Dissolution of the Monasteries 1535-40: Consequences Political


N.B. Remember that not all the effects of the dissolution were adverse



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N.B. Remember that not all the effects of the dissolution were adverse.


  • About 9,000 monks and nuns were at large after the dissolution. Many were issued with ‘capacities’, i.e. licences to practise as parish clergy. Many were well qualified and raised the standard of the secular clergy. Under-educated priests were a historic weakness of the English church. Indeed the influx of regular clergy into the ranks of the priesthood forestalled a manpower crisis in the English church. In the uncertain climate of the 1530s and 1540s there had been a shortage of ordinands.




  • Many of the dispossessed monks fared reasonably well.

1. Take, for example, Kirkstall Abbey near Leeds after dissolution. Its head, Abbot John, lived in the gatehouse of the abbey. Two former monks served as vicars living in vicarages that had belonged to the abbey. Another ex- monk, Thomas Pepper, was appointed rector of Adel.


2. The prior of Montacute in Somerset retired on a pension of £100 p.a., the income of a middling gentleman.


  • There was also a reform dividend: six new bishoprics (Bristol, Chester, Gloucester, Oxford, Peterborough and Westminster) were created out of abbeys on those sites.





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