Who were the Lollards, and what is the purpose of this society?
Lollardy, or Wycliffism, was England's greatest medieval heresy. The movement originated in the 1370s or early 1380s in Oxford with the followers of John Wyclif (d. 1384).
The purpose of this website, and our society, is to provide a forum for those interested in the study of Lollardy and the religious culture of the later Middle Ages in England. We hope to be accessible to all levels of academic interest.
The origin of the term "Lollard" is obscure. It apparently originated as a pejorative label, taken from the Middle Dutch word "lollaerd," meaning a babbler of nonsense. Its first recorded use in English is in 1382. While this is the term's most likely origin, many erudite, orthodox contemporaries of the movement believed that the word derived from the Latin "lolium," a wild weed or vetch (often translated as "tares") which can choke out wheat, as in the parable in Matthew 13:24-30. As with most medieval etymologies, however, this one tells more about the writer than the word. The medieval church of the later Middle Ages believed that their crop had to be constantly watched and regularly weeded--sometimes, if necessary, with fire--to avoid heretical infestations. The Lollards soon took to the term in the same way that many groups take on pejorative labels, however amorphous the group, or poorly the labels may fit. The movement spread throughout England, and lasted until the English Reformation.