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Eckenstein, Lina, d. 1931 / Woman under monasticism: chapters on saint-lore and convent life between A.D. 500 and A.D. 1500 (1896)


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The Dissolution in England.

THE movement of the 16th century commonly spoken of as the Reformation was the forcible manifestation of a revolution in thought which had long been preparing. This period may fitly be likened to a watershed between the socialistic tendencies of the Middle Ages and the individualistic tendencies which have mainly prevailed since. It forms the height which limits average modern conceptions, but which can be made the standpoint from which a more comprehensive view of things past and present becomes possible. Like other great epochs in history it is characterised by a sense of assurance, aspiration, and optimism,--and by wasted possibilities which give its study an ever renewed interest. The political, social, and intellectual changes which accompanied the Reformation are especially interesting nowadays when the standards which were then formulated are felt to be no longer final. The progressive thought of to-day, heretical though the assertion may sound to some, has become markedly insensible   [p. 433]   to the tenets which the reformers of the 16th century propounded and in which Protestantism found its strength and its safeguard. While paying due deference to the courage of the men who heralded what was advance if measured by such needs as they realised, the thinker of to-day dwells not so much on the factors of civilisation which those men turned to account as on those which they disregarded;--he is attracted by Erasmus, not by Luther, and looks more to him who worked in the interest of reform than to him who worked in the interest of the Reformation.

Among the important social changes effected by the Reformation the dissolution of the monasteries forms a small but a significant feature, a feature pregnant with meaning if considered in the light of the changing standards of family and sex morality. For those who attacked the Church of Rome in her fundamentals, while differing in points of doctrine, were at one in the belief that the state of morality needed amendment, and that marriage supplied the means of effecting the desired change. In open antagonism to principles which formed the groundwork of monasticism, they declared celibacy odious and the vow of chastity contradictory to scriptural teaching and in itself foolish and presumptuous.

The language in which Luther, Bullinger and Becon inculcated these principles is often offensive to modern ears. Their views are wanting in good taste, but consistency cannot be denied them. For these men were logical in condemning the unmarried state at every point, attacking it equally in the priest, the monk, the nun and the professed wanton. The changed attitude towards loose women has repeatedly been referred to in the course of this work, and it has been pointed out how such women, at one time not without power, had been steadily sinking in general estimation. Society, bent on having a clear line drawn between them and other women, had interfered with them in many ways, and had succeeded in stamping them as a class, to its own profit and to their disadvantage. But even at the close of the Middle Ages these women retained certain rights, such as that of having free quarters in the town, which the advocates of the new faith openly attacked and summarily swept away. Zealous if somewhat brutal in the cause of an improved morality, they maintained that marriage was the most acceptable state before God and that a woman had no claim to consideration except in her capacity as wife and mother.

The calling of the nun was doomed to fall a sacrifice to this   [p. 434]   teaching. Her vocation was in antagonism to the doctrines of the party of progress, and where not directly attacked was regarded with a scarcely less fatal indifference. It has been shown that great efforts were made before the Reformation to reform life in nunneries, but various obstacles, and among them a growing indifference to the intellectual training and interests of women, were in the way of their permanent improvement. The nun was chiefly estimated by her devotional pursuits, and when the rupture came with Rome and these devotional pursuits were declared meaningless, individuals who were driven from their homes might be pitied, and voices here and there might be raised deploring the loss of the possibilities secured by the convent, but no active efforts were made to preserve the system, nothing was attempted to save an institution, the raison d'être of which had vanished.

Previous to the Reformation the efforts of churchmen on the Continent to reform convent life had led in several instances to the disbanding of a convent. In England like results ensued from the conduct of churchmen, who in their efforts to regenerate society by raising the tone of religion, rank with the older humanists abroad. These men had no intention of interfering with the institution of monasticism as such, but were bent on removing certain abuses. Among them were John Alcock, bishop of Ely, Fisher, bishop of Rochester, and Cardinal Wolsey; they appropriated a number of decayed convents on the plea of promoting religious education, and their action may be said to have paved the way towards a general dissolution.

Among the monasteries dissolved by them were several belonging to nuns, and the fact is noteworthy that wherever the property of women was appropriated, it was appropriated to the use of men. Considering that the revenues of these houses had been granted for women and had been administered by women for centuries, this fact appears somewhat regrettable from the woman's point of view. But no blame attaches on this account to the men, for their attitude was in keeping with progressive thought generally and was shared by women themselves. Thus Margaret Beaufort († 1509) the mother of Henry VII, whose college foundations have given her lasting fame, seems never to have been struck by the thought that advantages might accrue from promoting education among women also. She founded Christ's College at Cambridge, planned the foundation there of St John's, and instituted divinity professorships both at Oxford and at Cambridge. But   [p. 435]   her efforts, in which she was supported by Fisher, bishop of Rochester, were entirely devoted to securing an improved education for the clergy.

The nunnery of St Radegund's at Cambridge was among the first establishments appropriated in the interest of the higher religious education of men on the plea of decay and deterioration. It had supported a convent of twelve nuns as late as 1460, but in 1496 it was dissolved. The change was effected by John Alcock, bishop of Ely (†1500), a man of liberal spirit who ranks high among contemporary ecclesiastics. The king's licence[1*] for the dissolution of the house contains words to the effect that it had fallen into decay owing to neglect, improvidence, and the dissolute dispositions of the prioress and convent, which were referable to the close proximity of Cambridge. The house had only two inmates, of whom one had been professed elsewhere and the other was a girl. The bishop asked leave to declare the house dissolved in order to appropriate its possessions and revenues to the foundation of a college of one master (magister), six fellows (socii) and a certain number of students (scolares). These numbers show that the property of the house was not inconsiderable. The sanction of Pope Alexander III having been obtained,[2*] the nunnery of St Radegund was transformed into Jesus College, Cambridge.[3*]

This instance paved the way for others. The suppression of the smaller monasteries for the purpose of founding and endowing seats of learning on a large scale was advocated by Cardinal Wolsey soon after his accession to power. He was advanced to the chancellorship in 1513 and was nominated cardinal by the Pope in 1515, and among the first houses which he dissolved   [p. 436]   were the two nunneries of Bromhall in Berkshire and Lillechurch in Kent.

