November 16, 2015

How Henry VIII Started The Age Of Industry



In many ways Henry VIII is possibly England's most famous king with perhaps the exception of the legendary King Arthur. Most people have heard of him, seen movies about him and heard a song about him. 

The clip above is from the miniseries "Wolf Hall". Henry V111 is portrayed by Damien Lewis.

He did a lot more than have 6 wives as the article below explains.

It should also be remembered that he was the father of Queen Elizabeth 1 who was the last of the Tudors. A lot was achieved in her reign also. Think Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh for example.

It is a shame that both were somewhat famous or infamous for beheading people they didn't like but back then this was the way things went.


To many casual students, Henry VIII is best known for his six wives, his strenuous efforts to divorce himself from the Catholic church, and the tyrannical treatment of his enemies. 
He is not, it is fair to say, best remembered for unleashing the power of capitalism on British society. Yet that is what a study of the dissolution of the monasteries has concluded, after an investigation into the links between monastic sites and the birthplaces of industry.

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US found that monastic lands bought by the rising gentry were used to sow the seeds of industry.

The men who snapped up the lands poured their commercial profits into investment in new technologies such as textile mills and spurred innovation in agriculture.

The paper, Monks, Gents and the Industrialists: The Long-Run Impact of the Dissolution of the English Monasteries, states that the change in social structure was “plausibly a significant determinant of the location of English industrialisation”.

The researchers compared how much money the monasteries were making at the time of the dissolution with the industrial landscape in the early 19th century. They found that the larger the monastic footprint in an area, the more industrialisation there was by 1838.

“Parishes which the dissolution impacted more had more textile mills and employed a greater share of population outside agriculture, [and[ had more gentry and agricultural patent holders,” the study found.

Henry dissolved the monasteries in the late 1530s to sever ties with the Catholic church. By selling off the monks’ land, he unwittingly opened it to market forces and allowed for the rise of local entrepreneurs, which started the Industrial Revolution by 1760.

His purpose in selling the land to the highest bidder was to raise as much money for his war chest as possible, causing the new landowners to use their acreages in ways that justified paying top dollar.

Henry was recently voted the worst monarch in world history by the British Historical Writers’ Association. They may now owe him an apology.

By Will Humphries

With many thanks to The Australian 

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