John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe (/ˈwɪklɪf/; also spelled Wyclif, Wycliff, Wiclef, Wicliffe, Wickliffe; 1320s – 31 December 1384),[2] was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, English priest, and a seminary professor at the University of Oxford. He became an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism.

Wycliffe attacked the privileged status of the clergy, which had bolstered their powerful role in England. He then attacked the luxury and pomp of local parishes and their ceremonies.[3]

Wycliffe also advocated translation of the Bible into the vernacular. In 1382 he completed a translation directly from the Vulgate into Middle English – a version now known as Wycliffe's Bible. It is probable that he personally translated the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and it is possible he translated the entire New Testament, while his associates translated the Old Testament. Wycliffe's Bible appears to have been completed by 1384, additional updated versions being done by Wycliffe's assistant John Purvey and others in 1388 and 1395.

Wycliffe's followers, known as Lollards, followed his lead in advocating predestination, iconoclasm, and the notion of caesaropapism, while attacking the veneration of saints, the sacraments, requiem masses, transubstantiation, monasticism, and the very existence of the Papacy.

Beginning in the 16th century, the Lollard movement was regarded as the precursor to the Protestant Reformation. Wycliffe was accordingly characterised as the evening star of scholasticism and as the morning star of the English Reformation.[4] Wycliffe's writings in Latin greatly influenced the philosophy and teaching of the Czech reformer Jan Hus (c. 1369–1415), whose execution in 1415 sparked a revolt and led to the Hussite Wars[5] of 1419–1434.

John Wycliffe
Wycliffe by Kirby
Fictional portrait of John Wycliffe, c. 1828
BornMid 1320s
Died31 December 1384
Alma materMerton College, Oxford
Notable work
Wycliffe's Bible
EraMedieval philosophy

Early life

Wycliffe was born in the village of Hipswell near Richmond in the North Riding of Yorkshire, England, in the mid-1320s.[a] His family was long settled in Yorkshire. The family was quite large, covering considerable territory, principally centred on Wycliffe-on-Tees, about ten miles to the north of Hipswell.

Wycliffe received his early education close to his home.[7] It is not known when he first came to Oxford, with which he was so closely connected until the end of his life, but he is known to have been at Oxford around 1345. Thomas Bradwardine was the archbishop of Canterbury, and his book On the Cause of God against the Pelagians, a bold recovery of the Pauline-Augustine doctrine of grace, would greatly shape young Wycliffe's views,[8] as did the Black Death which reached England in the summer of 1348.[9] From his frequent references to it in later life, it appears to have made a deep and abiding impression upon him. According to Robert Vaughn, the effect was to give Wycliffe "Very gloomy views in regard to the condition and prospects of the human race."[10] Wycliffe would have been at Oxford during the St Scholastica Day riot in which sixty-three students and a number of townspeople were killed.


Wycliffe completed his arts degree at Merton College as a junior fellow in 1356.[11] That same year he produced a small treatise, The Last Age of the Church. In the light of the virulence of the plague that had subsided only seven years previously, Wycliffe's studies led him to the opinion that the close of the 14th century would mark the end of the world. While other writers viewed the plague as God's judgment on sinful people, Wycliffe saw it as an indictment of an unworthy clergy. The mortality rate among the clergy had been particularly high, and those who replaced them were, in his opinion, uneducated or generally disreputable.[9]

He was Master of Balliol College in 1361.[12] In this same year, he was presented by the college to the parish of Fillingham in Lincolnshire, which he visited rarely during long vacations from Oxford.[13] For this he had to give up the headship of Balliol College, though he could continue to live at Oxford. He is said to have had rooms in the buildings of The Queen's College. In 1362 he was granted a prebend at Aust in Westbury-on-Trym, which he held in addition to the post at Fillingham.

His performance led Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, to place him in 1365 at the head of Canterbury Hall, where twelve young men were preparing for the priesthood. In December 1365 Islip appointed Wycliffe as warden[14] but when Islip died the following year his successor, Simon Langham, a man of monastic training, turned the leadership of the college over to a monk. In 1367 Wycliffe appealed to Rome. In 1371 Wycliffe's appeal was decided and the outcome was unfavourable to him. The incident was typical of the ongoing rivalry between monks and secular clergy at Oxford at this time.[13]

In 1368, he gave up his living at Fillingham and took over the rectory of Ludgershall, Buckinghamshire, not far from Oxford, which enabled him to retain his connection with the university. In 1369 Wycliffe obtained a bachelor's degree in theology, and his doctorate in 1372.[15] In 1374, he received the crown living of St Mary's Church, Lutterworth in Leicestershire,[16] which he retained until his death.


