The End of Europe's Middle Ages

The Lollards

The name was first applied to a semi-charitable group from Brabant in the mid-fourteenth century. In 1383, it was applied to followers of John Wycklif (1320-84), a professor at Oxford. The teachings of Wyclif were carried to the English countryside by the 'Poor Priests' and soon became popular, particularly in the Midlands and among artisans and peasants. In 1395, the 'Twelve Conclusions' which contained the principles of the Lollards' beliefs were presented to the British Parliament. These denied transubstantiation, the effectiveness of the use of images, sacraments, prayers for the dead and confession. They also condemned prayer over bread, wine, oil and water as magic rites and the celibacy and vows of nuns as unnatural.

The Lollards were accused of heresy and most of the scholars who had originally accepted the teachings recanted in order to retain their positions at the university. After his death, John Wycklif was declared a heretic and his bones were exhumed and burned. Although its members were persecuted, the movement continued beyond the sixteenth century becoming a social and political movement as well as a religious one.

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The End of Europe's Middle Ages / Applied History Research Group / University of Calgary
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