Why Did Henry Close Down The Monasteries Essay

Hadst thou nought else to do but to become a traitorous messenger between abbat and abbat ? Unless I have your especial favour and aid in recovering such rents and dues as are withdrawn from the monastery of late, and I not able to recover them by the law, I cannot tell how I shall live in the world, saving my truth and promises."* Marshall nuper de eisdem villa et comit., clerici, alias Thomas Beche nuper abbatis nuper monasterii S. Couldst not thou at least for all the benefits received at his grace's hand, bear towards him thy good will ?

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Couldst thou not be contented truly to serve thy sovereign lord king Henry VIII., whom thou before a great many oughtest and wast most bound truly to serve ? jam dissolut, alias dicti Thomse Marshall nuper abb.

Wast thou also learned, and couldst thou not consider that the end of treason is eternal damnation ? Ad primam, the said Rowse sworne upon the Evangel, and sayeth that he hath known the abbat of Col- chester the space of six years at midsummer last past or there- about, about which time the said was elected abbat.f * R.

Gules a chevron lozenge sable and argent inter 3 Bezants each charged with a cinquefoil gules, on a chief argent a Dove inter 2 Flowers azure. Paul's.* On the visitation of Reading abbey by doctor London, in 1535, the report was favourable to the monks. Rumours as to the king's bad health, or, still more, reports as to his death, were construed into indications of a treasonable disposition. In this case, however, the report came on the eve of the administration to the monks of Colchester of what was to be hence- forth considered the touchstone of loyalty, the oath of supremacy. Some special supporters of Henry's policy secured large shares for themselves and their families through their own or Crumwell's influence. In the above account twenty pence had to be paid for "a guide from Repton to Gracediew," while the demand for help in the case of the destruction of the church at Lewes, previously noticed, would seem to show that it was at any rate * R.

— Abbot and monks of Furness forced to surrender — Holm Cultram — Lenton priory — Story of the fall of Woburn — Abbot Hobbes — His examinations in the Tower — His views as to papal supremacy — His anguish of mind — His death, pp. v ventual life — The good done by religious ladies — Testimony of royal commissioners — Importance to the king of surrenders and royal instructions on the point — Failure as regards convents — Final suppressions — Number of nuns. The king's highness of his charity took Hugh Cook out of his cankerous cloister and made him, being at that time the most vilest, the most untowardest and * Wright, p. Book of Heraldry, on vellum and painted, supposed to (be) written about 1520, contayning all ye arms of Persons who had a chevron in the same, is this entered : Hugh Faringdon, alias Cooke, Abbat of Reading. Among the abbots, priests, monks and nuns whose names appear on the roll of the Palmers Guild of Ludlow is that of " Hugh Farington, monk, now Abbot of Reading." Shrewsbury Archaeological Soc, vii., p. 359 ings and writings against the Lutherans," who, " desirous of a stricter life resigned his fellowship at New College, Oxford and took the cowl at Read- ing abbey." When Holyman was to receive the doctorate, abbot Cook asked that he might be ex- cused from preaching before the university, as the custom was, so that he might preach in London, where there was greater need of such a man, seeing that the city was already infected with Lutheranism and where the great popularity which Holyman already enjoyed brought crowds to hear him when- ever he appeared in the pulpit at St. 95 and 136, for notices of Holyman, who became bishop of Bristol in Mary's reign, and died in 1558. The numerous records of examinations as to words spoken in conversation or in sermons evidence the extreme care taken by the government to crush out the first sparks of popular discontent. John Francis." This latter monk, accord- ing to Crumwell's informer, had "declared our sovereign lord the king and his most honourable council, on the occasion of a new book of articles, to be all heretics, whereas before he said they were but schismatics."* These and other remarks were quite sufficient to have brought both the bold monk himself and his abbot into trouble at a time when the gossip of the fratry or shaving-house was picked up by eavesdroppers and carried to court to regale the ears of the lord Privy Seal. The following inscriptions appear in and about the cross and its covering : " Qui vult post me venire abneget semetipsum et tollat crucem suam et sequatur me." " En homo quse pro te patetur {sic) tormenta Redemptor." " Hoc signum crucis erit in celo cum Dns ad judicandum venerit." " Passio Dni nostri Jesu Christi eruat nos a dolore tristi." * Monastic Treasures, Abbotsford Club, p. Many obtained grants or purchased the Church property only to exchange or sell it again at an advantage to themselves. In each of eleven monasteries included in one com- mission, a distinct jury was impanelled to witness the valuation, and a retinue of " strangers " from London travelled with the commissioner.* The costs of these men engaged upon the work were considerable, and include such items as " minstrels 4d." and in the evening " wine and sugar 2s." It is pleasing to find in the accounts indications that the people of a neighbourhood were not too ready to assist in the work of demolition.