In a letter about Bromhall addressed to the bishop of Salisbury[4*] Wolsey directs him to 'proceed against enormities, misgovernance and slanderous living, long time heretofore had, used, and continued by the prioress and nuns.' The nuns were to be removed to other places of that religion, where you best and most conveniently bestow them, especially where they may be brought and induced unto better and more religious living.' Henry VIII asked in a letter to the bishop that the deeds and evidences of the convent 'by reason of the vacation of the said place' might be delivered to his messenger.[5*] It is not clear whether the inmates returned to the world or were transferred to other nunneries. In 1522 it was found that the prioress Joan Rawlins had resigned, her only two nuns had abandoned the house, and it was granted to St John's College, Cambridge, by the interest and procurement of Fisher, bishop of Rochester.[6*]

Full information is preserved about the charges brought against the nuns at Lillechurch. From records at Cambridge we learn on what pleas proceedings were taken. The house formerly contained sixteen nuns, but for some years past there had been only three or four. It stood in a public place, that is on the road to Rochester, and was frequented by clerics, and the nuns were notorious for neglect of their duties and incontinence. Moreover the foundations at Cambridge made by Margaret Beaufort needed subsidizing, and public feeling was against the house. Depositions were taken in writing from which we see that the prioress was dead, and that one of the three inmates had yielded to temptation some eight or nine years before. In answer to the question:'Alas, madam, how happened this with you?'--she replied: 'And I had been happy I might have caused this thing to have been unknown and hidden.'--Together with her two companions she agreed to sign the form of surrender (dated 1521), which was worded as follows. 'Not compelled by fear or dread, nor circumvented by guile or deceit, out of my own free will, for certain just and lawful reasons (I) do resign and renounce all my right, title, interest and possession that I have had and now have in the aforesaid monastery.' We do not know what became of these   [p. 437]   women. Their house was given over to Bishop Fisher, and by letters patent it also passed to St John's College, Cambridge.[7*]

Regarding the charges of immorality brought against the inmates of convents in this and in other instances, it has been repeatedly pointed out by students that such accusations should be received with a reservation, for the occurrence may have taken place before the nun's admission to the house. The conventionalities of the time were curiously loose in some respects; the court of Henry VIII could boast of scant respect even for the conjugal tie, and a woman of the upper classes who disgraced herself naturally took refuge in a convent, where she could hope in some measure to redeem her character. The fact that Anne Boleyn, who was averse to the whole monastic system, at one time thought of retiring into a nunnery, is quoted as a case in point.[8*] Gairdner, J., Letters and papers of the reign of Henry VIII, Rolls Series, vol. 10, Preface, p. 43, footnote, and nr 890.

The readiness of Wolsey to dissolve decayed convents and to appropriate their property grew apace with his increase of power. In no case is it recorded that he was deterred by opposition. In 1524 he appropriated St Frideswith's, a house of Austin canons at Oxford, and made it the nucleus of his great college.[9*] His legatine powers being further extended by a bull of the same year and the royal consent being obtained,[10*] twenty small convents were dissolved by him during the next few years.[11*] Among them we note two nunneries, Wykes in Essex, and Littlemore in Oxford-shire.[12*] But little is known of the number and character of their inmates at the time. Two further bulls[13*] were obtained by Wolsey from Pope Clement (1523--34) for diminishing the number of monasteries and suppressing houses of less than twelve inmates. Gasquet, to whom we are indebted for a detailed account of the dissolution, shows that Clement, who was hard pressed by the Lutheran agitation at the time, only reluctantly yielded to Wolsey's request.[14*]

  [p. 438]  

Wolsey's proceedings in the matter, however, roused considerable local dissatisfaction and brought censure on him from the king. 'They say not that all that is ill gotten is bestowed on the colleges,' Henry wrote to him on the eve of his fall, 'but that the college is the cloak for covering mischiefs.' The king's ire was further roused by the cardinal's accepting the appointment of Isabel Jordan as abbess of Wilton, a house which was under royal patronage, and where the acceptance of the abbess belonged to the king. Anne Boleyn was in the ascendant in Henry's favour at the time, and wanted the post for someone else. But on enquiry at Wilton the unsuitability of this person became apparent. 'As touching the matter of Wilton,' Henry wrote to Anne, 'my lord cardinal has had the nuns before him and examined them, Master Bell being present, who has certified to me that for a truth she has confessed herself (which we would have abbess) to have had two children by sundry priests, and further since has been kept by a servant of Lord Broke that was, and not long ago; wherefore I would not for all the world clog your conscience nor mine to make her ruler of a house who is of such ungodly demeanour, nor I trust, you would not that neither for brother nor sister I should so stain mine honour and conscience.'[15*] It is evident from this letter that whatever the character of the women received into the house might be, the antecedents of the lady superior were no matter of indifference. In this case the king's objection to one person and the unsuitability of the other led to the appointment of a third.[16*]

From the year 1527 all other questions were swallowed up by the momentous question of the king's divorce. Wolsey, who refused to comply with his wishes, went into retirement in 1529 and died in the following year. The management of affairs then passed into the hands of those who in this country represented the ruthless and reckless spirit of rebellion which had broken loose abroad. However several years passed before the attempt to appropriate the revenues of monasteries was resumed.

In the intervening period of increasing social and political un   [p. 439]   rest we note the publication, some time before 1529, of the 'Supplication for beggars,' with which London was flooded.[17*] It was an attack on the existing religious and monastic orders by the pamphleteer Simon Fish († c. 1530). Based on the grossest misrepresentations this supplication, in a humorous style admirably suited to catch popular attention, set forth the poverty of the people, the immorality of those who were vowed to religion, and the lewdness of unattached women, and declared that if church and monastic property were put to a better use these evils would be remedied. The king, who was on the eve of a rupture with Rome, lent a willing ear to this 'supplication,' and it so fell in with the general belief in coming changes that the refutation of its falsehoods and the severe criticism of Luther written in reply by Thomas More passed for the most part unheeded.[18*]

Another incident which reflects the spirit of the time in its contrarieties and instability, is the way in which Elizabeth Barton, of the parish of Aldington, the so-called Maid or Nun of Kent, rose to celebrity or notoriety. Her foresight of coming events had been received as genuine by many men of distinction, but her visions concerning the king's projected divorce were fiercely resented by the king's partisans. Bishop Fisher wept tears of joy over her, Wolsey received her as a champion of Queen Katherine's cause, and even Thomas More showed some interest in her, while Cromwell accused her of rank superstition and induced Henry to take proceedings against her.[19*] She had been a servant girl, but at the instigation of the clergy at Canterbury had been received into St Sepulchre's nunnery, where she lived for seven years and was looked upon with special favour by the Carthusian monks of Charterhouse and Sheen, and the inmates of the monastery of Sion. At the beginning of 1533 the king was married to Anne, and in the autumn of the same year Elizabeth Barton was accused of treasonable incitement and made to do public penance. Later a bill of attainder was brought in against her, and as Gasquet has shown,[20*] she was condemned without a hearing and executed at Tyburn with several Carthusian monks who were inculpated with   [p. 440]   her on the charge of treason. Henry also made an attempt to get rid of Bishop Fisher and of Sir Thomas More by causing them to be accused of favouring her 'conspiracy,' but the evidence against them was too slight to admit of criminal proceedings. It was on the charge of declaring that Henry was not the supreme head of the Church that Fisher suffered death (June, 1535), and on the yet slighter charge of declining to give an opinion on the matter, that More was executed a fortnight later.[21*]

