Dissolution of the Monasteries  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their income, disposed of their assets and provided for their former members. He was given the authority to do this in England and Wales by the Act of Supremacy, passed by Parliament in 1534, which made him Supreme Head of the Church in England; and by the First Suppression Act (1536) and the Second Suppression Act (1539). Although some monastic foundations dated back to Anglo-Saxon England, the overwhelming majority of the 825 religious communities dissolved by Henry VIII owed their existence to the wave of monastic enthusiasm that had swept England and Wales in the 11th and 12th centuries; in consequence of which religious houses in the 16th century controlled appointment to about a third of all parish benefices, and disposed of about half of all ecclesiastical income. The dissolution still represents the largest legal transfer of property in English history since the Norman Conquest.



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