Now, surely, in my judgment, God did a gracious deed what time He put out both thine eyes, for what a traitor by all likelihood wouldst thou have been if God had lent thee thy sight, seeing thou wast so willing to grope blindfolded after treason ! Abell would fain have one of the books, that is made against his book, but without your consent I will deliver him none. Sir, amongst many other good deeds that ye do, have in your remembrance doctor Coke, Christopher Coo, and William Umpton and other poor prisoners remaining in the Tower, The Three Benedictine Abbots. pope himself, though he would grant more pardon than all the popes that ever were have granted. " When these traitors were arraigned at the bar, although they had confessed before and written it with their own hands that they had committed high treason against the king's majesty, yet they found all the means they could to go about to try themselves true men, which was impossible to bring to pass." On November 15th, the same day upon which abbot Whiting suffered at Glastonbury,* the abbot of * Some give November 14th as the date of the execution. Some authorities make abbot Whiting's execution the 14th (B. " The abbot of Reading," says the old authority, " at the day of his death, lament- ing the miserable end that he was come unto, con- fessed before a great sight of people, and said that he might thank these four privy traitors before named of his sore fall, as who should say that those three bishops and the vicar of Croydon had committed no less treason than he had done. There was never a barrel better herring to choose [among] them all, as it right well appeared by the abbat of Reading's confession made at the day of [execution], who I daresay accused none of them for malice nor hatred. 371 sentence of hanging with its barbarous accessories was carried out upon abbot Cook and the two priests, John Eynon and John Rugg.* The attainder of the abbot, according to the royal interpretation of the law, placed the abbey of Read- ing and its lands and possessions at Henry's dis- night born.' Thus he prated and made a work as though he had not known what the matter had meant, thinking to have faced it out with a card of ten. 36d., which leaves no room to doubt that Beche and Marshall are aliases for the same individual.

JOHN HODGES, HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON. Could a man paint thee out in thy colours any otherwise than traitors ought to be painted ? Nay, verily, thou shalt be called William Moor, the blind traitor. 133)' The list, as far as Reading names are concerned, runs : — " Roger London, monk of Reading ; Peter Lawrence, who was warden of (the) Grey friars, Reading ; Gyles Coventry, who -was a friar of the same house ; George Constantine ; Richard Manchester ; William Moor, the blind harper." In one of Crum- well's "remembrances" at this time we have "Item to proceed against the abbots of Reading, Glaston, Rugg, Bachyler, London, the Grey friars and Heron" (R. It is written from the Tower to Crumwell : " Doctor Coke and Abell see one of them the other at the church sometimes, but they speak not together. When carried down to Reading for the mockery of justice, called a trial, the abbot did not waver in his determination. He told them of the cause for which he and his companions were to die, not fearing openly to profess that which Henry's laws made it treason to hold — fidelity to the see of Rome, which he declared was but the common faith of those who had the best right to know what was the true teaching of the English Church. [Standish], the treason of the old vicar of Croydon, and the treason of the old bishop of London [Stokesley], which four traitors had concealed as much treason by their live's time as any of these traitors that were put to death. I take it between God and my soul that I am as clear in this matter as the child that was this The Three Benedictine Abbots. " I with the whole consent of my brethren," he writes to Crumwell, " have sealed four several obligations for the payment of ^200 to the king's use . LIBRARY OF WELLESLEY COLLEGE PURCHASED FROM LIBRARY FUNDS Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries HENRY VIII. AND 3 THE ENGLISH MONASTERIES AN ATTEMPT TO ILLUSTRATE THE SIS TORY OF THEIR SUPPRESSION. When thou becamest a traitorous messenger between the traitorous abbats, and when thou tookest in hand to lead traitors in the trade of 366 Henry VIII. treason, then was verified the sentence of our Master, Christ, which sayeth, When the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch. The old monk lieth with doctor Coke ; the other three as yet lie together. 367 Abbot Cook, like Whiting of Glastonbury, under- went examination and practical condemnation in the Tower before being sent down to his " country to be tried and executed." What was the head and chief of his offence we may take from the testimony of the hostile witness so freely invoked in this chapter. I think, verily, our mother, holy Church of Rome, hath not so great a jewel of her own darling Reynold Poole as she should have had of these abbats if they could have conveyed all thing, cleanly. Browne-Willis says : " Hugh Faringdon, opposing the surrender of this abbey at the dissolution, an. Now, good Lord for his Passion, who would have thought that these four holy men would have wrought in their lifetime such detestable treason ? For the abbat as heartily loved those holy fathers as ever he loved any men in his life." The abbot's " chief counsellor," John Eynon or Oynyon,* who had been particularly vehement in his protestations of innocence, also spoke, admitting his so-called treason, begging the prayers of the by- standers for his soul, and craving the king's forgive- ness if in aught he had offended. Johannis Rugge nuper de Redyng capellani pro quibusdam altis proditionibus unde eorum