John Wycliffe and his Precursors

John Wycliffe

This book examines the teachings of John Wycliffe places them in the context of other theologians of the middles ages who cam to similar conclusions. My thanks to Book Aid for making a copy of this public domain title available for digitisation.

Gotthard Lechler [1811-1888], John Wycliffe and his English Precursors. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1904. Hbk. pp.537. [Click to visit the download page for this title]


  1. English Precursors of Wycliffe
    1. Mixture and Consilidation of Races in the English People
    2. Robert Grosetête, Bishop on Lincoln
    3. Hnery Bracton and William Occam
    4. English Church Politics in the Fourteenth Century
    5. Richard of Armagh and the Mendicant Orders
    6. Thomas Bradwardine, his Teaching and Spirit
    7. ‘The Vision of Piers Plowman’
    • Wycliffe’s Early Life
    • Life in Oxford—1345-1366
    • Wycliffe’s Public Life
    • Papal Action Against Wycliffe—1377-1378
    • Wycliffe as Preacher and Pulpit Reformer
    • Wycliffe as Bible Translator
    • Wycliffe as Thinker and Theologian
    • Wycliffe’s Last Years
    • The Successors of Wycliffe
    • Wycliffe’s Writings
  • Index

John Wycliffe and the Lollards by William Marshall

William Marshall [1807-1880], Wycliffe and the Lollards

A short study of the Morning Star of the Reformation, John Wycliffe, and the Lollards. My thanks to Book Aid for providing a copy of this public domain title for digitisation.

William Marshall [1807-1880], Wycliffe and the Lollards. Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1884. Hbk. pp.127. [Click to visit the download page]


  • Wycliffe
  • The English Lollards
  • The Scottish Lollards


John de Wycliffe often and aptly called ‘The Morning Star of the Reformation,’ was born, in 1324, in the parish and village of Wycliffe, near the junction of the Greta and the Tees, and a few miles north of Richmond in Yorkshire. His family are supposed to have been lords of the manor and patrons of the rectory of Wycliffe from the era of the Norman Conquest; and the property continued in their possession till 1606, when it passed by marriage into the family of the Tonstals.

Nothing is known of Wycliffe in his boyhood. He would get, we may be sure, the best education within reach–not improbably in the school of the Abbey of Egglestone, which was but a short distance from his home. That school was then in the height of its prosperity, and was just such an institution as young men intended for the Church were likely to be put to.

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John Wycliffe – Morning Star of the Reformation

Anonymous, Life and Times of John Wycliffe. The Morning Star of the Reformation, 2nd ednThis is a short anonymous biography of John Wycliffe which has five nice pen and ink illustrations. My thanks to Book Aid for making this public domain title available for digitisation.

Anonymous, Life and Times of John Wycliffe. The Morning Star of the Reformation, 2nd edn. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1884. Hbk. pp.160. [Click to visit the download page]


  • Preface
  • Preface to Second Edition
  1. Christianity in England from its Introduction to the Fourteenth Century
  2. Wycliffe’s Immediate Predecessors
  3. Wycliffe’s Early History
  4. Wycliffe’s Offical Life at Oxford
  5. Wycliffe’s First Conflict with the Papacy
  6. Wycliffe as Commissioner at Bruges
  7. Wycliffe’s further Conflicts with the Papel Power
  8. Wycliffe charged with Heresy and Insurrection
  9. Wycliffe denounces the Medicant Friars
  10. Wycliffe and his Party suffer continued Persecution
  11. Wycliffe’s Last Years and Death
  12. Wycliffe and the Preaching of the Gospel
  13. Wycliffe and the English Bible
  14. Wycliffe as a Christia, Theologian, and Reformer
  15. Extent and Permanency of Wycliffe’s influence
  • Notes on Wycliffe’s Writings

Preface to Second Edition

Year by year it is better understood that John of Wycliffe was not only one of the greatest men in English history, but the true precursor of the English Reformation. The truths to which he was the intrepid witness never wholly passed from the minds of our countrymen; and amid the bitter persecutions which seemed to crush Lollardry out of existence there remained an amount of secret but imperishable conviction which prepared the way for the great events of the sixteenth century.