The parliament of 1533 had passed the act abolishing appeals to the Court of Rome, and among other rights had transferred that of monastic visitation from the Pope to the king. In the following year a further division was made,--the king claimed to be recognised as the head of the Church. It was part of Henry's policy to avoid openly attacking any part of the old system gradual changes were brought about which undermined prerogatives without making a decided break. Cromwell was appointed vicegerent in ecclesiastical matters, and it was on the plea of securing the recognition of the king's supremacy that he deputed a number of visitors or agents to conduct monastic visitations on a large scale, and to secure all possible information about religious houses. His plan and the way in which it was carried out struck a mortal blow at the whole monastic system.

The agents employed by Cromwell were naturally laymen, and the authority of the diocesan was suspended while they were at work. Great powers were conferred on them. A list of the instructions they received is in existence; and we gather from it that monks and nuns were put through searching interrogatories concerning the property of their house, the number of its inmates, its founders and privileges, its maintenance of discipline, and the right conduct of its inmates. The agents then enjoined severance from the Pope or any other foreign superior, and directed those who had taken the vow, whether men or women, henceforth to observe strict seclusion. A daily lesson in scripture was to be read; the celebration of the hours was to be curtailed; profession made under the age of twenty-four was declared invalid; and 'other special injunctions,' says the document, might 'be added by the visitors as the place and nature of accounts rendered (or comperts) shall require,' subject to the wisdom and discretion of Cromwell.[22*]

  [p. 441]  

The character of the visitors engaged in this task has been variously estimated. Among them was Dr Legh († 1545) who is described by a contemporary as a doctor of low quality. He wrote to Cromwell (July, 1535) recommending himself and Layton († 1544) for the purpose of visitation.[23*] Layton had previously acted for Cromwell in conducting visitations at Sheen and Sion in the affair of Elizabeth Barton. Legh afterwards complained that he did not act as he himself did in regard to enforcing injunctions,[24*] but Legh, even in the eyes of his companion John ap Rice, another visitor with whom he had started for the western countries, was needlessly severe. 'At Laycock (nunnery),' wrote ap Rice,[25*] 'we can find no excesses. Master (Legh) everywhere restrains the heads, the brethren and sisters from going forth; and no women of what estate soever are allowed to visit religious men's houses and vice versa. I think this is over strict, for as many of these houses stand by husbandry they must fall to decay if the heads are not allowed to go out.'

We have seen, in connection with matters on the Continent, that the heads of houses who were landowners felt it impossible to conform to the rule of always keeping within the precincts. The injunction in this case gave rise to a number of letters of complaint addressed by the heads of monasteries to Cromwell.[26*] Cecil Bodman, abbess of Wilton, wrote to him as follows.[27*]

'Dr Legh the king's visitor and your deputy, on visiting my house, has given injunction that not only all my sisters but that I should keep continually within the precincts. For myself personally I am content; but as the house is in great debt, and is not likely to improve without good husbandry, which cannot be exercised so well by any other as by myself I beg you will allow me, in company with two or three of the sad (serious) and discreet sisters of the house, to supervise such things abroad as shall be for its profit. I do not propose to lodge any night abroad, except by inevitable necessity I cannot return. I beg also, that whenever any father, mother, brother, sister, or nigh kinsfolk of my sisters, come unto them, they may have licence to speak with them in the hall in my presence. Wilton, 5 Sept.' (1535).

Another injunction which was felt to be a calamity was the   [p. 442]   order declaring that profession made under twenty-four was invalid. 'No greater blow could have been struck at the whole theory of religious life,' says Gasquet,[28*] 'than the interference with the vows contained in the order to dismiss those who were under twenty-four years of age or who had been professed at the age of twenty. The visitors, it is clear, had no scruple about their power to dispense with the solemn obligations of the monastic profession. They freely extended it to any who would go, in their idea that the more they could induce to leave their convents, the better pleased both the king and Cromwell would be.'

How far inmates of convents availed themselves of the permission to go is difficult to establish. Margaret Vernon, abbess of Little Marlow in Buckinghamshire, who was left with only one nun, did not feel unwilling to give up her house, and wrote to Cromwell as follows.[29*]

'After all due commendations had unto your good mastership, with my most humble thanks for the great cost made on me and my poor maidens at my last being with your mastership, furthermore may it please you to understand that your visitors have been here of late, who have discharged three of my sisters, the one is dame Catheryn, the other two are the young women who were last professed, which is not a little to my discomfort; nevertheless I must be content with the king's pleasure. But now as touching mine own part, I most humbly beseech you so special a good master unto me your poor bedewoman, to give me your best advice and counsel what way shall be best for me to take, seeing there shall be none left here but myself and this poor maiden and if it will please your goodness to take this house into your own hands either for yourself, or for my own (master) your son, I would be glad with all my heart to give it into your mastership's hands, with that you will command me to do therein. Trusting and nothing doubting in your goodness, that you will so provide for us that we shall have such honest living that we shall not be driven by necessity either to beg or to fall to other inconvenience. And thus I offer myself and all mine unto your most high and prudent wisdom, as unto him that is my only refuge and comfort in this world, beseeching God of His goodness to put in you His Holy Spirit, that you may do all things to His laud and glory. By your own assured bedewoman M(argaret) V(ernon).'

  [p. 443]  

Some time afterwards she was in London, trying to get an interview with Cromwell, and eventually she became governess to his son.[30*] The property of her nunnery, together with that of Ankerwyke in Buckinghamshire, and several monasteries of men, was granted by Henry in 1537 to the newly founded abbey of Bisham, but at the general dissolution it fell to the crown.[31*]

Another petition touching the matter of dismissing youthful convent inmates was addressed to Cromwell by Jane G(o)wryng, [32*] in which she begs that four inmates of her house, whose ages are between fifteen and twenty-five and who are in secular apparel may resume their habits or else have licence to dwell in the close of the house till they are twenty-four. Also she wishes to know if two girls of twelve and thirteen, the one deaf and dumb, the other an idiot, shall depart or not. Again a letter was addressed to Cromwell, asking that a natural daughter of Cardinal Wolsey might continue at Shaftesbury till she be old enough to take the vow.[33*]

