Talk:Dissolution of the Monasteries

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POV[edit]

Does this entry really pass muster as neutral? or historical? --Wetman 07:59, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I cleaned up some of the pro-Rome POV in the article, in particular the argumentative style which looks more like an academiv POV thesis. I have noticed that many articles on the reformation are basically arguing 'the English yearned to rejoin Rome'. There is no balancing POV stating that Henry VIII got away with it because the church was a stinking cesspool of corruption loathed at practically every level of society by a large fraction of the population. The Borgias had only just been ejected, the indulgences racket was an abomination, the church was synonymous with greed.--Gorgonzilla 01:58, 16 August 2005 (UTC)
That POV would be problematic not for a pro-Protestant stance but for historical inaccuracy. The only Borgia pope died many decades before the English reformation and was a distant and irrelevant memory. Indulgences were a problem in Germany but not an issue in England. There were certainly greedy priests and prelates, but there were also greedy sheriffs and chancellors, and the church did not suddenly become less grasping for being Protestant instead of Catholic.

The tone looks rather Protestant to me. But there is in general in this article a need for two-handedness (some historians say x, some y) which is lacking: there is no need for Wikipedia to take a view on how much abuse there was in the pre-reformation institutions. Diomedea Exulans (talk) 09:26, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

I did try to remove the more overt examples of POV statements from the article - but if you think that there remains an overly "Protestant" tone that would benefit from correcting, go ahead. There have been a number of detailed empirical studies of the evidence in recent years, so most of the asserted facts in the article are (so far as I can tell) uncontentious. The area that does requre two-handedness - in my view - would be a discussion of the date when policy changed from monastic reform to total suppression. The problem is that this issue is bound up with a related issue of whether the chief motive for suppression was the extension of royal authority, or the enhancement of royal income (in so far as these can be distinguished). And views on that, in their turn, tend to reflect a judgement as to whether dissolution is seen as being driven by Henry or Cromwell. If someone is able to cast a paragraph or two, giving the varioud recent scholary viewpoints on these issues, that would be very valuable. TomHennell (talk) 00:42, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

It would be interesting to know the justification of the term "Protestant" as used here. Henry thought of himself as Catholic - just not "Roman" Catholic - and to this day every member of an Anglican congregation in the UK intones the words of the Nicean creed - "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church".

In addition the assertion in the introduction that the dissolution of the monasteries was the biggest legal land transfer in England after the Norman Conquest lacks any sort of justification. The Enclosures Acts, where large amounts of Common Land were divided up between the local vicar and Lord of the Manor in around 1796 would seem to have a claim to that title. Records of Gloucestershire alone show massive increases in Church income as a result of the sequestration of the land and dispersion of the peasantry: Indeed a number of the so called "plague villages" are in fact no such thing but merely the remnants of villages destroyed in the 1790s in order to drive away the inhabitants.

Drg40 (talk) 11:57, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

anticlericalism[edit]

"It is unlikely that the monastic system could have been broken if there had not been a strong feeling of resentment against the church amongst at least part of the general population."

This is a speculative statement without any evidence advanced in its favor. It should not stand unless some evidence is presented to demonstrate the said resentment.
Well there was anticlerical feeling among parts of the population at that time:
One ought not to generalise about whole nations, but if one thing can be said of the English people early in the sixteenth century it is that they thought little of priests...There was thus much of that feeling which is generally summarised in the word anticlericalism. - Geoffrey Elton, England under the Tudors, p. 102.--Johnbull 18:50, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand what is meant by 'evidence'. Justifying one general characterization by another person's general characterization isn't evidence; sometimes even historians talk out of wishful thinking. :) General characterizations have to be founded on particulars. Appropriate evidence would be particulars of English anti-monastic sentiment preceding Henry VIII's and Thos. Cromwell's drive to shut the monasteries. This could include excerpts from contemporary pamphlets, contemporary accounts of anti-monastic protests or rioting, individual legal complaints and so on; but not government actions.
Richard Hunne is one recorded example of the suspiciousness of the religious authorities. That's not counting the remants of Lollardy and John Wycliffe's doctrines. And of course there was anticlerical sentiment in the Commons which presented the King with the Supplication of the Ordinaries, a list of popular grievances against the Church. Robert Revell led a faction in Shirland, Derbyshire that expelled up to '17 or 18' priests from the town. They had scant respect for the Church; one had a pudding stuffed into his mouth as he was about to begin Mass: Ethan Shagan, Popular Politics and the English Reformation, p. 136. There are numerous accounts of laymen and women stealing the chalice which in medieval times they were forbidden to even touch let along drink Christ's blood out of, and also of driving priests out-of-town and having little respect for them generally (Ibid, pp. 136-38).--Johnbull 15:39, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

This statement is woeful. Why is this allowed to stand?