The materials for a biography of Wycliffe are but scanty. His writings are in no sense autobiographical. For many important particulars respecting his life and work we are indebted mainly to his enemies. John Foxe, however, the martyrologist, has preserved some important particulars, and the later biographers of Wycliffe, the Rev. John Lewis (r7I9), with Drs. Vaughan and Lechler in our own times…

Illustrations of the History of Medieval Thought and Learning by Reginald Poole

John WycliffeThis is a collection of sketches from Medieval Church history and includes studies on Gottschalk, John Scotus, Peter Abelard, Thomas Aquinas and John Wycliffe. My thanks to Book Aid for making a copy of this book available for digitisation.

Reginald Lane Poole [1857-1939], Illustrations of the History of Medieval Thought and Learning, 2nd edn. London: SPCK, 1932. Hbk. pp.327. [Click to visit the download page]


  • Preface
  • Introduction
  1. Claudius of Turin and Agobard of Lyons
  2. John Scotus
  3. The Dark Age
  4. The School of Chartres
  5. Peter Abailard
  6. The Trial of Gilbert of La Porrée
  7. John of Salisbury
  8. The Heirarchical Doctrine of the State
  9. The Opposition to the Temporal Claims of the Papacy
  10. Wycliffe’s Doctrine of Dominion
  • Appendix
  • Index


To republish a book after a lapse of thirty-six years can only be excused by the fact that it has long been out of print and that it is still asked for. When a new edition was proposed to me, my first intention was to issue the book as it stood, with no more change than the correction of obvious mistakes. But further consideration showed me that a good deal more than this was necessary if it was to be republished at all. Such revision, however, as I have made has been designedly made with a sparing hand, and the book remains in substance and in most details a work not of 1920 but of 1884. Had I written it now, the point of view would not have been quite the same. A large literature on the subjects I dealt with has appeared in the interval, and a fresh examination of the materials would certainly have recommended a different selection of ‘illustrations’ from that which I made then…

Patterson’s History of the Church of England

Dioceses Under Henry IIIM.W. Patterson’s book A History of the Church of England is now a available for free download in PDF. It covers English Church history from the arrival of the first missionaries up to the Victorian era (when the book was written). The book became public domain last year.

M.W. Patterson [1873-1944], A History of the Church of England. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1929. Hbk. pp.457. Click to download.


  1. The Church in Britain Before the Anglo-Saxon Conquest
  2. The Anglo-Saxon Conquest and the Roman Mission
  3. The Work of the Scotch Missionaries Till the Synod Of Whitley, 664
  4. Wilfrid and Theodore: The Organisation of the Church
  5. The Church to the Norman Conquest – The Coming of the Danes – Alfred and His Successors
  6. The Church Under the Norman Kings
  7. The Conflict of Church and State – Henry II. and Thomas Becket
  8. The Church and The Great Charter
  9. The Church in the Thirteenth Century
  10. The Church and the Wycliffite Movement
  11. The Church at the Close of the Middle Ages
  12. The New Learning and the Early Years of Henry VIII.
  13. The Reformation Under Henry VIII.
  14. The Reign of Edward VI. and the Growth of Protestant Influences
  15. The Marian Reaction and the Elizabethan Settlement
  16. The Church Under Elizabeth – Puritanism and Romanism
  17. The Church Under the Early Stewarts – The Laudian Regime
  18. The Long Parliament and the Puritan Revolt
  19. The Restoration and the Revolution
  20. The Church from 1714-1833 – Rationalism and the Evangelical Revival
  21. The Oxford Movement and the Victorian Era

Principal Dates


  1. Bishoprics On Eve of Norman Conquest
  2. Doctrine Concerning Sacrament of Holy Communion
  3. Synopsis of Reformation Parliament
  4. Sacrificial Aspect of Holy Communion
  5. The Ornaments Rubric
  6. Anglican Orders
  7. Lists of Popes, Archbishops, Kings



Map of Dioceses Old and New Under Henry VIII
Map of Dioceses in 1909

Review: Warrior of God. Jan Zizka and the Hussite Revolution

Victor Verney, Warrior of God. Jan Zizka and the Hussite Revolution. London: Frontline Books, 2009. Hbk. ISBN: 978-1-84832-516-6. pp.240.

