Dissolution of the monasteries

Set of cards going over the dissolution of the monasteries for the AQA 16th Century history course.


Financial motives

  • Henry had spent most of his money on the attacks with France.
  • After inflation Henry himself had begun to struggle to keep up with the payments because as of the 1530's he found it harder to meet the expenses of the government.
  • Henry had previously passed The Act for First Fruits and Tenths meaning that he got the £4,000 which had previously been distributed to Rome.
  • The document 'Valor Ecclesiasticus' which listed all of the properties owned by the Church throughout the country, when Henry got it back it informed him that the monasteries held £136,000 in value.
  • Henry was tempted by such money as it could but him in a better situation as it meant he would be able to position himself on a similiar level to Francis I of France.
  • He needed the money ready for any attacks and in order to build the defences that were needed on the South Coast.
  • Henry's long term ambitions were to: gain military power, build a defence system, re - establish the English claim to terrority and regain the French pension.
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Religious motives

  • There were differences in what people believed in terms of religion, for example Catholics believed that by supplying the money with Church they would be relieved of time in purgatory. However for others they believed that instead this was evidence of corruption because of the sale of indulgences and how they exploited the comman man.
  • Cromwell had an idea of what he wanted to gain out of it as he wanted to: remove superstition, forbid the worshipping of images, pilgrimages and praying to saints and also ensure that people didn't offer money to relics of saints.
  • It was also down to the amount of corruption present as there were low standards maintained by the monks and nuns found in these monasteries. Corruption was evident particularly through monks and nuns being involved in relationships which broke the vow of chastity that they had made. There was also one confession of homosexuality for every 30 monasteries visited.
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Political motives

  • Henry wanted to show clearly that he was breaking from Rome.
  • He had also used the monasteries in order to gain support for him becoming the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
  • This was because he asked them to sign an Oath of Allegiance to both himself and his current wife, Anne Boleyn.
  • The dissolution of the monasteries also helped to recognise that Henry had now established an English nation state.
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Personal motives

  • As well as all the other previous reasons Henry also needed to ensure he still had the support of the nobility and made sure that the Tudor dynasty was secure, especially in terms of a legitimate, male heir.
  • For the future Henry needed to tie members of the ruling classes in order to ensure that support for the Tudor Dynasty carried on. The break with Rome had helped with this by allowing Henry to gain support from many of the Nobility that were also a part of the House of Lords.
  • The Act for the Dissolution of the Smaller Monasteries in 1536 particularly gained support from members of both the Commons and Lords.
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