Lollardy, also known as Lollardism or the 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.
Lollard, Lollardi or Loller was the popular derogatory nickname given to those without an academic background, educated (if at all) only in English, who were reputed to follow the teachings of John Wycliffe in particular, and were certainly considerably energized by the translation of the Bible into the English language. By the mid-15th century, "lollard" had come to mean a heretic in general. The alternative, "Wycliffite", is generally accepted to be a more neutral term covering those of similar opinions, but having an academic background.
The term is said to have been coined by the Anglo-Irish cleric Henry Crumpe, but its origin is uncertain. The earliest official use of the name in England occurs in 1387 in a mandate of the Bishop of Worcester against five "poor preachers," nomine seu ritu Lollardorum confoederatos. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it most likely derives from Middle Dutch lollaerd ("mumbler, mutterer"), from a verb lollen ("to mutter, mumble"). The word is much older than its English use; there were Lollards in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 14th century, who were akin to the Fraticelli, Beghards and other sectaries of the recusant Franciscan type.
Originally the Dutch word was a colloquial name for a group of the harmless buriers of the dead during the Black Death, in the 14th century, known as Alexians, Alexian Brothers or Cellites. These were known colloquially as lollebroeders (Middle Dutch for "mumbling brothers"), or Lollhorden, from Old High German: lollon ("to sing softly"), from their chants for the dead. Middle English loller (akin to the verb loll, lull, the English cognate of Dutch lollen "to mutter, mumble") is recorded as an alternative spelling of Lollard, while its generic meaning "a lazy vagabond, an idler, a fraudulent beggar" is not recorded before 1582.
Two other possibilities for the derivation of Lollard are mentioned by the Oxford English Dictionary,
Lollardy was a religion of vernacular scripture. Lollards opposed many practices of the Catholic church. Anne Hudson has written that a form of sola scriptura underpinned Wycliffite beliefs, but distinguished it from the more radical ideology that anything not permitted by scripture is forbidden. Instead, Hudson notes that Wycliffite sola scriptura held the Bible to be "the only valid source of doctrine and the only pertinent measure of legitimacy."
With regard to the Eucharist, Lollards such as John Wycliffe, William Thorpe, and John Oldcastle, taught a view of the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion known as "consubstantiation" and did not accept the doctrine of transubstantiation, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church. The Plowman's Tale, a 16th century Lollard poem, argues that theological debate about orthodox doctrine is less important than the Real Presence:
I say sothe thorowe trewe rede
His flesh and blode, through his mastry
Is there/ in the forme of brede
Howe it is there/ it nedeth not stryve
Whether it be subgette or accydent
But as Christ was/ when he was on-lyve
So is he there verament.
I say the truth through true understanding: His flesh and blood, through his subtle works, is there in the form of bread. In what matter it is present need not be debated, whether as subject or accident, but as Christ was when he was alive, so He is truly there.
Wycliffite teachings on the Eucharist were declared heresy at the Blackfriars Council of 1382. William Sawtry, a priest, was reportedly burned in 1401 for his belief that "bread remains in the same nature as before" after consecration by a priest. In the early 15th century a priest named Richard Wyche was accused of false doctrine. When asked about consecration during his questioning, he repeated only his belief in the Real Presence. When asked if the host was still bread even after consecration, he answered only: "I believe that the host is the real body of Christ in the form of bread". Throughout his questioning he insisted that he was "not bound to believe otherwise than Holy Scripture says". Following the questioning, Wyche eventually recanted, after he was excommunicated and imprisoned. A suspect in 1517 summed up the Lollards' position: "Summe folys cummyn to churche thynckyng to see the good Lorde - what shulde they see there but bredde and wyne?"
Lollard teachings on the Eucharist are attested to in numerous primary source documents; it is the fourth of the Twelve Conclusions and the first of the Sixteen Points on which the Bishops accuse Lollards. It is discussed in The Testimony of William Thorpe, the Apology for Lollard Doctrines, Jack Upland, and Opus Arduum.
