« PreviousContinue »
glory of God and the prosit of the common"wealth. Surely, if I, contrary to your ex** pectation, should susfer the Ministers of the ** Churches to decay, or learning (which is so ** great a jewel) to be minished, or the poor and ** miserable to be unrelieved, you might well say, "that I, being put in such a special trust as I am ** in this case, were no trusty friend to you, nor "charitable to my Emne-Christen, neither a "lover of the public wealth; nor yet one that "feareth God, to whom account must be ren"dered of all our doings. Doubt not, I pray "you, but your expectation shall be proved "more godly and goodly than you will wish or ** desire, as hereafter you shall plainly perceive."
"But notwithstanding these fair pretences and "projects, little was performed, for desolation "presently followed this dissolution: the axe ** and the mattock ruined almost all the chief ** and most magnificent ornaments of the king"dom; viz. three hundred and seventy-six of "the lesser Monasteries, six hundred and forty"five of the greater fort, ninety Colleges, one <c hundred and ten Religious Houses, two thou** sand three hundred and seventy-four Chaunt** ries and Free Chapels. All these Religious "Houses, Churches, Colleges, and Hospitals, ** being about 3500 little and great in the whole,
« did •
"did amount to an inestimable sum, especially if K their rents be accounted as they are now im"proved in these days. Among this multitude "it is needless to speak of the great church of *e St. Mary in Bulloign; which, upon the taking ce of that town in 1544, Henry caused to be "pulled down, and a mount to be raised in the "place thereof, for planting of ordnances necessary to annoy a siege."
"The revenue that came to the King in ten ** years space," continues Sir Henry, " was more? "if I mistake it not, than quadruple that of the "Crown-lands, besides a magazine of treasure "raised out of the money, plate, jewels, orna** mcnts, and implements of Churches, Mona"steries, and Houses, with their goods, state, "cattle, &c. together with a subsidy, tenth, and "fifteenth, from the laity at the same time: to "which I may add the incomparable wealth os "Cardinal Wolsey, a little before confiscated "also to the King, and a large sum raised by "Knighthood in the 25th year of this reign."
"A man may justly wonder how such an ** ocean of wealth should come to be exhausted "in so short a time of peace. But God's bleff.
ing, as it seemeth, was not upon it," adds the venerable Antiquarian; " for within four years
M after he had received all this, and had ruined ** and sacked * three hundred and seventy-six of "the Monasteries, and brought their substance "to his treasury, besides all the goodly revenues ** of the Crown, he was drawn so dry, that in "the thirty-first year of his reign, the Parlia
* This desolation was so universal, that John Bale very much laments the loss and spoil of Books and Libraries in his Epistle upon Leland's Journal (Leland being employed by the King to survey and preserve the choicest Books in their Libraries): "If there had been in every shire of ** England," faith Bale, " but one solemn library for the "preservation of those noble works, and preferment of "good learning in our posterity, it had been somewhat; ** but to destroy all without consideration, is and will be ** unto England for ever a most horrible infamy amongst "the grave scholars of other nations." He adds, " that "they who got and purchased the Religious Houses at the ** Dissolution of them, took the libraries as part of the bar"gain and booty; reserving (continues he) of those library *• books, some to serve their jakes, some to scour their can** dksticks, and some to rub their boots with; some they "sold to the grocers and soap-boilers, and some they sent "" over sea to the bookbinders, not in small numbers, but at "times whole ship-fulls, to the wondering of foreign na"tions. I know a merchant-man, who at this time shall "be nameless, that bought the contents of two noble ** libraries for forty shillings a-piece—a shame it is to be told. "This stuff hath he used for the space of more than ten ** years, instead of grey paper, to wrap up his goods with, "and yet he hath enough remaining for many years to "come;—a prodigious example indeed," adds he, " is this, "and greatly to be abhorred of all men who love their ** country as they ought to do."
Vol. 1. E « ment "ment was constrained by his importunity to "supply his wants with the residue of all the "Monasteries of the kingdom, six hundred and "forty-five great ones and illustrious, with all "their wealth and prince-like possessions. Yet "even then was not this King so sufficiently fur"nished for building of a few Block-houses for "defence of the coast, but the next year after he "must have another subsidy of four-fifteenths "to bear out his charges: and, lest that should "be too little, all the houses, lands, and goods "of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, both "in England and in Ireland."
** The next year," says Sir Henry, " was the "King's fatal period, otherwise it was much "to be feared that Deans and Chapters, if not "Bishopricks (which have been long levelled at) "had been his Majesty's next design; for he "took a very good fay of them, by exchanging "lands with them before the Dissolution, giving "them racked lands and small things for goodly "manors and lordships, and also impropriations ** for their solid patrimony in finable lands; like "the exchange that Palamedes made with Glau"cus, thereby much increasing his own reve"Hues,"
"I speak not of his prodigal hand in the "blood of his own subjects, which no doubt "much alienated the hearts of them from him. "But God in the space of these eleven years "visited him with five or six rebellions. And ** although rebellions and insurrections are not "to be defended, yet they discover to us what "the displeasure and the dislike of the common "people were for spoiling the revenue of the "Church, (whereby they were great losers,) the "Clergy being merciful landlords, and bountiful "benefactors to all men, by their great hospi** tality and acts of charity,"
"Thus much," concludes the learned and venerable Antiquarian, " touching the King's * * own fortunes accompanying the wealth and treasure gotten by him, as we have declared, ** by confiscating the Monasteries; wherein the ** prophetical speech that the Archbishop of Can** terbury used in the Parliament of the sixth of "Henry the Fourth seemeth performed; scil. "That the King mould not be one farthing the ** richer the next year following *."
* When James the Fourth, King of Scotland, was advised by Sir Ralph Sadler, Ambassador from Henry the Eighth, to increase his revenues by taking the revenues of the Abbey lands into his hands, he replied, " What need "have I to take them into my own hands, when I may