quilibet p. And in this sort he held on even from the time of the arraignment till he came to the gallows. It may be worth while here, as some confusion has existed as to the last abbot of Colchester, to give the evidence of the Controlment Roll, 31 Hen. " Recordum attinctionis Thomae Beche nuper de West Donylands, in com. BY FRANCIS AIDAN GASQUET, 7 MONK OF THE ORDER OF ST. Thou wast blind in thine eyes, and they were blind in their consciences. Two of them wear irons and Frythe wears none, although he lacketh irons, he lacketh not wit nor pleasant tongue. Sir, as you said, it were great pity to lose him if he may be reconciled. " It will make many beware to put their fingers in the fire any more," he says, " either for the honour of Peter and Paul or for the right of the Roman Church. Could not our English abbats be contented with English forked caps but must look after Romish cardinal hats also ? Could not our popish abbats beware of Reynold Poole, of that bottomless whirlpool, I say, which is never satiate of treason ? 1539, and also refusing to attest the king's supremacy, became attainted of high treason," and was executed "at Reading, November 14, 1539, at which time two of his monks, Rugg and Onion, suffered with him." Vide also " Monasticon," " And later on, speaking of the three abbots : " God caused, I say, not only their treason to be disclosed and come abroad in such a wonderful sort as never was heard of, which were too long to recite at this time, but also dead men's treason that long lay hidden under the ground ; that is to say, the treason of the old bishop of Canterbury [Warham], the treason of the old bishop of St. f This over, the * The usual spelling of this name has been Onyon or Oynyon, but it really was Eynon. " Recordum attinctionis, &c, Hugonis abbatis monasterii de Redyng in diet. Berks, alias dicti Hugonis Cooke, nuper de Redyng in eodem com. Marry then, when he saw none other way but one, his heart began somewhat to relent. This leaves no doubt that the letter printed by Wright refers to the abbey, and that the property was seized early in September. Hast thou not heard how the blind eateth many a fly ? At Colchester, as elsewhere in the country at this period, there were to be found some only too anxious to win favour to themselves by carrying reports of the doings and sayings of new abbot took his seat in the House of Lords. The writers of our annals mention many by name, but there were many more whose names they could not ascertain, whose number is known to God alone, for whose cause they died. He had heard the rumours about the destruction of the two abbeys of St. Osyth's, and, writing to Crumwell, he begs they may con- tinue, " not, as they be, religious ; but that the king's majesty of his goodness to translate them into colleges. John's standeth in his grace's own town at Colchester, wherein dwell many poor people, who have daily relief of the house. The circumstances attending abbot Marshall's arrest are unknown, but by the beginning of November, 1539, he was in the Tower. The date of abbot Whiting's treason is given as " 4* August a 27 " (i 535) ; and abbot Cook's as "1 March anno. Outbreak of the rising — Causes of popular discontent — The resistance at Louth — People rose in defence of the faith — Feeling against Crumwell and some of the bishops — Statute of uses — Story of the rising — Destruction of the registrar's books in Louth — Murder of the bishop of Lincoln's chancellor — The " articles " of popular discontent — Henry's answer to the demands — Royal anxiety as to the result and the effect of the news in foreign countries — Collapse of the movement — Part taken by the monks. Is this the mark that blind men trust to hit perchance ? Benedict's or Gloucester Hall, the largest of the three establishments which the Benedictines pos- sessed in Oxford, and to which the younger religious of most of the English abbeys were sent to pursue their higher studies.* Very shortly after abbot Marshall's election his troubles commenced. But why should I call him the third, and try to enumerate the English martyrs of that time, who are past counting ? This valuable collection for the lives of Fisher and More comprises contemporary and sub- contemporary documents of undoubted authenticity and importance. 379 reports were spread as to the approaching dissolu- tion of St. Sir Thomas Audley, the chancellor, endeavoured to avert what he thought would be an evil thing for the county. The cause I move this is, first, I consider that St. But now amongst them all let us talk a word or two of William Moor, the blind harper. For the insurrection that was in the north country was scarcely yet thoroughly quieted; thus began he to stir the coals a novo and to make a fresh roasting fire, and did enough, if God had not stretched forth his helping hand, to set the realm in as great an uproar as ever it was, and yet the king's majesty, of his royal clemency, forgave him. At the time of the northern rising, whilst the commissioners for gaol delivery sat at Colchester, they were invited to dine at the abbey with the abbot of St. When they were at dinner, as Crumwell's informant writes to him, one Marmaduke * Calendar, 1534, Ap. They were, he declared, 30,000 well- horsed, and " I am sure," he said, " my lord abbot will make me good cheer ; " and asked why, said, " Marry, for all the abbeys in England be beholden to us, for we have set up all the abbeys again in our country, and though it were never so late they sang mattins the same night." He added that in the north they were "plain fellows," and southern men, though they " thought as much, durst not utter it."