented with a report called The Black Book; but if so there is no evidence of what was in it, or of anyone who saw it.  It cannot have contained the fragmentary Comperta [reports of the 1535 visitations] which have survived, for, in the ensuing Act, Parliament piously thanks God 'for divers and great solemn monasteries where religion is right well kept', but in the Comperta  the greater monasteries are made out to be as bad, if not worse, than the lesser ones.  We can only conclude that Parliament accepted the word of the King.15
But, by studying the letters sent to Cromwell by his agents, we will get some idea of the conditions they reported they found.  One of the common complaints of the visitors seems to have been the number of relics and the image worship prevalent in the monasteries.
Richard Layton wrote Cromwell from Monk Farleign, Wiltshire:

I send you the Vincula of S. Petrus [fetters or girdle of S. Peter] which women put about them at the time of their delivery.  Ye shall also receive a great comb called Mary Magdalen's comb, S. Dorothy's comb, S. Margarets's comb the least, they [the monks] cannot tell how they came by them, nor have anything to show in writing [that] they be relics.16
Layton also wrote to Cromwell about the relics he found at Maiden Bradley priory, Wiltshire, and at Bruton abbey, Somerset.

I send you reliquaries; first, two flowers wrapped in white and black
 sarcenet that on Christmas eve, in the hour in which Christ was born, will spring and burgeon and bear blossoms, which may be seen, saith the prior of Maiden Bradley; ye shall also receive a bag of relics, where in ye shall see strange things, as shall appear by the scripture, as God's coat, Our Lady's smock, part of God's supper on the Lord's table, part of the stone [of the manger] in which was born Jesus in Bethlehem. . . .I send you also Our Lady's girdle of Bruton [abbey], red silk, which is a solemn relic sent to women traveling which shall not miscarry enroute.  I send you also Mary Magdalen's girdle. . . .17
Other letters paint a sordid picture of the life style in some of the monasteries.
Cromwell's agent, John Bartelot "found the prior of the Crossed Friars in London at that time being in bed with his whore, both naked. . .".18
Layton wrote from the Syon abbey that he had learned many enormous things against Bishop in the examination of the lay breathen; first that Bishop. . .persuaded one of his lay breathen, a smith, to have made a key for the door, to have in the night-time received in wenches for him and his fellow and especially a wife of Uxbridge. . .he was desirous to have had her conveyed in to him.  The said Bishop also persuaded a nun, to whom he was confessor, to submit her body to his pleasure, and thus he persuaded her in confession, making her believe that whensoever and as oft as they should meddle together, if she were immediately after confessed by him, and took of him absolution, she should be clear forgiven of God. . . .19
One more example comes from Dr. Layton and Dr. Legh.  They wrote that the abbot of Fountains hath so greatly dilapidated his house, wasted their woods, notoriously keeping six whores, defamed here by all people. . . .  Six days before our access to his monastery he committed theft and sacrilege, confessing the same.20
But, contrary to what some historians imply, not all of these letters were anti-monastic.  John Tregonwell, writing about the nunnery at Godstow, said that he found all things well and in good order as well in the monastery and the abbey there, as also in the convent of the same, except that one sister thirteen or fourteen years past, being then of another house brake her chastity, the which for correction and punishment afterwards was sent to Godstow by the Bishop of Lincoln, where now and ever since then she hath lived virtuous.21
At Bruern he said the abbot is (as it appears to me) not only virtuous and well learned in holy scripture, but also hath right well repaired the ruin and decay of that house, left by his predecessor's negligence, and the convent (which heretofore were insolent) being now brought to order.22
From these examples it is apparent that the findings of the visitors were not categorically damning, but it is also true that some of the visitors, Dr. Layton in particular, were over-enthusiastic in their search for damning evidence.
In one letter to Cromwell, Dr. Layton wrote that the abbey here [S. Mary de Pratis, Leicester] is confederate, we suppose, and nothing will confess.  The abbot is an honest man and doth very well, but he hath here the most obstinate and factious canons that ever I knew.  This morning I will object against divers of them sodomy and adultery, and thus descend to particulars which I have learned of others, but not of any of them; what I shall find I cannot tell.23
Another interesting aspect of these suppressions is that, even though the letters condemn both small and large monasteries, the "Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries" only suppressed the smaller ones.  In fact, it goes so far as to praise the larger ones, saying "that divers and great solemn monasteries of this realm, wherein (thanks be to God) religion is right well kept and observed. . .".24  Even more amazing is the fact that upon dissolution the religious were given the option of "going to another house of the order or 'taking capacities', that is, accepting dispensations from their vows of poverty and obedience".25
What this means is that these men and women would be allowed to remain in their religious vocation even though they were being suppressed for not living a religious life.  It now seems apparent that the motivating force behind the dissolutions was money.  Further proof is found in the fact that many of the monasteries and convents were allowed to remain undissolved by buying a royal grant.
An interesting thing to note about these "pardoned" monasteries is that many of them were pardoned in order to house the influx of religious who chose the option of being transferred to another house.  "The placing of the religious who elected to persevere was soon found to present a graver problem than had been envisaged.  It would have meant transferring a thousand or more, including whole communities with their superior. . ."26  which was a contingency Cromwell was not prepared for.  This is a testimony to the true dedication of many of the religious and further proof that this whole operation was not a well-planned attempt to reform the church, but, rather, a hastily-conceived scheme for padding the royal treasury.
Now, Parliament established a Court of Augmentations "to deal with all lands and moveables coming into the king's possession through the suppression or surrender of the religious houses".27
Henry, now having the power of suppression, sent forth the fourth royal commission in two years to inquire into the state of the houses assigned to them, and into the character of the monks; to find out how many wanted to live as secular priests; to estimate the value of the lead and of the bells (as metal); to prepare (and send back to London) an inventory of the moveable property; to examine the accounts and make a financial survey; and finally to despatch to the house, with a royal letter of recommendation, the religious who desired to continue as such, sending to the Archbishop of Canterbury those who wished to live as secular priests.28
These new agents discovered, according to Philip Hughes, that 291 houses were eligible for dissolution and the number of religious involved was about 1,500.29   Of these 291 houses, 244 were actually suppressed.  "The confiscated lands of the lesser monasteries produced a yearly revenue of L32,000, and there was L100,000 of miscellaneous plunder."30
The results of the lesser suppressions was that "institutions that had existed for hundreds of years, permanent elements in social life everywhere, had been destroyed by the king in Parliament; communities had been broken up, buildings torn down, lands seized, moveables sold off".31  Because of the uneven geographical distribution of these suppressed houses some areas were harder hit than others.

Along the eastern side of England, East Anglia, Lincolnshire, and the eastern half of Yorkshire, about two-thirds of the existing monastic institutions had, then disappeared--87 houses out of 130; thirty-five 'greater' remained and eight allowed to continue by license under the act.32
It was in the hardest hit of these areas, Lincolnshire, that a revolt arose which led to the one real threat to Henry during his reign.

Chapter 4

THE LINCOLNSHIRE UPRISING


In order for one to fully understand the causes behind the uprising in Lincolnshire, it is necessary to understand the social and economic situation in northern England prior to the suppressions.
Northern England at this time was predominantly a rural area of farmers and sheepherders.  Like farmers everywhere, the people were basically conservative and therefore slow to accept new and revolutionary ideas.  When Henry decided to divorce Catherine the people were angered.  When the rapid religious changes followed they were further confused and angered.  They blamed Cromwell for influencing the king to such a course of action.
Besides this discontent with the government's new policies, the people were under the economic pressure of higher taxes and a generally rapid rise in prices.
Then, when Henry started executing monks and even bishops the people were left in disbelief and anger.  Although the preachers were chiefly concerned with the relations between England and the Pope. . .the commons looked at the matter from a more personal point of view.  Queen Katherine was universally beloved, while Queen Anne was detested.  It was the divorce and the slaughter of the monks that roused popular indignation rather than the abstract question of the supremacy.1
The people were now on the verge of open rebellion.  One woman "was accused of rejoicing because Anne's child was still-born (February 1535), and of calling her 'a goggle-eyed whore. . .'".2  Another voiced the belief that the king was being manipulated.  "'They that rule about the King. . .make him drunk," and then "they bring him bills and putteth his sign to them, whereby they do what they will and no man may correct them.'"3
When the royal commissioners started arriving in May 1536 to suppress the monasteries, it was the catalyst which started the rebellion.  As the people watched "the monks turned out, their alms stopped, their lands given to absentee landlords, their buildings pulled down, or unroofed and left to fall to ruin"4 rumours began to spread.  The commonest of these were:

1)  All the jewels and vessels of the parish churches were to be taken away, and such as were necessary were to be replaced by tin or brass. . . .

2)  All Gold, coined or uncoined, was to be taken to the mint to be tested, and every man would be obliged to pay for the testing.

3)  A tax was to be levied on all horned cattle.  Those on which it had been paid would be marked and any found unmarked would be consficated. . . .

4)  It was said that all christenings, marriages, and burials were to be taxed.

5)  No poor man was to be permitted to eat white bread, goose or capon without paying a tribute to the King. . . .