WycliffeYeamesLollards 01
William Frederick Yeames, Wyclif Giving "The Poor Priests" His Translation of the Bible

In 1374 his name appears second, after a bishop, on a commission which the English Government sent to Bruges to discuss with the representatives of Gregory XI a number of points in dispute between the king and the pope.[16] He was no longer satisfied with his chair as the means of propagating his ideas, and soon after his return from Bruges he began to express them in tracts and longer works. In a book concerned with the government of God and the Ten Commandments, he attacked the temporal rule of the clergy, the collection of annates, indulgences, and simony.

He entered the politics of the day with his great work De civili dominio ("On Civil Dominion"). This called for the royal divestment of all church property.[17] His ideas on lordship and church wealth caused his first official condemnation in 1377 by Pope Gregory XI, who censured 19 articles. Wycliffe argued that the Church had fallen into sin and that it ought therefore to give up all its property and that the clergy should live in complete poverty. The tendency of the high offices of state to be held by clerics was resented by many of the nobles. John of Gaunt, who had his own reasons for opposing the wealth and power of the clergy, possibly used a naive Wycliffe as his tool.[17][18]

Conflict with the Church

Wycliffe was summoned before William Courtenay, Bishop of London, on 19 February 1377. The exact charges are not known, as the matter did not get as far as a definite examination. Lechler suggests that Wycliffe was targeted by John of Gaunt's opponents among the nobles and church hierarchy.[19] Gaunt, the Earl Marshal Henry Percy, and a number of other supporters accompanied Wycliffe. A crowd gathered at the church, and at the entrance, party animosities began to show, especially in an angry exchange between the bishop and Wycliffe's protectors.[16] Gaunt declared that he would humble the pride of the English clergy and their partisans, hinting at the intent to secularise the possessions of the Church. The assembly broke up and Gaunt and his partisans departed with their protégé.[20]

Most of the English clergy were irritated by this encounter, and attacks upon Wycliffe began. The second and third books of his work dealing with civil government carry a sharp polemic. On 22 May 1377 Pope Gregory XI sent five copies of a bull against Wycliffe, dispatching one to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the others to the Bishop of London, King Edward III, the Chancellor, and the university; among the enclosures were 18 theses of his, which were denounced as erroneous and dangerous to Church and State. Stephen Lahey suggests that Gregory's action against Wycliffe was an attempt to put pressure on King Edward to make peace with France.[17] Edward III died on 21 June 1377, and the bull against Wycliffe did not reach England before December. Wycliffe was asked to give the king's council his opinion on whether it was lawful to withhold traditional payments to Rome, and he responded that it was.[18]

Back at Oxford the Vice-Chancellor confined Wycliffe for some time in Black Hall, but his friends soon obtained his release. In March 1378, he was summoned to appear at Lambeth Palace to defend himself. However, Sir Lewis Clifford entered the chapel and in the name of the queen mother (Joan of Kent), forbade the bishops to proceed to a definite sentence concerning Wycliffe's conduct or opinions.[10] The bishops, who were divided, satisfied themselves with forbidding him to speak further on the controversy. Wycliffe then wrote his De incarcerandis fedelibus, in which he demanded that it should be legal for the excommunicated to appeal to the king and his council against the excommunication; in this writing he laid open the entire case, in such a way that it was understood by the laity. He wrote his 33 conclusions in Latin and English. The masses, some of the nobility, and his former protector, John of Gaunt, rallied to him. Before any further steps could be taken at Rome, Gregory XI died in 1378.

The attacks on Pope Gregory XI grow ever more extreme. Wycliffe's stand concerning the ideal of poverty became continually firmer, as well as his position with regard to the temporal rule of the clergy. Closely related to this attitude was his book De officio regis, the content of which was foreshadowed in his 33 conclusions. This book, like those that preceded and followed, was concerned with the reform of the Church, in which the temporal arm was to have an influential part.

From 1380 onwards, Wycliffe devoted himself to writings that argued his rejection of transubstantiation, and strongly criticised the friars who supported it.[21]:281


John Wycliffe at work
John Wycliffe at work in his study

John Wycliffe had come to regard the scriptures as the only reliable guide to the truth about God, and maintained that all Christians should rely on the Bible rather than on the teachings of popes and clerics. He said that there was no scriptural justification for the papacy.[22]

Theologically, his preaching expressed a strong belief in predestination that enabled him to declare an "invisible church of the elect", made up of those predestined to be saved, rather than in the "visible" Catholic Church.[23] To Wycliffe, the Church was the totality of those who are predestined to blessedness. No one who is eternally lost has part in it. There is one universal Church, and outside of it there is no salvation.

