Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Surrender of Fountains Abbey

The fall of a great English monastery.
Fountains Abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell's agents on November 26, 1539. As this site notes, it had a very close connection to the Pilgrimage of Grace:
Huby's successor, William Thirsk, was not as wise as Huby, nor as virtuous. He is said to have sold land, timber and jewels belonging to the abbey for his own use. Admittedly, however, this accusation is biased, as it relies entirely on the evidence supplied by Thomas Cromwell's agents during the Visitation of the Monasteries in 1536. Cromwelll, Henry VIII's chief minister, had begun to take account of the riches that the monks had secreted behind their monastery walls, and to look for ways to relieve them of it. Cromwell's protestant zeal and his practical desire to please the king were united behind the cause of showing the monks to be corrupt and superstitious. Thirsk was forced to resign as abbot and went to live at the nearby abbey of Jervaulx. Instead of living quietly on the pension that he had been provided with, however, Thirsk became involved with the Pilgrimage of Grace. This was a revolt led by Northern Catholics in 1536, who sought to force Henry VIII to return to the Catholic Church, reopen the abbeys and get rid of Protestant reformers. Henry VIII, however, was not to be stopped. Thirsk and the Abbot of Jervaulx were sent to the Tower of London, where they were both found guilty of treason and suffered traitors' deaths -- hanging, drawing and quartering. (Read more.)

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