* Another glimpse of the life led by the abbot of Colchester during the few troubled years of his authority is afforded by a writer of a slightly subse- quent period : — "Those who can call to mind the cruel deeds of Henry VIII., the confusion of things sacred and profane, and the slaughterings of which he was the author, will have no diffi- culty in recollecting the case of John Beache, abbat of Col- chester. the habit of extolling the piety, meekness, and innocence of the late martyrs to those guests whom he invited to his table, and who came to him of their own will, some of whom assented to his words, while others listened in silence. gold and silver it were not able to slake their covetousness, and said a vengeance of all such councillors. 383 weeks before the feast of All Saints was two years. The sum of money," he adds, " amounteth to ^"7,000."! This staunch friend of the papal party, whose blindness rendered his mission unsuspected, travelled about from one abbey to another, encouraging the imprisoned monks, bearing letters from house to house, and, doubtless, finding a safe way of sending off to Rome the letters which they had written to the pope and cardinals. This paper thus treats the incident : — "For think ye that the abbat of Reading deserved any less than to be hanged, what time as he wrote letters of the king's death unto divers gentlemen in Berkshire, considering in what a queasy case the realm stood in at that same season ? Very little indeed is known about Colchester or the doings of the abbot from this time till his arrest in 1539. " u No traitors, for if ye call us traitors we will call you heretics." Nevell then went on to say that the- king had pardoned them, or they had not been at Colchester. And also he said that supremacy, the king's highness had evil counsel that moved him to take on hand to be chief head of the Church of England and to pull down these houses of religion which were founded by his grace's progenitors and many noble men for the service and honour of God, the commonwealth, and relief of poor folk, and that the same was both against God's law and . ) the king and his w ' council were drawn into such an inordinate covetousness that if all the water in the Thames were flowing Covetous. to put such holy men to death, and further the abbat said that in his opinion they died holy martyrs and in the Died martyrs. and so then they went to supper, and since this time which was as this examinant doth remember a fortnight or three The Three Benedictine Abbots. Thus Sir Richard Gresham, father of the more celebrated Sir Thomas, wrote to Crumwell, " to be advertised " that he had " moved the king's majesty to purchase of his grace certain lands belonging to the house of Fountains, to the value of ^"350 by year, after the rate of twenty years' purchase. Froude's account (which has found a place in most histories) has it : — " Dr. 77 and surely God and man must of justice take venge- ance on them.' " Item he saith, that he would have fled at the beginning of the insurrection, saving he feared the burning of his house and the utter destruction of the same and spoiling of all his goods." " Be it remembered," continues the document, " that a canon of the abbot of Barlings, now prisoner in the Tower of London, being examined what words the said abbot had to his canons, servants and the rebels, at their being in his house as is aforesaid, declared that the abbot being by them required to send his canons to the rest of their company, answered, it was against the laws of God and man that any religious person should go to battle and specially against their prince. And I promise you, on my faith and conscience, ye shall have your part thereof and of every penny that I have during my life. Whereupon this deponent being asked the question whether he did or no, saith that he cannot perfectly tell whether the 80 sheep ex- pressed in his examination were the same abbot's or no, or to whom they did belong or appertain." " The same abbot also denieth that he said to the said rebels at his repair to them : ' Go forward and stick to this matter, etc' . And if ye will let me have a passport, I will go to a lordship of mine called Sweton, where against your coming to Ancaster heath I will prepare for you as much more victual.' And the same abbot being asked why he spake these words, said he intended if he might have had his passport to have stolen from them clean and gone his way, for with- out he should use such policy it was not possible."* In a previous " confession," made at Lincoln shortly after the rising, abbot Mackarel had said that " a great number of persons had forcibly entered the house and slept in the chambers and on the ' hay-mowes.' When commanded to come with the insurgents, he had said that he and ' his brethren would come and sing the litany, leaving them to do as they pleased.' He told them that ' it was con- trary to their vow to wear harness,' but the two chieftains swore they should, whereupon he turned to the altar to hear mass, trembling so that he could ' hardly say his service.' Reports, he says, came that a body of the insurgents were coming ' to fire the monastery,' and being commanded ' in the name of the great captain ' to come with his brethren, he brought them ' beer, bread, cheese and six bullocks.' He then asked to return home, which was permitted, but ' six of his brethren ' were forced to remain with the host ' seeing they were tall men.' "f * Ibid., pp. Seven monks of the first monastery were examined in November and confessed that four or five of their number went for a short time with the rebels, " by command of William Wright. As it was they were condemned, although sixty-three were immediately respited. 