Historic Tudor Law

King Henry VIII

Henry VIII came to the throne on the 21stApril 1509, upon the death of his father, Henry VII.  On the 24thJune 1509, Henry married his brother Arthur’s widow, Catharine of Aragon after receiving special dispensation to marry her from the pope, and they had one child; Mary.

His appointed nominee Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the son of a Suffolk wool merchant, handled the administration of the state. Later, was to become Bishop of London, Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor, and at one time considered more powerful than the king himself.

His zest for a male heir and son to the English Throne, led to his request to have his first marriage to Catherine, annulled.

Cardinal Wolsey was dispatched to Rome to mediate on his behalf, with the Pope.  English Tudor King; Henry VIII was refused the right to have his marriage to Catharine of Aragon annulled by the Pope.  He who sought to marry Anne Boleyn…he who sought a male heir.

Cardinal Wolsey’s failure had a consequence to pay, he was replaced by Thomas Moore, but all too quickly he opposed the divorce, and paid for his opposition with his head.

Bad feelings erupted between Henry and the Church in Rome.  In 1534 an act was passed making Henry head of the Church of England, not the Pope.

Henry then used Parliament to achieve his goal, by declaring his first marriage be void, leaving him free to marry Anne Boleyn.  She who had promised Henry an heir received disapproval from him, by giving birth to a daughter.

Henry held resentment towards the churches wealth and power, until it finally erupted with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538.

For it was in 1538, Henry took his most forceful step against the power of the church.  The start of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  To avoid a mass outcry, smaller and less provincial houses had their property confiscated by the crown, and their buildings destroyed beyond use. The larger houses followed in 1539.

Henry’s resentment at the churches wealth and power, led to his decision in an effort to suppress the Monasteries.  Much of their wealth found it’s way directly or indirectly into the royal treasury.  Monastery buildings were sold to the wealthy gentry.  Those who bought monastic property or lands were more inclined to support Henry in his break with Rome, if it was in their self-interest.

Those who benefited by the Dissolution was not the King, for in his haste to acquire funds, sold off monastic land at a fraction of its true worth.  This led to a new class of person, becoming one of a selected breed of gentry in this our land.

One Tudor Legacy… When local rectors owned land in the parish, they were held responsible for repairing the chancel using money produced from the land.  Monasteries often acquired this land together with the responsibility for paying for the repair of the chancel.  When Henry VIII sold the monasteries land, the liability to pay for the repair of the chancel remained with the land sold.

Move through history some 480 years, we find some 500,000 property owners are affected by the Dissolution of the Monasteries to this day by a historic law known as “The Chancel Repair.”

Property owners became liable for keeping the Chancel – Altar area – Choir stalls and east end of building in good repair, wind-proofed and water tight.

What had become a blessing for vicars, knowing there is an archaic fund out there to pay repair bills, has become a curse for local residents whose property fall within these boundaries.

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