6)  It was said that every man would be sworn to give an account of his property and income.  If he falsified the return all his goods would be forfeited. . . .5
The common element in all of these rumors is economic worries and the reason is obvious.  In Lincolnshire alone there were thirty-four houses suppressed, thus decreasing the amount of church revenue by thirty-one percent (in the table in the Appendix) which amounted to about L2,500.  It also seems that "in no part of England. . .was the. . .business of gathering in the spoils pushed on with greater vigour than in Lincolnshire".6 In the first six months of the suppression the royal receiver for the district admitted having collected "no less a sum than L8,754 11s. 9 3/4d.".7 The reason for this especially thorough enactment of the collection in Lincolnshire may have been that "no part of England had a worse reputation for disorder. . .".8  The royal visitor Richard Layton urged that "there can be no better way to beat the King's authority into the heads of the rude people of the north than to show them that the King intends reformation and correction of religion".9  But, whatever the reason, the people reacted by open revolt.
The actual cause of the uprising seems to have been a sermon preached on Sunday, October 1, 1536 at Louth by the vicar, Thomas Kendall, describing what he had seen at Bolingsbroke, a few miles to the south, of a new inquisition, just starting, into the lives and fitness of the parochial clergy.10
The next day the commissioners arrived in Louth only to be seized by a mob.
They were forced to take an oath "to be true to the commons" as were sixty neighboring priests who were in Louth to see the commissioners.  It was because of these sixty priests that the uprising spread so rapidly.  They were sent to their parishes to tell the people of the uprising.
On "October 3, the commons rose at Caister, fifteen miles or so to the north of Louth; and on the Wednesday Horncastle, twelve miles to the south, also rose".11  As the people gathered into mobs they would force the gentry to join them.  Although the gentry's better nature was outraged by the suppression of the monasteries founded by their ancestors, of which they were themselves the pupiles and patrons. . .the guiding principle of the country gentlemen was their devotion to landed property.  They hated rebellion, because, sooner or later, it was followed by consfication of property.12
On October 3 the commons seized some more commissioners to whom they explained their goals in revolting.  They were willing to take the King as Supreme Head of the Church and that he should have the first fruits and tenths of every benefice. . . ; but he must take no more money of the commons during his life and suppress no more abbeys; also Cromwell and the heretic Bishops of Canterbury, Lincoln, Rochester, Ely, Worcester and Dublin must be given up to the commons.13
The commons then forced the commissioners to send a letter to the king.  They wrote that they had been met by twenty-two thousand of your true and faithful subjects and more by our estimation, and the cause of their assembly was (as they affirmed unto us) that the common voice and fame was that all the jewels and goods of the churches of the country should be taken from them and brought to your grace's council, and also that your said loving and faithful subjects should put anew to enhancements and other importunate charges. . .they did swear us first to be true to your grace and to take their parts in maintaining of the common wealth, and so conveyed us. . with them. . .unto the town of Louth. . .where as yet we remain until we know further of your gracious pleasure, humbly beseeching your grace to be good and gracious both to them and us to send us your gracious letters of general pardon or else we be in such danger that we be never like to see your grace. . . .  And further your said subjects hath desired us to write to your grace that they be yours, bodies, lands, and goods, at all times where your grace shall command for the defense of your person or your realm.14
While waiting for the king's reply the commons army marched on Lincoln.  It was during this march on Lincoln that Robert Aske, who was destined to become the leader of the larger uprising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, appears.  Aske, who was a lawyer, was one of the few gentry to voluntarily join the uprising.
Robert Aske joined the rebel's army on October 5 and went with them to Lincoln.  The rebels numbered an estimated 10,000 at this time and entered Lincoln unopposed on October 6.
The rebels now waited in Lincoln for the king's reply to their petition because the gentry convinced them that "to move further before the king replied would. . .be treasonable".15
While these events were going on Henry was taking action in London.  Henry first received definite information on the uprising on October 4 when he received the common's petition.  Henry realized that it was a dangerous situation and therefore sent for the Duke of Norfolk who was at this time "in a state of semi-disgrace for his opposition to Cromwell".16  The reason Henry summoned Norfolk seems to be because of his reputation in the north.  In 1513 Norfolk became a hero in the north when the Scottish were routed at the battle of Flodden.  Furthermore, the fact that it was known that he disliked Cromwell could possibly help him in his dealings with the rebels.
Henry then ordered the gentlemen in attendance at the court "to make ready to march against the insurgents under the command of Richard Cromwell, the Lord Privy Seal's nephew".17  But, since nations, at this time, had no standing armies, Henry had to commandeer the horses in the stables of London.
Henry finally mustered an army of 5,000 and ordered it to march on Lincoln.  Henry did not wish to endanger himself, but at the same time he did not consider it safe to trust the command to the Duke of Norfolk if he himself were not there, as Norfolk was suspected of leanings towards the old religion.  It was impossible to send Cromwell, for while on the one hand he was no general, on the other he was so unpopular that it would have been difficult to find. . .men who would follow him.  The King therefore had  recourse to his old comrade Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, who was one of the few persons Henry regarded with something like friendship and confidence.18
By October 10, Suffolk had arrived at Stamford with his army of 5,000.  In front of him were 40,000 rebels  collected at Lincoln waiting to hear the king's reply to their petition.  The reply was delivered to them on October 10.
The tone of the reply was harsh and threatening.

How presumptuous then are ye, the rude commons of one shire. . .to find fault with your Prince. . . .  Wherefore, Sirs, remember your follies and traitorous demeanours, and shame not your undoubted King and natural Prince. . . ;  and remember your duty of allegiance, and that ye are bound to obey us, your King, both by God's commandment and law of nature. . . .  Withdraw yourselves to your own houses, every man; and no more assemble, contrary to our laws and your allegiances; and to cause the provokers of you to this mischief to be delivered to our Lieutenant's hand, or ours, and you yourselves to submit you to such condigne punishment, as we and our nobles shall think you worthy.  For doubt ye not else, that we, and our nobles, unrevenged. . .thus we pray unto Almighty God to give you grace to do your duties, and to use yourselves towards us like true and faithful subjects. . .or put yourselves, your lives and wives, children, lands, goods and chattels, besides the indignation of God, in the utter adventure of total destruction and utter ruin by force and violence of the sword.19
Upon hearing the king's reply the commons were for marching against Suffolk but the gentry said no.  It is likely that the commons could have defeated Suffolk for the royal troops were disorganized and without money or ordinance.  In discipline, equipment, and fighting quality they were exactly the same as the insurgents, neither better nor worse; both alike were drawn from the ordinary farm hands of the country and tradesmen of the town.20
Why then was the gentry reluctant to lead the rebels to victory?  Because in order to gain that victory they must definitely throw in their lot with the commons, give up the plea that they were with them only on compulsion, and abandon all hope of making peace with the King.  If they. . .were defeated. . .their lands would pass to strangers. . .and the old names would die out. If they. . .won, it would mean the renewal of civil war in England, after fifty years of peace.  The new war would be a religious war, with some prospect of foreign invasion; England at the hour of her first prosperity, just taking her place among the nations, might be crippled beyond recovery.21
Therefore, they urged that the rebels do as the king wanted and the commons, without a forceful leader and whose "spirit. . .was not really one of rebellion, but of petitioners who genuinely asked no more than to relieve the king from mischievous councilors"22 listened to them and went home.
On October 11 they began leaving Lincoln and "by Friday, October 13--seven days after they had marched in--the last of them were out of Lincoln".23  On October 17 Suffolk entered Lincoln.  He now had 3,000 men, having been forced to send 2,000 home because he could not feed them.  Henry ordered him that "if further rising was attempted he must immediately attack Louth and 'with all extremity destroy, burn and kill, man, woman, and child, the terrible example of all others'".24
Thus the Lincolnshire uprising ended.  The reason for its sudden collapse was that it had no recognized leader and there was no common goal.  "The rising was not simply religious, or agrarian, or political, but a little of each."25  Robert Aske observed these events and learned from them.  He would try to rectify them in the uprising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Chapter 5

THE PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE


While these events were occurring in Lincolnshire, "Yorkshire which had been 'sputtering with riot' for six months, burst into flame as soon as the people of Holderness saw the beacons blazing across the Humbar in Lincolnshire".1
Robert Aske, who had left Lincolnshire on October 6, returned to Yorkshire where he was "among men ready and anxious to rise at his word.  He was eagerly welcomed as a bearer of news from Lincolnshire, and at the mere sight of him the bells would have rung [a signal for the rebels to rise], had he not prevented it".2  Aske was determined that the people not rise unless so ordered by him.  Therefore he advised the men of Marshland not to be the first to stir, but to wait till they heard the bells of Howdeshire.  He then crossed the Ouse into Howden and bade the people there listen for the bells of Marshland before ringing their own. . . .3
Aske did this because he wanted to hear Henry's reply to the Lincolnshire petitions for "the king might be inclined to make concessions after all, and Aske regarded rebellion as the last expedient, to be resorted to when everything else failed".4
But, despite these safeguards, on October 8 the town of Beverly called its people to arms.  Beverly gave the call to arms because of a letter supposedly written by Robert Aske "bidding every man of the town to swear to be true to God, the King and the Commonwealth, and to maintain Holy Church".5  Aske later denied having issued the proclamation but that is a moot question.  What is important in the event is, not whether the letter was forged or not, but that this letter recognized Aske as "admittedly the man with [the] most influence".6
Two days later the Marshland took up arms and "by nightfall the whole countryside had taken up arms".7  It was this day, October 10, that Robert Aske issued his first proclamation.