Simon Fish was condemned for several of the teachings in his pamphlet Supplication for the Beggars including his denial of purgatory and teachings that priestly celibacy was an invention of the Antichrist. He argued that earthly rulers have the right to strip Church properties, and that tithing was against the Gospel.
They did not believe the church practices of baptism and confession were necessary for salvation. They considered praying to saints and honoring of their images to be a form of idolatry. Oaths, fasting, and prayers for the dead were thought to have no scriptural basis. They had a poor opinion of the trappings of the Catholic Church, including holy bread, holy water, bells, organs, and church buildings. They rejected the value of papal pardons. Special vows were considered to be in conflict with the divine order established by Christ and were regarded as anathema. Sixteenth-century martyrologist John Foxe described four main beliefs of Lollardy: opposition to pilgrimages and saint worship, denial of the doctrine of transubstantiation, and a demand for English translation of the Scriptures.
One group of Lollards petitioned Parliament with The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards by posting them on the doors of Westminster Hall in February 1395. While by no means a central authority of the Lollards, the Twelve Conclusions reveal certain basic Lollard ideas. The first Conclusion rejects the acquisition of temporal wealth by Church leaders as accumulating wealth leads them away from religious concerns and toward greed. The fourth Conclusion deals with the Lollard view that the Sacrament of Eucharist is a contradictory topic that is not clearly defined in the Bible. Whether the bread remains bread or becomes the literal body of Christ is not specified uniformly in the gospels. The sixth Conclusion states that officials of the Church should not concern themselves with secular matters when they hold a position of power within the Church because this constitutes a conflict of interest between matters of the spirit and matters of the State. The eighth Conclusion points out the ludicrousness, in the minds of Lollards, of the reverence that is directed toward images of Christ's suffering. "If the cross of Christ, the nails, spear, and crown of thorns are to be honoured, then why not honour Judas's lips, if only they could be found?"
The Lollards stated that the Catholic Church had been corrupted by temporal matters and that its claim to be the true Church was not justified by its heredity. Part of this corruption involved prayers for the dead and chantries. These were seen as corrupt since they distracted priests from other work and that all should be prayed for equally. Lollards also had a tendency toward iconoclasm. Expensive church artwork was seen as an excess; they believed effort should be placed on helping the needy and preaching rather than working on expensive decorations. Icons were also seen as dangerous since many seemed to be worshiping the icons more than God.
Believing in a universal priesthood, the Lollards challenged the Church's authority to invest or deny the divine authority to make a man a priest. Denying any special status to the priesthood, Lollards thought confession to a priest was unnecessary since according to them priests did not have the ability to forgive sins. Lollards challenged the practice of clerical celibacy and believed priests should not hold government positions as such temporal matters would likely interfere with their spiritual mission.
Although Lollardy is denounced as a heresy (by the Roman Catholic Church and the early pre-reformation Church of England), initially Wycliffe and the Lollards were sheltered by John of Gaunt and other anti-clerical nobility, who may have wanted to use Lollard-advocated clerical reform to acquire new sources of revenue from England’s monasteries. The University of Oxford also protected Wycliffe and similar academics on the grounds of academic freedom and, initially, allowed such persons to retain their positions despite their controversial views. Lollards first faced serious persecution after the Peasants' Revolt in 1381. While Wycliffe and other Lollards opposed the revolt, one of the peasants’ leaders, John Ball, preached Lollardy. The royalty and nobility then found Lollardy to be a threat not only to the Church, but to English society in general. The Lollards' small measure of protection evaporated. This change in status was also affected by the 1386 departure of John of Gaunt who left England to pursue the Crown of Castile.
