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Source Exercise 5: The Henrician Reformation 10

Dr Richard Layton was one of the busiest of Cromwell’s agents, and his reports are always lively and often wickedly funny. His evident scepticism about the prized relics of Maiden Bradley Priory speaks for itself, and he exudes satirical respect for the manliness of the Prior, the proud and theoretically celibate father of six children, who preys only on the prettiest virgins and does his best to provide for them and for their offspring by embezzling the resources of his monastery. Layton always tells a good story. On another occasion he boasted of catching an Abbot in flagrante delicto, breaking down the door of his bedchamber with a pole-axe and capturing his ‘tender damsel’ as she sought to make her escape. But he was no more bound than most raconteurs to a strict regard for unvarnished truth: there was no papal licence for this Prior to keep a mistress. No doubt, though, somebody had told him there was: Layton, an instinctive muckraker, reported every malicious whisper and casual rumour as though they were sworn testimony. 


Questions

9. Apart from adding to the gaiety of the Court, what might have been the purpose of reports like this?

 

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