Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines the experience of the dissolution of monasteries in the British Isles in the sixteenth century. Perhaps because of their complete removal from England, Wales, and Scotland and their collapse in Ireland, this moment in Britain’s Reformation history has suffered comparative neglect. Its archival and material traces are still coming into view, and what they reveal is a process that was unpredictable, protracted, and far from uniform across the British regions. This is not to suggest that it proceeded wholly in separation from the parallel experiences of the European mainland. The role of legislative and judicial authority in Britain’s secularization must be seen in a continental perspective. Yet in its cultural, social, and economic effects—above all, the disconnect between old monastic foundations and new reformed religious, educational, and welfare enterprises—the British dominions were set apart from the post-monastic renewal seen in regions of northern Europe.
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