Page:Henry VIII and the English Monasteries.djvu/73

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Cardinal Wolsey and the Monasteries

commutation and alteration of those religious places, whereof only did arise the scandal of religion as he spoke. For the cardinal, for the endowing of his college, had lately obtained of the pope a bull for the dissolving of divers monasteries wherein much vice and wickedness was harboured, as he informed the pope, to incline him thereby the easier to grant his request."[1]

In this way the convent of Pre, near St. Albans, was dissolved and united to that great abbey. The pope was told that the nuns did not keep a good rule of life, and that religious discipline was much relaxed. The revenues, therefore, were transferred to St. Alban's Abbey in order that an increased number of monks might be supported for the better celebration of the divine office.[2] It may be that the nuns of Pre merited the bad character for laxity of life given to them in the papal bull. In view, however, of Wolsey's motive in giving a bad character to monasteries whose possessions he desired, the mere fact of the statement by the pope is not proof positive. Neither does the fact that the convent was united to the abbey of St. Albans show that Wolsey had no motive in the suppression. To this arrangement the cardinal really objected, and authorised his agent to obtain another bull from Clement uniting Pre to Cardinal College, Oxford. At the same time he wished that the impropriation of a living, also obtained for St. Albans, should be changed in favour of the college at Ipswich.[3]

In the various suppressions which followed complaints were again made of the high-handed action of Wolsey's servants. The abbot of Beaulieu, who was also bishop of Bangor, wrote to the cardinal of the unjust seizure of certain lands in the parish of St. Keverans, Cornwall, belonging to his abbey. He represented that Beaulieu had possessed the property for 400 years, and that now two servants had taken it. And one "gentleman hath written to me," he said, "that the benefice there, which is impropriated to Beaulieu, he mindeth to give to the finding of scholars, and feigneth that some time there was a cell of monks there."[4]

  1. Strype, Eccl, Mems., i. p. 168; Calendar, iv. No. 4120.
  2. Rymer, xiv. p. 240.
  3. Calendar, iv. No. 5714.
  4. Ellis, Orig. Lett., Ser. 2, iii. p. 60.