Presentation on theme: "Lollard Communities Religion & Religious Change in England c.1470-1558."— Presentation transcript:
Lollard Communities Religion & Religious Change in England c.1470-1558
Recap: Last time: assessed role of criticism in the Church. This time: look at Lollards – often seen as the precursor or foundation for Reform. Danger of teleology – projecting backwards and find an explanation. Certainly contingencies – and huge criticisms – which shared with Reformers. Next week – assess impact of Lollardy in C15th/C16th on Protestants. Here, outline doctrines, spread of movement and contextualise place of Lollardy in late medieval Catholicism. Sect or spectrum?
‘Lollard’: What’s in a word? Dutch lollaerd (someone who mutters, a mumbler). Latin lolium, tares (mingled with the wheat): ◦ Matthew 13. Franciscan, Lolhard, a convert to the Waldensians and a prominent preacher in Guienne (then under English control). He was burned at Cologne in the 1370s; Middle-English loller - vagabond, idle.
John Wycliff (d.1381): Philosophy & Theology: ◦ Realists: things existed because they shared in an underlying reality, an ideal model of a thing, of which all particular examples were approximations. ◦ Nominalist: Denied the reality of universals/ ideals There were only things which man perceived through the senses from their ‘accidents’. For realists all tables are imperfect copies of a great eternal table, for nominalists all table are different. Wycliff – realist: ◦ Universals existed in God’s mind. ◦ Real things were mere substances of God’s ideal – shared in the eternity of that idea. ◦ Known to mankind only through their perception in the senses. What we see, hear, smell, touch only ‘real’ in the sense that they were manifestations of a perfect reality beyond the senses. Illuminations of God to man was the basis of all human knowledge.
Doctrines: Scripture: De veritate sacrae scripturae ‘logic of Holy Scripture’ (1378) saw it as endorsing the realist philosophy which he embraced. Pure expression of God’s mind to the human race – therefore valued over tradition. ◦ As ideal of law (written down) took precedent over custom, so scripture (law of God) should have precedent over tradition. ◦ Nothing ‘true’ unless in the Bible. ◦ Lordship in Grace: Problem re: ownership of property. ‘Just’ = that which agreed with God’s will. ‘render each their due’: ◦ Reward virtuous; retribution for evil. ◦ THIS world shadow perfect ideal (of God). Church could not reward the sinful: ◦ Owning property distracted from spiritual duties. ◦ Undermined the entire legal code of the Church (canon law). Ideal of clergy = poverty, as under the Old Law. ◦ Predestination: God had pre-decided who to elect to salvation – an orthodoxy of Catholicism. Difference not of kind but degree – emphasis which Wycliffe placed on it. Ramifications for the definition of ‘Church’ Not all Christians on earth gathered together. God’s love for the Elect unchanging – must be Elect on earth, too. ◦ How could the Catholic Church be ‘True’ if made up of reprobates? ◦ How could it makes moral decisions if there was no way of knowing if ecclesia ‘Elect’? ◦ Papacy not look very pious (Great Schism): Authority should be based on spirituality, not tradition. ◦ Importance of sacraments reduced: Signs, not vehicles for grace. Only predestined could receive grace – to suggest otherwise a contradiction of God’s will. Penance/confession not required. ◦ Eucharist: Denial of transubstantiation. No presence of Christ in bread – only in those who were Elect. Affront to the powers of the meditative priesthood – sacramental power to channel God’s grace – and the devotional framework which had developed around the Host. Masses for the dead etc redundant. As was much of the material fabric of late medieval Catholicism.
A Movement? Implies solidity, organisation and purpose: ◦ Certainly evidence of sharing materials and contacts. More of a network than a sect: ◦ Not a separate Church. ◦ Networks dependent upon pre-existing patronage and kin relationships, rather than developing ones. Not gathered Churches: ◦ Wary of looking forward to the Reformation: Hutterites or Huguenots, who displayed a more coherent and shared identity. Those churches kept records, organised funds, schools. The Lollards did not. Nor did they possess a distinctive ministry. Theory not really allow Lollards to be a ‘movement’. ◦ Notion that the most just people the most Christian. ◦ Decidedly anti-hierarchical or institutional stance. If it was not a ‘movement’, certainly had significant ramifications. Conventicles: ◦ Gather to discuss, learn and study scripture.