His first tracts and greater works of ecclesiastical-political content defended the privileges of the State. By 1379 in his De ecclesia ("On the Church"), Wycliffe clearly claimed the supremacy of the king over the priesthood.[24] He rejected the concept of purgatory,[14] and disapproved of clerical celibacy, pilgrimages, the selling of indulgences and praying to saints.[22]

So far as his polemics accord with those of earlier antagonists of the papacy, it is fair to assume that he was not ignorant of them and was influenced by them. It was Wycliffe who recognised and formulated one of the two major formal principles of the Reformation – the unique authority of the Bible for the belief and life of the Christian.

Attack on monasticism

The battle against what he saw as an imperialised papacy and its supporters, the "sects", as he called the monastic orders, takes up a large space not only in his later works as the Trialogus, Dialogus, Opus evangelicum, and in his sermons, but also in a series of sharp tracts and polemical productions in Latin and English (of which those issued in his later years have been collected as "Polemical Writings").

In the 1380 Objections to Friars, he calls monks the pests of society, enemies of religion, and patrons and promoters of every crime.[9] He directed his strongest criticism against the friars, whose preaching he considered neither scriptural nor sincere, but motivated by "temporal gain".[13] While others were content to seek the reform of particular errors and abuses, Wycliffe sought nothing less than the extinction of the institution itself, as being repugnant to scripture, and inconsistent with the order and prosperity of the Church.[10] He advocated the dissolution of the monasteries.

Views on the papacy

Rudolph Buddensieg finds two distinct aspects in Wycliffe's work. The first, from 1366 to 1378, reflects a political struggle with Rome, while 1378 to 1384 is more a religious struggle. In each Wycliffe has two approaches: he attacks both the Papacy and its institutions, and also Roman Catholic doctrine.[25]

Wycliffe's influence was never greater than at the moment when pope and antipope sent their ambassadors to England to gain recognition for themselves. In 1378, in the ambassadors' presence, he delivered an opinion before Parliament that showed, in an important ecclesiastical political question (the matter of the right of asylum in Westminster Abbey), a position that was to the liking of the State. He argued that criminals who had taken sanctuary in churches might lawfully be dragged out of sanctuary.[18]

The books and tracts of Wycliffe's last six years include continual attacks upon the papacy and the entire hierarchy of his times. Each year they focus more and more, and at the last, the pope and the Antichrist seem to him practically equivalent concepts. Yet there are passages which are moderate in tone: G. V. Lechler identifies three stages in Wycliffe's relations with the papacy. The first step, which carried him to the outbreak of the schism, involves moderate recognition of the papal primacy; the second, which carried him to 1381, is marked by an estrangement from the papacy; and the third shows him in sharp contest.

The English Bible

John wycliffe scriptro majoris britanniae 1548
John Wycliffe portrayed in Bale's Scriptor Majoris Britanniæ 1548.

In keeping with Wycliffe's belief that scripture was the only authoritative reliable guide to the truth about God, he became involved in efforts to translate the Bible into English. While Wycliffe is credited, it is not possible exactly to define his part in the translation, which was based on the Vulgate.[26] There is no doubt that it was his initiative, and that the success of the project was due to his leadership. From him comes the translation of the New Testament, which was smoother, clearer, and more readable than the rendering of the Old Testament by his friend Nicholas of Hereford. The whole was revised by Wycliffe's younger contemporary John Purvey in 1388.

There still exist about 150 manuscripts, complete or partial, containing the translation in its revised form. From this, one may easily infer how widely diffused it was in the 15th century. For this reason the Wycliffites in England were often designated by their opponents as "Bible men".

Anti-Wycliffe synod

In the summer of 1381 Wycliffe formulated his doctrine of the Lord's Supper in twelve short sentences, and made it a duty to advocate it everywhere. Then the English hierarchy proceeded against him. The chancellor of the University of Oxford had some of the declarations pronounced heretical. When this was announced to Wycliffe, he declared that no one could change his convictions. He then appealed – not to the pope nor to the ecclesiastical authorities of the land, but to the king. He published his great confession upon the subject and also a second writing in English intended for the common people.[27]

As long as Wycliffe limited his attacks to abuses and the wealth of the Church, he could rely on the support of part of the clergy and aristocracy, but once he dismissed the traditional doctrine of transubstantiation, his theses could not be defended any more.[24] This view cost him the support of John of Gaunt and many others.[18]

In the midst of this came the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. The revolt was sparked in part by Wycliffe's preaching carried throughout the realm by "poor priests" appointed by Wycliffe (mostly laymen). The preachers didn't limit their criticism of the accumulation of wealth and property to that of the monasteries, but rather included secular properties belonging to the nobility as well.[28] Although Wycliffe disapproved of the revolt, some of his disciples justified the killing of Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1382 Wycliffe's old enemy William Courtenay, now Archbishop of Canterbury, called an ecclesiastical assembly of notables at London. During the consultations on 21 May an earthquake occurred; the participants were terrified and wished to break up the assembly, but Courtenay declared the earthquake a favourable sign which meant the purification of the earth from erroneous doctrine, and the result of the "Earthquake Synod" was assured.[29]

Of the 24 propositions attributed to Wycliffe without mentioning his name, ten were declared heretical and fourteen erroneous. The former had reference to the transformation in the sacrament, the latter to matters of church order and institutions. It was forbidden from that time to hold these opinions or to advance them in sermons or in academic discussions. All persons disregarding this order were to be subject to prosecution. To accomplish this the help of the State was necessary; but the Commons rejected the bill. The king, however, had a decree issued which permitted the arrest of those in error.