Modern writers are agreed that the effect of these visitations was disastrous to authority and discipline within the convent, not so much through the infringement of privileges as through the feeling of uncertainty and restlessness which they created. Visitation was dreaded in itself. With reference to Barking nunnery Sir Thomas Audley wrote to Cromwell: 'I am informed that Dr Lee is substituted by you to visit all the religious houses in the diocese of London. My suit at this time to you is that it may please you to spare the house at Barking.'[34*]

In point of fact the visitations were conducted in a manner which left those immediately concerned in no doubt as to the ultimate object in view. In court circles likewise men were aware that the monastic system was threatened by dangerous and far-reaching changes. While Cromwell's agents were on their tours of inspection Chapuys, the French ambassador (Sept. 1535) wrote as follows:[35*] 'There is a report that the king intends the religious of all orders to be free to leave their habits and marry. And if they will stay in their houses they must live in poverty. He intends   [p. 444]   to take the rest of the revenue and will do stranger things still.' And two months later he wrote that the king meant to exclude the abbots from the House of Lords for fear of their opposition to his intentions regarding the spoliation of monasteries.[36*]

The one merit Cromwell's visitors can claim is despatch, for in six months, between July 1535 and February 1536, the information on the monasteries was collected throughout the country and laid before Parliament. Gasquet has shown that the House of Lords was the same which had been packed for passing the act of divorce, and that the king, bent on carrying his purpose, bullied the Commons into its acceptance.[37*]

The preamble to the bill is couched in strong terms and begins as follows:[38*] ' Forasmuch as manifest sins, vicious, carnal, and abominable living is daily used and committed amongst the little and small abbeys, priories, and other religious houses of monks, canons and nuns, where the congregation of such religious persons is under the number of twelve persons, whereby the governors of such religious houses and their convent spoil, destroy, consume and utterly waste, as well their churches, monasteries, priories, principal houses, farms, granges, lands, tenements and hereditaments, as the ornaments of their churches and their goods and chattels, to the high displeasure of Almighty God, slander of good religion, and to the great infamy of the king's highness and the realm, if redress should not be had thereof,'... and it goes on to say that since visitations have produced no results, and bad living continues, the Lords and Commons, after deliberation, have resolved to put the possessions of these religious houses to a better use, and that the king and his heirs shall for ever enjoy all houses that are not above the clear annual value of £ 200 in like manner as the heads of houses at present enjoy it, but that the king by 'his most excellent charity' is pleased to grant pensions to those whom he deprives.

Touching the evidence on which action was taken writers of the Elizabethan era speak of the so-called Black Book, the existence of which has since been disproved.[39*] Latimer in a sermon preached in 1549 refers to the 'enormities' which were brought to the knowledge of the house; we hold a clue to these   [p. 445]   in the letters forwarded by Cromwell's agents when on their tours of inspection, and in their 'comperts' or accounts rendered. The condensed accounts (comperta compertorum) rendered by Layton and Legh for the province of York including one hundred and twenty monasteries are extant, as also two other reports, one on twenty-four houses in Norfolk, another on ten.[40*]

It has been remarked that the evidence collected differs according to the character of the informers; the reports of Tregonwell for example are by no means so full of scandal as those of Layton and Legh. Moreover Layton and Legh gave a specially bad character to houses in the north where, as we shall see later on, both the people and the gentry were in favour of their continuance. It should also be noted that the state of the lesser houses which fell under the act was not uniformly worse than that of the larger. Many difficulties of course stood in the way of the men who collected evidence. They were received with suspicion and hatred, which their proceedings were not likely to dissipate, and they naturally lent a willing ear to any one who gave information of the character required. It has been shown that in several instances their reports were directly contradicted by those made by the leading men in the different counties, who after the passing of the act were appointed to make a new and exact survey, so that, considering the evidence forthcoming from both sides, it seems reasonable to accept that while the mode of life within convents no longer compared favourably with the mode of life outside them, their standard had not fallen so low, as to render these institutions uniformly despicable.

An example of how the visitors were received is afforded by a letter from Layton to Cromwell, in which he describes how after meeting Legh in the north they visited Chicksand, a Gilbertine house in Bedfordshire.[41*] The nuns here at first refused to admit him, and when he forced an entrance the two prioresses would not admit the accusations made against two of their nuns, 'nor the parties concerned, nor the nuns, only one old beldame.' He tried intimidation and was told by the prioress 'that they were bound by their religion never to confess the secret faults done among them except only to their visitor of religion, and to that they were sworn every one of them at their first admission.'

A similar esprit de corps was manifested by a house of Gilber   [p. 446]   tine canons.[42*] Layton in the same letter gives a bad character to the nunnery of Harwold, in Bedfordshire, which was inhabited by Austin canonesses,[43*] and the inmates of which had been foolish enough to sign a Latin document in favour of Lord Mordaunt without knowing what it contained.

The accusations brought by the visitors can be summarised under two headings, superstitions and scandalous living. The accounts of superstitions are full of most interesting particulars for the student of art and of folklore; the properties which were attached to relics, the character of the images and paintings which were held in reverence, and the construction of saint-images, will amply repay study.[44*] The instances of scandalous living recorded are numerous and affect alike the inmates of men's and of women's houses. Coloured as they may be to suit the temper of inquisitor and informer, there is no denying that they point to an advanced state of monastic decay.

It has been estimated that the lesser houses including those of monks and nuns which fell under the act numbered about three hundred and eighty; they were to surrender to the crown within a year. Of these the women's houses, owing to their comparative poverty, were relatively more numerous than those of the men. Out of about one hundred and thirty nunneries which existed at this period only fifteen were exempt through having a yearly income exceeding £ 200, but in addition to these over twenty by some means or other secured a reprieve.

As the act abolishing the lesser houses was based on the assumption of their corruption, the heads of some of the houses which bore a good character asked leave on this ground to remain. Among those who wrote to Cromwell in this sense was Jane Messyndyne, prioress of a convent of about ten nuns at Legbourne in Leicestershire, who pleaded that no fault had been found with her house.[45*] 'And whereas,' she wrote, 'we do hear that a great number of abbeys shall be punished, suppressed and put down because of their misliving, and that all abbeys and priories under   [p. 447]   the value of £ 200 be at our most noble prince's pleasure to suppress and put down, yet if it may please your goodness we trust in God you shall hear no complaints against us neither in our living nor hospitality keeping.' But petitions such as hers apparently passed unheeded, for in the autumn of the same year (Sept. 1536), the process of dissolution was going on at her house.[46*]

There seems no doubt that in many cases where the lesser houses were allowed to remain bribery was resorted to, perhaps backed by the intervention of friends. Payments into the Royal Exchequer were made by a large proportion of the lesser houses which continued unmolested, and among them were a number of nunneries which paid sums ranging from £ 20 to £ 400.[47*] . Among these was Brusyard in Bedfordshire, a small settlement of nuns of the order of St Glare, the abbess of which wrote to Cromwell seeking his intervention;[48*] she ultimately secured a reprieve and paid the sum of £ 20. [49*] Alice Fitzherbert, abbess of the nunnery of Polesworth in Warwickshire, to which an exceptionally good character was given, bought a reprieve for £ 50, on the intervention it is said of friends.[50*] Again the abbess of Delapray, who is characterised as a very sickly and aged woman, secured a reprieve and paid £ 266. The agent Tregonwell had reported well of Godstow.[51*] Its inmates all bore a good character excepting one who, some thirteen years ago, had broken her vow while living in another convent, had been transferred to Delapray by the bishop of Lincoln and had since lived virtuously. Margaret Tewkesbury the abbess wrote to Cromwell begging him to accept a little fee and to forward the letter she enclosed to the king.[52*] Her convent was allowed to remain.

