UBC Undergraduate Research

The 1536 Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries: Same Suppression, Different Century Saini, Raminder K.


A case study of the priories of Boxgrove, Folkestone and Horsham shows how the 1536 closures under Henry VIII were not vindictive and followed from precedent. His closures were neither more substantial than the suppression of the alien priories during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, nor significantly different from Wolsey‘s closures in the 1520s. During periods of war with France, monarchs from Edward I to Henry V confiscated alien priories and made use of their revenues, eventually suppressing all aliens by 1414. Wolsey too closed several monasteries, with permission from the Pope, and redirected their revenues towards funding colleges. Tied into these closures was an aspect of reform, which was the grounds for Henry VIII‘s closures. The priories under evaluation began as alien priories, escaped the suppression of aliens in 1414, and were dissolved in 1536. Henry‘s suppressions were less an attack on monasteries for financial benefits though, and more an exercise or continuation of previous suppression policies. Ultimately, the main difference between Henry‘s closures and those of previous ones was scale alone.

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