83 Towards the end of March the abbot of Barlings, William Moreland, monk of Louth-park, Thomas Kendal, vicar of Louth, with two other priests and twelve laymen, were tried in London before chan- cellor Audeley, found guilty, and condemned to death. Popular protests against his policy and active interference with his agents in carrying out his orders were not confined to the fen district and its neighbourhood. " Pleaseth your good lordship," writes Dutton to Crumwell on October 12th, "to be advertised that Mr. Balles, the king's commissioners within the county of Chester, were lately at Norton, within the county of Chester, for the suppressing of the abbey there. " Notwithstanding, I used some policy, and came suddenly upon them, so that the company that were there fled. travail with such dexterity as this matter may be finished with all possible dili- gence."* The execution was not carried out immediately, because, as Dutton explains a month later (30th November), before he had time to do so he learnt from the earl of Derby of the conclusion of the Pilgrimage of Grace, and concluded to wait till the king's " further pleasure were made known." He tells Crumwell that he writes for instructions, as his fellow commissioner, Sir William Brereton, refuses to follow this course, and he adds that he has " the said evildoers and offenders in straight endurance of imprisonment within his castle of Chester, there surely to be kept to abide his grace's pleasure."! In five counties, from the borders of Scot- land to the Lune and the Humber, the agitation remained for a short time unchecked. — had besides been forwarded to Henry's treasure house, and 133 fodders of lead, worth ^440, with 37 bells, valued at an average of £3 each, the spoils from the church roofs and belfries of the district, were stored up for sale.* That the people were stirred most deeply by the sales of monastic effects and by the fear of even more extensive desecration of consecrated churches and seizure of ecclesiastical property does not admit of doubt. " In all parts of the realm," he says, " men's hearts much grudged with the suppression of abbeys, and the first-fruits, by reason the same would be the destruction of the whole religion in England. And also the said Aske saith that the most part of all the realm greatly impugneth against certain bishops of the new learn- ing reputing them and their folks as heretics and the great causes, of this late commotion: and also * Chapt. Also it was said it was not granted at York, by convocation, nor agreed unto. 101 lord in regard to the preaching of the new bishops said " that he would be no heretic."* Others deposed that they demanded the deprivation of the bishops " because they were supposed to be occa- sion of the breach of the unity of the Church." Thus in the " Pilgrimage of Grace" the causes of the armed resistance to the royal policy appear to have been chiefly ecclesiastical. But the original documents pre- served in the Record office prove that, for some reason or other, the papers drawn up in blank form by the commissioners, in the majority of cases, numbering no less than twenty-eight, never received the signatures of the nuns at all. That is my opinion; that is the belief in which, by the grace of God, I shall die.' " (" Dublin Rev.," Jan., 1888, p. " At Bruton and Glastonbury," he ex- plains, " there is nothing notable, the brethren be so straight kept that they cannot offend : but fain they would if they might, as they confess, and so the fault is not with them."f At this period it would seem that Richard Layton also spoke to the king in praise of abbot Whiting. Godwin, the Protestant bishop of Hereford, says that the monks, " following the example of the ancient fathers, lived apart from the world religiously and in peace, eschewing worldly employments, and wholly given to study and contempla- tion ; " and Sander, writing when the memory of the life led at Glas- tonbury was still fresh in men's minds, says that the religious were noted for their maintenance of common life, choral observance and enclosure. Whiting, like so many religious superiors at this time, begged for some mitigation. Thus on a Sunday in the middle of February, 1536, a friar called John Brynstan, preaching in the abbatial church at Glastonbury to the people of the neigh- bourhood, said " he would be one of them that should convert the new fangles and new men, otherwise he would die in the quarrel."* Knowing doubtless what would be the nature of its business, abbot Whiting, excusing himself on the plea of age and ill-health, did not attend the parliament of 1539, which, so far as it could do, sealed the fate of the monasteries as yet unsup- pressed. Glastonbury is given in an examination about a debt, held some years after the abbot's execution. "And at the payment of the ^30 there was in the garden at that time the lord Stourton. I suppose," continues the witness, " that the said lord Stourton saw not the payment made to the abbot, for the abbot got him into an arbour of bay in the said garden and there received his money. To him the necessity would have been paramount, by every means in his power, to sweep away what he rightly regarded as the strongholds of the papal power in the country, and to get rid of these " spies of the pope."f Such unnatural enemies of their prince and gracious lord would fittingly be singled out first, that their fate might serve as a warning to other intending evil- doers. For proceeding against the abbots of Reading, Glaston and the other in their countries."* From this it is clear that some time between the passing of the act in April, and September, these abbots must have been sounded, and it had been found that compliance was not to be expected. In this amount was in- cluded the superfluous plate of Glastonbury. We have in money ^300 and above ; but the certainty of plate and other stuff there as yet we know not, for we have not had oppor- tunity for the same; whereof we shall ascertain your lordship so shortly as we may. Accord- ing to all law, Whiting and the abbots of Reading and Colchester should have been arraigned for treason before parliament, as they were members of the House of Peers, but no such " bill of attainder " was ever presented, and in fact the execution had taken place before the parliament came together.