5 Key Factors in the Fall of Lollardy

Up to 1400 John Wycliffe’s Lollard movement was going rather well. By 1400 however, Wycliffe was dead and the state was beginning to crack down on his followers.

1. The Peasant’s Revolt

John_Ball_encouraging_Wat_Tyler_rebels

Lollard preacher John Ball speaking to participants in the peasants revolt.

The Peasant’s Revolt was actually repudiated by Lollard leader John Wycliffe, who preferred to advance his cause through more conventional political manoeuvring. The revolt still characterised itself as a Lollard event, however, and its spiritual leader John Ball was a Lollard preacher.

The revolt altered the image of Lollardy in the minds of many powerful people to whom it came to represent not only a movement for religious reform but also a dangerous force which could destabilise society as a whole

2. De Heretico Comburendo

Henry Bolingbroke - one of many people to invade since 1066.

Henry IV

De Hertico Comburendo was a law passed by Henry IV in 1401 to combat the rise of Lollardy. The law did not explicitly state that this was its aim but it legalised the burning of heretics and included Bible translation as one of the heresies for which one might be given the penalty. This targeted Lollards and therefore drove the movment underground.

3. Executions

the-picture-of-the-hanging-and-burning-of-diverse-persons-counted-for-lollards

The first lay person ever to be executed as a heretic in England was a Lollard named John Badby who was arrested in 1410 and refused to renounce his Lollardy. Once the De Heritico Comburendo had established it as a heresy there was much less tolerance for Lollardy and those adhering to it publicly risked a particularly painful death.

4. Oldcastle’s Revolt

Oldcastleburning

The Execution of John Oldcastle

In 1413 nobleman and friend of the King John Oldcastle was brought to trail for Lollardy, but escaped from the Tower of London. Once free he launched a rebellion with the intent of deposing the King. The rebellion failed but Oldcastle remained at large for four years thereafter and was involved in other intrigues against the English. In 1417 he was finally captured and executed.

This was important in completing what the Peasants Revolt had began with regard to public opinion. Lollardy became fixed in the minds of lay elites as a source of unrest and as a threat to the social order, therefore heightening opposition to it and increasing the persecution of its adherents.

5. Protestantism

martin-luther

In the later 15th and 16th centuries Protestantism spread across Europe, espousing many of the same values and projects that had once been associated with Lollardy. As a result the movement largely died out or else became incorporated into the protestant cause.

Alex is a history student at King's College London focusing on Europe and the Near East in the Middle Ages. He currently works writing and editing content for madefromhistory.