The Dissolution of the Monasteries and the events which followed, were all brought about as a direct result of the break with Rome. The reason for the break, lies simply in Henrys frustration at his inability to secure a divorce form his wife Catherine of Aragon, and a blessing from the Pope for his new marriage to Anne Boleyn, although arguably, there was a need for reformation within the church.
Prior to the break with Rome, the church was rife with pluralism, simony (one of the popes main failings) and breaches of the vows of celibacy. It is therefore clear that there were problems with the English church prior to the break, but although it was unpopular, many people including Henry remained Catholic:
A firm Catholic, he was keen to have papal approval, and the more unlikely this became, the more he was forced to question the Popes jurisdiction in England 2
To accomplish a break, Henry needed some kind of justification, and he would also have to ensure that in implementing the break itself, he was not seen as supporting heresy and the Protestant reformation in particular. With the aid of advisor Thomas Cromwell, Henry aims to enact the break with Rome using statute authority; that of the king, lords and commons acting through parliament.
A sequence of truly revolutionary acts of parliament now cut the bonds spiritual, legal, financial which linked the English church and state to Rome 3
There were several main landmarks in the break with Rome, the first of which was the act in restraint of appeals. This was a justification and definition of royal supremacy, and was grafted by Thomas Cromwell. It was the act of supremacy in 1534 however, that would prove to be Henrys greatest step forward in the break. It confirmed Henrys headship of the church and explicitly reserved the crown the rights to the organizing and jurisdictional powers formerly held by the Papacy. By this, the crown would control the right o define the churchs teachings and doctrinal decisions, ultimately resulting in the downfall of the monasteries.
As a result of Henrys pressure on the English clergy in his attempts to convince the Pope to grant a divorce, the dissolution of the monasteries became an important and necessary task. By removing the Popes most loyal supporters from England, Henry was severely limiting his power.
In 1533, in stead of Anne Boleyns impending pregnancy, Thomas Cranmer, an archbishop, declared Henrys marriage to Catherine invalid, (the king must stop living in this sin with this woman who is not his wife 4) and married him to Anne Boleyn. The Act of Supremacy then, established Henry as head of the Church of England, and marked the end of the Popes influence in his realm. Threatened by the Pope with excommunication, if he did not take Catherine back, all hopes of reconciliation with Rome were passed. Henrys reformation was moving quickly.When henry VIII first initiated the dissolution of the Monasteries, he was facing criticism from various sides. It must be understood that in deciding the validity of Henrys claims for the dissolution, there are two sides to the argument.
Protestant supporters of Henrys actions, argue that after the 1530s, all the monasteries were corrupt and a place where sinners lived in a luxury paid for by others. The reasons for monastic life they claimed, were based on a lie created by the Papacy, to strengthen its own position: In order to lessen the time a person spends in purgatory when they die, money must be donated to the church in order to save their soul.
As a result of these false and morally corrupt claims on behalf of the Papacy, Protestants argued that the monasteries deserved to be dissolved, as the money they survived upon was gained under false pretences.
Another factor that supports Henrys argument for the dissolution, were the results found from the valor ecclesiasticus. Within this, it was discovered that on average, one quarter of a monastic houses wealth went to the head of the house, usually an absentee leader, living their life as a country gentleman, free form responsibility.
Revelations such as this obviously angered the public, but whether or not Henry was angered in the