Masters, all men to be redie to morrow and this nighte and in the mornyng to ryng yor bellis in every towne and to assemble your selfs upon Skypwithe moure and there apoynte your captayns. . . , and to yeff [give] warnyng to all be yonde the watter to be redy upon payn of dethe for the comen Walthe; and make your proclymacion every man to be trewe to the kyngs issue, and the noble blode, and preserve the churche of god from spolyng; and to be trewe to the comens and ther welthis; and ye shall have to morrow the statutes and causis of your assemble and peticion to the kyng, and place of oure meting and all other of pour (? word illegible) and comen welthe in haste; By me Robt. ask cheiff captayn of Marches lande, th' ile and bowdenshyre. . . .8
On October 12 Aske sent a message to the Beverly insurgents asking them to meet him at Wighton.  On October 13 insurgents from all over East Riding gathered at Wighton.  "When the muster was complete and the whole host stood in array on the hill above Wighton, Aske gives their numbers as nine thousand horse and foot. . .".9
But, one town, Hull, would not give in to the rebels.  Therefore, it was decided to keep Hull besieged while Aske marched on York.  "On October 16 York, the second city of the kingdom, agreed, joyously, to admit the 20,000 horse and foot, all armed and in good order, who presented themselves under Aske's leadership; . . .".10  When news of York's "fall" reached the men of Hull they decided to surrender and on October 20 the city was occupied.
The Pilgrims, as the rebels were now named by Aske, upon hearing of the fall of Lincolnshire, were angry with and contemptuous of the Lincolnshire rebels.  They could not understand why the "rising should be ignominiously ended and that without other agency than the threats of a blazon-coated herald and the blare of his trumpet. . .".11
The Yorkshire Pilgrims also understood the military implications of Lincolnshire's fall.

Lincolnshire in arms might easily have encouraged the other midland counties to rise.  The royal forces might have been cut off from their base, surrounded and crushed.  But with the example of Lincolnshire before them [forty-six people had been executed12 ] and a royal army in their midst the midlands would hardly venture to show their feelings unless a decisive victory was won.  In fact the northern counties were obliged to depend on themselves alone; there was no longer the slightest hope of the movement spreading from shire to shire through all the land.13
But, understanding these implications did not scare the Pilgrims into submission.
London did not pay much notice to the events in Yorkshire until October 15 when Henry wrote the Earl of Shrewsbury ordering him to turn his face to Yorkshire.  If he considered his force sufficient to strike 'without danger to our honour,' he was to 'give them (the rebels) a buffet with all diligence and extremity.'  If he could not venture on this alone, he must wait for the Duke of Norfolk, who was at Ampthill, and a joint commission of lieutenancy would be sent to Norfolk and Shrewsbury to go north together.14
Meanwhile, Aske was preparing to march on the castle of Pontefract which was "one of the keys to the south's control of the north".15
Pontefract was being defended by Lord Darcy of Templehurst.  Although loyal to the person of the king he detested his ministers and his policy concerning religion.  Because of this Henry made the impossible demand on him of holding the castle but not trusting him enough to arm "him with supplies or ammunition".16  Therefore, Darcy, who "would probably have preferred to have been relieved by Shrewsbury, with the possibility of afterwards acting as a mediator",17 was forced to surrender the castle on October 21.  The defenders of the castle were forced to swear to uphold an oath written by Aske.

The Oath of the Honourable Men
Ye shall not enter into this our Pilgrimage of Grace for the Commonwealth, but only for the love that ye do bear unto Almighty God his faith, and to Holy Church militant and the maintenance thereof, to the preservation of the King's person and his issue, to the purifying of the nobility, and to expulse all villain blood and evil councilors against the commonwealth from his Grace and his Privy Council of the same.  And that ye shall not enter into our said Pilgrimage for no particular profit to your self, nor to do any displeasure to any private person, but by council of the commonwealth, nor slay nor murder for no envy, but in your hearts put away all fear and dread, and take afore you the Cross of Christ, and in your hearts His faith, the Restitution of the Church, the suppression of these Heretics and their opinions, by all the holy contents of this book.18
In this oath we see the goals of the Pilgrimage as conceived by the Pilgrimage's leader, Robert Aske.  The Pilgrimage was by no means anti-Henry but rather against Henry's advisors who they viewed with hate and mistrust.  They wanted to see the monasteries restored and the relations with the pope restored.  They were not trying to overthrow the government but, rather, trying to purify it of the evil elements they thought were running it.
On the day of Pontefract's surrender an additional 15,000 men arrived there.  Aske was now commanding 35,000 men.  On this same day "the king's herald arrived at Pontefract. . .with the demands and menaces of the king's commander the Earl of Shrewsbury, now fifteen miles away at Doncaster,  but with no more than 3,000 armed men. . .".19  Aske listened to the messenger who brought a message similar to the one that dispersed the Lincolnshire rebels.  Aske would not allow the messenger to read the proclamation to the people but sent him home instead.
Meanwhile, Henry now realizing that he needed his best commander on the field if he hoped to stop Aske, ordered the Duke of Norfolk to relieve Shrewsbury at Doncaster.  Norfolk set out for Doncaster on October 16, but realizing that it would take him several days to reach his destination, he sent a letter ahead to Shrewsbury to give to Aske.  The letter "suggested that much useless bloodshed might be prevented if 'four of the discreetest men of the north parts' came to the lords at Doncaster and explained the causes of the rising".20
The arrival of this letter on October 24 caused the first serious dissension among the Pilgrims.  Aske knew the Pilgrims had always protested their loyalty to the King's person.  They thought that he had been led astray by lowborn favourites, but, if he would grant the petition of his faithful subjects, war was the last thing they desired.  On the other hand, if he refused to redress their grievances which were felt by so large a part of his kingdom, his subjects would be justified in using armed force to bring him to a more reasonable frame of mind.21
Yet, Aske knew that the King's army was. . .scattered, unprovided, fainthearted and entirely at their mercy.  It was in their power to strike a decisive blow--a blow from which the King's party might never recover."22
Many of the commons and "lords were for an advance, to attack and wipe out the king's army"23 but Aske said no.  He reasoned that "if they attacked the King's army before their petition had been presented, and consequently before they knew whether the King would grant it or reject it"24 they would be traitors.
When Norfolk arrived on October 26 he found "the Pilgrims, 30,000 strong, 'all the flower of the north', on the north bank of the river (with another 12,000 fifteen miles behind them holding Pontefract), and Shrewsbury with his mere 7,000 holding the town for the king".25  But, the Pilgrims had stopped and Norfolk had the time he so desperately needed.
It was agreed that on October 26 a meeting would take place between the captains of the two forces.  Norfolk sent a letter to Henry before the meeting which is very revealing as to Norfolk's goals.

I besech you to take in gode part what so ever promes I shall make unto the rebells (if any suche I shall by th' advyse of others make) for sewerly I shall observe no part theroff for any respect of that other myght call myn honour distayned langer than I and my company with my lord marquees may be assembled to gyder, thynkyng and repewting that none oth nor promes made for polecy to serve you myn only master and soverayne can destayne me who shall rather be torne in a myllion peces than to show one poynt of cowardise or untrouth to your majeste.26
Norfolk was intending to make any promises he had to, to dispel the Pilgrims but, he had no intention of keeping the promises.
On October 27 the two sides met and the Pilgrims gave Norfolk their objectives.