A group of gentry active during the reign of Richard II (1377–99) were known as "Lollard Knights" either during or after their lives due to their acceptance of Wycliffe's claims. Henry Knighton, in his Chronicle, identifies the principal Lollard Knights as Thomas Latimer, John Trussell, Lewis Clifford, Sir John Peche, (son of John Peche of Wormleighton), Richard Storey, and Reginald Hilton. Thomas Walsingham's Chronicle adds William Nevil and John Clanvowe to the list, and other potential members of this circle have been identified by their wills, which contain Lollard-inspired language about how their bodies are to be plainly buried and permitted to return to the soil whence they came. There is little indication that the Lollard Knights were specifically known as such during their lifetimes; they were men of discretion, and unlike Sir John Oldcastle years later, rarely gave any hint of open rebellion. However, they displayed a remarkable ability to retain important positions without falling victim to the various prosecutions of Wycliffe's followers occurring during their lifetimes.
Religious and secular authorities strongly opposed Lollardy. A primary opponent was Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by bishops like Henry le Despenser of Norwich, whom the chronicler Thomas Walsingham praised for his zeal. Paul Strohm has asked: "was the Lollard a genuine threat or a political pawn, agent of destabilising challenge, or a hapless threat of self-legitimizing Lancastrian discourse?" 
As a prelude to the 16th-century Acts of Supremacy that mark the beginning of the English Reformation, De heretico comburendo was enacted in 1401 during the reign of Henry IV; traditionally heresy had been defined as an error in theological belief, but this statute equated theological heresy with sedition against political rulers.
By the early 15th century, stern measures were undertaken by Church and state which drove Lollardy underground. One such measure was the 1410 burning at the stake of John Badby, a layman and craftsman who refused to renounce his Lollardy. He was the first layman to suffer capital punishment in England for the crime of heresy.
John Oldcastle, a close friend of Henry V of England and the basis for Falstaff in the Shakespearean history Henry IV, Part 1, was brought to trial in 1413 after evidence of his Lollard beliefs was uncovered. Oldcastle escaped from the Tower of London and organized an insurrection, which included an attempted kidnapping of the king. The rebellion failed, and Oldcastle was executed. Oldcastle's revolt made Lollardy seem even more threatening to the state, and persecution of Lollards became more severe. A variety of other martyrs for the Lollard cause were executed during the next century, including the Amersham Martyrs in the early 1500s and Thomas Harding in 1532, one of the last Lollards to be made victim. A gruesome reminder of this persecution is the 'Lollards Pit' in Thorpe Wood, now Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich, Norfolk, where men are customablie burnt.
Lollards were effectively absorbed into Protestantism during the English Reformation, in which Lollardy played a role. Since Lollards had been underground for more than a hundred years, the extent of Lollardy and its ideas at the time of the Reformation is uncertain and a point of debate. Ancestors of Blanche Parry (the closest person to Elizabeth I of England for 56 years) and of Blanche Milborne (who raised Edward VI and Elizabeth I) had Lollard connections. However, many critics of the Reformation, including Thomas More, associated Protestants with Lollards. Leaders of the English Reformation, including Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, referred to Lollardy as well, and Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall of London called Lutheranism the "foster-child" of the Wycliffite heresy. Scholars debate whether Protestants actually drew influence from Lollardy or whether they referred to it to create a sense of tradition.
Despite the debate about the extent of Lollard influence there are ample records of the persecution of Lollards from this period. In the Diocese of London there are records of about 310 Lollards being prosecuted or forced to abjure between 1510 and 1532. In Lincoln 45 cases against Lollardy were heard in 1506–07 and in 1521 there were 50 abjurations and 5 burnings of Lollards. In 1511 Archbishop Warham presided over the abjuration of 41 Lollards from Kent and the burning of 5.
The extent of Lollardy in the general populace at this time is unknown, but the prevalence of Protestant iconoclasm in England suggests Lollard ideas may still have had some popular influence if Huldrych Zwingli was not the source, as Lutheranism did not advocate iconoclasm. Lollards were persecuted again between 1554 and 1559 during the Revival of the Heresy Acts, under the Catholic Mary I of England, which specifically suppressed heresy and Lollardy.
The Church used art as an anti-Lollard weapon. Lollards were represented as foxes dressed as monks or priests preaching to a flock of geese on misericords. These representations alluded to the story of the preaching fox found in popular medieval literature such as The History of Reynard the Fox and The Shifts of Raynardine. The fox lured the geese closer and closer with its words until it was able to snatch a victim to devour. The moral of this story was that foolish people are seduced by false doctrines.