The citadel of the reformatory movement was Oxford, where Wycliffe's most active helpers were; these were laid under the ban and summoned to recant, and Nicholas of Hereford went to Rome to appeal.[30]

On 17 November 1382, Wycliffe was summoned before a synod at Oxford. He still commanded the favour of the court and of Parliament, to which he addressed a memorial. He was neither excommunicated then, nor deprived of his living.

Wycliffe aimed to do away with the existing hierarchy and replace it with the "poor priests" who lived in poverty, were bound by no vows, had received no formal consecration, and preached the Gospel to the people. Itinerant preachers spread the teachings of Wycliffe. The bull of Gregory XI impressed upon them the name of Lollards, intended as an opprobrious epithet, but it became, to them, a name of honour. Even in Wycliffe's time the "Lollards" had reached wide circles in England and preached "God's law, without which no one could be justified."

Last days

In the years before his death in 1384 he increasingly argued for Scriptures as the authoritative centre of Christianity, that the claims of the papacy were unhistorical, that monasticism was irredeemably corrupt, and that the moral unworthiness of priests invalidated their office and sacraments.[31]

Wycliffe returned to Lutterworth, and sent out tracts against the monks and Urban VI, since the latter, contrary to Wycliffe's hopes, had not turned out to be a reforming pope. The literary achievements of Wycliffe's last days, such as the Trialogus, stand at the peak of the knowledge of his day. His last work, the Opus evangelicum, the last part of which he named in characteristic fashion "Of Antichrist", remained uncompleted. While he was saying Mass in the parish church on Holy Innocents' Day, 28 December 1384, he suffered a stroke, and died as the year ended. Wycliffe was 64 years old.

The Anti-Wycliffite Statute of 1401 extended persecution to Wycliffe's remaining followers. The "Constitutions of Oxford" of 1408 aimed to reclaim authority in all ecclesiastical matters, and specifically named John Wycliffe as it banned certain writings, and noted that translation of Scripture into English by unlicensed laity was a crime punishable by charges of heresy.

Portrait of John Wycliffe
Portrait of John Wycliffe showing the burning of his works by Bernard Picart (1714)

Declared a heretic

Wycliffe bones Foxe
Burning Wycliffe's bones, from Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1563)

The Council of Constance declared Wycliffe a heretic on 4 May 1415, and banned his writings, effectively both excommunicating him retroactively and making him an early forerunner of Protestantism. The Council decreed that Wycliffe's works should be burned and his bodily remains removed from consecrated ground. This order, confirmed by Pope Martin V, was carried out in 1428.[24] Wycliffe's corpse was exhumed and burned and the ashes cast into the River Swift, which flows through Lutterworth.

None of Wycliffe's contemporaries left a complete picture of his person, his life, and his activities. Paintings representing Wycliffe are from a later period. In the history of the trial by William Thorpe (1407), Wycliffe appears wasted and physically weak. Thorpe says Wycliffe was of unblemished walk in life, and regarded affectionately by people of rank, who often consorted with him, took down his sayings, and clung to him. "I indeed clove to none closer than to him, the wisest and most blessed of all men whom I have ever found."

Thomas Netter highly esteemed John Kynyngham in that he "so bravely offered himself to the biting speech of the heretic and to words that stung as being without the religion of Christ". But this example of Netter is not well chosen, since the tone of Wycliffe toward Kynyngham is that of a junior toward an elder whom one respects, and he handled other opponents in similar fashion.


  • The Last Age of the Church (1356)
  • De Logica ("On Logic") 1360
  • De Universalibus ("On Universals") 1368
  • De Dominio Divino (1373)
  • De Mandatis Divinis (1375)
  • De Statu Innocencie (1376)
  • De Civili Dominio (1377)
  • Responsio (1377)
  • De Ecclesia ("On the Church") 1378
  • De veritate sacrae scripturae (On the Truthfulness of Holy Scripture) 1378
  • On the Pastoral Office 1378
  • De apostasia ("On Apostacy") 1379
  • De Eucharistia (On the Eucharist") 1379
  • Objections to Friars (1380)