First,  that the Faith might be truly maintained.
Second,  that the ancient liberties of the Church might be maintained.
Third,  that the unpopular statutes might be repealed and that the law might stand as it did at the beginning of the King's reign 'when his nobles did order his Highness'.
Fourth,  that the 'villain blood' might be expelled from the Council and noble blood restored.
Fifth,  that Cromwell. . .and the heretic bishops might be deprived and banished or otherwise punished as subverters of the laws of God and of the Commonwealth.27
We do not know what was said during this conference but the results were that Norfolk was to ride to the King in all haste, accompanied by Sir Ralph Ellerker and Robert Bowes, whose expenses would be paid by the lords and knights of the Pilgrimage.  The messengers were to lay the Pilgrim's petition before the King and to return with his answer.  Within the next two days, both armies must disperse, and a truce, binding on both sides, was to last until messengers returned.28
The commons "were very reluctant to go home empty-handed, without any definite triumph"29 but they were persuaded by Aske to do so.  "By Monday, October 30, three days later they had all marched away--the commons wild with anger and disappointment and fear, and the feeling that they had been betrayed by their incompetent betters."30
Norfolk sent a letter to the king's council begging them to make it plain to Henry that he had only bargained, or pretended to bargain because the situation was desperate and there was no other way out, begging them also (so ticklish, still, was the position) to restrain Henry by every manner of means from executing any of the Lincolnshire captives as yet, from rousing Darcy's resentment anew, and from any orders to Norfolk to do the impossible, for example, to reassemble the just dispersed royal army.31
The messengers reached Henry on November 2.  Just as Norfolk feared, the king was enraged.  "That no rebels had been put to death was a slur on his honour, he declared, and not a single concession was he going to make."32  At first, Henry was going to send a reply much like the one he sent to Lincolnshire but Norfolk convinced him that this would be imprudent.  Rather, it would be better to "resort to temporizing and treachery, as it was impossible for the moment to compel them to submit to his will".33
Henry's first object was to delay the northern messengers.  All waste of time was time gained.  Hot blood would cool, and anger die down, men would settle into their ordinary ways, and hopeful spirits would grow despondent, if time was given to them to realise dangers and difficulties of civil war.  The return of Bowes and Ellerker would be watched for less and less eagerly everyday they tarried, and the King's answer, however unfavourable, might find the people readier to submit than to rise again.34
Henry also sought to bring discord in the Pilgrim's ranks by sending "letters of thanks. . .to all the gentlemen of the north who had taken the King's side. . ."35 and "promises of pardon and reward, hints at grants of land, perhaps belonging to the very monasteries they had risen to defend. . .".36
Henry also tried "through Norfolk. . .to persuade Darcy to send Aske on to him, dead or alive"37 but Darcy "replied, not for a dukedom would he do such a deed".38
The Pilgrims grew unruly when the messengers did not return and threatened to march again.  Finally, on November 14 "the King decided that the Pilgrim's messengers must be sent back with some sort of answer, as the reports from the north showed that delay was not producing so good an effect as he had hoped".39
Bowes and Ellerker arrived at York on November 18 bringing with them only a verbal reply.

When it was divested of Henry's complaints about the unnatural conduct of his subjects, reproaches for breaches of truce, and professions of clemency, all that remained was the statement that he found their articles 'general, dark, and obscure,' but that he would send the Duke of Norfolk to Doncaster to make a full reply to them.  The rebels were to appoint three hundred representatives to meet the Duke, and if they insisted they might have a safe-conduct.40
The meeting was to take place on November 29.
The Pilgrims called a meeting at York for November 21 in order to discuss the king's reply.  There were about eight hundred representatives at this meeting.  The messengers, Bowes and Ellerker, "were quite convinced of the King's good faith and mercy, and satisfied that the Pilgrims might safely disband, since their purposes were accomplished".41  But, one of the Pilgrims had intercepted a letter from Cromwell to one of the king's generals which told a different story.  "If the Pilgrims continued longer in rebellion they should be so subdued that 'their example shall be fearful to all subjects while the world doth endure.'"42
Upon the reading of this letter many of the Pilgrims were for war but, once again, the views of Darcy and Aske prevailed.  Aske said "the treachery which they all resented so bitterly must be do to the evil influence of Cromwell, but Cromwell's power, as they hoped, was waning".43  It was decided they would go ahead with the meeting but they moved the date back to December 5 "in order to give time for sending messages into distant parts of the country".44
"But before that meeting, arranged for December 5, the Pilgrims' council was to meet again, at Pontefract. . .".45  At this meeting they adopted "a petition of twenty-four articles which cover every aspect of English life".46
Among the more important were the following:

4)  The suppressed abbeys to be restored to their houses, lands and goods.

17) Pardon by Act of Parliament for all recognizances statutes and penalties new forfeited during the time of the commotion.

21) The statutes of treason for words and suchlike made since 21 Henry VIII to be repealed.

22) That the common law may have place as was used in the beginning of the reign and that no injunctions be granted unless the matter has been determined in Chancery.47
While this was going on at Pontefract, Norfolk was getting his orders from the king's council.

Norfolk's final instructions (sent on December 4) in no way provided for any discussion of such matters as these articles mentioned.  The king, in fact, studiously ignored, and ruled out in advance, all such topics.  The basis of all his transactions with the Pilgrims was that their whole movement was based on suppositions that were false, on mere rumours about his acts, his intentions and the influences that guided him; he might be merciful, if the Pilgrims surrendered unconditionally; and Norfolk could promise a free parliament for the following October (1537), the king choosing the place where it should meet.  What more than this, and a free pardon, had the rebels ever asked--the demands provoked by lying rumours disregarded?  Should this however not suit them, the duke was to obtain a further truce of twenty days--and use it to round up all the men he could for a new advance.  The king's council also reminded the duke that some executions there must be, to save the king's honour.48
The meeting at Doncaster finally took place on December 6.  The results of the meeting were Aske and "all his companions fell on their knees and humbly begged for the King's free pardon and gracious favour, notwithstanding anything which they might have done contrary to the laws of the land".49  Norfolk "declared the king's pardon and the promise of a parliament, the Pilgrims went through their articles with the duke, and that they stood out so strongly for the restoration of the abbeys, that Norfolk pledged himself that those not yet suppressed should stand".50  This was satisfactory to Aske and on December 8 he "made a great declaration of loyalty as he laid down his Pilgrim's badge, 'We will all wear no badge nor sign but the badge of our sovereign lord.'  The Pilgrimage of Grace was now definitely over; and on December 9th the Pilgrims separated, never to come together again."51
Why would the king apparently give in so completely after vowing that he would have his revenge?  The fact of the matter was that Henry had no intention of giving in.  Although "he did not publicly repudiate Norfolk, and the suppression was slowed down"52 Henry knew "that suspicions and dissensions could be encouraged; and that when the inevitable new risings should begin, here and there, the leaders who had just submitted could without difficulty be involved in the reprisals that would follow".53
To inflame and confirm the mistrust the commons held about their leaders Henry secretly invited Aske to the royal court on December 15.  Aske stayed at the court for a month during which he became convinced of Henry's good intentions.  During this time Norfolk never returned to Yorkshire with "the king's assent to the famous articles of Pontefract".54  Just as Henry had hoped "the commons grew more and more uneasy"55 and on January 16, 1537 rebellion broke out once again in Yorkshire.  Now Henry had his "excuse for disregarding the general pardon."56
Norfolk was now sent north, not as bearer of Henry's pardon but, rather, as "judge and executioner".57
Between February and July a total of 216 people were put to death.  On July 12 the last execution took place, the execution of Robert Aske.
One might wonder how a lawyer who had worked in London for two years could have been so naive as Aske seemed to have been.  In order to understand this one has to understand the psychology of kingship.  A king was looked upon with awe and reverence.  As we have seen, throughout the Pilgrimage the blame was always put on the king's advisors.  Aske could not conceive of the king having ulterior motives.  This fact insured the doom of the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Chapter 6

THE SUPPRESSION OF THE GREATER MONASTERIES

Ironically, the Pilgrimage of Grace which had been intended to preserve the monastic institutions of England hastened their destruction.  It had cost Henry anywhere from L100,000 to L200,0001 to suppress the uprising.  As a result "Cromwell turned immediately to arrange the confiscation of the rest of the monastic properties"2 to pay for it.
Cromwell devised a three-step plan for giving Henry control of the remaining monasteries.  "A fresh visitation of the greater houses in order to induce surrender; a systematic pillage of the richer shrines; and a suppression out of hand of the friars."3
The first monasteries to be attacked were those in the north which could be linked, in any way, to the Pilgrimage.  Although most of the monks in the north had to be forced to join the Pilgrimage,4 Henry convicted many of them of treason and confiscated their lands.

The quondam of Fountains, the abbots of Whalley, Sawley, Jeravaus and Backings, and the prior of Bridlington were all hanged, and by an extension of the Law of Attainder the houses over which they had presided became the property of the Crown, for it was argued that if the estates of a convicted traitor were forfeited, so ought the property of any corporations with which the traitor was identified.5
Following these seizures in 1537 new visitations began in 1538.

