History explorer: the dissolution of the monasteries

Adam Morton and Nige Tassell visit Fountains Abbey, the most recognisable reminder of Henry VIII's campaign to eradicate Rome from English life...

The ruins of Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. Henry’s motives when dismantling such monasteries “were much more complex than pure revenge or pure avarice alone”, says Adam Morton. (Photo by Getty Images)

This article was first published in the April 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine 

There are few more awesome sights in the depths of winter than the ruins of Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. Abandoned and ruined it may be, yet the abbey stands proud and majestic, its crumpled walls bearing the scars of Henry VIII’s campaign to dissolve the monasteries nearly 500 years ago.

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