The attempt of the prioress of Catesby to save her house in a similar manner was fruitless. The house bore an excellent character according to Tregonwell,[53*] and his opinion was confirmed by the commissioners who came down later (May, 1536) to take an exact survey. 'We found the house,' they wrote to Cromwell,[54*] 'in very perfect order, the prioress a wise, discreet, and religious   [p. 448]   woman with nine devout nuns under her as good as we have seen. The house stands where it is a relief to the poor, as we hear by divers trustworthy reports. If any religious house is to stand, none is more meet for the king's charity than Catesby. We have not found any such elsewhere....' But the recommendation was insufficient and Joyce Bykeley, 'late prioress,' addressed herself directly to Cromwell.--' Dr Gwent informed you last night,' she wrote,[55*] 'that the queen had moved the king for me and offered him 2000 marks for the house at Catesby, but has not yet a perfect answer. I beg you, in my great sorrow, get the king to grant that the house may stand and get me years of payment for the 2000 marks. You shall have 100 marks of me to buy you a gelding and my prayers during my life and all my sisters during their lives. I hope you have not forgotten the report the commissioners sent of me and my sisters....' But her letter was of no avail. Somehow she had incurred the king's displeasure,[56*] and the order to dissolve her convent was not countermanded.

The sums paid by some nunneries appear enormous compared with their yearly income. Thus the convent of Pollesloe, with a yearly income of £ 164, paid the sum of £ 400 into the Royal Exchequer; Laycock, with an income of £ 168, paid £ 300, and the nuns of St Mary at Chester, with an income of £ 66, paid £ 160; other sums paid are given by Gasquet.[57*]

Among the lesser houses reprieved was St Mary's, Winchester, one of the nunneries dating from the Anglo-Saxon period, but which in course of time had decreased. The report of the commissioners who came down to take stock of the contents of the settlement provides us with many interesting particulars.[58*] The number of persons residing in the monastery at the time was over a hundred. The abbess Elizabeth Shelley presided over a convent of twenty-six nuns, twenty-two of whom were professed and four novices. The nuns are designated in this report by the old term 'mynchyns.' With the exception of one who desired 'capacity,' that is liberty to return to the world, they all declared their intention of going into other houses. Five lay sisters also dwelt there, thirteen women-servants and twenty-six girls, some of whom were the daughters of knights receiving their education. Of the   [p. 449]   women-servants one belonged to the abbess who lived in a house of her own with her gentlewoman; the prioress, sub-prioress, sexton, and perhaps one other nun, lived in separate houses and each had her servant. There were also a number of priests and other men designated as officers of the household. Among them was a general receiver and his servant, a clerk and his servant, a gardener (curtyar), a caterer, a bottler (botyler?), a cook, an undercook, a baker, a convent cook, an under convent cook, a brewer, a miller, several porters and children of the high altar,' and two men enjoying corrodies, that is free quarters and means of subsistence. The yearly income of this vast establishment was assessed at £179, and the house therefore came under the act. But the abbess, Elizabeth Shelley, who is described as a person of spirit and talent, found means to avert the storm. The sum of £333 was paid by her into the Royal Exchequer,[59*] and (in August 1536) letters patent were obtained by which the abbey was refounded with all its property excepting some valuable manors.[60*]

Other convents which at the same time secured a licence to remain[61*] were the Benedictine convent of Chatteris with Anne Seton[62*] as prioress; the Austin convent of Gracedieu in Leicestershire; the convent of the order of St Clare of Dennis; also the nuns of St Andrew's, Marricks in Yorkshire under Christabel Cooper, and of St Mary's, Heyninges, in Lincoinshire under Joan Sandford.[63*] No payment is recorded in connection with any of these houses so far as I have been able to ascertain.

Among the reprieves that of the Austin nuns or White Ladies at Gracedieu is noteworthy, as the report of Cromwell's agents (Feb. 1536) had charged two of its inmates with incontinence, and among other superstitions countenanced by the convent, mentioned their holding in reverence the girdle and part of the tunic of St Francis which were supposed to help women in their confinement.[64*] But the special commissioners a few months later spoke of the prioress Agnes Litherland and her convent of fifteen nuns in the highest terms, describing them as of good and virtuous con   [p. 450]   versation and living, and saying that all of them desired their house to remain.[65*] The convent of Dennis, which secured a licence at the same time, was one of the few settlements of nuns of St Clare, the abbess of which, Elizabeth Throgmerton, was renowned for her liberal sympathies. In 1528 a wealthy London merchant was imprisoned for distributing Tyndale's books and other practices of the sort, and he pleaded among other reasons for exculpation that, the abbess of Dennis wishing to borrow Tyndale's Enchiridion, he had lent it to her and had spent much money on restoring her house.[66*] Legh in a letter to Cromwell[67*] described how on visiting Dennis he was met by the weeping nuns, who were all ready to return to the world, a statement in direct contradiction to the fact that the house was not dissolved.

The work of dissolution began in April 1536 and continued without interruption throughout the summer. Gasquet holds that the women suffered more than the men by being turned adrift.[68*] 'Many things combined to render the dissolution of conventual establishments and the disbanding of the religious more terrible to nuns than to monks. A woman compelled to exchange the secluded life of a cloister with all its aids to piety for an existence in the world, to which she could never rightly belong, would be obviously in a more dangerous and undesirable position than a man.