Early in 1538 the Vicar-General launched a frontal attack on the greater houses.  New visitations were undertaken, and to hasten matters abbots were presented with ready-made deeds of surrender, which in many cases were signed with little coercion.6
The main visitors were again Richard Layton, John London and Thomas Legh.  In 1538 and 1539 these visitors traveled from monastery to monastery obtaining "surrenders".  The method of obtaining these surrenders is interesting.  If the residences of a house agreed to surrender they were given pensions for life as well as "sums of money for the change of their apparel and likewise such portions of the household stuff"7 as the visitors thought proper.  If they would not surrender they were to "take possession of the house and lands, the jewels, plate, cattle, stuff and all other things belonging to them",8 turn them out and give them no pensions.  Naturally, most of the houses 'voluntarily' surrendered.  Included in these forced surrenders were the houses which had purchased exemption in 1536.
But, it must be added that the pensions, for the most part, were reasonable, and at any rate, better than nothing.  "The average pension of an ordinary monk or regular canon stood at the not unreasonable figure of five or six pounds per annum"9 and in the case of heads of houses it was even larger.  "In many cases they soon rose to bishoprics, deaneries and substantial livings."10
While these visitations and resultant surrenders were going on, "groups of Cromwell's underlings were sent on tour to rifle some of the wealthiest shrines".11  The stated purpose for the destruction of the shrines was to clear the religion of idolatry but the real purpose was the quest for treasure.  In a letter concerning the shrine of St. Swithum we read the silver alone thereof will amount near to two thousand marks.  We have also received into our possession the cross of emeralds, the cross called Hierusalem, another cross of gold, two chalices of gold, with some silver plate. . . .  We intend. . .to sweep away all the rotten bones that be called relics; which we may not omit' lest it should be thought we came more for the treasure than for the avoiding of the abomination of idolatry.12
The culmination of these plunderings "came in September, when the 'disgarnishing' of St. Thomas's shrine supplied the king with several wagon-loads of precious metal and jewels; . . .".13
Finally, in 1538 the friars came under the avariousess eyes of Cromwell.  The friars had been exempted from the suppressions of 1536 because they "had been the first to be taken in hand and sworn in to support the new regime in 1534. . .".14
Although the friars "had little property and no treasure"15 it was decided they could be a nuisance and therefore, in February 1538 Richard Ingworth, Bishop of Dover was appointed to carry out their suppressions.  Richard Ingworth carried out his suppressions by first, defacing all monuments and confiscating any relics he found.  He then took the convent seals of the houses so the friars could not dispose of any of the buildings.  He would then impose injunctions on them that were impossible to keep and then tell them that he "had no authority to suppress them, but if they continued they must observe their. . .injunctions".16  These confined the friars to their monastic precincts but the friars were so poor that they could not survive unless allowed to leave their lands.  Therefore, the "friars, seeing nothing but starvation before them, preferred to take their 'capacities' forty shillings and a secular habit, seeking chantries or employment from the unsympathetic clergy".17
With surrenders now pouring into Henry's hands Cromwell decided to clear up any legal questions that might exist.  The legality of a head of a house surrendering property he did not own was questionable to say the least.  So, in 1539 Parliament made everything "legal" by the passage of the "Act for the Dissolution of the Greater Monasteries".  This act said the king our sovereign lord shall have. . .for ever, all and singular such late monasteries. . .which since the said fourth day of February, the twenty-seventh year of the reign. . .have been dissolved, suppressed, renounced, relinquished, forfeited, given up, or by any other means come to his highness. . .and it is further enacted. . .not only all the said late monasteries. . .but also all other monasteries. . .which hereafter shall happen to be dissolved. . .shall be vested. . .by authority of this present Parliament, in the very actual and real seizen and possession of the king our sovereign lord, his heirs and successors for ever. . . .18
Now it only remained to obtain the surrender of the last few houses, and on April 10, 1540. . .the last house, Waltham Abbey, a foundation of King Harold II, was surrendered. . .".19
Henry's great suppressions were over.  A total of some 800 houses had been dissolved, directly affecting some 8,000 people.
Although it is hard to accurately assess in actual figures the total amount of profit realised by Henry20 it is probable that the gross income of the monasteries alone represented "considerably more than three times the income of all the Crown estates on the eve of the Dissolution".21  Add to this the selling of the newly acquired lands which "represented between one-fifth and one-third of all the land in England. . .",22 plus the confiscated gold, silver, jewels etc. and it becomes apparent that Henry had acquired a huge fortune.  But, because of mismanagement and a war with France and Scotland, Henry had to sell most of his newly acquired lands.  "by the end of the reign two-thirds of the monastic land had been alienated outright and almost the only continuing advantage left to the crown was its revenue as lessor of the remaining third. . .".23


Chapter 7

SUMMARY


The suppression of the monasteries was not a methodically planned procedure.  There were too many hesitations, too many acts passed as an afterthought, such as the "Act for the Dissolution of the Greater Monasteries", for there to have been a grand design.  Rather, it was a result of a number of incidents which grew like a rolling snowball.
It began when Henry decided to divorce Catherine.  If Pope Clement VII had given Henry a definite answer, either yes or no, in 1529, Henry would not have started toying with the idea of breaking off from Rome.  In 1529 Henry was still unsure of himself.  Wolsey was, in effect, running the country while Henry enjoyed himself.  When he decided he wanted a divorce, Pope Clement VII would not give him a definite answer.  A definite no would have convinced Wolsey that it was impossible and Henry would have taken his word for it.  But, when Wolsey kept telling Henry that he could obtain the divorce for him (because Pope Clement VII left him with the impression) Henry became more determined to have it when Wolsey could not get it.  He became more involved in the running of the country and in looking for ways to obtain the divorce.  Finally he replaced Wolsey with Cromwell.
Cromwell showed Henry what could be achieved by successfully influencing the Parliament.  Cromwell got Henry recognized as Supreme Head of the Church in England.  With this title Henry obtained his divorce, resulting in his being excommunicated.  Now, Henry had his goal since 1529, but, the excommunication and the taste of power had given him other ideas.
Henry declared himself as having no superiors but God and that the pope had no more power in England than any other bishop.  After making this decision it was only a short time before he decided to confiscate the wealth of the monasteries.  The reason was already there.  Because of the weak leadership from Rome and the lingering effects of the black plague, the monasteries were in poor shape at this time.  Henry only exaggerated their condition to insure their suppression.
Henry would probably have let the greater monasteries survive longer than he did but Robert Aske forced him to take them.  Henry needed money to pay for the suppression of the uprising and there was the fear that he could never truly be Supreme Head of England until all traces of Catholicism had been purged from England.  Thus, the dissolution of the remaining monasteries came about.
Throughout the rest of his reign Henry kept defining England's new religion.  English bibles came into use.  The selling of the monastic lands to the gentry insured their support of the new religion for if England returned to Catholicism they might lose their newly acquired lands.  This is one of the major reasons that Queen Mary was unsuccessful in her attempt to restore Catholicism to England.
When Elizabeth came to the throne she restored Henry's church and kept refining it.  Her work is the main structure of the Anglican Church today.
This all came about because of Pope Clement VII's refusal to give a definite answer to a question which, although it had many political overtones, deserved a simple answer.  Could Henry VIII divorce Catherine and remarry?
top

APPENDIX

ACCOUNT OF SIR JOHN WILLIAMS FOR
PLATE RECEIVED IN ROYAL HOUSE1

Receipts
                                                                                   L.             s.              d.
Gold plate, 14,531 3/4 ounces, worth                      19,016            2            6
Gilt plate, 129,520 ounces, worth                          21,258          15            6 1/4
Parcel gilt plate 73,774 3/4 ounces*, worth              11,942          10            2 1/4
Parcel gilt, and white plate 4,341 1/4 ounces worth       795          17          11
Silver plate, 67,000 3/4 ounces, worth                      10,518            8          11 1/2
Total value of plate**                                              63,531         15            1
In money from spoils, etc                                         15,156           7            2 1/2
"      "         "       "                                                         393         14            1
           Total Receipts                                                79,081         16            4 1/2


*The value, L6,942 10s. 1 1/4d., given in the print of the Abbotsford Club is obviously wrong in this item.

**Large deductions are made from the values for the weights of the precious stones set in the metal, and for the wax, paper and cement found in the process of melting.


Disbursements2
                                           
                                                                                   L.                s.              d.

Plate bought for the king                                             4,849            6              6 3/4

"New trimming images of gold"                                   6,015           15              7 1/4

Expenses of Anne of Cleves                                         3,078             7              7

Money coined and sent to Ireland                               10,285             8              4

King's parks                                                                    441             7               0

Purchase of manor of Ashill                                          1,000             0              0

Coast fortifications                                                        9,933             6              8

Office expenses and sundries                                          1,023           10              0

Given to the king's "own hand" in plate and money*     41,913           17             10 1/2

Total disbursements                                                     78,540           19              7 1/2

Balance                                                                            540            16             9      .

                                                                                   79,081            16             4 1/2


*This item is given as L46,636 1s. 1 1/4d., but the total of L78,540 19s. 7 1/2d. makes the account inaccurate, and this item is diminished so as to secure the total.  The treasurer pleads that when the keeper's house in London was burnt down he lost L2,000 at least.
top
ACCOUNT OF THE TREASURER OF THE COURT OF AUGMENTATION
From the 24th of April, 1536, to Michaelmas, 1547.3


Receipts

                                                                                   L.                s.              d.

Revenues from monastic lands                                 415,005            6            10 1/2
Paid by religious for royal license to continue               5,948           6              8
Sales of monastic lands by king                                 855,751         18              5
Sales of woods                                                                634           6              8
Fines paid by tenants for new leases                              4,529           9             10 1/2
Sales of ornaments, vestments, lead, bells
   furniture, buildings, etc.                                            26,502           1               0 1/4
Deductions from religious pensions as
   forced loan to the king                                                9,443         15               6
Loan to king for war purposes from the
   religious and clergy                                                   12,870          16              8
Payments by collectors and other officers
   for royal leave to be free from military service             5,776            7              8 1/2
Miscellaneous:  Arrears of collectors, etc                       1,979           19             11 3/4

     Total Receipts                                                   1,338,442             9                 2 1/2

Disbursements4

                                                                                   L.                s.              d.

Fees and wages                                                        14,444           3              4 1/2
Annuities                                                                  25,039           6              5 1/2
Pensions to religious                                                 33,045           5              8 1/2
Office expenses                                                         11,067         19              3 1/2
Value of plate handed to king                                    11,393         12            11 1/4
Purchase of lands                                                       51,749           9              9 1/2
Payment of debts                                                       12,909           1              9 1/2
Plate purchased for presents                                       14,619         12            10 1/4
War expenses:  General                                            238,078           5              3 1/4
                        Foreign                                             136,631          17              6 1/3
                        Guns and munitions of war                171,819          17            11
Naval material, ships and provisions                            27,922            3              5 1/2
Coast fortifications                                                      64,485            4              3 1/2
Spent by king on royal palaces                                     61,014           11             5
Expenses of Prince Edward of Wales
   in household matters, etc.                                          23,000             0             0
Royal household expenses and money
   for king's use                                                            274,086           19            8 3/4
To secure the surrender of the abbey
   of Abingdon                                                                   600             0            0
Various expenses, chiefly military and naval                  57,135             3            2       .
Total disbursements                                      1,229,042           14           11 3/4
Balance*                                                                     109,399           14             2 3/4 .
                                                                                1,338,442             9             2 1/2


*Of this L109,399 14 s. 2 3/4 d no less than L76,141 8 s. 3 d. was still due for lands which had been sold.

