Page:Henry VIII and the English Monasteries.djvu/66

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Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries

In the neighbouring county of Sussex the agitation against Wolsey's dissolution of monasteries was more serious and led to a riot. Beigham Abbey, "the which was very commodious to the country,"[1] was a monastery of Premonstratensians, and Wolsey had commissioned the bishop of Chichester to visit and inquire into certain alleged scandals there.[2] The religious, however, evidently maintained a hold on the affections of their neighbours, and on the cardinal's proceeding to dissolve the house, under the powers of Pope Clement's bull, the people assembled in "a riotous company, disguised and unknown, with painted faces" and masked. They turned out the agents engaged on the suppression and reinstated the canons. Before separating they begged the religious, if they were again molested, to ring their bell, and they pledged themselves to come in force to their assistance.[3]

Rumour, apparently, attributed to the cardinal even larger schemes of confiscation than were at the time contemplated. No sooner was the bull of Clement VII. put into force than petitions against the exercise of Wolsey's legatine powers were presented to the pope, especially by the Grey Friars and the Franciscan Observants. The latter were very powerful in Rome, and, as the cardinal's agent wrote, the pope may perhaps "give them some brief," but not one derogatory to Wolsey's honour.[4] The cardinal of York himself had also representations made to him against the work in which he was engaged. The Duke of Suffolk, for example, wrote to him in favour of the priory of Conished, in Lancashire, which by common report had been doomed to extinction. The monastery, he said, was "a great help to the people," and "the prior of good and virtuous disposition."[5]

Complaints were also carried to the king of the harsh and unjust way in which Wolsey's agents, Dr. Allen and Thomas Crumwell, were conducting the suppressions and the visitations of the religious houses upon which they were then engaged. Early in 1525 the cardinal had been informed by Sir Thomas More that complaints had been made to Henry, "touching certain misorders supposed to

  1. Hall, ut sup., fol. 143.
  2. Calendar, iii. 1252.
  3. Hall, ut sup.; Ellis, Orig. Lett., 2nd Ser., iii. p. 57.
  4. Calendar, iii. No. 1521.
  5. Ibid., No. 1253.