Richard Whitford’s Dyuers Holy Instrucyons and Teachynges Very Necessary for the Helth of Mannes Soule is the last printed work written by a brother of the Brigittine community at Syon Abbey. A vocal opponent of Lutheran reforms and Henry VIII’s agenda to install himself as the head of the Church of England, Richard Whitford was also Syon’s most prolific author. His writing provides pastoral guidance on a range of issues as well as powerful articulations of the value of religious life during the turbulent years preceding the king’s break from the Catholic Church. Published in 1541, Dyuers Holy Instrucyons is also the only Syon text printed after the dissolution of the monasteries. This text thus offers a rare perspective on the concerns of those faithful to the old religion from a religious brother who actively participated in the abbey’s campaign against Lutheran reformers. As with his previous work, Whitford’s Dyuers Holy Instrucyons maintains an openly confrontational stance toward radical reformers while offering instruction to readers on issues that would certainly have been topical for faithful who lived after the 1534 Act of Supremacy—issues focussed on patience, avoiding vice, impediments to spiritual perfection, and detraction.
This edition makes this significant work available for the first time to modern readers with crucial discussions of the history and themes of the texts, including the indivisibility of politics and religion in the early years of the Reformation and the crucial role that Syon Abbey played in the textual representation of this period in English history.