The Dissolution of the Monasteries
Version of Record online: 9 SEP 2011
© 2011 The Author. History© 2011 The Historical Association and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Volume 96, Issue 324, pages 390–409, October 2011
How to Cite
BERNARD, G. W. (2011), The Dissolution of the Monasteries. History, 96: 390–409. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-229X.2011.00526.x
- Issue online: 9 SEP 2011
- Version of Record online: 9 SEP 2011
It is generally held that the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII and his leading minister Thomas Cromwell for financial reasons. This article suggests that more important factors were Henry VIII's determination to assert his royal authority and more clearly religious reasons, especially an erasmian scepticism about the value of institutions that set their face against the world and in which superstition flourished. At first Henry sought reform, dissolving the smaller monasteries while allowing monks and nuns to transfer to larger houses, but in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace, a great rebellion directed above all against that dissolution, the king aimed at and achieved total dissolution, a striking feature of which was the way in which monks and friars when surrendering their houses to the king subscribed to principled denunciations of their past way of life.