Beliefs: Inherited heresies: ◦ Disbelief in transubstantiation. ◦ Rejection of the need for baptism and confession ◦ Denial of the value of pilgrimage, prayers to saints, or the honouring of their images. ◦ Attack oaths, fasting, prayers for the dead as unscriptural ◦ Papal pardons redundant Biblical certainties: ◦ Anticipate Protestants? Reading scripture: ◦ Coming together to read, study, reflect. ◦ Well-guarded locations. ◦ ‘Known men’ and ‘known women’ – those who truly knew and followed His law. Key texts: ◦ New Testament ◦ Gospels ◦ Epistles (especially the letter of James) ◦ Revelation Danger of overstating coherence: ◦ No single Lollard creed. ◦ Variation between conventicles. ◦ Based on charismatic preachers. Regional variation rested upon the predispositions of a handful of men. ◦ Evidence – most of what we know about ‘beliefs’ from trial records. Not written down/schematic, but taken under duress and often in response to questions. Not always clear. Unified in a rejection of a mediatory priesthood: ◦ Need to obtain knowledge of God based on scripture. ‘Holy’ men: ◦ Wycliff (even if not read his works). ◦ Sir John Oldcastle ◦ William Taylor ◦ William Emayn of Bristol. ◦ Key: drawing on the community’s past history.
Dispersion & Scope: Odd that Wycliffe’s ideas did spread: ◦ Theological disputes rarely escaped universities. ◦ Sermons in Latin. ◦ Why? Ramifications for power of the church. Wycliffe’s energy. ‘Man of the people’? (majority of writings in Latin). Which people and to what end? Deeply entrenched in: ◦ Kent ◦ Essex ◦ Berkshire ◦ South Buckinghamshire ◦ Oxfordshire. How did it spread? ◦ Preaching: Revolutionary in context of sacerdotal priesthood. Established structures of Church key to spread. ◦ Clerics – therefore authority. Divide ‘orth/heterodox’ thin in the early stages. ◦ Close knit communities ◦ Conventicles ◦ Impressive scale of literature: 250 bible manuscripts: ◦ Only 20 complete. ◦ All ‘Lollard’? Wary of assuming reading primary means. Projecting the Reformation backwards. Group reading – empowering in an age of mass illicteracy. Very few arrested owned books. Those that did v. basic – 10 Commandments.
Dispersion & Scope: Patronage: ◦ ‘Lollard Knights’ at the court of Richard II: Sirs: Thomas Latimer, Richard Sturry, John Cheyne, Lewis Clifford, William Neville, John Montague. ◦ Heresy at the centre of power. ◦ Latimer – promote in Leceistershire/ Northamptonshire. Maintain Lollard clerics on his lands. ◦ Sturry – forced to forswear Lollardy in 1390. Not overstate coherence: ◦ Closely knit body of men. ◦ But very varied values. ◦ All active in mainstream piety alongside Lollardy. Devotions to the Virgin Mary. Wills & traditional devotions. Several died on pilgrimage. Gentry support in some regions: ◦ Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Shropshire. ◦ Could cause conflict Northampton (1393). ◦ Mayor John Fox vs Richard Stormesworth. Social distribution: ◦ Not a disproportionate appeal to the gentry. Most to lose. Often to most extensive patrons of activities which Lollards condemned. ◦ Not a religion of the dispossessed. ◦ Attracted ‘middling sort’ – those with a stake in society: 51 Lollards investigated at Norfolk: ◦ 26 craftsmen, 1 wealthy, 4 priests ◦ Stress on literacy. ◦ These ‘middling sort’ were precisely the sorts of people interested in new avenues of (orthodox) lay piety. ◦ Apocalyptic fervour: No real social protest.