* The truth is, that Whiting and the other abbots were condemned to death as the result of the secret inquisitions in the Tower. Whereas if they had not undertaken to write the history without any information at all, they must have seen that the whole clergy, and especially the abbots, had over and over again acknow- ledged the king's supremacy.' But how does it appear our historians are mistaken ? But do not people's opinions alter sometimes, and conscience and courage improve ? It is not impossible, however, that hopes may have been held out to him that in his extreme old age and weakness of body he might be spared extremities ; this supposition seems to be countenanced by the account given below. Pollard to come wash with him, who by no means would be entreated thereunto. On the question of the royal supremacy, however, abbot Cook was clear. Whether the sum was actually paid in cash seems somewhat doubtful. 391 Other purchasers, however, must certainly have obtained their portions at very much lower rates. These and other charges were examined into, and many were acknowledged by Beckwith himself. 397 his chances ; and Crumwell's nephew, Richard, who had been sent to seize what he could find, wrote : " Before my coming to Mr. who had ransacked and conveyed this night, so that nothing but bedding, books and such other there remain." Having heard, however, that he was acquainted with Raynes,* " I came to the said John Raynes and declared to him that my coming was to see such money, plate and jewels as Mr. He forthwith confessed that he had a ( gardiviance y (ambry) of his and brought out the same to me wherein is such plate and gold as your lordship by a bill of particulars herein enclosed may perceive." It is now, the writer adds, in the custody of " Williamson at your place by friar Augustines."f The plate of the doomed houses, principally, indeed, the chalices and other sacred vessels of the altar, were the first solicitude of the royal spoilers. Your magnificence may therefore imagine what the decorations of those enormously rich Benedictine, Carthusian, and Cis- tercian monasteries must be."* Only in very few instances do the spoilers add to the record of weight any detail of the precious work, frequently enriched with jewels, or enamelled bosses, or richly chased and beaten into artistic form by the hammer of the cunning smith, before it is swept into the bag of plunder to be " dispoiled " at the mint, and ultimately to find its way into the royal melting- pot, from which it issued forth as the debased money * Camden Soc, "Italian (probably Venetian) relation about England, 1500," p. Thus, to take one or two examples, from Westminster the record notes specially " a cup called the ' maser belle or saint Edward's maser,' " a " cross of beryl " and " a dish or basin of precious stone called agate, ornamented with gold, precious stones and pearls."* From Canterbury, too, there was taken " a crozierof silver ornamented, called Thomas Beckett's staff," besides the mass of gold and silver and precious stones. James shells in silver " and various other enrichments of silver and stones. The church is somewhat dark, and particularly in the spot where the shrine is placed, and when we went to see it the sun was near setting and the weather was cloudy ; nevertheless I saw the ruby as if I had it in my hand. The story passed current on the Continent, and is given by Pollini. 72 note) has shown that it does not necessarily do so. 407 As a necessary consequence of this condemnation of the saint came the spoliation of his tomb. Estimate of total value — Amount received by the Crown smaller than usually stated — The general scramble for monastic lands — Work of gathering in the spoils — Private purses made by his agents — Monastic plate — Irreverence shown to relics — Demo- lition of shrines — Winchester, Canterbury, Durham — Feeling of the people at the work — Total value of the plate — Ecclesi- astical vestments taken for the king or sold — Destruction of books and manuscripts — " Defacing " of churches — Lead and bells — Destruction of the buildings, etc. As chosen agent of so prudent and experienced a prelate as Long- land in the administration of his diocese, it is to be presumed he was not naturally of the temper of a brawler, or disposed to rush to the head of a rabble. 75 fomenting the disturbance ; but the abbot is made the head of the rising, and as Mr. Sheriff, I beseech you to be good master unto me and save my house from spoiling and I will help you with such victual and goods as I have.' " Further, after declaring that he knew nothing about the insurrection till the Wednesday (October 4th), and explaining what he considered to be the causes which led to the rising, he asserts that the sheriff Willoughby, " with great bragging and menacing words commanded him to bring victuals," and denies utterly that " he did at any time persuade the people by sermon or oration or any kind of persuasion." " Item," the record runs, " he saith that upon Friday after the commencement of the insurrection (October 6th) when he had sure knowledge that the rebels would come into his monastery — and at that time there were in his house a hundred of the same rebels — he then weeping declared to his brethren and some of his servants these words, or like in effect following : ' Brethren and servants, I perceive that these rebels will have both you and me with them and what shall become of us God knoweth, but this ye shall understand that their cause is nought The Rising in Lincolnshire. Wherefore by your advice, this shall be my counsel, that we do take such plate as we have and certain of the best vestments and set them aside and sell them if need be, and divide