By a provision of the act those who were professed were to receive pensions, but the number of inmates of the lesser houses to whom they were granted was comparatively small.[69*] Moreover pensions were not apportioned with regard to the needs of subsistence, but to the wealth of the house, so that even those who received them were in a great measure thrown on their own resources. The number of professed nuns, as is apparent from the accounts given of St Mary's, Winchester, and other houses, was relatively small compared with the number of servants and dependents. These in some cases received a small 'award' but were thrown out of employment, while the recipients of alms from the house were likewise deprived of their means of living,   [p. 451]   and went to swell the ranks of those who were dissatisfied with the innovation. While the process of dissolution was going on (July 1536) Chapuys the French ambassador wrote as follows:[70*] 'It is a lamentable thing to see a legion of monks and nuns who have been chased from their monasteries wandering miserably hither and thither seeking means to live; and several honest men have told me that what with monks, nuns, and persons dependent on the monasteries suppressed, there were over 20,000 who knew not how to live.' His estimate may have reference to the ultimate effect of the act.[71*] The immediate results of the suppression were, however, disastrous throughout the country, and the dissatisfaction which the suppression caused went far to rouse the latent discontent of the northern provinces into open rebellion.

It was in Lincolnshire, in October, that the commissioners first met with opposition. From here a rising spread northwards to Scotland, and under the name of the 'Pilgrimage of Grace' drew votaries from the lay and religious classes alike. The insurgents claimed among other things that the innovations in religion should be disowned, and that despoiled monasteries should be restored. They pursued the visitors Layton and Legh with unrelenting hatred on account of their extortions; Legh was in danger of his life and barely escaped their fury.[72*] The rising assumed such proportions that the king was seriously alarmed; an army was sent to the north, strenuous efforts were made to win over the powerful northern barons, and concessions were made and rescinded with much shameful double-dealing. Beyond the effect it had on religious houses, the story of the rebellion, on which a new light has recently been thrown by the publication of letters which passed at the time,[73*] does not concern us here. Wherever the insurgents spread they seized on despoiled monasteries and reinstated their superiors and inmates; among other houses the nunnery of Seton in Cumberland was restored for a time.[74*] But in proportion as the king regained his authority, terrible bloodshed followed; the representatives of the chief families and the abbots who had joined in the rising were hanged, burnt, or beheaded, and their property confiscated by attainder. Cromwell, who was   [p. 452]   still on the high road to prosperity, availed himself of the rebellion to institute a general suppression, which was speedily and summarily carried into effect. In the autumn of 1537, the fear of systematic revolt being quelled, the suppression began and extended over the whole of 1538 and 1539. No further evidence was collected, no act was passed till April 1539, when a provision was made by which all monasteries which were dissolved or surrendered fell to the king.[75*] The commissioners came down on each house in succession, beginning with the less wealthy and influential ones, and used every means to secure a free surrender. Even then a certain reticence in the proceedings was observed which went far to blind contemporaries to the vastness of the ultimate object in view, for every effort was made to keep up the fiction that Henry was doing no more than correcting abuses and accepting free surrenders. But the study of documents proves things to have been otherwise. The promise of a pension was held out on condition of a voluntary surrender, but where hesitation was shown in accepting, the effect of threats of deprivation was tried. The visitor Bedyll wrote that he advised the monks of Charterhouse rather to 'surrender than abide the extremity of the king's law,'[76*] and many of the forms of surrender which are extant remain unsigned. On others the name of the superior is the only signature, on others again the names of the superior and the members of the convent are entered in the same hand. Considering the helpless position in which religious houses were placed, it seems a matter for wonder that any opposition was made.

It is interesting to find that as late as (Jan.) 1538, two years after the passing of the first bill, the heads of houses were asked to believe that there was no wish for a general suppression,[77*] and that a grant of continuance was made (May 1538) to the nunneries of Kirkless and Nunappleton in Yorkshire.[78*] In Yorkshire there was a strong feeling in favour of nunneries,--' in which our daughters (are) brought up in virtue,' as Aske, one of the leaders of the rebellion, put it,[79*] and owing doubtless to the opposition made by the rebels, a number of lesser nunneries in the north which came under the act escaped dissolution. Among   [p. 453]   them besides Kirkiess and Nunappleton were Swine and NunKelyng; there is no evidence that they secured a licence at the time. The fact that Kirkiess remained and gained a reprieve in 1538 is the more noticeable as the commissioners had in the first instance reported unfavourably on the state of the house.[80*]

In February 1538 a courtier wrote to Lord Lisle,[81*] 'the abbeys go down as fast as they may and are surrendered to the king,' adding the pious wish: 'I pray God send you one among them to your part. For the property of religious houses which were appropriated to the king was now frequently granted to courtiers, or to those who were quick enough to avail themselves of their opportunities in the general scramble.

Several of the agents who had previously conducted visitations were among those who carried on the work of the dissolution. Among them London († 1543) has been characterised as 'the most terrible of all the monastic spoilers' his letters remain to show in what spirit he stripped the houses of their property, seized relics and defaced and destroyed everything he could lay hands on.[82*] There is a letter extant which Katherine Bulkeley, abbess of Godstow, wrote to Cromwell complaining of him.[83*] He came down to her house (Nov. 1537), ostensibly to hold a visitation, but really bent on securing a surrender.

'...Dr London, which as your lordship does well know was against my promotion and has ever since borne me great malice and grudge like my mortal enemy, is suddenly come unto me with a great rout with him and here does threaten me and my sisters saying that he has the king's commission to suppress my house in spite of my teeth. And when he saw that I was content that he should do all things according to his commission and showed him plain that I would never surrender to his hand being my ancient enemy, now he begins to entreat me and to inveigle my sisters one by one otherwise than I ever heard tell that any of the king's subjects have been handled, and here tarries and continues to my great cost and charge, and will not take my answer that I will not surrender till I know the king's gracious commandment and your lordship's...' and more to the same purpose.

  [p. 454]  

London on the following day wrote to Cromwell[84*] asking that the 'mynchyns' or nuns of her house, many of whom were aged and without friends, should be generously dealt with (in the matter of a pension). Stories were current[85*] at the time about insults to which the nuns were exposed by the agents. Although it seems probable that there was no excessive delicacy used in their treatment, no direct complaints except those of the abbess of Godstow have been preserved.

The last pages of the history of several of the great abbeys are full of traits of heroism; one cannot read without sympathy of the way in which for example the abbot of Glastonbury identified himself with the system to which he belonged, and perished with it rather than be divided from it. The staunch faith of the friars no less commands respect. The heads of women's houses naturally made less opposition. However Florence Bannerman, abbess of Amesbury, refused every attempt to bribe or force her into a surrender. After considerable delay she was deposed in December 1539, and was succeeded by Joan Darrell who surrendered the house at the king's bidding,[86*] and accepted the comparatively high pension of £ 100.