I agree, and believe the statement, that "the monastic system could [not] have been broken if there had not been a strong feeling of [general] resentment," constitutes a misrepresentation of fact. See generally, Colin Platt, The Architecture of Medieval Britain (1990, Yale University Press) at 269-295 (demonstrating the comfortable position monastaries, and clerics in general, held in England on the eve of Reformation). The monasteries did not go peaceably, but were often brutally suppressed, both for not signing the Act of Succession and refusing to submit their property and institutions to the Crown. This result stands in stark contrast to what occurred on the Continent and in Scotland. Certainly, the rebellions that occurred following the 'reforms' of Henry VIII were as much about preserving monastic practice as saints' shrines and the other forms of traditional Christian expression before the Reformation. That there were rebellions at all is instructive on the status of popular sentiment at the time, and have little parallel elsewhere in Europe.
There is also a danger in telescoping popular resentment against clerical abuses into a full scale movement for 'Reform.' Even Thomas More was active against such abuses and in helping the State to curb them. The true issue, therefore, is whether the English people merely desired a reform, or a complete break from Rome along the lines promulgated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, or John Knox.
To that extent, I find it useful to see how the Reformation expressed itself on the continent as compared to England. On the Continent, by in large, the Reformation occurred from the bottom up. The state, in other words, largely ratified what people were already expressing. England, by contrast, while certainly not immune to some strains of Protestant sentiment, became Protestant by State action. It comprised, accordingly, a process imposed from the top down, resulting in bloody reprisals as significant segments of the population attempted to preserve their traditional, long held practices.
Certainly, I believe it only fair to say that England ceased to be Catholic after the debacle of Mary Tudor’s reign, and upon the conclusion of Elizabeth I’s carefully calculated policies—especially when combined with the forces of nascent nationhood and patriotism. But the very length of time it took for England to express herself as Protestant, speaks volumes about where England stood at the time Henry VIII commenced his own break from Rome, as does the large number of adherents to the “Old Faith” that continued to plague the State until the Restoration under Charles II.Mikhelos 04:59, 7 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mikhelos (talkcontribs) 15:28, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Book of Kells[edit]

I have removed the following sentence; "The world-famous Book of Kells was only preserved by being smuggled out of the monastery at great risk by the last Abbot." The Abbey of Kells was converted to a parish church in the 12th Century. The last Abbot had been dead for about 400 years by the time of Thomas Cromwell. The Book left Kells during the rule of Oliver Cromwell, a century later. Dsmdgold 22:24, Feb 6, 2005 (UTC)

Ding dang! Good sleuthing! I was fooled by this, though I got the "fish-wrapping" bit out, as it smelled:
"Other losses to posterity included the many valuable books held in the monastic libraries, virtually all of which were destroyed and their pages used for tasks such as stopping wine casks, polishing candlesticks, or wrapping fish. It is believed that many of the earliest Anglo-Saxon manuscripts were lost at this time. The world-famous Book of Kells was only preserved by being smuggled out of the monastery at great risk by the last Abbot. Monastic schools and hospitals were also lost, with serious consequences locally."
Oi! Well, this text was added, 10 February 2004, by an anonymous editor, User:62.64.212.184, who made numerous edits, 9 and 10 Feb. 2004, but has not been seen since, or before. Hmm, bears looking over... --Wetman 00:25, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Sections[edit]

Added the section header "Context and description" so that the Table of Contents wasn't pushed to the bottom. I know that's not the greatest title, but I couldn't think of anything else, nor could I find a way to split them into two separate sections, e.g. "Context" and "Description." =\ --User:Jenmoa 18:23, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Earlier Dissolution?[edit]

Currently reading a book by Jane Greatorex (Greatorex, Jane [1999]. Coggeshall Abbey and Abbey Mill [Manors, Mills & Manuscripts]. Jane Greatorex, Castle Hedingham, Essex. ISBN 0951854348). On page 11 she talks about how in 1295 all monastic houses within 13 miles of the coast and sending money back to their mother houses in France were re-sited to within not 20 miles of the coast. And how in 1391 Richard II dissolved all 'alien' religious houses in the country, "the first dissolution of houses in this country". Is this a well known fact and could it be regarded as an earlier dissolution? Is it worth mentioning on this page or else where? Thanks Pluke 16:42, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

