Catherine Connolly and Deborah Cole - 5th Period

What is a Lollard?

A lollard was a follower of John Wyclif in the 14th century whose unorthodox religious and social beliefs helped shape the ideas of the Protest Reformation.

John Wyclif and "England's First Heresy"

John Wyclif believed that the bible had supreme authority, the clergy should own no property and he inspired the translation of the Bible into Middle English. His unorthodox beliefs were first supported by some of his colleagues at Oxford and members of the Royal Court, but later spread in influence. In 1382 the Pope condemned Wyclif's doctrines.
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John Wyclif & Lollard Beliefs

  • The pope had no part to play in worldly affairs

  • The church was too worldly

  • Monasticism had drifted from its spiritual foundation

  • The Bible should be available to everyone in their own language

  • 'Dominion is of Grace', that is, true power is God's, and attempts to use power for individual gain is therefore wrong

  • As human beings we are all brothers (this was well before modern politically correct assumption of 'sisterhood' as well)

The Downfall of the Lollards

Archbishop Canterbury tried to make the Lollards conform to the Catholic faith. In 1401 the first English statute was passed for the burning of heretics. The Lollards’ first martyr, William Sawtrey, was actually burned a few days before the act was passed. In 1414 a Lollard rising led by Sir John Oldcastle was quickly defeated by Henry V. The rebellion brought severe reprisals and marked the end of the Lollards’ overt political influence.