The following table shows how the Act of 1536 affected the different orders of canons, monks and nuns:--5


Total
Affected
Actually

Religious Licensed**

Houses*
by Act
Suppressed



Austin Canons
154
107
98
9
Benedictines
68
13
13
0
Cistercians
56
22
18
4
Premontre Canons
31
23
17
6
Gilbertines
19
17
17
0
Cluniac Monks
16
7
7
0
Carthusains
9
2
2
0
subtotal
353
191
172
19





Women




Benedictines
73
60
49
11
Cistercians
24
23
15
8
Aug. Canonesses
12
11
6
5
Premontre
Canonesses
2
2
2
0
Cluniac Nuns
2
2
0
2
Poor Clares
3
2
0
2
subtotal
116
100
72
28
previous subtotal
353
191
172
19
Total
469
291
244
47

*House, i.e. Autonomous house.  **Licensed, i.e. Authorized to continue under the Act.
It should be noted that David Knowles says that there were at least 70 houses authorized to continue by the king.  He says that the 17 Gilbertines were allowed to continue plus a few more.5

How very differently the Act of 1536 affected different districts may be more clearly seen by a comparison of the revenues then confiscated, e. g. :--6
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Area in                  Total               Houses                    Houses                Revenue                      Revenue
   District                           
                             Square Miles            Houses        Confiscated                     Left               Consficated                       Left
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lincs                         2,600                      46                    34                             12                31% of total                     L5,152
                                                                                                                                              i.e. L2,346

Norfolk and              3,470                      40                     28                            12                 28% of total                     L6,026
   Suffolk                                                                                                                                i.e. L2,397

East Yorks               3,300                       44                     25                            19                19% of total                      L7,312
                                                                                                                                              i.e. L1,725

All North less         10,600                       46                     19                             27               15.5 % of total                   L9,053
   East Yorks                                                                                                                          i.e. L1,656

The VII West-         8,253                       75                      25                            50                 6.7% of total                   L23,179
   ern Counties                                                                                                                         i.e. L2,322


LXII ACT FOR THE DISSOLUTION OF THE
LESSER MONASTERIES, A. D. 1536.
(27 HENRY VIII, CAP.28)
Parliament met February 4, 1536; it received a digest of the report of the monastic visitors, and soon after passed the first Act of Suppression, dealing with the lesser monasteries, and covering, retrospectively, previous suppressions.
[Transc. Statutes of the Realm, III, 575.]

Forasmuch as manifest sin, vicious, carnal and abominable living is daily used and committed among the little and small abbeys, priories and other religious houses of monks, canons, and nuns, where the congregation of such religious persons is under the number of twelve persons, whereby the governors of such religious houses, and their convent, spoil, destroy, consume, and utterly waste, as well their churches, monasteries, priories, principal houses, farms, granges, lands tenements, and hereditaments, as the ornaments of their churches, and their goods and chattels, to the great infamy of the king's highness and the realm, if redress should not be had thereof.  And albeit that many continual visitations hath been heretofore had, by the space of two hundred years and more, for an honest and charitable reformation of such unthrifty, carnal, and abominable living, yet nevertheless little or none amendment is hitherto had, but their vicious little shamelessly increases and augments, and by a cursed custom so rooted and infested, that a great multitude of the religious persons in such small houses do rather choose to rove abroad in apostasy, than to conform themselves to the observation of good religion; so that without such small houses be utterly suppressed, and the religious persons therein committed to great and honourable monasteries of religion in this realm, where they may be compelled to live religiously for the reformation of their lives, there cannot else be no reformation in this behalf.
In consideration whereof, the king's most royal majesty--being supreme head on earth, under God, of the Church of England, daily finding and devising the increase, advancement, and exaltation of true doctrine and virtue in the said Church, to the only glory and honour of God, and the total extirping and destruction of vice and sin, having knowledge that the premises be true, as well by the accounts of his late visitations, as by sundry credible informations, considering also that divers and great solemn monasteries of this realm, wherein (thanks be to God) religion is right well kept and observed, be destitute of such full numbers of religious persons, as they ought and may keep--has thought good that a plain declaration should be made of the premises, as well to the Lords spiritual and temporal, as to other his loving subjects, the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled; whereupon the said Lords and Commons , by a great deliberation, finally be resolved, that it is and shall be much more to the pleasure of Almighty God, and for the honour of this his realm, that the possessions of such religious houses, now being spent, spoiled, and wasted for increase and maintenance of sin, should be used and converted to better uses, and the unthrifty religious persons so spending the same, to be compelled to reform their lives;  And thereupon most humbly desire the king's highness that it may be enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that his majesty shall have and enjoy to him and to his heirs for ever, all and singular such monasteries, priories, and other religious houses of monks, canons, and nuns, of what kinds or diversities of habits, rules, or orders soever they be called. . .manors, lands, tenements, rents, services, reversions, tithes, pensions, portions, churches, chapels, advowsons, patrinages, rights, entries, conditions, and all other interests and hereditaments to the same monasteries, abbeys, and priories, or to any of them appertaining or belonging; to have and to hold all and singular the premises, with all their rights, profits, jurisdictions, and commodities, unto the king's majesty, and to his heirs and assigns for ever, to do and use therewith his and their own wills, to the pleasure of Almighty God, and to honour and profit of this realm. . . .
And it is also enacted, by. . .king's highness shall have and enjoy to his own proper use, all the ornaments, jewels, goods, chattels, and debts, which appertained to any of the chief governors of the said monasteries. . .appertaining to any monasteries, abbeys, or priories heretofore given to the king's highness, or otherwise suppressed or dissolved, or which appertain to any of the monasteries, abbeys, priories, other religious houses that shall have and enjoy the said sites, circuits, manors, lands. . .and also his majesty will ordain and provide that the convents of every such religious house shall have their capacities, if they will, to live honestly and virtuously abroad, and some convenient charity disposed to them towards their living, or else shall be committed to such honourable great monasteries of this realm wherein good religion is observed, as shall be limited by his highness, there to live religiously during their lives; and it is ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the chief governors and convents of such honourable great  monasteries shall take and accept into their houses, from time to time, such number of the persons of the said convents as shall be assigned and appointed by the king's highness, and keep them religiously, during their lives, within their said monasteries, in like manner and form as the convents of such great monasteries be ordered and kept.
The king will pay the debts of the suppressed monasteries. . . .  The king by grant, may continue undissolved and religious house. . . .   Monasteries to keep up hospitality and husbandry as before accustomed. . . .7

LXIV ACT FOR THE DISSOLUTION OF THE
GREATER MONASTERIES, A. D. 1539.
(31 HENRY VIII, CAP. 13)
During the years 1537, 1538, and the early part of 1539, numerous further suppression or surrenders had taken place; these were covered, at the close of the session in 1539, by the following Act, which vested all monastic property in the king.
[Transc. Statutes of the Realm, III, 753.]

