Henry VIII Encourages Suppression of English Monasteries (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: In encouraging the suppression of English monasteries, Henry VIII seeks to place their wealth at his disposal, while ushering in greater secularization of society, a changed landscape, and increased desperation for the poor.
Summary of Event
In January, 1535, Henry VIII exercised for the first time his newly defined powers as Supreme Head of the Church in England by appointing Thomas Cromwell, a privy councilor and royal secretary, as his ecclesiastical viceregent with the title of vicar-general. Cromwell had already drafted most of the Reformation acts and had boasted that he would make his royal master the richest prince in Christendom. He proceeded to make good his boast by suppressing five hundred and fifty religious houses in England.
In July, 1535, Cromwell nominated three lawyers (Richard Layton and Thomas Legh, priests, and John Ap Rice, a layman) to a royal commission which was to visit the religious houses, enjoin the inmates to lead stricter lives, and report to the vicar-general on the spiritual and material status of the various monasteries and convents. The commissioners actually went further and dispensed from vows all religious postulants under the age of twenty-two years and any other monks or nuns who requested dispensations. Religious vows had hitherto been dispensed only by the pope, and the visitors initiated a novel exercise of royal supremacy.
(The entire section is 1348 words.)
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