Lollardy (Medieval Political and Religious Movement)

Important Lollardy Facts:
  • Political and religious movement of the Lollards.
  • Present from the mid-14th century till the English Reformation.
  • Lollards were followers of the theologian John Wycliffe (pictured).
  • The Lollards demands were primarily for Western Christianity reform.
Lollardy Beliefs:
  • Originated from an interest in the writings of John Wycliffe.
  • There was no central belief system, no official doctrine, & no single authority.
  • Like most protestants they worshipped Christ in his divine nature alone.
  • They were anticlerical, in that they did not accept the corruption within the Western Church nor the divine appointment of Church leaders.
  • They also began the process of translation of the bible into the vernacular so that more of the English peasantry could read the Bible.
  • The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards were petitioned to Parliament by posting them on the doors of Westminster Hall in February 1395.
  • They also stated that the Roman Catholic Church had been corrupted by temporal matters & its claim to be the true church was not justified by its heredity.
  • Lollards also had a tendency toward iconoclasm, particularly as icons were seen as dangerous because of the potential of leading to idolatry.
  • They also believed in a lay priesthood, and felt that confession was unnecessary as priests had no special power to absolve sins.
  • Lollards also did not believe in the practice of clerical celibacy.
  • They also denounced the ritualistic aspects of the Church such as transubstantiation, exorcism, pilgrimages, & blessings.
  • Several Lollard writings also made the claim that the Pope was the antichrist, though generally they believed that the whole papal system embodied the antichrist.
Lollardy History:
  • Lollardy was attacked as heresy from it's first beginnings.
  • There was some initial protection from John of Gaunt (and other anti-clerical nobility), who used Lollard-advocated religious reform to obtain more revenue from England’s monasteries.
  • The University of Oxford, also by protecting John Wycliffe on the grounds of academic freedom, gave some protection to their own academics.
  • Lollardy was placed under serious peril when the Peasant’s Revolt occurred in 1381, because John Ball (peasant leader) was a lollardy follower.
  • The royalty & nobility, following the Peasant's Revolt, also became concerned that Lollardy was a threat to the English social order.
  • John of Gaunt's leaving England in pursuit of the throne of Castile (through his 2nd wife) also made the Lollardy cause more vulnerable.
Religious Resistance:
  • Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, was fiercely resistant to Lollardy.
  • John Badby, a layman & artisan who refused to renounce his Lollard views was burnt at the stake for heresy.
Royal Resistance:
  • King Henry IV (son of John of Gaunt) passed the De heretico comburendo in 1401 which prohibited the translating or owning of the Bible & also authorised the burning of heretics at the stake.
The Lollard Knights:
  • Group of gentry active during the reign of Richard II.
  • Known for an inclination to the religious reforms of John Wycliffe.
  • Principal Knights were Sir Thomas Latimer, Sir John Trussel, Sir Lewis Clifford, Sir John Peachey, Sir Richard Storey, & Sir Reginald Hilton.
  • They were men of discretion, & rarely gave any hint of open rebellion.
  • They managed to hold important positions and not be prosecuted during their lives.
Sir John Oldcastle and Lollardy:
  • He was the basis for Falstaff in William Shakespeare's Henry IV (pictured).
  • Oldcastle was brought to trial in 1413 once his Lollardy beliefs had been uncovered.
  • He managed to escape from the Tower of London, & tried to organize a rebellion, but failed.
  • He was executed for his beliefs & crimes.
Lollardy & The English Reformation:
  • Lollards were absorbed in to the Protestantism movement during the Reformation.
  • Since Lollardy had been an underground movement for > 100 years, the extent of Lollardy & its ideas at the time of the Reformation is still uncertain.

Image Credit - Derivative work of John Wycliffe from Randy OHC (cc)
Image Credit - Falstaff by lowfatbrains (cc)

Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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