Where divers and sundry abbots, priors, abbesses, prioresses, and other ecclesiastical governors and governesses of divers monasteries, abbacies, priories, nunneries, colleges, hospitals, houses of friars, and other religious and ecclesiastical houses and places within this our sovereign lord the king's realm of England and Wales, of their own free and voluntary minds, good wills and assents, without constraint, coaction, or compulsion of any manner of person or persons, since the fourth day of February, the twenty-seventh year of the reign of our now most dread sovereign lord, by the due order and course of the common law of this his realm of England, and by their sufficient writings of record, under their convent and common seals, have severally given, granted, and by the same their writings severally confirmed all their said monasteries, abbacies, priories, nunneries, colleges, hospitals, houses or friars, and other religious and ecclesiastical houses and places, and all their sites, circuits, and precincts of the same, and all and singular their manors, lordships, granges, meases, lands, tenements, meadows, pastures, rents, reversions, services, woods, tithes, pensions, portions, churches, chapels, advowsons, patronages, annuities, rights, entries, conditions, commons, leets, courts, liberties, privileges, and franchises appertaining or in wise belonging to any such monastery, abbacy, priory, nunnery, college, hospital, house of friars, and other religious and ecclesiastical houses and places, or to any of them, by whatsoever name or corporation they or any of them, were then called, and of what order, habit, religion, or other kind or quality soever they or any of them were reputed, known, or taken; to, have and to hold all the said. . .voluntarily, as is aforesaid, have renounced, left, and forsaken, and every of them has renounced, left, and forsaken.
That the king our sovereign lord shall have, hold, possess, and enjoy to him, his heirs and successors for ever, all and singular such late monasteries, etc. . . .  And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that not only all the said late monasteries. . .but also other etc. . .which hereafter shall happen to be dissolved, suppressed, renounced, relinquished, forfeited, given up, or by any other means come unto the king's highness. . . .
All monastic lands shall be within the survey of the court of augmentation except such as come by attainder.8

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An Essay Submitted to the Department of History of the University of Notre Dame in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts by Guy Fairweather --------------------------------------------- Director Department of History University of Notre Dame May 11, 1974



LIST OF SOURCES AND REFERENCES

Belloc, Hilarie.  Wolsey.  London: Lippincott Company, 1930.

Burke, S. Hubert.  Historical Portraits of the Tudor Dynasty and the Reformation Period Vols. 1 and 2. London:  John Hodges, 1879, 1880.

Burnett, Gilbert.  The History of the Reformation of the Church of England.  Vols. 4. 2nd ed., 1865; rpt. Westmead:  Gregg International Publishers Limited, 1954.

Cook, G. H.  Letters to Cromwell and others on the Suppression of the Monasteries.  London:  MacMillan and Co., Limited, 1927.

Deane, Anthony C.  The Life of Thomas Cranmer:  Archbishop of Canterbury.  London:  MacMillan and Co., Limited. 1927.

Dickens, A. G.  The English Reformation.  London:  B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1964.

Dodds, Madeleine Hope, et al.  The Pilgrimage of Grace 1536-1537 and the Exeter Conspiracy 1538.  2 Vols. 2nd. ed., 1915; rpt.  London:  Frank Cass and Co., Ltd., 1971.

Elton, G. R.  The Sources of History:  Studies in the Uses of Historical Evidence, England, 1200-1640.  London:  Cornell University Press, 1969.

Elton, G. R.  Policy and Police:  The Enforcement of the Reformation in the Age of Thomas Cromwell.  London:  Cambridge University Press, 1972.

Ferguson, Charles W.  Naked to Mine Enemies:  The Life of Thomas Wolsey.  Boston:  Little, Brown and Company, 1958.

Gairdner, James.  The English Church in the Sixteenth Century from the Accession of Henry VIII to the Death of Mary.  London:  MacMillan and Co., Limited, 1903.

Gasquet, Francis Aidan.  Henry VIII and the English monasteries:  An Attempt to Illustrate the History of their Suppression.  Vols. 1 and 2.  London:  John Hodges, 1888, 1890.

Gee, Henry, et. al.  Documents Illustrative of English Church History.  4th ed., 1896; rpt.  London:  MacMillan and Co., Limited, 1921.

Heath, Peter.  The English Parish Clergy on the Eve of the Reformation.  Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 1969.
Helm, P. J.  England under the Yorkists and Tudors 1471-1603.  New York:  Humanties Press, 1968.

Hill, O'dell Travers.  English Monasticism.  London: Jackson, Walford and Hodder, 1867.

Hughes, Philip.  The Reformation in England:  The King's Proceedings.  4th ed., 1950; rpt.  Vol. 1.  London:  Hollis and Carter, 1956.

Innes, Arthur D.  Cranmer and the Reformation in England.  Edinburgh:  T. and T. Clark, 1900.

Kennedy, M.  Studies in Tudor History.  London:  Constable and Company Ltd., 1916.

Knowles, David.  The Religious Orders in England:  The Tudor Age.  Vol. 3.  London:  Cambridge University Press, 1959.

McConica, James Kelsey.  English Humanists and Reformation Politics under Henry VIII and Edward VI.  London:  Oxford University Press, 1965.

More, Thomas.  Utopia or, The Happy Republic.  London:  J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd., 1852.

Oxford Studies in Social and Legal History.  Vol. 1. Ed. Paul Vinogradoff.  Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1909.

Pickthorn, Kenneth.  Early Tudor Government:  Henry VIII.  London:  Cambridge University Press, 1934.

Russel, Conrad.  The Crisis of Parliaments:  English History 1509-1660.  London:  Oxford University Press, 1971.

Scarisbrick, J. J.  Henry VIII.  Berkley and Los Angeles:  University of California Press, 1968.

Smith, H. Maynard.  Henry VIII and the Reformation.  London:  MacMillan and Co., Ltd., 1948.

Starkey, Thomas.  England in the Reign of King Henry the Eighth:  A Dialogue between Cardinal Pole and Thomas Lupset, Lecturer in Rhetoric at Oxford.  Ed. J. M. Cowper,  London:  Chatto and Windus, 1878.

The Letters of King Henry VIII:  A Selection, with a few other Documents.  Ed. St. Clare Byrne.  London:  Cassell and Company Ltd., 1936.

Tudor Royal Proclamations:  The Early Tudors (1485-1553).  Vol. 1.  Ed. Paul L. Hughes, et. al.  New Haven and London:  Yale University Press, 1964.

Tjernagel, Neelak Serawlook.  Henry VIII and the Lutherans.  Saint Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1965.

Williams, C. H.  The Making of the Tudor Despotism.  2nd ed., 1928; rpt.  London:  Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1935.

1J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (Los Angeles, 1968), p. 11.
2Scarisbrick, op. cit., p. 19.
3Ibid., p. 23.
4A Royal Almonar was in charge of dispensing alms.
5Charles W. Ferguson, Naked to Mine Enemies (Boston, 1958), p. 78.
6Scarisbrick, op. cit., pp. 41-42.
7P. J. Helm, England under the Yorkists and Tudors 1471-1603 (New York, 1968), p. 58.
8Scarisbrick, op. cit., p. 303.
9Thomas Starkey, England in the Reign of Henry the Eighth, ed. J. M. Cowper (London, 1878), p. 72.
10Francis Aidan Gasquet, Henry VIII and the English Monasteries (London, 1889), I, 2.
11Helm, op. cit., p. 38.
12The fencing in of large tracts of land, which formerly had been used as common grazing land.
13Starkey, op. cit., p. 97.
14Thomas More, Utopia or, The Happy Republic (London, 1852), p. 34.
15Helm, op. cit., p. 65.
16Madeline Hope Dodds and Ruth Dodds, The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Exeter Conspiracy (London, 1971), I, 2.
17Helm, op. cit., p. 65.
18Ibid.
19Ferguson, op. cit., p. 307.
20Helm, op. cit., p. 284.
21Gasquet, op. cit., I, 284.
22Philip Hughes, The Reformation in England (London, 1956), I. 2.
23Helm, op. cit., p. 92.
24G. H. Cook, Letters to Cromwell and others on the Suppression of the Monasteries  (London, 1965), p. 14.
25Exile here means poor.
26Cook, op. cit., p. 14.
27Ibid..
28Cook, op. cit., p. 14.
29Ibid.
30Hilaire Belloc, Wolsey (London, 1930), p. 59.
31A Legate a latere was the pope's representative in a foreign country.  On matters of religion he answered only to the pope.
32Helm, op. cit., p. 69.
33Cook, op. cit., p. 16.
34Ibid., p. 19.
35David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England (Cambridge, 1959), III, 162.
36Cook, op. cit., p. 22.
1 J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (Los Angeles, 1968) p. 11.
2 A. G. Dickens, The English Reformation (London, 1964), p. 112.
3 Scarisbrick, op. cit., p. 273.
4 Ibid., p. 274.
5 Neelak Serawlook Tjernagel, Henry VIII and the Lutherans:  A Study in Anglo-Lutheran Relations from 1521 to 1547 (Saint Louis, 1965), pp. 98-99.
6 Philip Hughes, The Reformation in England (London, 1956),  I, 227.
7 H. Maynard Smith, Henry VIII and the Reformation (London, 1948), p. 50.
8 Smith, op. cit., p. 53.
9 Hughes, op. cit., I, 236.
10 Hughes, op. cit., I, 237.
11 Kenneth Pickthorn, Early Tudor Government:  Henry VIII (Cambridge, 1934), p. 173.
12 Smith, op. cit., pp. 53-54.
13 Henry Gee and William James Hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History (London, 1921), p. 145.
14 Smith, op. cit., p. 55.
15 Dickens, op. cit., p. 115.
16 Gee and Hardy, op. cit., pp. 175-176.
17 Dickens, op. cit., p. 115.
18 P. J. Helm, England Under the Yorkists and Tudors (New York, 1968), p. 82.
19 Hughes, op. cit., I, 239.
20 Dickens, op. cit., p. 115.
21 Hughes, op. cit.,  I, 239.
22 Dickens, op. cit.,  p. 116.
23 Ibid.
24Dickens, op. cit., p. 117.
25 Gee and Gardy, op. cit., pp. 187-188.
26 Dickens, op. cit., p. 117.
27 Hughes, op. cit., I, 245.
28 Conrad Russel, The Crisis of Parliament:  English History 1509-1660 (London, 1971), p. 97.
29 Scarisbrick, op. cit., p. 317.
30 Hughes, op. cit., I, 246.
31 Ibid., p. 247.
32 Ibid., pp. 247-248.
33 Ibid.
34 Hughes, op. cit., p. 247-248.
35 Ibid. p. 365.
36 Ibid., p. 255.
37 Hughes, op. cit., p. 256.
38 Ibid., p. 256-259.
39 Hughes, op. cit., I, 263.
40 Ibid., p. 267.
41 Pickthorn, op. cit., pp. 216-217.
42 David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England (Cambridge, 1959), III, 182-183.
43 Knowles, op. cit., p. 183.
44 Ibid.
45 Ibid., p. 185.
46 Scarisbrick, op. cit., p. 321.
47 Pickthorn, op. cit., p. 218.
48 Scarisbrick, op. cit., p. 321.
49 Knowles, op. cit., III, 186-187.
50 Scarisbrick, op. cit., p. 321.
51 Knowles, op. cit., III, 187.
52 Ibid., p. 188.
53 Ibid., p. 189.
54 Francis Aidan Gasquet, Henry VIII and the English Monasteries (London, 1889), 132-133.
55 Ibid., p. 134.
56 Knowles, op. cit., III, 190.
57 G. H. Cook, Letters to Cromwell and others on the Suppression of the Monasteries (London, 1965), p. 26.
58 Gee and Hardy, op. cit., pp. 238-239.
59 Ibid. pp. 248-249.
60 Gee and Hardy, op. cit., pp. 243-244.
61 Gee and Hardy, op. cit., pp. 245-246.
62 Hughes, op. cit., I, 279.
63 Ibid., pp. 279-280.
64 Ibid.
65 Ibid., p. 280..
66 H. Maynard Smith, Henry VIII and the Reformation (London, 1948), p. 439.
67 Dickens, op. cit., p. 238.
68 Hughes, op. cit., p. 283.
1 Kenneth Pickthorn, Early Tudor Government:  Henry VIII (Cambridge, 1934) pp. 272-273.
2 Ibid., p. 273.
3 Savine, A., English monasteries on the Eve of the Dissolution (Oxford Studies in Social and Legal History, ed. P. Vinogradoff, London, 1916), I. 100.
4 P. J. Helm, England under the Yorkists and Tudors (New York, 1968), p. 96.
5 Philip Hughes, The Reformation in England (London, 1956), I. 283.
6 David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England (Cambridge, 1934), III, 272-273.