There were several prior dissolutions of monastic houses. What you are refering to is the dissolution of the Alien Priories. These were small monasteries, sometimes merely estates, that belonged to French abbeys as a result of donations after the Norman conquest. As a consequence of the 100 Years War they were siezed by the government during the 14th century as enemy property and put under administration to prevent the income going abroad to France. During the early 15th some became naturalised (for example Lewes, Castle Acre) and continued to exist while others were taken by the crown and either given to other foundations (Eton College and Syon abbey for example were major beneficiaries) otr to roayal cronies. The the fate of the Alien Priories should definitely be mentioned as it's an important legal precedent for Henry's actions, as indeed should the early 16th century dissolutions for educational purposes. Contemporary dissolutions in Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia should also be mentioned. I must say that I think that this article needs a thorough rewrite. Soph 13:53, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

The suppression acts[edit]

I see there is a redlink at "the First Suppression Act (1536) and the Second Suppression Act (1539)." I feel this current article is incomplete without paragraphs discussing the contents of these two acts, and that separate articles might not really serve the Wikipedia reader at this stage. --Wetman 18:09, 24 October 2007 (UTC).

I agree, they should redirect here for now. Be bold. -- SECisek 18:11, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Ireland[edit]

I have tagged this article with {{globalize/UK}}, because it seems to say very little about the dissolution in Ireland, although there is quite a lot on the dissolution in England. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 18:07, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

POV[edit]

the article did appear to be skewed by a POV that did not reflect current scholarship. I have suggested a number of changes, but am sure that further improvement is needed. TomHennell (talk) 12:28, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Context and Reginald Pole[edit]

I have removed the para below, as I am not sure it adds anything to the context, and its claims regarding the position of Cardinal Pole in leading resistance to dissolution, I believe to be historically unfounded. Pole was certainly a strong defender of Catherine of Aragon against the divorce; and also a critic of the Royal Supremacy. But his views on the current state of the religious life were generally very critical; indeed the strictures expressed by the Consilium de Emendanda Ecclesia were gleefully quoted by the proponents of dissolution. Moreover, the reference to "Catholic loyalists" seems off the mark - in that the most loyal of Catholics (as Stephen Gardiner tended to favour both the Royal Supremacy and the Dissolution. Undoubtedly Henry was paranoid in his tendancy to regard all forms of monastic resistance as covert treason - but nevertheless some degree of opposition to the secular order was often present. A person who opposes royal authority cannot easily be termed a "loyalist". But what do others think? TomHennell (talk) 20:31, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

The resulting changes were essentially a form of "State Catholicism". Nevertheless, resistance from Catholic loyalists was stiff, and was spearheaded by Reginald Pole. Henry VIII originally offered Pole the position of Archbishop of York or Bishop of Winchester if he would support his divorce from Catherine of Aragon; but Pole gave him no support at all and was soon driven into exile in France and Italy in 1532, where he continued his studies in Padua and Paris.

I find this part of the context section (as well as a great deal more of it) to be hopelessly biased. To my knowledge, there is no way that such statements can be made so holistically about monasticism in England. At the top of the article, it says there were some 825 religious communities that were dissolved by Henry VIII. A statement that claims few monks or nuns set standards of ascetic piety or religious observance, must have a source in my opinion. It would have been impossible to know about the lifestyles of the monks and nuns of more than 800 communities. Furthermore, every religious order sets standards on piety and observance, it is another matter if they follow them. This unsourced statement claims that most of the monastic orders in England didn't even set standards regarding religious observance???? Even though religious observance would be the main reason for them at all. Im therefore removing this line. If someone wants the statement to remain, I suggest you find a legitimate source that speaks to the lack of any standards of piety or religious observance across the entirety of monasticism in England.