To some of the heads of houses it seemed incredible that the old system was passing away for ever, and they surrendered in the belief that their deprivation was only temporary. Elizabeth Shelley, abbess of St Mary's, Winchester, who in 1535 had saved her house, accepted the surrender but continued to dwell at Winchester with a number of her nuns, and when she died bequeathed a silver chalice which she had saved to the college in the city on condition that it should be given back to St Mary's if the convent were restored.[87*] The fact that she succeeded in carrying away a chalice appears exceptional, for the inmates of convents who were expelled seem as a rule to have taken with them nothing except perhaps their books of devotion.

The story of the dissolution repeats itself in every convent. The inventory of the house having been taken, the lead was torn from the roofs, and sold together with the bells; the relics and pictures were packed in sacks and sent up to London to be burnt.

  [p. 455]  

The plate and jewels of the house, the amount of which was considerable in the houses of men and in some of women (for example in Barking) were also forwarded to London to be broken up and melted; in a few instances they were sold. The house's property in furniture, utensils and vestments was sold there and then. The superiors and convent inmates were then turned away, and the buildings that had so long been held in reverence were either devoted to some profane use or else left to decay.

The inventory taken at the dissolution of the ancient Benedictine nunnery of Wherwell in Hampshire has been preserved among others, and shows how such a house was dealt with.[88*] There is a list of the inmates of the convent and of the pensions granted to them; the abbess in this case received a yearly pension of £ 40, and her nuns' pensions ranged from £ 3. 6s. 8d. to £ 6. We then get a list of the dwellings of which the settlement was composed. The houses and buildings 'assigned to remain were as follows: 'the abbess' lodging with the houses within the quadrant, as the water leads from the east side of the cloister to the gate, the farmery, the mill and millhouse with the slaughter-house adjoining, the brewing and baking houses with the granaries to the same, the barn and stables in the outer court.' The list of dwellings 'deemed to be superfluous' follows. 'The church, choir, and steeple covered with lead, the cloister covered with tiles and certain gutters of lead, the chapter house, the refectory (ffrayter), the dormitory, the convent kitchen and all the old lodgings between the granary and the hall door covered with tiles.' Then follow accounts of the lead and bells remaining, of the jewels, plate and silver 'reserved for the king's use,' and of the ornaments, goods and chattels which were sold. We further gather that the debts of the house were paid and that rewards and wages were given to the chaplain, officers and servants before they were turned away.

As mentioned above the pensions given differed greatly, and the heads of wealthy houses were allowed considerable sums. Thus Elizabeth Souche, abbess of Shaftesbury, the yearly income of which house was taxed at £ 1166, received £ 133 a year and all her nuns to the number of fifty-five were pensioned. Dorothy Barley, abbess of Barking, a house taxed at £ 862, received a yearly pension of £ 133; while Elizabeth Shelley, abbess of St   [p. 456]   Mary's, Winchester, received only £ 26 a year. The prioress of St Andrew's, Marricks, a small house, received £ 5 annually, and her nuns a pension of from twenty to forty shillings each. Gasquet points out that a large number of those who were pensioned died during the first few years after the surrender.[89*] Probably many of them were old, but there is extant a pension roll of the year '553 (reign of Philip and Mary) from which can be gathered that a certain number of pensioned monks and nuns were then alive and continued to draw their pensions. Gasquet further remarks that only a few of the nuns who were turned away are known to have married;[90*] considering that hardly any are known to have left their convents voluntarily, and that many of the younger ones were turned away through the act of 1535, this seems only natural.

Eye-witnesses as well as Cromwell's agents have left descriptions which give a striking picture of the brutality of the proceedings.[91*] But the hardships to which the convent inmates were exposed, the terrible waste of their property, and the senseless destruction of priceless art treasures, must not blind us to the fact that the breaking up of the monastic system was but an incident in one of the most momentous revolutions within historic record. The dissolution of the monasteries at the time of the Reformation, to be rightly estimated, must be considered as part of a wider change which was remoulding society on an altered basis.

It is interesting to compare the view taken of monastic life at the time of the dissolution with the attitude taken towards convents in the following period. Some writings, as for example Lindesay in the play of the Three Estates, acted in the North in 1535,[92*] severely censure the inclinations which are fostered in the convent.

But strong as the feeling against convents and their inmates was in some instances at the time of the Reformation, when the system was once removed little antagonism remained towards those who had represented it. The thought of the nun, fifty years after she had passed away in England, roused no acrimony. Shakspere had no prejudice against her, and Milton was so   [p. 457]   far impressed in her favour that he represented 'Melancholy' under the form of a 'pensive nun, devout and pure,--Sober, steadfast and demure.' It was only at a much later period that the agitation raised by the fear of returning 'Popery' caused men to rake up scandals connected with convents and to make bugbears out of them.

The losses incurred by the destruction of the convents were not however slow in making themselves felt; but as indifference towards women's intellectual interests had made part of the movement, a considerable time went by before the loss of the educational possibilities which the convent had secured to women was deplored. 'In the convents,' says Gasquet,[93*] 'the female portion of the population found their only teachers, the rich as well as the poor, and the destruction of these religious houses by Henry was the absolute extinction of any systematic education for women during a long period.' While devotion to domestic duties, exclusive of all other interests, continued to be claimed from women, the loss of their schools was a matter of indifference to society in general. But in proportion as shortcomings in women were felt, the thought arose that these might be due to want of training. The words in which the divine, Fuller († 1661), expressed such thoughts in the 17th century are well worth recalling. The vow of celibacy in his eyes remained a thing of evil, but short of this the convents had not been wholly bad.

'They were good she schools wherein the girls and maids of the neighbourhood were taught to read and work; and sometimes a little Latin was taught them therein. Yea, give me leave to say, if such feminine foundations had still continued, provided no vow were obtruded upon them, (virginity is least kept where it is most constrained,) haply the weaker sex, besides the avoiding modern inconveniences, might be heightened to a higher perfection than hitherto hath been attained.'[94*]

  [p. 458]  


[1*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'St Radegund's,' vol. 4, p. 215, charter nr 3.

[2*] Gasquet, F. A., Henry VIII and the English Monasteries, 1888, vol. 1, p. 62.

[3*] At a meeting of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society (reported in the Academy, Feb. , 1895), Mr T. D. Atkinson read a paper on 'The Conventual Buildings of the priory of St Radegund,' illustrated by a plan showing such of the college buildings as were probably monastic, and also the position of some foundations discovered in the previous summer. According to this paper the present cloister occupies the same position as that of the nuns, and the conventual church was converted into a college chapel by Alcock. The college hall which is upstairs is the old refectory, the rooms below being very likely used as butteries, as they still are. The present kitchen is probably on the site of the old monastic kitchen, and very likely the rooms originally assigned to the Master are those which had been occupied by the prioress. Further details of arrangement were given about the dormitory, the chapter house, the calefactory and common-room, etc., from which we gather that the men who occupied the nunnery buildings, put these to much the same uses as they had served before.