the money coming thereof among us, when the house is first suppressed. And there the abbot denied utterly that he brought any sheep to the rebels, and further said that there came no sheep in his company. But saith that, being amazed and fearing lest they would have killed him forasmuch as a great many of them were his mortal enemies said unto them : ' Masters I have according 80 Henry VIII. to your commandment brought you victuals beseech- ing you to be good unto me and preserve my house from spoil. From the evidence, it certainly does not appear that the abbot and all his canons " rode at the head of the host in full armour," or that he and one of his brethren were justly executed for having " been concerned in the murder of the chancellor." * As to Bardney and Kirksted, the evidence is more meagre. In the spring of the following year they were tried, on Tuesday, in the third week of Lent, March 6th, by Sir William Parr and a special commission sitting at Lincoln. Thomas Moigne, a gentleman of the county and one of the accused, spoke skil- fully for a long time in their behalf, and " but for the diligence of the king's serjeant " they would have been acquitted. The sudden termination of the Lincolnshire rising- did not by any means relieve Henry from his domestic difficulties. 87 given to Thomas Byrkhed, the then called abbot, to keep up the house till the final dissolution.* By this time Robert Hall, the true abbot, had been released or had escaped from prison, and apparently arrived at his monastery as the royal commissioners were packing up the valuables pre- vious to removing them. 313) ; Thomas Byrkhed received a pension of £2^ (Aug. And it was thought on the morrow after he had comfort to have had a great number more. the numbers who joined the agitation, in the high position of their leaders, and in the extent of the disaffection, the king and his counsellors had reason for the utmost alarm, as they felt the southern population could not be relied upon for support of a policy which they detested ; and from over the seas were floating rumours of foreign combinations to aid the English people to strike for the rights of church, their ancient faith, and their own temporal good. For as much as in those parts there was neither the presence of his grace's execution of his laws, nor yet but little recourse of merchandise, so that of necessity the said country should either perish with the Scots, or for very poverty be enforced to make commotions or rebellions."* At the close of this narrative to the king, Aske again insists upon the same points. So that, either they must minish their household and hospi- * Ibid., pp. On what could the brethren live when the first year's rents are gone during that year ? surrenders of some three-and-thirty are enrolled on the close rolls. Then, when I observed that public affairs were so ordered that the sources of the power of the Roman Pontiff would necessarily be examined, I gave myself up to a most diligent ex- amination of that question for the space of seven years, and found that the authority of the Roman Pontiff, which you rashly — I will not use stronger language — have set aside, is not only lawful, to be respected, and necessary, but also grounded on the divine law and prescription. 335 Bristol, whither he departed on the following Mon- day, he wrote to Crumwell a letter showing that even he, chief among a crew who " could ask un- moved such questions as no other human being could have imagined or known how to put, who could extract guilt from a stammer, a tremble or a blush, or even from indignant silence as surely as from open confession"* — even Layton retired baffled from Glastonbury under the venerable abbot Whiting's rule, though he covered his defeat with impudence unabashed. folly then committed, as ye have done many times before, and of your goodness to instigate the king's highness majesty, in the premises."* Hardly had the royal inquisitor departed than it was found at Glastonbury, as elsewhere, that the injunctions were not merely impracticable, but sub- versive of the first principles of religious discipline. Con- fident too in the affection with which he was regarded by the population, he had no scruples, whatever may have been his mind in subscribing to the Supremacy declaration of 1534, in securing for his monks and his townsfolk in his own abbey church the preaching of a doctrine wholly opposed to the royal theories and wishes on the subject. t For the first may be seen Hoare's " Modern Wiltshire." The evidence of the second is written in the domestic annals of my own house of St. And with just so much of countenance as is thus given him by the act, with the king to back him, the monasteries of Glaston- bury, Reading and Colchester, from which no sur- render could be obtained, " were, against every principle of received law, held to fall by the attain- der of their abbots for high treason."* The very existence of the clause is, moreover, evidence that by this time Crumwell knew that among the superiors of the few monasteries yet standing there were men with whom, if the king was not to be baulked of his intent, the last conclusions would have to be tried. Among Crumwell's "remem- brances " of things to do, or to speak to the king about, still extant in his own hand-writing, about the beginning of September this year occurs the following: "Item. "f Then they at 28,700 ounces of parcel gill and silver plate taken from the monasteries in the west of England. The rest of the letter is significant for the purpose they knew their master would regard as most impor- tant : — As yet we have neither discharged servant nor monk ; but now, the abbot being gone, we will, with as much celerity as we may, proceed to the dispatching of them. It is more than strange that the ordinary pro- cedure was in this case never carried