On the dating of "The Plowman’s Tale", see Andrew N. Warn, “The Genesis of The Plowman’s Tale, Yearbook of English Studies 2” 1972CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Consubstantiation is a Christian theological doctrine that (like transubstantiation) describes the real presence in the Eucharist. It holds that during the sacrament, the substance of the body and blood of Christ are present alongside the substance of the bread and wine, which remain present.
It was part of the doctrines of Lollardy and considered a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church.Coventry Martyrs
The Coventry Martyrs were a disparate group of Lollard Christians executed for their beliefs in Coventry between 1512 and 1522 (seven men and two women) and in 1555 (three men). Eleven of them are commemorated by a six-metre-high (20 ft) monument, erected in 1910 in a public garden in the city, between Little Park Street and Mile Lane; and by a mosaic constructed in 1953 inside the entrance to Broadgate House in the city centre. Some of the streets in the city’s Cheylesmore suburb are named after them. See also Cheylesmore road names.Henry le Despenser
Henry le Despenser (c. 1341–1406) was an English nobleman and Bishop of Norwich whose reputation as the 'Fighting Bishop' was gained for his part in suppressing the Peasants' Revolt in East Anglia and in defeating the peasants at the Battle of North Walsham in the summer of 1381.
As a young man he studied at Oxford University and held numerous positions in the English Church. He fought in Italy before being consecrated as a bishop in 1370. Parliament agreed to allow Despenser to lead a crusade to Flanders in 1383, which was directed against Louis II of Flanders, a supporter of the antipope Clement VII. The crusade was in defence of English economic and political interests. Although well funded, the expedition was poorly equipped and lacked proper military leadership. After initial successes, a disastrous attempt to besiege the city of Ypres forced Despenser to return to England. Upon his return he was impeached in parliament. His temporalities were confiscated by Richard II of England, but were returned in 1385, the year he accompanied the king northward to repel a potential French invasion of Scotland.
Despenser was an energetic and able administrator who staunchly defended his diocese against Lollardy. In 1399, he was among those who stood by Richard, following the landing of Henry Bolingbroke in Yorkshire towards the end of June. He was arrested for refusing to come to terms with Bolingbroke. The following year, he was implicated in the Epiphany Rising, but was pardoned.Impanation
Impanation (Latin, impanatio, "embodied in bread") is a high medieval theory of the real presence of the body of Jesus Christ in the consecrated bread of the Eucharist that does not imply a change in the substance of either the bread or the body. This doctrine, apparently patterned after Christ's Incarnation (God is made flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ), is the assertion that "God is made bread" in the Eucharist. Christ's divine attributes are shared by the eucharistic bread via his body. This view is similar but not identical to the theory of consubstantiation associated with Lollardy. It is considered a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church and is also rejected by classical Lutheranism. Rupert of Deutz (d. 1129) and John of Paris (d. 1306) were believed to have taught this doctrine.James Gairdner
James Gairdner (22 March 1828 – 4 November 1912) was a British historian. He specialised in 15th-century and early Tudor history, and among other tasks edited the Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII series.
Son of John Gairdner, M.D. and brother of Sir William Tennant Gairdner, he was born and educated in Edinburgh. He entered the Public Record Office in London in 1846, remaining at work there until his retirement over fifty years later in 1900. Gairdner's contributions to English history related chiefly to the reigns of Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII. For the Rolls Series he edited Letters and Papers illustrative of the Reigns of Richard III and Henry VII (London, 1861–1863), and Memorials of Henry VII (London, 1858). In association with J. S. Brewer, Gairdner prepared the first four volumes (in nine parts) of the Calendar of Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, and, after Brewer’s death in 1879, Gairdner completed the series, with the assistance of R. H. Brodie, in 1910, in twenty-one volumes (in thirty-three parts), having calendared about a hundred thousand documents, from numerous sources, in several languages.
