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Lollards

(Middle Dutch, Lollaerd, mumbler)

The followers of John Wyclif, an heretical body flourishing in England in the 14th and 15th centuries, applied, however, in Flanders to certain heretics before it was used in England. The principal heresies of the Lollards were the denial of the authority of the Church, the repudiation of Transubstantiation, and the theory of "Dominium," viz: that the validity of the Sacraments depends upon the worthiness of the minister. These were all enunciated by Wyclif and were spread abroad by his "poor priests," men, who though many of them were not in Orders, went throughout the country preaching and exhorting the people, and appealing for confirmation of their teaching to Wyclif's translation of the New Testament (a family one). Their sincerity and austerity, which cannot be questioned, contrasted in many cases with the growing luxury among the secular and regular clergy, gave them a ready hearing and the heresy spread rapidly. Stern means were taken both in Church and State against them, and a number of Lollards were burnt for heresy, though many, having participated in rebellious outbreaks, were put to death for treason. In the 15th century Lollardy became less and less a learned body and soon degenerated into extreme fanaticism. Though the Lollards were the forerunners of the Reformation in England, their influence upon the acceptance of that movement was very slight.

 

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