Page:Henry VIII and the English Monasteries.djvu/55

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
The Dawn of Difficulties

few of those who had accepted the wild statements of Fish's fables. Although aimed chiefly against the mendicant friars, the "Supplication of Beggars" involved in one sweeping condemnation the whole of the spirituality, described as "bishops, abbots, priors, deacons, archdeacons, suffragans, priests, monks, canons, friars, pardoners, and summoners."

Still, even these and similar falsehoods, although appealing to the cupidity of the people, do not seem to have alienated from the monks the affections of the general population. The insurrections in their favour furnish some indication of the opinion of the people, in spite of all that had been said and written. Henry Brinklow, a mendicant friar who had thrown off his frock, and was therefore on two accounts little likely to favour the monasteries, bears testimony to the way in which they discharged their duties to the people. "And when they," he writes, "had gifts of any (churches) not impropriated, they gave them unto their friends, of which always some were learned; for the monks found of their friends children at school. And though they were not learned, yet they kept hospitality, and helped their poor friends. And if the parsonages were impropriated, the monks were bound to deal alms to the poor, and to keep hospitality, as the writings of the gifts of such parsonages and lands do plainly declare, in these words: ' in puram eleemosinam ' And as touching the alms that they dealt, and the hospitality that they kept, every man knoweth that many thousands were well relieved of them, and might have been better if they had not had so many great men's horses to feed, and had not been overcharged with 'such idle gentlemen [1] as were never out of the abbeys. And if they had any vicarage in their hands, they set in sometimes some sufficient vicar (though it were but seldom) to preach and to teach." [2] He goes on to say that the land was given to the monastic houses for education, hospitality, and to give alms to the poor, and that they were pulled down on the "pretence" of amending what was amiss. "But see," he con-

  1. A curious illustration of this may be seen in a letter from the son of the Duke of Buckingham to Henry VIII. It is evidence of the services rendered by the monasteries to honourable families in reduced circumstances. "And because," the writer says, "he hath no dwelling-place meet for him to inhabit, (he was) fain to live poorly at board in an Abbey this four years day, with his wife and seven children."
  2. Complaint of Roderyck Mors, E. Eng. Text. Soc. ed., p. 33.