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The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England$
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Martin Heale

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702535

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702535.001.0001

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Dissolution, Opposition, Accommodation

Dissolution, Opposition, Accommodation

(p.309) 8 Dissolution, Opposition, Accommodation
The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England

Martin Heale

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the actions and attitudes of superiors during the Dissolution, when the large majority surrendered their monasteries to the Crown. A number of monastic heads took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, but apparently with some reluctance, and others actively contributed to the rebellion’s suppression. Similarly, when they were called upon to surrender their houses to the Crown in 1537–40, the large majority of abbots and priors gave way with little overt opposition. This response was partly the product of the regime’s strong-arm tactics, but can also be attributed to the active loyalism of abbots and priors, the internal destabilization that Cromwell’s interventionism had promoted, the generous pensions offered by the regime, and the absence of secular support for opposing the surrenders. Their collective compliance eased the Dissolution, as they modelled conformity to their own communities—conditioned to obey their superiors—and to their lay neighbours alike.

Keywords:   Dissolution of the monasteries, Thomas Cromwell, Henrician Reformation, Pilgrimage of Grace, voluntary surrender, treason, pensions, high office

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