[4*] Fiddes, 'Life of Card. Wolsey,' 1726, Collect., p. 100.

[5*] Ibid. p. 99.

[6*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'Bromball,' vol. 4, p. 506.

[7*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'Lillechurch,' vol. 4, p. 379, footnote e.

[9*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'St Frideswith's,' vol. 2, p. 138. Fiddes, 'Life of Card. Wolsey,' 1726, Collect.,p. 95.

[10*] Wilkins, D., Concilia, 1737, 'Bull' (Sept. 1524), vol. 3, p. 703; 'Breve regium,' ibid. p.705.

[11*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'St Frideswith's,' vol. 2, p. 138, footnote x.

[12*] Ibid. 'Wykes,' vol. 4, p. 513; 'Littlemore,' vol. 4, p. 490, nr 12.

[13*] Rymer, Foedera, 'Bulla pro monasteriis supprimendis,' vol. 6, p. 116; 'Bulla pro uniendis monasteriis,' p. 137.

[14*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII and the English Monasteries, 1888, vol. I, pp. 101 ff.

[15*] Blunt, The Reformation of the Church of England, 1882, vol. I, p. 92, footnote, says that the lady in question was 'Eleanor the daughter of Cary who had lately married (Anne's) sister Margaret.'

[16*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'Wilton,' vol. 2, p. 317, gives the correspondence. The abbess who succeeded to Isabel Jordan was probably Cecil Bodman or Bodenham, of whom more p. 441.

[17*] Fish, S., 'A Supplicacyon for the Beggers,' republished Early Engl. Text Soc., 1871.

[18*] More, Th., 'The Supplycacyon of Soulys,' 1529 (?).

[19*] Wright, Th., Three chapters of letters on the Suppression (Camden Soc., 1843), nrs 6--11.

[20*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII and the English Monasteries, vol. I, pp. 110--150.

[21*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papersetc., vol. 8, Preface, pp. 33 ff.

[22*] Wilkins, D., Concilia,1737, vol. 3, p. 755.

[23*] Dict. of Nat. Biography,article 'Legh, Sir Thomas.'

[24*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 56.

[25*] Gairdner, J., Letters etc., vol. 9, nr 139.

[26*] Ibid. Preface, p. 20.

[27*] Ibid. Vol. 9, nr 280.

[28*] Gasquet, Henry VIII etc., vol. I, p. 273.

[29*] Wright, Three chapters of letters,p. 55.

[30*] Gasquet, Henry VIII etc, vol. I, p. 276; Ellis, H., Original Letters, Series 3, vol. 3, p. 11, says that after resigning at Little Marlow she became abbess at Mailing.

[31*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'Little Marlow,' vol. 4, p. 419; 'Ankerwyke,' vol. 4, p. 229.

[32*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 9, nr 1075 (her house is unknown).

[33*] Ellis, H., Original Letters, Series I, vol. 2, p. 91.

[34*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 74.

[35*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 9, nr 357.

[36*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 9, nr 732.

[37*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. I, p. 293.

[38*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 107.

[39*] Ibid. p. 114; Gasquet, Henry VIII etc., vol. I, p. 303.

[40*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papersetc., vol. 10, nr 364.

[41*] Wright, Three chaptersetc., p. 91.

[42*] Ellis, H., Original Letters, Series 3, vol. 3, p. 38.

[43*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'Harwold,' vol. 6, p. 330.

[44*] Ellis, H., Original Letters, speaks of the image of Our Lady of Caversham which was plated all over with silver, Series r, vol. 2 , p. 79; of that of St Modwen of Burton on Trent with her red cowl and staff, Series 3, vol. 3, p. 104; of the 'huge and great image' of Darvellgathern held in great veneration in Wales, Series r, vol. 2, p. 82; and of others, which were brought to London and burnt.

[45*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 116.

[46*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2, p. 47.

[47*] Ibid. Appendix I.

[48*] Gairdner, J,, Letters and Papers etc., vol. 9, nr 1094.

[49*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII., etc., vol. 2, App. I.

[50*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 139.

[51*] Ellis, H., Orig. Letters, Series 3, vol. 3, p. 37.

[52*] Ibid. p. 116.

[53*] Ibid., p. 39.

[54*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 129.

[55*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 10, nr 383 (1536).

[56*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 136.

[57*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2, App. I.

[58*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'St Mary's,' vol. 2, p. 451, charter nr 4.

[59*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2, App. I.

[60*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc. vol. II, nr 385 (20).

[61*] Ibid. (22, 23, 35).

[62*] Dugdale, Monasticon, Chatteris,' vol. 2, p. 614, calls her 'Anne Gayton.'

[63*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers, vol. II, nr 519 (II); nr 1217 (26).

[64*] Ibid. vol. 10, nr 364.

[65*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol.2 , p. 206; Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 10, Preface, p. 46.

[66*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'Dennis,' vol. 6, p. 1549.

[67*] Ellis, H., Orig. Letters, Series 3, vol. 3, p. 117.

[68*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2, p. 203.

[69*] Ibid. vol. 2, pp. 449 ff.

[70*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 11, nr 42.

[71*] Ibid. vol. II, Preface, p. 12.

[72*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2 , pp. 84 ff.

[73*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vols. 11, 12.

[74*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'Seton,' vol. 4, p. 226.

[75*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol.2 , p. 340.

[76*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 12, pt 2, nr 27.

[77*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2, p. 279.

[78*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 13, pt I, nr 1115 (19), nr 1529 (44).

[79*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2, p. 222.

[80*] Gairdner, J., Letters and Papers etc., vol. 10, nr 364.

[81*] Ibid. vol. 13, pt I, nr 235.

[82*] Ellis, H., Orz. Letters, Series 3, vol. 3.

[83*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 229.

[84*] Wright, Three chapters etc., p. 227.

[85*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIZ! etc., vol. 2, p. 225.

[86*] Ibid. 456.

[87*] Dugdale, Monasticon, 'St Mary's,' vol. 2, p. 451; Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2, p. 476.

[88*] Dugdale, Monasticon,'Wherwell,' vol. 2, p. 634.

[89*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIII etc., vol. 2, p. 481.

[90*] Ibid. p. 479.

[91*] Ellis, H., Orig. Letters, Series 3, vol. 3, p. 34, gives an interesting account.

[92*] Lindesay, Ane Satyre of the thrie Estaits, edit. by Hall for the Early Engl. Text Soc., 1869, pp. 420 ff.

[93*] Gasquet, A., Henry VIIIetc., vol. 2, p. 221.

[94*] Fuller, Th., Church History,edit, Brewer, 1845, vol. 3, p. 336.

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