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"Forasmuch," says the preamble of the Act of Dissolution, "as manifest sin, vicious, carnal, and abominable living, is daily used and committed among the little and small abbeys, priories, and other religious houses of monks, canons, and nuns, where the congregation or such religious persons is under the number of twelve, whereby the governors of such religious houses and their convents, spoil, consume, destroy, and utterly waste their churches, monasteries, principal houses, farms, and granges, to the high displeasure pleasure of Almighty God, the slander of true religion, and to the great infamy of the King's Highness and of the realm, if redress should not be had thereof; and albeit that many continual visitations hath been heretofore had by the space of two hundred years and more, for an honest and charitable reformation of such unthrifty, carnal, and abominable living; yet nevertheless, little or none amendment is hitherto had, but their vicious living shamelessly increaseth and augmenteth, and by a cursed custom is so rooted and infested, that a great multitude of the religious persons in such small houses do rather choose to rove abroad in apostacy than to conform them to the observation of true religion; so that without such small houses be utterly suppressed, and the religious persons therein committed to great and honourable monasteries of religion in this realm, where they may be compelled to live religiously for the reformation of their lives, there can be no reformation in this behalf: in consideration hereof the King's most royal Majesty, being supreme head on earth, under God, of the Church of England, daily finding and devising the increase, advancement, and exaltation, of true doctrine and virtue in the said Church, to the only glory of God, and the total extirping and destruction of vice and sin; having knowledge that the premises be true, as well by accounts of his late visitation as by sundry credible informations; considering also that divers great monasteries of this realm, wherein, thanks be to God, religion is right well kept and observed, be destitute of such full number of religious persons as they ought and may keep; hath thought good that a plain declaration should be made of the premises, as well to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal as to other his loving subjects the Commons in this present parliament assembled.