The methods of dissolution (how?)

Why was there little resistance?

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Why was there little resistance?

The there was no coordinated resistance is explained by a combination of the following points–

    • The methods employed by the crown enabled the ‘voluntary’ surrenders to appear just that – voluntary.

    • The king’s offensive moved slowly making it difficult to know when to make a stand.

    • The crowns methods of moving against individual monasteries disguised the fact that a general dissolution was taking place. Monks and abbots noticed the trend in events. In a bid to stop the rumours that the king would suppress all the monasteries, Richard Layton put abbots and priors into the stocks at Barnwell. The government continued to deny that there was any policy of general supression.

    • In 1536 all monks had to swear the oath of succession and to obey the king as the head of the Church (Royal Supremacy), making opposition a treasonable offence.

    • Monks who co-operated received pensions. Priors and abbots received very large pensions, ensuring that – in many cases – they continued to live like the gentry. Some monks and friars positively welcomed the developments. Some accepted that the status quo was no longer an option, but sought reincarnation as religious foundations of another kind – e.g parish churches, colleges.

    • There were justified and widespread fears of reprisals on the scale of that directed against the Carthusian monks in 1535.

    • Local gentry often failed to support monastic opposition both because the consequences were plain (the Pilgrimage had failed and its leaders violently and brutally dealt with) and because they stood to benefit.

    • It occurred just at the time when Henry had the country on alert for a potential invasion from the princes of Christendom, stirred by the ‘cankered and venomous serpent, Paul, bishop of Rome’ – this was not a time when dissent could flourish.

    • What was happening could still be presented as the work of reform – a point suggested by the creation of six new bishoprics from the rump of the monasteries in Oxford, Chester, Bristol, Gloucester, Peterborough and Westminster. Notably, abbots and monks signed declarations not only making the abbeys and monasteries over to the king but also denouncing their previous lives.

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