He published an edition of the Paston Letters (London, 1872–1875, and again 1896); and he edited the Historical collections of a Citizen of London (London, 1876), and Three 15th-century Chronicles (London, 1880) for the Camden Society. His other works included biographies of Richard III (London, 1878) and Henry VII (London, 1889, and subsequently); The Houses of Lancaster and York (London, 1874, and other editions); The English Church in the 16th century (London, 1902); and Lollardy and the Reformation in England (1908). He contributed some seventy-seven fifteenth- and sixteenth-century biographies to the Dictionary of National Biography, as well as articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica, the Cambridge Modern History, and the English Historical Review.
Gairdner received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1897, and was made a Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1900 Birthday Honours.John Barton
John Barton may refer to:
John Barton (businessman) (born 1944), English businessman, chairman of Next plc and EasyJet
John Barton (director) (1928–2018), English theatre director and founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company
John Barton (economist) (1789–1852), English economist
John Barton (engineer) (1771–1834), engineer noted for his engravings using his Ruling Engine
John Barton (footballer, born 1866) (1866–1910), English international footballer
John Barton (footballer, born 1953), English footballer
John Barton (missionary) (1836–1908), English Anglican priest
John Barton (poet) (born 1957), Canadian poet
John Barton (Quaker) (1755–1789), abolitionist
John Barton (rugby league), rugby league footballer of the 1950s and 1960s for Great Britain, and Wigan
John Barton (theologian) (born 1948), theologian and professor
John Barton (writer), 15th century writer on Lollardy
John Barton (priest) (born 1936), British Anglican priest
John J. Barton (1906–2004), Mayor of Indianapolis
John Barton (MP) (1614–1684), English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1659 and 1660
John Rhea Barton (1794–1871), American orthopedic surgeon
John Kennedy Barton (1853–1921), Rear Admiral in the United States Navy
John Barton (public administrator) (1875–1961), New Zealand accountant, writer, lawyer, magistrate and public administratorJohn Barton (writer)
John Barton (15th century) was an English writer on Lollardy.
Barton appears to have flourished in the reign of Henry V, to whom he dedicated his 'Confutatio Lollardorum.' A manuscript copy of this work is preserved in the library of All Souls' College, Oxford, written in a hand which Henry Octavius Coxe assigned to the 15th century. Other manuscripts of this author are mentioned by Thomas Tanner, who wanted to identify him with a certain John Barton, Esq., buried in St. Martin's Church, Ludgate, 1439. Tanner says that he was possibly chancellor of Oxford; but he fails to give any authority. Barton's own description of himself, as quoted by John Bale was 'plain John Barton, the physician.'John Castell
John Castell (a.k.a. John Castle) (c.1380–1426) was a Master of University College, Oxford, and later a Chancellor of the University of Oxford.
Castell was a Fellow of University College. He became Master of the College in circa 1408. He also held preferment in the Diocese of York with his mastership. In 1411, a sentence of excommunication was issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, against Castell, Fellows at the College — Robert Burton (later Master of the College), John Hamerton, and Adam Redyford — and the College as a whole, due to Lollardy leanings. An appeal to the Pope against the excommunication was made by the bursar of the College, John Ryvell. Castell survived the controversy and continued as Master until 1420.