Basic positions in philosophy

Wycliffe was the most prominent English philosopher of the second half of the 14th century.[32] He earned his great repute as a philosopher at an early date. Henry Knighton says that in philosophy he was second to none, and in scholastic discipline incomparable. There was a period in his life when he devoted himself exclusively to scholastic philosophy. His first book, De Logica (1360), explores the fundamentals of Scholastic Theology. He believed that "one should study Logic in order to better understand the human mind because ...human thoughts, feelings and actions bear God’s image and likeness".[33]

The centre of Wycliffe's philosophical system is formed by the doctrine of the prior existence in the thought of God of all things and events. While Platonic realism would view "beauty' as a property that exists in an ideal form independently of any mind or thing, "for Wycliffe every universal, as part of creation, derived its existence from God, the Creator".[33] Wycliffe was a close follower of Augustine, and always upheld the primacy of the Creator over the created reality.

A second key point of Wycliffe’s is his emphasis on the notion of divine Lordship, explored in De dominio Divino (c.1373), which examines the relationship between God and his creatures. The practical application of this for Wycliffe was seen in the rebellious attitude of individuals (particulars) towards rightful authority (universals). In De civili dominio he discusses the appropriate circumstance under which an entity may be seen as possessing authority over lesser subjects. Dominium is always conferred by God. "Beyond all doubt, intellectual and emotional error about universals is the cause of all sin that reigns in the world."[34] In some of his teachings, as in De annihilatione, the influence of Thomas Aquinas can be detected.

He said that Democritus, Plato, Augustine, and Grosseteste far outranked Aristotle. So far as his relations to the philosophers of the Middle Ages are concerned, he held to realism as opposed to the nominalism advanced by William of Ockham.

A number of Wycliffe's ideas have been carried forward in the twentieth century by philosopher and Reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til.

Attitude toward speculation

Wycliffe's fundamental principle of the preexistence in thought of all reality involves the most serious obstacle to freedom of the will; the philosopher could assist himself only by the formula that the free will of man was something predetermined of God. He demanded strict dialectical training as the means of distinguishing the true from the false, and asserted that logic (or the syllogism) furthered the knowledge of catholic verities; ignorance of logic was the reason why men misunderstood Scripture, since men overlooked the connection, the distinction between idea and appearance.

Wycliffe was not merely conscious of the distinction between theology and philosophy, but his sense of reality led him to pass by scholastic questions. He left aside philosophical discussions that seemed to have no significance for the religious consciousness and those that pertained purely to scholasticism: "We concern ourselves with the verities that are, and leave aside the errors which arise from speculation on matters which are not."


Wycliffe is honoured in the Church of England on 31 December, and in the Anglican Church of Canada [35] and in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on 30 October.


Wycliffecollege toronto chapel1
A stained glass window in Wycliffe College Chapel, Toronto

Wycliffe was instrumental in the development of a translation of the Bible in English, thus making it accessible to laypeople. He also had a strong influence on Jan Hus.[14] Several institutions are named after him:

