Henry VIII, the Reign
The First Royal Injunctions of Henry VIII 1536
In the name of God, Amen. In the year of our Lord God, 1536, and of the most noble reign of our sovereign lord Henry VIII, King of England and of France, the twenty-eighth year, and the_____ day of___ , I, Thomas Crumwel,[Cromwell] Knight, Lord Crumwel, Keeper of the privy seal of our said sovereign lord the King, and viceregent unto the same, for and concerning all his jurisdiction ecclesiastical within this realm, visiting by the King’s highness’ supreme authority ecclesiastical the people and clergy of this deanery of by my trusty commissary lawfully deputed and constituted for this part, have to the Glory of Almighty God, to the King’s highness’ honour, the public weal of this his realm, and increase of virtue in the same, appointed and assigned these injunctions ensuing, to be kept and observed of the dean, parsons, vicars, curates, and stipendiaries resident or having cure of souls, or any other spiritual administration within this deanery, under the pains hereafter limited and appointed.
1.The first is, that the dean, parsons, vicars, and others having cure of souls anywhere within this deanery, shall faithfully keep and observe, and as far as in them may lie, shall cause to be observed and kept of other, all and singular laws and statutes1 of this realm made for the abolishing and extirpation of the Bishop of Rome’s pretended and usurped power and jurisdiction within this realm, and for the establishment and confirmation of the King’s authority and jurisdiction within the same, as of the Supreme Head of the Church of England, and shall to the uttermost of their wit, knowledge, and learning, purely, sincerely, and without any colour or dissimulation declare, manifest and open for the space of one quarter of a year now next ensuing, once every Sunday,2 and after that at leastwise twice every quarter, in their sermons and other collations, that the Bishop of Rome’s usurped power and jurisdiction, having no establishment nor ground by the law of God, was of most just causes taken away and abolished; and therefore they owe unto him no manner of obedience or subjection, and that the King’s power is within his dominion the highest power and potentate under God, to whom all men within the same dominion by God’s commandment owe most loyalty and obedience, afore and above all other powers and potentates in earth.
2.Item, Whereas certain Articles1 were lately devised and put forth by the King’s highness’ authority, and condescended upon by the prelates and clergy of this his realm in Convocation, whereof part are necessary to beholden and believed for our salvation, and the other part do concern and touch certain laudable ceremonies, rites and usages of the Church meet and convenient to be kept and used for a decent and politic order in the same; the said dean, parsons, vicars, and other curates shall so open and declare in their said sermons and other collations the said articles unto them that be under their cure, that they may plainly show and discern which of them be necessary to be believed and observed for their salvation ; and which of them be not necessary, but only do concern the decent and politic order of the said Church, according to such commandment and admonition as has been given unto them heretofore by authority of the King’s highness in that behalf.
3. Moreover, that they shall declare unto all such as be under their cure, the Articles likewise devised, put forth, and authorized of late for and concerning the abrogation of certain superfluous holy-days, according to the effect and purport of the same articles, and persuade their parishioners to keep and observe the same inviolably, as things holily provided, decreed, and established, by common consent, and public authority, for the weal commodity and profit of all this realm.
4. Besides this, to the intent that all superstition and hypocrisy, crept into divers men’s hearts, may vanish away, they shall not set forth or extol any images, relics, or miracles for any superstition or lucre, nor allure the people by any enticements to the pilgrimage of any saint, otherwise than is permitted in the Articles lately put forth by the authority of the
King’s majesty, and condescended upon by the prelates and clergy of this his realm in Convocation, as though it were proper or peculiar to that saint to give this commodity1 or that, seeing all goodness, health, and grace ought to be both asked and looked for only of God, as of the very Author of the same, and of none other, for without Him that cannot be given; but that they shall exhort as well their parishioners as other pilgrims, that they do rather apply themselves to the keeping of God’s commandments and fulfilling of His works of charity, persuading them that they shall please God more by the true exercising of their bodily labour, travail, or occupation, and providing for their families, than if they went about to the said pilgrimages; and that it shall profit more their soul’s health, if they do bestow that on the poor and needy, which they would have bestowed upon the said images or relics.