Lay piety: a spectrum? Was it radically apart from LMC? Points of contact with ‘orthodox’ devotions important: ◦ Poor Caitif (c.1400) – devotional treatise of orthodox nature 6 of 23 manuscripts in which survives contain Lollard works too. Actually written from Wycliffite sermons, perhaps by an orthodox Catholic with access to a range of materials. Not heretical – divisions often very narrow. Lollard Bibles often found in orthodox hands. Church contained a broad basis of opinions. Binary models of ‘orthodox’ / ‘heresy’ too rigid. ◦ Two sides of the same coin? Did Lollardy penetrate the mainstream? ◦ Desire to read religious literature and scripture. ◦ More austere of the newer religious Orders (eg. the Cartesians) points of contact with Lollardy. Devotional literature C15th. Nicholas Hereford – retired to the Cartesian Charterhouse in Coventry in 1417. ◦ ‘Lollard’ is often so unspecific in the documents Any unconventional piety. All heretics, dissenters lumped under the term. But the extremely orthodox might be too. Pious distaste of swearing might be conflated with Lollardy’s dislike of oaths
Lollards & Politics: Heresy = sedition: ◦ Religious iniquity lead to social/political iniquity. ◦ Lollardy tainted by this. ◦ Amplified by two cataclysmic events in British history : 1) Peasants Revolt (Archbishop of Canterbury lynched). 2) The Wars of the Roses (1399-85): ◦ Ended with the reign of Henry VII & the beginning of the Tudor dynasty ◦ Important for how the Tudors would remember Lollardy and how they would deal with heresy. Peasants Revolt (1381): ◦ Dissent accorded some role. ◦ Clamp down on Wycliffe & followers. ◦ Earlier historiography: Lollardy some role (esp. deposing of Richard II in 1399). ◦ Now, court of Richard II orthodox. ◦ Richard III & Henry IV reject heresy, too. Public way of proving orthodoxy. Win over the support of the AB of Canterbury, Arundel. Henry IV: ◦ De haeretico comburendo (‘On The Burning of Heretics’) – 1401. ◦ Reinforced existing sanctions. ◦ More symbolic than sensational. ◦ Undercut noble support. ◦ Public trials: John Bradby (1410). William Sawtry Way of shoring up support for monarchy – many of the kings in these years were o dubious legitimacy. Role of politics and heresy converge in the case of Sir John Oldcastle.
The Oldcastle Rising: Sir John Oldcastle: ◦ MP in 1407, Baron in 1409. Bills for dis-endowment of clergy. ◦ Childhood friend of Henry V ◦ Long critic of episcopacy. Archbishop Thomas Arundel: ◦ Produced evidence of Oldcastle’s heretical convictions to discredit him (& protect the Church). ◦ Compromising manuscripts (1413). ◦ Arrested – King urged to recant but would not. Condemned September. Henry’s delay in sanctioning execution permitted Oldcastle time to escape (19 th October). Revolt, January 1414: ◦ Oldcastle’s role – a reluctant figurehead on the run? ◦ Far from the Peasant’s Revolt, or even the smaller rebellions of the Tudor period. Few hundred Lollard devotees at best. No clear purpose. Lancastrian regime more in control of the events that the ‘rebels’ ever had been. Lancastrian regime ‘spun’ the event: ◦ Not a co-ordinated Lollard strike, but presented that way. Acted to sustain support for the Church and the regime. National Prayers, Thanksgiving Processions – sense of deliverance shored up the regime. Paul Strohm, whole thing an invention by the regime – too far? But clear that Lollardy not much of a political threat at this stage ◦ Commissions of Oyer and Terminer set up in the wake of the ‘revolt’ produced few returns. ◦ Oldcastle captured 1417. Turning point for Lollardy: ◦ Sedition frightened off men of influence. ◦ Networks began to die out. ◦ Arundel responded to Lollardy with programmes of devotional reading, preaching, clerical reform. Evidence once again of orthodox Catholicism being vibrant and flexible enough to sustain itself.
Lollards after Oldcastle: Treated more severely: ◦ Sporadic prosecutions from Richard II’s reign. ◦ Much more severe after Oldcastle – treasonable. Now equated with disobedience to the law. Sped up mechanisms of hunting out heretics. ◦ Severe prosecution: 80 offenders taken in the rising. 69 condemned. ◦ Popular resistance tainted: Cade’s rebellion – labelled ‘Lollards’ to spped up prosecution. Marjory Kempe (not a Lollard) aroused suspicion because of excessive devotions. Deemed less dangerous by the reign of Henry V: ◦ Bishop of Durham praised for handling of the situation at the opening of Parliament in 1420. ◦ Many Lollards in prison, but little urge to prosecute them ◦ Still there in 1425. Channels of communication/ organisations shattered: ◦ Pre-1414 elements eradicated. ◦ More concerned with survival than enacting change. Survival in smaller communities: ◦ Often in touch for security reasons. ◦ No leader, or over-arching organisation. ◦ Sustained by family networks. ◦ Regional flavours, characteristics. ◦ A series of attitudes to the priesthood and scripture than a co-ordinated creed.