See also


  1. ^ He has conventionally been given a birth date of 1324 but Hudson and Kenny state only records "suggest he was born in the mid-1320s"[6]
  1. ^
  2. ^ For a recent biography see: Andrew Larsen, John Wyclif c. 1331–1384, in Ian Christopher Levy (ed.), A Companion to John Wyclif. Late Medieval Theologian, Leiden: Brill, 2006, pp. 1–61.
  3. ^ Lacey Baldwin Smith, This Realm of England: 1399 to 1688 (3rd ed. 1976), p. 41
  4. ^ Emily Michael, "John Wyclif on body and mind", Journal of the History of Ideas (2003) p 343.
  5. ^ Wilhelm, Joseph. "Jan Hus", The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 29 Jun. 2013
  6. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford.
  7. ^ Dallmann, W (1907), Concordia Theological Quarterly, XI, St. Louis, p. 41.
  8. ^ Calhoun, David B, The Morning Star of the Reformation, CS Lewis institute.
  9. ^ a b c Murray, Thomas. The Life of John Wycliffe, Edinburgh, J. Boyd, 1829
  10. ^ a b c Vaughn, Robert. Tracts and Treatises of John de Wycliffe, (intro), The Wycliffe Society, London, Blackburn and Pardon, 1845
  11. ^ Davison, Jon (1995). Oxford – Images & Recollections, p. 261. ISBN 1-86982499-7.
  12. ^ "Archives & Manuscripts". Oxford: Balliol College. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  13. ^ a b c Estep, William Roscoe. Renaissance and Reformation, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1986 ISBN 9780802800503
  14. ^ a b c Buddensieg, Rudolph. John Wiclif, Patriot & Reformer, London, Unwin Brothers, 1884
  15. ^ Roberts, Donald L., "John Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation", Christianity Today, No.3, 1983
  16. ^ a b c Urquhart, Francis. "John Wyclif." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 28 Jul. 2015
  17. ^ a b c Lahey, Stephen. John Wyclif, Oxford University Press, USA, 2008 ISBN 9780199720286
  18. ^ a b c d "John Wyclif, Translator and Controversialist".
  19. ^ Lechler, Gotthard Victor. John Wycliffe and His English Precursors, Religious Tract Society, 1904
  20. ^ An excellent account of this dispute between the bishop and the protectors of Wycliffe is given in the Chronicon Angliae, the gist of which is quoted in DNB, lxiii. 206–7.
  21. ^ Hudson, Anne (2002). The premature Reformation: Wycliffite texts and Lollard history. Oxford: Clarendon. ISBN 978-0-19-822762-5.
  22. ^ a b Cavendish, Richard. "John Wycliffe condemned as a heretic", History Today, Vol. 65 Issue 5 May 2015
  23. ^ "John Wycliffe", Encyclopædia Britannica (online ed.), 16 October 2009.
  24. ^ a b c "John Wyclif".
  25. ^ Buddensieg, Rudolph. (intro) John Wiclif's Polemical works in Latin, Vol.2, The Wyclif Society, 1883
  26. ^ Walker, Williston (1958). A History of the Christian Church. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 269. ASIN B00087NRC8.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ *"Earthquake Synod." Cross, F. L. and E. A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. London: Oxford UP, 1974. p. 437.
  30. ^ "Nicholas Hereford", The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages
  31. ^ Herring, George (2006), Introduction To The History of Christianity, New York: New York University Press, p. 230.
  32. ^ Conti, Alessandro, "John Wyclif", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  33. ^ a b Mattei, Tobias. "John Wycliffe: The Morning Star of the Reformation", Leben, October 14, 2016
  34. ^ Wycliffe, John. On Universals, (trans. A. Kenny), Oxford: 1985, 162–165
  35. ^ "57. The Calendar, ix", The Prayer Book online, CA


Further reading

  • Boreczky, Elemér. John Wyclif's Discourse on Dominion in Community (Leiden, Brill, 2007) (Studies in the History of Christian Traditions, 139).
  • Fountain, David. John Wycliffe – The Dawn Of The Reformation (Mayflower Christian Publications, 1984) (ISBN 978-0907821021).
  • Hudson, Anne, and Anthony Kenny. "Wyclif , John (d. 1384)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, September 2010 accessed 13 October 2014 doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30122; a short biography
  • Ghosh, Kantik. The Wycliffite Heresy. Authority and the Interpretation of Texts (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001) (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature, 45) (ISBN 0-521-80720-4).
  • Lahey, Stephen E. John Wyclif (Oxford University Press, 2009) (Great Medieval Thinkers).
  • Lahey, Stephen E. "John Wyclif." in Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy (Springer Netherlands, 2011) pp. 653–658.
  • G. W. H. Lampe, ed. The Cambridge History of the Bible. The West from the Fathers to the Reformation, [Vol 2]
  • Leff, Gordon. John Wyclif: The Path the Dissent (Oxford University Press, 1966)
  • Levy, Ian C., ed. A Companion to John Wyclif, Late Medieval Theologian (Brill's Companions to the Christian Tradition; 4). (Leiden: Brill, 2006) (hardcover, ISBN 90-04-15007-2).
  • McFarlane, K. B. The origins of religious dissent in England (New York, Collier Books, 1966) (Originally published under the title "John Wycliffe and the beginnings of English nonconformity", 1952).
  • Michael, Emily. "John Wyclif on body and mind." Journal of the History of Ideas (2003) 64#3 pp: 343–360. online
  • Robson, John Adam. Wyclif and the Oxford Schools: The Relation of the "Summa de Ente" to Scholastic Debates at Oxford in the Later Fourteenth Century (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1961).

External links

Adam de Toneworth

Adam de Toneworth (also Toueworth or Towworth) was an English medieval university chancellor.Adam de Toneworth was Chancellor of the University of Oxford several times between 1366 and 1379. As Chancellor of Oxford, he was involved with the John Wycliffe controversy.

Confession Concerning Christ's Supper

Confession Concerning Christ's Supper (1528) (German: Vom Abendmahl Christi, Bekenntnis) is a theological treatise written by Martin Luther affirming the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, defining Luther's position as the sacramental union. Notable among its respondents were Huldrych Zwingli and Johannes Oecolampadius, who denied the Real Presence. Luther also discussed the eucharistic views of John Wycliffe in this document. The third part of the work is a concise confession of Luther's Christian faith.

General Prologue of the Wycliffe Bible

The General Prologue of the Wycliffe Bible, also the Great Prologue of the Wycliffe Bible, is a 15-chapter explanation, generally attributed to John Purvey, of translation procedures in his later version of the Wycliffe Bible translation done originally by John Wycliffe in 1382–1384.

