The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Twenty – Historical Tidbit

In Chapter 20 we get a reference to a historical event that is extremely important to the hermit’s storyline. As the chapter goes along he becomes enraged by Edward’s presence after he realizes he is the son of Henry VIII. But what is the source of his rage? Today’s Historical Tidbit for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 20 is about…


Keep reading or watch the video below to learn about this famous event.

In Chapter 20, Edward discovers the hermit in the woods. As they get to talking, the hermit starts to reveal more about himself and why he is living alone in the woods. The quote below shows several of his revelations.

“ ‘Yes, I am an archangel; a mere archangel!—I that might have been pope!  It is verily true.  I was told it from heaven in a dream, twenty years ago; ah, yes, I was to be pope!—and I should have been pope, for Heaven had said it—but the King dissolved my religious house, and I, poor obscure unfriended monk, was cast homeless upon the world, robbed of my mighty destiny!’ ”  (p. 128)

What was the Dissolution of the monasteries?

  • Dissolution = the conclusion or end
  • Monasteries = buildings occupied by religious monks
  • Monk = a member of a religious community (usually of men)
    • Can be from many religions – in this case we’re talking about Catholic monks

When Henry VIII wanted to divorce his first wife (discussed in some of our previous posts) he went to the pope and was denied. As a result, he guided England away from the Catholic church and instead created his own church — The Church of England. In order to truly take away the Catholic church’s power in England, he enacted The Act of Suppression in 1536. Under this act, small monasteries with an income of less than £200 per year were closed and their land went to the Crown.

In 1539 there was another act called the Second Suppression Act. This allowed Henry to disolve larger monasteries as well. The lands that were taken from the church were then sold to families who supported Henry and the Church of England. As a result, thousands of monks were homeless and unemployed.

Little Jack Horner

  • Nursery rhyme believed to be connected to the Dissolution of the Monasteries

“Little Jack Horner

Sat in the corner,

Eating a Christmas pie;

He put in his thumb,

And pulled out a plum,

And said ‘What a good boy am I!”

  • Thomas Horner worked for an abbey
  • He was sent to London with a Christmas pie containing the deeds to a dozen large properties.
  • He opened the pie on his way to London.
  • He took out the deed to the manor of Mells in Somerset.
  • The properties included lead mines.
  • It is suggested that in the nursery rhyme when he “pulls out a plum” it is a play on Latin word plumbum which means lead.
  • Thomas Horner did become owner of this manor, but there is no proof that this story is real.

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