out. It may suffice to quote Collier on this point : " What the particulars were (of the abbots' attainder) our learned Church historian (Burnet) confesses ' he can't tell ; for the record of their attainders is lost.' But, as he goes on, ' some of our own writers (Hall, Grafton) deserve a severe censure, who write it was for denying, etc., the king's supre- macy. He concludes the abbot of Colchester had formerly acknowledged the king's supremacy, and from thence infers he could not suffer now for denying it. With the prize now fairly within his grasp, he notes : — The plate of Glastonbury, 11,000 ounces and over, besides golden. He must himself have known to what end the way through the Tower had, from the time of More and Fisher to his own hour, led those who had no other satisfaction to give the king than that which he could offer. At the next bait, when the abbot went to wash, he desired Mr. 361 Humanly speaking, the concession of Henry's demand, had such a thing been possible, might have changed the subsequent ecclesiastical history of England. Before the dissolution of monasteries he had endeavoured to get annuities from them, promising " if the houses did stand that he would not take so much as they did grant." In this way he procured no less than 23 patents from the religious, all dated in 1538 or 1539. " This appointment," says Ellis, " probably made lord Crumwell anxious to get possession of his papers and effects." The Monastic Spoils. Nor is there a convent of mendicant friars so poor, as not to have all these same articles in silver besides many other ornaments worthy of a Cathedral church in the same metal. 399 by which Henry cheated his subjects in his later years. As the noble author of his life remarks, " Henry promoted no other reformation but only that which would turn the penny and increase the exchequer." And, whatever view may be taken as to the good or evil resulting to the Church by this 3! 6d., the chief among which was " a heart of gold with a diamond," also " ten pair of coral beads," with silver gilt " gaudies," " two St. 30) contains the account of a Venetian who visited the shrine about the year 1500. Thomas the martyr, archbishop of Canterbury," he says, 406 Henry VIII. Nor, in addition to these natural beauties, is the skill of art wanting, for in the midst of the gold are the most beautiful sculptured gems both small and large, as well such as are in relief as agates, onyxes, cornelians and cameos ; and some cameos are of such size that I am afraid to name it ; but everything is far surpassed by a ruby, not larger than a thumbnail, which is fixed at the right of the altar. It is difficult to conceive that the so-called citation, trial and condemnation of the saint by a court sitting at Westminster can have taken place. 365 that he would have consented or concealed any treason against the king's majesty ? 23, 1534, and on March 30th of this same year the The Three Benedictine Abbots. For he had greatly loved them; and as he had honoured them when living, so now that they had so gladly suffered death for the Church's unity, he began to reverence and venerate them, and often and much did he utter to that effect, and made his friends partakers of his grief which the late events had caused him. Thereon the abbat, who could not be silent on such a theme, spoke, indeed, in their praise, but with moderation and sparingly, adding, at last, that he marvelled what cause of complaint the king could have found in men so virtuous and learned, and the greatest ornaments of Church and State, as to deem them unworthy of longer life, and to condemn them to a most cruel death. He had not, he said, to his knowledge seen or known abbot Thomas before his election, although he had divers times repaired to the abbey before that time. The story of his sudden arrest and instant execution, as told by the Colchester historian, looks improbable.f Even if true, the abbot's journey to London, his examinations, his imprisonment in the Tower, % and the various measures taken with his servants^ must have quite prepared him for the fate awaiting those who resisted the will of Henry. The sales include certain lands of attainted persons, such as the countess of Salisbury, Sir Stephen Hammerton, etc. Popular sympathy with the insurgents — Severe measures taken by Henry — Causes of the Yorkshire discontent — Aske's declara- tion and examinations — Story of the rising — Religious re- placed in their houses — Henry's instructions to Norfolk — His " politic device " — Insurgent envoys to the king — Assembly at Pomfret — The settlement at Doncaster. This had been enough to have made this traitor a true man if there had been any grace in him." The Three Benedictine Abbots. Excelling many of the abbats of his day in devo- tion, piety, and learning, the sad fate of the cardinal (Fisher) and the execution of Sir Thomas More oppressed him wiih grief and bitterness. There came at length a traitorous guest, a violator of the sacred rights of hospitality, who by his words incited the abbat to talk about the execution of the cardinal and More, hoping to entrap him in his speech. — Robert Rowse.* The evidence of Thomas Nuthake, a "physition," of Colchester, is to the like effect. of such learning as ye learned at Oxenford when ye were young. I will advise you to conform yourself as a true subject, or else you shall hinder your brethren and also yourself."* Nothing more is known of abbot Marshall's last days but the fact of his execution on December 1st, 1539. This amount apparently he subsequently paid as he is credited with ^"11,137 us. in discharge of what was owing for the lands of Fountains, together with those of the two Benedictine nunneries of Swine and Nunkeling.j * See Appendix.


Comments Why Did Henry Close Down The Monasteries Essay

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