Jack Upland

Jack Upland or Jack up Lande (c. 1389–96?) is a polemical, probably Lollard, literary work which can be seen as a "sequel" to Piers Plowman, with Antichrist attacking Christians through corrupt confession. Jack asks a "flattering friar" (cf. Piers Plowman's "Friar Flatterer") nearly seventy questions attacking the mendicant orders and exposing their distance from scriptural truth.

Two extant works respond to Jack's questions: Responsiones ad Questiones LXV (before 1396) and Friar Daw's Reply (Digby 41, c. 1420). The latter text blasts John Wycliffe as one of history's major heretics. Responding to Friar Daw, an unknown author wrote Upland's Rejoinder, which survives in Digby 41, in the margins surrounding Friar Daw's Reply. Upland's Rejoinder intensifies the level of invective: Daw is said to recruit the young sons of true-living plowmen to become (paradoxically) "worldly beggars," apostates against true rule, and sodomites.

Jack Upland was printed by itself in an octavo edition c. 1536–40 by John Gough (STC 5098). John Foxe's Acts and Monuments (1563, 1570) reprinted Jack Upland and attributed it to Geoffrey Chaucer. Thomas Speght's 1602 edition of Chaucer's Works (STC 5080) included Jack Upland.

John Forster

John Forster may refer to:

Sir John Forster (1520?–1602), English military commander and Warden of the Middle Marches

John Forster (biographer) (1812–1876), English biographer and critic

John Forster (MP) for Oxford (UK Parliament constituency)

John Forster (Chief Justice) (1667–1720), Irish lawyer and politician

John Forster (colonial administrator), British administrator and President of Bengal

John Cooper Forster (1823–1886), British surgeon

John (Don Juan) Forster (1814–1882), California landowner

John Wycliffe Lowes Forster (1850–1938), Canadian artist

John Forster, 1st Baron Forster of Harraby (1888–1972), British barrister

John Forster (died 1558)

John Forster (footballer) (born 1948), Australian footballer

John Forster (musician), American cabaret musician

John Moreno

John Moreno a.k.a. Juan Moreno (born 4 March 1939) is a British actor, probably best known for his role as Luigi Ferrara in the 1981 James Bond feature film For Your Eyes Only.

His other film credits include appearances in Les Misérables (1978), The Razor's Edge (1984), John Wycliffe: The Morning Star (1984) and Old Scores (1991). His television credits include Doctor Who (in the serial The Ambassadors of Death where he played Dobson), Moonbase 3, The Duchess of Duke Street, Return of the Saint, The Sweeney, The Enigma Files, Kessler, Farrington of the F.O., Squadron, Only Fools and Horses, Dempsey and Makepeace, Beau Geste, One by One, Lovejoy and Heartbeat.

John Wickliffe (ship)

John Wickliffe was the first ship to arrive carrying Scottish settlers, including Otago settlement founder Captain William Cargill, in the city of Dunedin, New Zealand. The ship was named after a religious reformer, John Wycliffe.

Departing with 97 passengers from Gravesend, near London, on 22 November 1847, and from Portsmouth on 14 December 1847, she arrived at Port Chalmers on 23 March 1848. 23 March is now observed as Otago Anniversary Day, although the anniversary actually celebrates the establishment of the Otago provincial government on the same day in 1852. Her sister ship, Philip Laing, arrived three weeks later on 15 April.

One of the more prominent buildings in the Exchange area of downtown Dunedin is named John Wickliffe House in honour of the ship. It stands on land close to where the ship berthed in Dunedin.

John Wycliffe Black

John Wycliffe Black (21 July 1862 – 18 June 1951) was an English shoe manufacturer and Liberal Party politician.

John Wycliffe Linnell

John Wycliffe Linnell FRCP MC (31 October 1878 – 1 December 1967) was Consulting Physician at the Metropolitan Hospital, Mildmay Mission Hospital and New End Hospital Hampstead.

John Wycliffe Lowes Forster

John Wycliffe Lowes Forster (31 December 1850 – 24 April 1938) was a Canadian artist specializing in portraits, particularly those relating to Canadian history. Much of his work can be found at the National Gallery of Canada.

He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.


Lollardy (Lollardism, Lollard movement) was a pre-Protestant Christian religious movement that existed from the mid-14th century to the English Reformation. It was initially led by John Wycliffe, a Roman Catholic theologian who was dismissed from the University of Oxford in 1381 for criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. The Lollards' demands were primarily for reform of Western Christianity. They formulated their beliefs in the Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards.

Nicholas Hereford

Nicholas [of] Hereford (died in 1420 in the Charterhouse of Coventry) was an English Bible translator, Lollard, reformer on the side of John Wycliffe, Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford and Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1382. He was a Doctor of Theology, which he achieved at Oxford University in 1382.