5. Also in the same their sermons, and other collations, the parsons, vicars, and other curates aforesaid shall diligently admonish the fathers and mothers, masters and governors of youth, being under their care, to teach, or cause to be taught, their children and servants, even from their infancy, their Pater Noster, the Articles of our Faith, and the Ten Commandments, in their mother tongue: and the same so taught, shall cause the said youth oft to repeat and understand. And to the intent this may be more easily done, the said curates shall, in their sermons, deliberately and plainly recite of the said Pater Noster, the Articles of our Faith, and the Ten Commandments, 1 one clause or article one day, and another another day, till the whole be taught and learned by little; and shall deliver the same in writing, or shew where printed books2’ containing the same be to be sold, to them that can read or will desire the same. And thereto that the said fathers and mothers, masters and governors, do bestow their children and servants, even from their childhood, either to learning, or to some other honest exercise, occupation or husbandry : exhorting, counselling, and by all the ways and means they may, as well in their said sermons and collations, as other ways persuading the said fathers, mothers, masters, and other governors, being under their cure and charge, diligently to provide and foresee that the said youth be in no manner wise kept or brought up in idleness, lest at any time after-ward they be driven, for lack of some mystery1 or occupation to live by, to fall to begging, stealing, or some other unthriftiness ; forasmuch as we may daily see, through sloth and idleness, divers valiant men fall, some to begging and some to theft and murder, which after, brought to calamity and misery, impute a great part thereof to their friends and governors, which suffered them to be brought up so idly in their youth; where if they had been well educated and brought up in some good literature, occupation, or mystery, they should, being rulers of their own family, have profited, as well themselves as divers other persons, to the great commodity and ornament of the Commonwealth.
6. Also, that the said parsons, vicars, and curates, shall diligently provide that the sacrament and sacramentals be duly and reverently ministered in their parishes; and if at any time it happen them, other in any of the cases expressed in the statutes of this realm, or of special licence given by the King’s majesty to be absent from their benefices,3 they shall leave their cure, not to a rude and unlearned person, but to an honest, well-learned, and expert curate, that may teach the rude and unlearned of their cure wholesome doctrine, and reduce them to the right way that do err; and always let them see, that neither they, nor their vicars, do seek more their own profit, promotion, or advantage, than the profit of the souls that they have under their cure, or the glory of God.
7.Item that every parson, or proprietary of any parish church within this realm, shall on this side the feast of St Peter ad 'Vincula next coming, provide a book of the whole Bible, both in Latin, and also in English, and lay the same in the choir, for every man that will to look and read thereon, and shall discourage no man from the reading of any part of the Bible, either in Latin or in English; but rather comfort, exhort and admonish every man to read the same as the very word of God, and the spiritual food of man’s soul, whereby they may the better know their duties to God, to their sovereign lord the King, and their neighbour: ever gently and charitably exhorting them that using a sober and a modest behaviour in the reading and inquisition of the true sense of the same, they do in no wise stiffly or eagerly contend or strive one with another about the same but refer the declaration of those places that be in controversy to the judgement of them that be better learned.
8.Also the said dean, parsons, vicars, curates and other priests, shall in no wise, at any unlawful time, nor for any other cause, than for their honest necessity, haunt or resort to any taverns or ale-houses;3 and after their dinner and supper, they shall not give themselves to drinking or riot, spending their time idly, by day or by night, at tables or cards-playing, or any other unlawful game;4 but at such times they shall have such leisure, they shall hear or read somewhat of holy Scripture,1 or shall occupy themselves with some other honest exercise; and that they always do those things which appertain to good congruence and honesty, with profit of the Commonweal, having always in mind, that they ought to excel all other in purity of life, and should be example to all other to live well and Christianly.
9.Furthermore, because the goods of the Church are called the goods of the poor, and at these days nothing is less seen than the poor to be sustained with the same; all parsons, vicars, pensioners, prebendaries, and other beneficed men within this deanery, not being resident upon their benefices, which may dispend yearly twenty pounds or above within this deanery or elsewhere, shall distribute hereafter yearly among their poor parishioners, or other inhabitants there, in the presence of the Churchwardens or some other honest men of the parish, the fortieth part of the fruits and revenues of their said benefices; lest they be worthily noted of ingratitude, which, reserving so many parts to themselves, cannot vouchsafe to impart the fortieth portion thereof amongst the poor people of that parish, that is so fruitful, and profitable unto them.
10.And to the intent that learned men may hereafter spring the more for the execution of the premises; every parson, vicar, clerk, or beneficed man within this deanery, having yearly to dispend in benefices, and other promotions of the Church, an hundred pounds shall give competent exhibition to one scholar, and for as many hundred pounds more as he may dispend, to so many scholars more shall give like exhibition in the University of Oxford or Cambridge, or some grammar school;1 which after they have profited in good learning, may be partners of their patron’s cure and charge as well in preaching as otherwise, in the execution of their offices; or may, when need shall be, otherwise profit the Commonwealth with their counsel and wisdom.
11.Also, that all parsons, vicars, and clerks, having churches, chapels, or mansions within this deanery, shall bestow yearly hereafter upon the same mansions, or chancels of their churches being in decay, the fifth part of their benefices till they be fully repaired: and the same so repaired, shall always keep and maintain in good state.
ALL WHICH and singular injunctions shall be inviolably observed of the said dean, parsons, vicars, curates, stipendiaries, and other clerks and beneficed men, under the pain of suspension and sequestration of the fruits of their benefices, until they have done their duty according to these injunctions.