When I was first offered a review copy of this book I was somewhat surprised, because the publisher specialises in military rather than religious history. Having read the book I would have to say that it would be a great shame if this meant that those interested in medieval and reformation history overlooked it because of its publisher.

The book covers the life of Jan Zizka, a man instrumental in the survival and the success of the Hussite revolution in Bohemia following the martyrdom of Jan Hus. The introductory chapter places the story of the Hussites in the larger context of the political and religious turmoil of the 14th Century, while chapter one introduces Zizka and explains the significance of his military innovations. Zizka proved to be a genius at utilising whatever was at hand in warfare. At this time the significant role in battle was conducted by opposing knights. These engaged one another on horseback as they saw fit and the peasant infantry served mainly to be mowed down by the cavalry.

Faced with a situation where his forces consisted almost entirely of peasant infantry Zizka equipped them by converting their wagons into mobile fortresses and (literally) turned their pruning hooks into swords and a variety of vicious clubs and other weapons. Faced with Zizka’s battle wagons drawn up in formation strategically utilising the terrain, cavalry charges proved useless and knights were forced to dismount and attack on more equal terms with their opponents. In such circumstances the knights were invariably routed.

Chapter 2 describes the career of Jan Hus and includes this significant passage which is worth quoting in full:

Before being burned at the stake, Hus declared ‘You are now going to burn a goose [the meaning of his surname] , but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast or boil.’ Copies of Wyclif’s writings were used to kindle the fire. One hundred and two years later, Luther posted his theses, and today the swan is a symbol of many Lutheran churches. The seeming prescience of Hus’s remark, served to heighten his saintly stature with subsequent generations of Bohemians, and Protestant iconography commonly connects Wyclif, Hus, and Luther. Has Hus lived longer,he would have presided over difficult times for his followers, and his memory might be less revered. Some feel that Hus left the historical stage at the proper time and in the proper manner to ensure everlasting fame respect. A living Hus would have been a valuable voice for the movement, but the dead Hus embodied a spirit of pride and resistance, inspiring the Hussites and steeling them for the coming doctrinal a military assault upon their beliefs. [p.36]

These military assaults came from without, in the form of the five anti-Hussite Crusades, and from within as divisions in the Hussite cause led to discord and civil war. The brutality of these wars – on all sides – was incredible and one has to remind oneself that the Hussites were literally fighting for their lives as their “heresy” was a capital offence. Through Zizka’s leadership the Hussite armies finally subjugated almost all of of Bohemia and after his death invaded Moravia and Austria.

Victor Verney does a splendid job of translating the incredible complex events of this period into an engaging account that is a delight to read. He describes the origins of the various Hussites sects, the Orebites (Orphans), Taborites, Pichards, Adamites, etc. in such as way that one is able to understand clearly the historical and religious context of each.

Towards the end of his book Verney sums up the significance of the Hussite revolution in these words, which again are worth quoting in full:

Continual Hussite victories also sowed widespread religious doubt, ultimately more subversive to Rome than their military incursions. Many could not understand why, if they were fighting for God as the Pope, the Emperor, and their nobles and clerics kept assuring them, they kept losing. If the Hussites were indeed sacriligious heretics, why was God permitting them to enjoy such success? These widespread misgivings about the Vatican’s omnipotence and righteousness prepared Central Europe for Martin Luther a century later. The Hussites, particularly Tabor, exploited this by distributing thousands of pamphlets throughout Western Europe, explaining themselves and making their case – a remarkable exercise in mass media four decades before Gutenberg’s printing press. [p,222]

In summary, I would like to highly commend this book to anyone interested in medieval and reformation history and hope that it becomes required reading on all courses dealing with these subjects.