Proto-Protestantism, also called pre-Protestantism, refers to individuals and movements that propagated ideas similar to Protestantism before 1517, which is usually considered the starting year for the Reformation era. Major representatives were Peter Waldo (c. 1140 – c. 1205), John Wycliffe (1320s–1384), Jan Hus (c.  1369–1415) and the movements they started.

St Mary's Church, Lutterworth

St Mary's Church is the parish church of the town of Lutterworth, Leicestershire. The church building is 13th-century, with 14th- and 15th-century alterations. A spire on the church was blown down in 1703 and rebuilt in 1761. Sir George Gilbert Scott restored the building in 1866–1869. It is listed at Grade I.The translator John Wycliffe was the rector of the church between 1374 and 1384. His translation of the Bible into English started the Lollard movement.

St Mary’s is a member of the Greater Churches Network

William de Remmyngton

William de Remmyngton (also Remmington) was an English medieval monk and university chancellor.William de Remmyngton was a Cistercian monk at Sawley Abbey, then in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He was Chancellor of the University of Oxford between 1372 and 1373. He was opposed to John Wycliffe at Oxford.

Wycliffe's Bible

Wycliffe's Bible is the name now given to a group of Bible translations into Middle English that were made under the direction of John Wycliffe. They appeared over a period from approximately 1382 to 1395. These Bible translations were the chief inspiration and chief cause of the Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In the early Middle Ages, most Western Christian people encountered the Bible only in the form of oral versions of scriptures, verses and homilies in Latin (other sources were mystery plays, usually performed in the vernacular, and popular iconography). Though relatively few people could read at this time, Wycliffe’s idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, saying "it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ's sentence".Long thought to be the work of Wycliffe himself, the Wycliffe translations are now generally believed to be the work of several hands. Nicholas of Hereford is known to have translated a part of the text; John Purvey and perhaps John Trevisa are names that have been mentioned as possible authors. The translators worked from the Vulgate, the Latin Bible that was the standard Biblical text of Western Christianity, and the text conforms fully with Catholic teaching. They included in the testaments those works which would later be called the Apocrypha by most Protestants (referred to as deuterocanonical by Roman Catholics and some Anglicans), along with 3 Esdras (which is now called 2 Esdras) and Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans.

Although unauthorised, the work was popular. Wycliffe Bible texts are the most common manuscript literature in Middle English. More than 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffe Bible survive. One copy sold at auction on 5 December 2016 for US$1,692,500.The association between Wycliffe's Bible and Lollardy caused the Kingdom of England and the established Catholic Church in England to undertake a drastic campaign to suppress it. In the early years of the 15th century Henry IV (in his statute De haeretico comburendo), Archbishop Thomas Arundel, and Henry Knighton published criticism and enacted some of the severest religious censorship laws in Europe at that time. Even twenty years after Wycliffe's death, at the Oxford Convocation of 1408, it was solemnly voted that no new translation of the Bible should be made without prior approval. However, as the text translated in the various versions of the Wycliffe Bible was the Latin Vulgate, and as it contained no heterodox readings, there was in practice no way by which the ecclesiastical authorities could distinguish the banned version; and consequently many Catholic commentators of the 15th and 16th centuries (such as Thomas More) took these manuscript English Bibles to represent an anonymous earlier orthodox translation. Consequently, manuscripts of the Wycliffe Bible, which when inscribed with a date always purport to precede 1409, the date of the ban, circulated freely and were widely used by clergy and laity.

Wycliffe Christian School

Wycliffe Christian School (also known as WCS) is the largest independent Christian School located in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia. Originally John Wycliffe Christian school.

Wycliffe Global Alliance

Wycliffe Global Alliance is an alliance of organisations with the common objective of translating the Bible for every language group that needs it. Wycliffe was founded in 1942 by William Cameron Townsend. Before 1942, it was known as Camp Wycliffe, after which it became Wycliffe Bible Translators. The organization is named after John Wycliffe, who was responsible for the first complete English translation of the whole Bible into Middle English.Up until 1991, Wycliffe was a single organization with divisions in various countries. It has been restructured, so that the Wycliffe organizations in each country became fully independent, causing Wycliffe International to become an association of organizations. In February 2011, Wycliffe International took on a new "doing business as" name, Wycliffe Global Alliance, with current headquarters in Singapore.Wycliffe is most often associated with the Protestant section of Christianity. There are currently over 100 Wycliffe member organizations from over 60 countries. Wycliffe Global Alliance is also a member of the Forum of Bible Agencies International.

As of November 2012, translations of either portions of the Bible, the New Testament, or the whole Bible exist in over 2,800 of the 6,877 languages used on Earth.


Middle Ages

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