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What Agreement Showed The Spiritual Decline Of England

The dissolutions in Ireland followed a very different path from that of England and Wales. In 1530 there were about 400 religious houses in Ireland — much more in terms of population and material wealth than in England and Wales. In Ireland, in the 15th century, fraternal houses flourished, with the support and financial endowment of the population, many ambitious construction projects were carried out and maintained a regular monastic and spiritual life. The Friaries accounted for about half of the total number of religious houses. On the other hand, the Irish monasteries had experienced a catastrophic drop in the number of confessed religious, so that in the 16th century only a minority maintained the daily respect of the divine Ministry. Henry`s direct authority as Lord of Ireland and from 1541 as King of Ireland extended only to Dublin on the territory of the Pale. Outside this area, he could only act in tactical agreement with the clan leaders and local lords. After receiving, as is well known, no declaration of nullity from the Pope on his marriage, Henry himself had declared himself in February 1531 the supreme leader of the Church of England and had put in place a legislative programme to establish by law this royal supremacy and impose acceptance throughout his kingdom. In April 1533, a law limiting the appeal eliminated the right of the clergy to use “foreign courts” (Rome) on the king`s head in any spiritual or financial matter. All ecclesiastical taxes and taxes that were previously to be paid in Rome would now be paid to the king. Through the submission of the clergy, the English clergy and religious orders joined the thesis that the king was and always was the supreme leader of the Church in England. Therefore, according to Henry, any act of monastic resistance to royal authority would not only be treasonable, but also a rupture of the vow of monastic obedience. Under serious threats, almost all religious houses joined the rest of the church in adhering to royal rule; and in the swearing-in to obtain the validity of the king`s divorce and remarriage.

The resistance focused on the houses of chartreux monks, observant Franciscan monks and Bridgettine monks and nuns, embarrassing to the government, orders where religious life was fully respected. Great efforts were made to have these houses officially verified, cheated and threatened, with the clerics continuing their resistance until they remembered or stopped there, being executed for treason.