Only a few monks and nuns lived in conspicuous luxury, but most were very comfortably fed and housed by the standards of the time, and few any longer set standards of ascetic piety or religious observance —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.220.195.130 (talk) 02:53, 10 July 2010 (UTC)
You are right that the whole article needs in-text citations. I have put in a few for the passages you questioned from AG Dickens. More could be added from David Knowles etc - perhaps you could suggest some others.
On your more general point, if the article is biased, amend it. It would be a courtesy though, to raise specific matters on the discussion page first; before deleting other editors contributions.
You are however mistaken (or at least very much in a minority) if you are suggesting that we do not know much about the general lifestyle and standards of religious observance in monastic houses in the decades before the Dissolution. As Dickens observes "they may be regarded as the least mysterious and best documented section of the church. We know all about them we could reasonably expect to know, and reputable historians are nowadays not seriously divided about the facts". In particular Dickens points to the publication complete of Episcopal visitation records for the Dioceses of Lincoln and Norwich, as well as for the whole Premonstratensian order. Even if - with good reason - we treat the findings of Cormwell's vistors with extreme caution; we nevertheless have enough details from previous vistors to know a great deal of the standards of religious observance in each house, the numbers of professed religious, and the extent of disciplinary failings. TomHennell (talk) 16:49, 10 July 2010 (UTC)
Cardinal Pole as papal legate arranged for a papal dispensation for the new owners in 1554, and in gratitude Parliament passed the heresy laws in 1555. I've quoted the Bucholz and Key book on this. It's important, as most people don't know why Mary didn't just re-confiscate the land in 1553. So, however much he resisted the dissolution in the 1530s, he ratified it in the 1550s.86.42.198.16 (talk) 06:12, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

The Timescale of the Dissolution[edit]

I have substantially revised the main section to clarify the distinction between the Vistitaiion of the Monasteries and the Valor Ecclesiasticus; and to bring the article into line with recent academic research, which tends to regard the initial stages of the process as arising from Henry's wish for monastic reform (albeit one that would close a high proportion of monastic houses), with the decision to seek total dissolution only following the Pilgrimage of Grace. TomHennell (talk) 16:45, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

printing and manuscript copying[edit]

I have reverted the following addition: Last but not least, it was the invention of the printing press in the early 16th century that made the dissolution of the monestaries a feasible course of action for the king. Its invention made redundant the most critical service the monasteries rendered - the painstaking copying of texts by hand. The printing press was invented in the 15th century. By the 15th century, monasteries had ceased to copy manuscripts, which was done by secular professional copyists. In this period, the decline in numbers meant that for the overwhelming majority of monasteries, it was as much as could be done to maintain the regular monastic office (and even then the night offices were commonly re-arranged into daylight hours). TomHennell (talk) 23:37, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

legality of dissolution[edit]

The dissolution still represents the largest legal[citation needed] transfer of property in English history since the Norman Conquest.

Doesn't the First and Second Suppression Acts make this a legal seizure? Wouldn't a citation here be unnecessary?

I am sure I have read the statement made explicitly in several standard works - but have not had the time to track it down. Nevertheless, it does seem to me to be so obvious as not to need justifying by citation. TomHennell (talk) 02:05, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
That the seizure was an act of Parliament - legislation - means that it was legal (that's what legal means). If you want to split hairs over this, split hairs over the Norman Conquest being called a "legal transfer". The person that put the citation marker on "legal" is probably thinking of legal in the terms "morally acceptable". I'm going to go ahead and delete the mark because its misleading. -neal (talk) 20:06, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I have tracked down the reference to Hoskins Age of Plunder page 121.
I think that although there was a law at that time stating the dissolution of the monasteries was legal, to say "this makes it the largest legal transfer of land in English history" would be similar to saying "the slave trade was the largest legal human migration in the history of the United States". Basically, using the word legal in the article, implies that the action of dissolving monasteries would be legal today. Although, it would not be legal today, just as slavery wouldn't be legal today. If a country tried to dissolve all the religious orders in the 21st century it would widely be proclaimed as an act against religious freedom. So the use of the phrase is ambiguous in terms of tense or scope. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.220.195.130 (talk) 02:40, 10 July 2010 (UTC)
It's complex. The First Suppression Act (1536) was legal at the time, because there were precedents over the previous two centuries for Parliament to make laws granting the Crown monastic houses and assets, for instance the supression of the Alien Priories under the Lancastrian kings. Parliament had the authority to do it. It was basically an act of nationalisation and would be legal under current UK law. The surrenders of the greater houses starting with Furness Abbey in 1537 are a different matter. Tudor lawyers were very unsure whether a monastic community could legally surrender its property at all, even to the King. There was a legal theory that the founder (or his or her heirs) who had the role of patron of a monastic house could resume ownership of what had been donated if the property was no longer being used for the stated purpose of the foundation, but it had never been tested and would in any case imply that the King could only take those monasteries that were royal foundations, but the rest should revert to the heirs of the original founders. The lawyers and the government were sufficiently worried about the legality of the surrenders and the validity of the King's title to the property to put through the 1539 Act to make such surrenders legal retroactively and assure the King's title. I think that before the Act the surrenders were probably illegal but then Parliament made them legal, which it could do.
The case of the friars was different. The friars did not technically own their property, it was held in trust for them by the Pope and they had the 'use' of it. When King Henry took over the powers and responsibilities of the Pope under the Act of Supremacy he did have the legal right to dispose of the property as the new trustee, though he made the houses of friars surrender anyway to be doubly sure. The seizure of monasteries by the attainder of the head was utterly unprecedented. Though in the Middle Ages the head of a monastery was often treated as the owner of the property for purposes of litigation, he or she did not own it, it was owned by the monastic community as a corporate body. Convicting the head of the monastery then treating the corporate property as forfeit (forfeiture of property was one of the penalties of any felony at the time) was almost certainly illegal, though no one who wanted to continue breathing objected to it at the time. Compare for instance when Henry IV executed Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York for treason in 1405, the estates of the see were not seized by the Crown as they would have been if le Scrope had been a secular lord.
In sum though, aside from the abbeys that fell by attainder, it was a legal transfer, as opposed to say by conquest, because King Henry VIII constructed a structure of laws to make it so, despite the fact that said laws did violence to previous concepts of legality and indeed morality, and he created those laws within the constitutional framework of the time. 21st century views of the legality or ethics of what he did are irrelevant. He did it and he made it legal.
SophiaSoph (talk) 15:38, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
Then in 1554 Cardinal Pole ratified it, so the transfers were approved by Henry, Edward and then by the ever-Catholic Mary. Who could argue the case with all three and the Papacy itself? See my edit and source added today.86.42.198.16 (talk) 06:17, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