John Castell was appointed a King's Clerk in 1420. In 1421, he became Chancellor of Oxford University, a position he held until 1426.John Oldcastle
Sir John Oldcastle (died 14 December 1417) was an English Lollard leader. Being a friend of Henry V, he long escaped prosecution for heresy. When convicted, he escaped from the Tower of London and then led a rebellion against the King. Eventually, he was captured and executed in London. He formed the basis for William Shakespeare's character John Falstaff, who was originally called John Oldcastle.Margery Baxter
Margery Baxter (fl. 1429) was an outspoken and unorthodox Lollard from Martham, England. The Lollards were a fourteenth and fifteenth century group of people who followed the teachings of John Wycliffe, an English scholar and theologian who saw corruption in the all-powerful Catholic Church organization and sought after reform.Oldcastle Revolt
The Oldcastle Revolt was a Lollard uprising directed against the Catholic Church and the English king, Henry V. The revolt was led by John Oldcastle, taking place on the night of 9/10 January 1414. The rebellion was crushed following a decisive battle on St. Giles's Fields.Revival of the Heresy Acts
In November 1554, the Revival of the Heresy Acts (1 & 2 Ph. & M. c.6) revived three former Acts against heresy; the letters patent of 1382 of King Richard II, an Act of 1401 of King Henry IV, and an Act of 1414 of King Henry V. All three of these laws had been repealed under King Henry VIII and King Edward VI.This Act reflects Queen Mary's concern for increased heresy and the lack of authority to deal with it. Edward VI and his father had sponsored the Reformation in stages, but Mary had always been Roman Catholic and considered Protestants to be heretics, and needed this law to pursue her religious policies.
The Act stated its purpose:
For the eschewing and avoiding of errors and heresies, which of late have risen, grown, and much increased within this realm, for that the ordinaries have wanted authority to proceed against those that were infected therewith: be it therefore ordained and enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that the statute made in the fifth year of the reign of King Richard II, concerning the arresting and apprehension of erroneous and heretical preachers, and one other statute made in the second year of the reign of King Henry IV, concerning the repressing of heresies and punishment of heretics, and also one other statute made in the second year of the reign of King Henry V, concerning the suppression of heresy and Lollardy, and every article, branch, and sentence contained in the same three several Acts, and every of them, shall from the twentieth day of January next coming be revived, and be in full force, strength, and effect to all intents, constructions, and purposes for ever.
This Act was repealed in 1559 by section 6 of the second Act of Supremacy.Robert Burton (academic)
Robert Burton was a Master of University College, Oxford, England.Burton was a mature commoner and Fellow of University College. He was sentenced to excommunication for Lollardy leanings along with the then master John Castell, other Fellows, and indeed the entire College, in 1411 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel.
He became Master of the College in 1420 and remained in the post until 1423 or 1424. A dispensation was granted to Burton in 1420 by Henry Chichele, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, to help the College due to its poor financial circumstances.Burton continued with a successful career after his mastership.St Paul's Cross
St Paul's Cross (alternative spellings – "Powles Crosse") was a preaching cross and open-air pulpit in the grounds of Old St Paul's Cathedral, City of London. It was the most important public pulpit in Tudor and early Stuart England, and many of the most important statements on the political and religious changes brought by the Reformation were made public from here. The pulpit stood in 'the Cross yard', the open space on the north-east side of St. Paul's Churchyard, adjacent to the row of buildings that would become the home of London's publishing and book-selling trade. A monument stands in this area of the Cathedral precinct now, but it is not on the exact spot where Paul's Cross stood. A stone carved with the words 'Here stood Paul's Cross' marks the actual location of the pulpit as it stood from 1449 until 1635, when it was taken down during Inigo Jones' renovation work.The Testimony of William Thorpe
The Testimony of William Thorpe is a Middle English text dating from 1407. The putative author William Thorpe may have been a Lollard, a follower of John Wycliffe. Whether Thorpe ever, in fact, existed is in doubt, but the document written in his name is enticing.
The Testimony purports to record Thorpe's interrogation for heresy (or at least for information regarding Lollardy) by Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury. The text goes beyond simply recording the events, and includes many of Thorpe's reactions to the proceedings and dialogues with Arundel. Although it suggests an impending martyrdom, the Testimony gives no clue as to Thorpe's punishment—if any.The Wife of Bath's Tale
The Wife of Bath's Tale (Middle English: the Tale of the Wyf of Bathe) is among the best-known of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It provides insight into the role of women in the Late Middle Ages and was probably of interest to Chaucer himself, for the character is one of his most developed ones, with her Prologue twice as long as her Tale. He also goes so far as to describe two sets of clothing for her in his General Prologue. She holds her own among the bickering pilgrims, and evidence in the manuscripts suggests that although she was first assigned a different, plainer tale—perhaps the one told by the Shipman—she received her present tale as her significance increased. She calls herself both Alyson and Alys in the prologue, but to confuse matters these are also the names of her 'gossib' (a close friend or gossip), whom she mentions several times, as well as many female characters throughout The Canterbury Tales.
Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The 'Prologue of the Wife of Bath's Tale' during the fourteenth century at a time when the social structure was rapidly evolving while Richard II was in reign; it was not until the late 1380s – mid 1390s when Richard II's subjects started to take notice of how he was leaning toward bad counsel, causing criticism throughout his court. It was evident that changes needed to occur within the traditional hierarchy of King Richard II's ensemble; Chaucer chose to address the change of events that he noticed through 'The Prologue of the Wife of Bath's Tale' to illustrate the imbalance of power within the male dominated society. Women were not identified by their social status, but solely by their relations with men rather than being identified by their occupations; a female was either a maiden, spouse or widow who was only capable of bearing children, cooking and other "women's work".The tale is often regarded as the first of the so-called "marriage group" of tales, which includes the Clerk's, the Merchant's and the Franklin's tales. But some scholars contest this grouping, first proposed by Chaucer scholar Eleanor Prescott Hammond and subsequently elaborated by George Lyman Kittredge, not least because the later tales of Melibee and the Nun's Priest also discuss this theme. A separation between tales that deal with moral issues and ones that deal with magical issues, as the Wife of Bath's does, is favoured by some scholars.The tale is an example of the "loathly lady" motif, the oldest examples of which are the medieval Irish sovereignty myths such as Niall of the Nine Hostages. In the medieval poem The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle, Arthur's nephew Gawain goes on a nearly identical quest to discover what women truly want after he errs in a land dispute, although, in contrast, he never stooped to despoliation or plunder, unlike the unnamed knight who raped the woman. By tradition, any knight or noble found guilty of such a transgression (abuse of power), might be stripped of his name, heraldic title and rights, and possibly even executed.
George suggests that the Wife's tale may have been written to ease Chaucer's guilty conscience. It is recorded that in 1380 associates of Chaucer stood surety for an amount equal to half his yearly salary for a charge brought by Cecily Champaign for "de rapto", rape or abduction; the same view has been taken of his Legend of Good Women, which Chaucer himself describes as a penance.Walter Brut
Walter Brut (Welsh: Gwallter Brut) was a fourteenth-century writer from the Welsh borders, whose trial in 1391 is a notable event in the history of Lollardy.
Brut described himself as "a sinner, a layman, a farmer and a Christian" in his trial for heresy which took place on 3 October 1393 before the Bishop of Hereford, Thomas Trefnant. He is mentioned in the medieval English poem Piers Plowman. About the year 1402 he joined the forces of Owain Glyndŵr.
It seems then that this Walter Brute, by nation a Briton or Welsh-man, who was “a layman and learned, and brought up in the University of Oxford, being there a graduate,” was accused of saying, among sundry other things, that “the Pope is Antichrist, and a seducer of the people, and utterly against the law and life of Christ.” Being called to answer, he put in first certain more brief “exhibits:” then “another declaration of the same matter after a more ample tractation;” ex-plaining and setting forth from Scripture the grounds of his opinion. In either case his defense was grounded very mainly on the Revelation. For he at once bases his justification on the fact, as demonstrable, of the Pope answering alike to the chief of the false Christs prophesied of by Christ, as to come in his name; to the Man of Sin prophesied of by St. Paul: the city of Papal Rome answering also similarly to the Apocalyptic Babylon.It is unclear, in the light of modern scholarship, whether Anthony Wood's identification of Brut with Walter Brit is sound.William Sawtrey
William Sawtrey (died March 1401) was an English Roman Catholic priest who was executed for heresy.
Sawtrey was born in Norfolk, England. He was a follower of John Wycliffe, the leader of an early reformation movement called Lollardy. Sawtrey was a priest at two churches, St. Margaret's in Lynn and Tilney in Norfolk.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.