The most complete statement of the Lollard creed is in the document commonly known as the Conclusions, presented to Parliament in 1395. It denied transubstantiation; it condemned the use of sacramentals, images, prayers for the dead, and auricular confession; it spoke out against all war; and it attacked clerical celibacy and the chastity vows of nuns as unnatural. At its peak just before the turn of the century, Lollardry appealed to members of the middle and upper classes as well as to those of the lower; Oxford became an intellectual center of Lollardry.
Severe repressive measures began with the accession (1399) of Henry IV. The statute De haeretico comburendo [on the burning of the heretic] was passed by Parliament in 1401, but burnings at the stake were actually rare. Under persecution the Lollards tended to fanaticism, and a petty rebellion broke out among followers of Sir John Oldcastle. The rebellion was easily put down (1414), and Oldcastle was executed (1417). There was another uprising, again easily suppressed, in 1431, but stricter suppression drove the movement underground, where it survived until the 16th cent. The alarm of the clergy in England over the Lutheran doctrines was partly caused by a fear that Lollardry would be revived.
It is difficult to state how much Lollardry actually encouraged the English Reformation. Undoubtedly it weakened the hold of the church on the people, and the popular use of the Bible helped to stimulate the later movement. Finally, although Lollardry knew nothing of Martin Luther's doctrine of justification by faith, it did in effect proclaim the direct responsibility of the individual soul to God—the essential idea of the Reformation.
See J. Gairdner, Lollardy and the Reformation in England (4 vol., 1908-13; repr. 1968); J. A. F. Thomson, The Later Lollards, 1414-1520 (1965).
Theresa Coletti. Mary Magdalene and the Drama of Saints: Theater, Gender, and Religion in Late Medieval England.(Book Review)
Dec 22, 2004; Theresa Coletti. Mary Magdalene and the Drama of Saints: Theater, Gender, and Religion in Late Medieval England (Philadelphia:...