7 Hughes, op. cit., I, 285-286.
8 Knowles, op. cit., III, 275.
9 Burnet, Gilbert, The History of the Reformation of the Church of England (Oxford, 1865)  ed. Nicholas Pocock, IV, 218.
10 Gilbert, op. cit., p. 221.
11 Knowles, op. cit., III, 277.
12 H. Maynard Smith, Henry VIII and the Reformation (London, 1948), p. 78.
13 Hughes, op. cit., I, 287.
14 Henry Gee and William James Hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History (London, 1921), p. 257.
15 Smith, op. cit., p. 78.
16 G. H. Cook, Letters to Cromwell and others on the Suppression of the Monasteries (London, 1965), p. 38.
17 Cook, op. cit., p. 40.
18 Ibid., p. 44.
19 Ibid., pp. 71-72.
20 Ibid., p. 51.
21 Cook, op. cit., p. 51.
22 Ibid., pp.51-52.
23 Ibid., p. 74.
24 Gee and Hardy, op. cit., p. 258.
25 Knowles, op. cit., III, 305.
26 Ibid., p. 316.
27 Francis Aidan Gasquet, Henry VIII and the English Monasteries (London, 1890), II, 9.
28 Hughes, op. cit., I, 294.
29 A table showing Hughe's figures is in the Appendix.
30 Smith, op. cit., p. 80.
31 Hughes, op. cit., I, 295.
32 Ibid., p. 296..  Hughe's table of the suppressions by area may be found in the Appendix.
1 Madeleine Hope Dodds and Ruth Dodds, The Pilgrimage of Grace 1536-1537 and the Exeter Conspiracy 1538 (London, 1971), I, 69.
2 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., p. 69.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid., p. 74.
5 Ibid., p. 69.
6 Francis Aidan Gasquet, Henry VIII and the English Monasteries (London, 1890), II, 43.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 71.
10 Hughes, op. cit., I, 300.
11 Hughes, op. cit., p. 301.
12 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 28.
13 Ibid., p. 98.
14 Kenneth Pickthorn, Early Tudor Government:  Henry VIII (Cambridge, 1934), pp. 306-307.
15 Hughes, op. cit., Im 301.
16 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 107.
17 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., p. 107-108.
18 Ibid., p. 120.
19 The Letters of King Henry VIII, ed. St. Clare Byrne (London, 1936, pp. 141-144.
20 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 123.
21 Ibid.
22 Hughes, op. cit., I, 301.
23 Ibid.
24 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 136.
25 Ibid., p. 139..
1 Philip Hughes, The Reformation in England (London, 1956), I, 303.
2 Madeleine Hope Dodds and Ruth Dodds, The Pilgrimage of Grace 1536-1537 and the Exeter Conspiracy 1538 (London, 1971), I, 141-142.
3 Ibid., p. 142.
4 Ibid.
5 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., p. 145.
6 Ibid., p. 146.
7 Ibid., p. 148.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid., p. 157.
10 Hughes, op. cit., I, 303.
11 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 166.
12 H. Maynard Smith, Henry VIII and the Reformation (London, 1948), p. 84.
13 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 166.
14 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., p. 173.
15 Hughes, op. cit., I, 303.
16 Smith, op. cit., p. 87.
17 Ibid.
18 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 182.
19 Hughes, op. cit., I, 303.
20 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 253.
21 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., p. 253.
22 Ibid., p. 254..
23 Hughes, op. cit., I, 305.
24 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 253.
25 Hughes, op. cit., I, 305.
26 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 259-260.
27 Ibid.
28 Ibid., p. 263.
29 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., p. 269.
30 Hughes, op. cit., I, 306.
31 Ibid.
32 Ibid.
33 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 279.
34 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., p. 280.
35 Ibid.
36 Ibid.
37 Hughes, op. cit., I, 306.
38 Smith, op. cit., p. 89.
39 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 308.
40 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., p. 309.
41 Ibid., p. 313.
42 Ibid., p. 314.
43 Ibid., p. 315.
44 Ibid.
45 Hughes, op. cit., I, 307.
46 Ibid., p. 308.
47 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., I, 346-373.
48 Hughes, op. cit., I, 315.
49 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., II, 13.
50 Hughes, op. cit., I, 315.
51 Ibid., p. 316.
52 Ibid.
53 Ibid.
54 Ibid.
55 Dodds and Dodds, op. cit., II, 45.
56 Ibid., p. 52.
57 Hughes, op. cit., I, 317.
1 Professor Pickthorn quotes the figure L100,000 but Professor Hughes says L200,000.  Whatever the case, it was a considerable sum for that time.
2 Philip Hughes, The Reformation in England (London, 1956), I, 320.
3 David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England (Cambridge, 1934), III, 351.
4 According to the Dodds, Archbishop Lee of York, when giving a sermon to the Pilgrim's at Pontefract, said 'the sword was given to none but a prince, and that no man might draw it but his prince's orders'.
5 H. Maynard Smith, Henry VIII and the Reformation (London, 1948), p. 92.
6 G. H. Cook, Letters to Cromwell and others on the Suppression of the Monasteries (London, 1965), p. 128.
7 Francis Aidan Gasquet, Henry VIII and the English Monasteries (London, 1890), II, 226.
8 Ibid.
9 A. G. Dickens, The English Reformation (London, 1964), p. 145.
10 Ibid.
11 Knowles, op. cit., III, 352.
12 Cook, op. cit., p. 198.
13 Knowles, op. cit., III, 353.
14 Ibid., p. 360.
15 Ibid.
16 Smith, op. cit., p. 93.
17 Ibid.
18 Henry Gee and William James Hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History (London, 1921), pp. 283-284.
19 Hughes, op. cit., I, 327.
20 Professor Gasquet's figures may be found in the Appendix.
21 Dickens, op. cit., p. 147.
22 P. J. Helm, England under the Yorkists and Tudors (New York, 1968), p. 96.
23 Kenneth Pickthorn, Early Tudor Government:  Henry VIII (Cambridge, 1934), p. 384.
1 Francis Aidan Gasquet, Henry VIII and the English Monasteries (London, 1890), II, 535.
2 Gasquet, op. cit., II, 535.
3 Gasquet, op. cit., II, 534.
4 Gasquet, op. cit., II, 534.
5 Philip Hughes, The Reformation in England (London, 1956), I. 295.
6 Hughes, op. cit., I, 296.
7 Henry Gee and William James Hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History (London, 1921), pp. 257-268.
8 O'dell Travers Hill, English Monasticism (London, 1867), pp. 281-285.