Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Lollards, the name given to the English followers of John Wyclif (q.v.), is probably derived from the Low German verb lollen or lullen, "to sing," and may have been applied to the heretics in consequence of a supposed fondness for psalm singing. It was used in Holland in the early part of the 14th century, before it found its way to England. Wyclif's views were eagerly accepted by many of the nobility; they also found some favour with the mercantile class, but it was in the University of Oxford that they fell on the most congenial soil, and here Wyclif gained many disciples, the most eminent being Nicholas Herford, who assisted him in his translation of the Bible. The religious revival was not, however, confined to the upper and middle ranks of society, for the itinerant preachers instituted by Wyclif under the title of "poor priests" carried his doctrines through the length and breadth of the land. In the minds of the ignorant masses the yearning for spiritual freedom became confused with vague notions of social and political equality, and was certainly one of the causes which led to the Peasants' Revolt in 1381. Mainly in consequence of that rising John of Gaunt and other powerful supporters of AVyclif withdrew their protection from him. In the same year the first Act -ngainst the Lollards was passed, and in 1382 the movement was suppressed in Oxford. Nevertheless, Lollardism continued to thrive during the ten years which followed Wyclif's death. The petition" presented to Parliament by the Lollards in 1395 shows how closely their views were modelled on his teaching. Among other points they object to the doctrine of transubstantiation, clerical celibacy, auricular confession, and prayers for the dead, denounce Mass as impious, and demand that the Church should be deprived of its temporal possessions and placed in subjection to the king. The accession of the House of Lancaster was fatal to Lollardism. The success of Henry IV. was in great measure due to the support of the Church, headed by Archbishop Arundel, a bitter foe of the Lollards. Moreover, the kings of this line, especially Henry V. and Henry VI., seem to have been personally attached to the doctrine and ritual of the Church. The statute Be Hceretico Comburendo was passed in 1401 [Heeesy], and although only two persons William Sawtre and John Badby - were put to death under it during the reign of Henry IV., a, projected rising in 1414 and the dangerous influence exercised by Sir John Oldcastle (q.v.), who was captured and executed in 1417, gave rise to more severe measures. After this little is heard of the Lollards, but they appear to have lingered on till the time of the Reformation, and probably contributed in some degree to its rapid progress in England.