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The Dissolution of the Monasteries



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.

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