All of which brings to mind Joseph Stalin's campaign against the Orthodox Church in Russia 400 years later. I wonder if Stalin studied or was inspired by Henry's history here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.16.188.200 (talk) 16:04, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Edit request: BBC's In Our Time broadcast[edit]

BBC Radio 4's In Our Time is a 45 minute discussion programme about the history of ideas, with three eminent academics in their field, hosted by Melvyn Bragg. Each edition deals with one subject from one of the following fields: philosophy, science, religion, culture and historical events. It is akin to a seminar. The entire archive going back to 1998 is now available online in perpetuity.

An edition about the dissolution of the monasteries was broadcast with Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University; Diane Purkiss, Fellow and Tutor at Keble College, Oxford; George Bernard, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Southampton.

You can listen to the programme on this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009jtq1. Would you be able to include this as an external link?--Herk1955 (talk) 10:55, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

Henry VIII promised the English people like any slippery modern politician that the confiscation of the church lands would benefit the people by allowing the government to lower taxes for all time. Anyone who thinks the dissolution of the monasteries was a legal and just act by the state, deserves to live in a country where this is still the norm. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.34.4.232 (talk) 00:47, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

An impressive essay...[edit]

This article has been transmogrified into an impressive essay. I almost felt like congratulating the fellow contributors; however it is an ill-conceived effort as this is an encyclopaedia. It needs to be rectified to meet relevant criteria for Wikipedia. For more details please see here: Encyclopedic style. Mootros (talk) 19:10, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

good points, though it would be helpful if you could point to particular passages that you feel particularly lack encyclopedic style. Their are indeed quite a range of value comments (it that is what you are referring to). A high proportion of these can - I think - be cited to authoritative source; most notably David Knowles. If a value statement can be cited to an acknowledged authority, is it proper to include it in the encyclopedia. with appropriate refererences? TomHennell (talk) 01:40, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • The article is well written and is so long that we require actionable specifics rather than an indiscriminate banner tag which does not help us forward. I have therefore removed it. Colonel Warden (talk) 07:38, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

A long essay at that. This article doesn't look incredibly long to anyone else? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.169.212.26 (talk) 03:25, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

That's an exaggeration, yes, but the article could be broken down into a few more sub-sections. A few things such as 'Chaucer's Pardoner and other Chaucerian anticlerical satire are too familiar to need instancing' do need to be modified to fit NPOV guidelines, and there's some formatting cleanup to do. I'll see what I can do to pitch in. John Slocum (talk) 10:32, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

Syntax[edit]

This is poor. Perhaps someone would like to remove or improve.

