Henry VIII, England's Most Selfish King Ever

I watched this docu last night. It was light-weight and not terrible.

I'd forgotten how much money Henry got from selling off the churches. Uber-Catholic E. Michael Jones says this destroyed society because peasants used those lands for free previously. I don't know if that's true.

 

Jerry Russell

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Staff member
I don't know how you could say that Henry VIII "destroyed society" by his actions, inasmuch as Great Britain went on to become one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen in the centuries following his tenure.

But I think it's true that the peasants were no longer able to use the church lands as they had before, but were forced to become serfs under the new landowners.
 

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
"... used church land for free"? "... forced to become serfs"? Seriously? What is the evidence for either of these propositions?

As far as I know, the English Catholic Church made rent money from the serfs, just the same as the aristocratic (landed) nobility did. This is where the term 'tithe' originated from, all the way back to Mesopotamia / Sumer, and also institutionalized in the OT. A serf paid 10 percent, or more, of the proceeds of his crops to either the church or his lord, based upon whether the land worked belonged to either the church or the lord. This is also where we get the term 'landlord' from.

In order for this not to have been the case would mean that the Church at this time, and in this locale, was way more Liberal than could ever be accounted for anywhere else. This is probably the central issue forming the original conservative / liberal dialectic tension between the entitled prerogatives of the oligarchical nobility, the related interests of the Church versus anybody below the level of freeholding gentry, certain craft artisans, or Jews (that is ... serfs).

As far as I know, what was accomplished was the transfer of tithe income from the Church to the Crown, from where Henry could divvy up the money the way he saw fit. Either to his personal interests or to support the new state Church, actually a difference without a distinction.
 

Jerry Russell

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I confess I have not done any new research about this today, nor did I watch the video. But I seem to remember seeing similar claims made in the past.

Here is a dissertation which explains that the situation on the monastic lands was part of a broader trend of enclosure, in which tenant farmers were driven off of the land. Thus, they went from a position of being serfs forced to pay a tithe, to being "not even serfs", completely dispossessed.

Also, the church had formerly used at least a part of their income for social services, which were no longer available.

So it does seem that I went a bit off the rails, but the overall conclusion is not too far wrong. It's possible that E. Michael Jones said that the peasants used the land "freely", which would be different from saying they used it "for free".

http://etd.fcla.edu/CF/CFH0003834/Cooper_Casey_J_1105_BA.pdf
 
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Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
I'm only 40% through reading the PDF. I wasn't aware that the 'enclosure' movement began with Henry VIII, apparently motivated by a reaction to such Church excesses as Indulgences. I remember reading that the later spread of it to such as Scotland is responsible for so many Scots living outside of Scotland in the world today. Poverty and obligatory military service in endless trumped up wars are a great inducement to leave home.

It is important to remember that it was Cardinal Wolsey who instituted the Machiavellian concept of pitting 'learning against learning' as a Church / state response to the dangers of the laity now reading the Bible. And Thomas Cromwell who was a master Machiavellian player himself for Henry's causes. I have a book that I have only just waded into a couple of months ago, that seems to agree with me that Henry's motivations were much deeper than the divorce. I imagine, based upon the paper that Henry ultimately used the 'enclosure' aspect to persuade fence sitting nobles to come to his side.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Wiki indicates that 'enclosure' was a piecemeal process that began in the 12th century and continued all the way into the 19th, at which point nearly all useful lands had been enclosed. Under Henry VIII, the enclosures were accelerated, leading to "enclosure riots" under Edward VI.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure
 

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
Yes this is the height of sardony. That the Telegraph and the writer could not remark on the deep cover aspects, of at least ISIS and the Taliban - our tax dollars at work.
 

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
Another matter has brought me back to 'enclosure' and here the Wiki link from above also gives a different take on general Tudor interests, albeit somewhat different between H7 and H8. It is interesting to note that 'enclosure' is seen as a major factor that enabled the Industrial Revolution. This because it led to so many people having to leave the rural lands for the new industrialized cities. This and religious wars also motivated the same to want to get on boats and help colonize the New World(s).

Anti-enclosure legislation

The enclosure of common land for sheep farming and the consequent eviction of villagers from their homes and their livelihoods became an important political issue for the Tudors. Reflecting royal opposition to this practice, the anti-enclosure acts of 1489 and 1516 were aimed at stopping the waste of structures and farmland, which would lead to lower tax revenues, fewer potential military conscripts for the crown, and more potential underclass rebels. The Tudor authorities were extremely nervous about how the villagers who had lost their homes would react. In the sixteenth century, lack of income made one a pauper. If one lost one’s home as well, one became a vagrant; and vagrants were regarded (and treated) as criminals. The authorities saw many people becoming what they regarded as vagabonds and thieves as a result of enclosure and depopulation of villages. From the time of Henry VII onwards, Parliament began passing Acts to stop enclosure, to limit its effects, or at least to fine those responsible. The first such law was in 1489. Over the next 150 years, there were 11 more Acts of Parliament and eight commissions of enquiry on the subject.[14]

Initially, enclosure was not itself an offense, but where it was accompanied by the destruction of houses, half the profits would go to the Crown until the lost houses were rebuilt (the 1489 Act gave half the profits to the superior landlord, who might not be the Crown, but an Act of 1536 allowed the Crown to receive this half share if the superior landlord had not taken action). In 1515, conversion from arable to pasture became an offense. Once again, half the profits from conversion would go to the Crown until the arable land was restored. Neither the 1515 Act nor the previous laws were effective in stopping enclosure, so in 1517 Cardinal Wolsey established a commission of enquiry to determine where offenses had taken place – and to ensure the Crown received its half of the profits.

Inflation and enclosure

Alongside population growth,[15] inflation was a major reason for enclosure.[16] When Henry VIII became King in 1509, he found the royal finances in good shape thanks to the prudence of his father Henry VII (reigned 1487–1509). But this soon changed as Henry VIII doubled household expenditure and started costly wars against both France and Scotland. With his wealth rapidly decreasing, Henry VIII imposed a series of taxes devised by his Chancellor, Thomas Wolsey (in office 1515–1529). Soon the people began to resent Wolsey's taxes and the administration had to find a new source of finance: in 1544, Henry reduced the silver content of new coins by about 50%; he repeated the process to a lesser extent the following year. This, combined with injection of bullion from the New World, increased the money supply in England, which led to continuing price inflation. This threatened landowners' wealth, which encouraged the landowners to become more efficient, and they saw enclosure as a way of doing this.[citation needed]

The debasement of the coinage was not seen as a cause of inflation (and therefore of enclosures) until the Duke of Somerset became Lord Protector (1547-1549) during the reign of Edward VI (1547–1553). Until then enclosures were seen as the cause of inflation, not the outcome. When Thomas Smith advised Somerset that enclosure resulted from inflation, Somerset ignored him. It was not until John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland became de facto ruler that his Secretary of State William Cecil (in office 1550–1553) took action on debasement to try to stop enclosure.[citation needed]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure
 
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