Essay The English Reformation

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The English Reformation


During the reign of King Richard II "England was experiencing her first serious outbreak of heresy for nearly a millennium." This widespread heresy, known as Lollardy, held the reformation of the Catholic Church as its main motivation, and was based upon the ideas of John Wyclif, an Oxford scholar. "All kinds of men, not only in London but in widely-separated regions of the country, seized the opportunity to voice criticisms both constructive and destructive of the present state of the Church." While commoners protested and pressed for reform, going so far as to present their manifesto, the "Twelve Conclusions," to Parliament, members of the royal household were protecting John Wyclif and his ideas, John of
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"It thus followed that it was the duty of the king to reform the Church." Eleven years after Wyclif's death, a group of Lollards came before Parliament with their complaints, and asked "the Lords and the Commons in Parliament to lead the way to reformation."

Wyclif's, and by extension the Lollards, views also included the supreme importance of the Scriptures as a guide to living a Christian life, as opposed to the Catholic view which placed the Scripture along side the advise and beliefs of the Church hierarchy. This resulted in the translation of the Gospels and the Bible into English so that all people could read and understand the Scriptures. The Lollards rebelled against the idea that the host and wine could be turned into the body and blood of Jesus, "and called for a return to primitive simplicity and morality." Two main areas of contention for the Lollards, as well as the royal administration, however, were the Church's exorbitant wealth and the supremacy of the pope. After the Peasant Revolt of 1381 "priests did their best to associate the attacks by peasants on ecclesiastical and secular property with Wyclif's teaching on lordship…