Henry didn't agree with the monks the nuns so he shut down all the monasteries (Where they lived) he then sold the land the monasteries had been on and earn money from it. Lots of the people didn't agree with it but they had to or would suffer. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 195.172.180.242 (talk) 07:47, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

POV - again[edit]

I have removed a chunk of the first paragraph which was more or less saying that Henry was right to dissolve the monasteries because they were guzzling up all the dosh:

"Although some monastic foundations dated back to Anglo-Saxon England, the overwhelming majority of the 825 religious communities dissolved by Henry VIII owed their existence to the wave of monastic enthusiasm that had swept England and Wales in the 11th and 12th centuries; in consequence of which religious houses in the 16th century controlled appointment to about a third of all parish benefices, and disposed of about half of all ecclesiastical income." Francis Hannaway (talk) Francis Hannaway 18:14, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

I have restored the paragraph; with the sources cited. These are simple statements of fact, taken from the Valor Ecclesiasticus and entirely appropriate to the article. TomHennell (talk) 21:20, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

Absolute nonsense. You are quoting a biased article to begin with. The opening paragraph need only state that Henry broke with the main part of the Catholic Church and refused recognition of the Pope in England, Your statement implies that he broke with Rome because of the money consumed by the monasteries - not true, it was a power thang. Therefore, your statement was POV. Francis Hannaway (talk) Francis Hannaway 21:43, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
Of course these statements about monastic wealth and possessions could be put into one of the later paragraphs; but I think them more pertinent in the lead, as they follow on from the description of what the dissolution did: confiscate monastic assets and make provision for religious persons and monastic dependents. It is very pertinent to know at the outset what the scale of this action was. Indeed you may note that David Knowles advances the excessive scale of monastic wealth - relative to that of the English Church as whole - as first in his listing of contributory factors leading to the decline of late medieaval monasticism, and hence to the dissolution. Nor can I understand your categorisation of Dickens work as 'biased'; on the contrary, this remains one of the standard texts on the subject. Moreover, your alternative suggestions for the content of the lead would appear (to me) to be of questionable relevance, as they confuse the Dissolution with the Henrician Reformation. Henry would have dissolved monasteries whether or not he had broken with Rome (albiet that the Supremacy made dissolution much easier to do). Scarisbrick's point that 'a purge of the religious orders was probably regarded as the most obvious task of the new regime', would appear unarguable. Certainly, many of those who opposed the Royal Supremacy, such as Reginald Pole and Thomas More, were nervertheless strong proponents of major action so suppress failing religious houses. TomHennell (talk) 22:33, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
The bias is in the idea that the Valor Ecclesiasticus was used as a tool to support the Dissolution. I accept that the Dissolution may, or would, have happened without a break with Rome, although not on such a scale (a purge is not a dissolution). I also think, though, that there was a strong link with his dislike of the religious orders and his feeling of being manipulated by Rome which itself was being manipulated by other powers - in short he needed to consolidate his own sovereign authority. Having said that I accept your offer to remove the information to a later paragraph. Thank you. Francis Hannaway (talk) Francis Hannaway 10:20, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't disagree with any of that Francis; and you are right to regard the Valor Ecclesiaticus as being part of the process of the Royal Supremacy (and hence a Royal grab for Papal taxation revenue streams), not that of Dissolution. The point, however, is that the Valor (though now incomplete for some counties and subject to systematic under-assessement in some areas - has allowed scholars to make relatively objective assessments of the wealth of the Church in total, and of the religious houses in particular. So we can be very confident in estimating the proportion of parish benefices appropriated to religious houses as being 40% (compare to over 90% in Scotland). Henry's motives are not always clear (and changed anyway in the face of opposition), but his hostility towards monasticism does appear to have long pre-dated the break with Rome. Barnard has put forward a detailed case for Henry being a consistent Erasmian in his religious policy (although I myself consider the argument for the later years over-stated); and if so, this would imply for the younger Henry - as for More, Fisher and Pole - a cultural acceptance of the proposition that there were then many too many monasteries for the public good, and that their relgious life was largely deficient of value for the general commonwealth. TomHennell (talk) 13:31, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

Too long, bad punctuation[edit]

This article is too long; any reader desiring an overview of the subject matter will be sorely disappointed.

Also, whoever wrote the article has no idea, or chose simply to ignore, how semi-colons are actually used in standard English prose. The unorthodox punctuation is extremely distracting.

Agree that the article is long. Whether it is too long is a different matter. Certain sections would benefit from being broken down into smaller, more digestible, pieces. The "process" section in particular is long. Work for the editors among us. Everybody got to be somewhere! (talk) 15:08, 13 June 2014 (UTC)