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The destruction of Roche Abbey
· Michael Sherbrook was a priest in a parish close to Roche Abbey
· As a child he witnessed the dissolution of Roche Abbey
· A monk said to his uncle that each monk was given a cell with no worth,
only his bed and clothing and this was of little worth
· People came to buy hay and corn to trade with the monks but when they
found the monks were not present, they took all they could
· Some took service books, windows and some brought the timber from the
· The church was first to be spoiled, then abbots, dorms & the refractory
· All surrounding buildings were destroyed ­ all that was left was ox-houses
and pig-styes
· Tombs smashed
· Seats burnt & led melted
· Under the command of Cromwell.…read more

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The role of Thomas Cromwell
· Cromwell was close to Henry through Wolsey
· Different objectives to Wolsey ­ he wanted raise money, get support of nobility
& destroy superstition
· Worked close to Henry when deciding what was going to be done with the
churches finance after dissolutions so Henry trusted him
· Used dissolution of smaller monasteries to test the support of the people
· Intelligent, could read Henry, this helped him stay on his good side
· Dealt with local opposition well ­ local archive suggests there was a lot
· Saw the justices of the peace, to inform him of activities of dissidents
· Each case was considered and trial and punishment was implemented where
· Around 65 people executed
· Result of general grumblings against religious reforms
· This was for some a momentous change…read more

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The enforcement of the dissolutions
· Cromwell introduced a programme of visitations of the monasteries in 1535 which was
similar to the method of checking religious houses which had been carried out under the
Catholic Church.
· This was quickly followed up by the Valor Ecclesiasticus, which endeavoured to list the
property owned by the Church in England and Wales, including monasteries.
· while the Valor Ecclesiasticus may have been intended to assess property for taxation
purposes, the answers to the questions which the visitors secured provided the evidence
which could be used against the religious houses and so enable the King to acquire their
· In March 1536 an act was passed by parliament for the dissolution of the smaller
· 300 religious houses were deemed to have an income of less than £200 a year. The 1536
act was not presented as an attack in monasticism, as the members of the houses were
often given an opportunity to move to larger housing.
· The act gave the king the power to exempt houses as he saw fit
· 67 of the 300 were exempt ­ for reasons which were obscure
· They may have bad redeeming features or possibly paid bribes for the privilege.
· After this was finished they acted quickly to prevent the new money from leaving the
country. They had all goods, gold, silver, jewels, lead from roofs and bronze from bells sent
to the tower of London.
· In many places the behaviour of the commissioners sent to confiscate the property was a
key factor in triggering the Pilgrimage of Grace.…read more

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The enforcement of the dissolutions
· The Lincolnshire Rising and the pilgrimage of Grace direct response to the decision to
dissolve the smaller monasteries.
· The abbots of the houses involved were declared to be traitors and in some cases Acts of
Attainder were brought.
· The acts of Attainder allowed not only for the abbots to be executed, but for all the property
of their monasteries to be confiscated by the king.
· The final assault was achieved through a combination of persuasion (commissioners
persuading abbots to `surrender' their monasteries), bribery, bullying and an act of
· In 1539 an act of parliament was passed which legalised the voluntary surrender of
monastic property to the king. In fact voluntary surrendering had begun the previous year
· These surrendered when commissioners visited religious houses and offered abbots the
incentives of larger pensions oh behalf of the king to those who signed over their
· In the space of 4 years the 800 religious houses in England were closed. The abbots and
monks may have been simply frightened into surrendering.
· Some were brought off with large pensions or rewarded in some other way, perhaps with
the provision of positions, such as working as a chantry priest.
· Only the nuns were thrown back to their families, with small amounts of money and a
requirement to uphold their vow of chastity, while the lay brothers forced to find work where
they could.…read more


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