The lollard legacy of persecution
in Lollards in the English Reformation
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When mentioning the lollard legacy in the work of Coverdale, Foxe and others, nearly all modern scholars, assert that these medieval heretics provided historical evidence of God’s approval. But remarkably few lollard deaths conformed to the literary tropes and exemplary models of the early church. Although several high-profile lollards were executed, they had been condemned as traitors, and many lollard records were cut off after trial, leaving evangelical chroniclers unsure how these so-called heretics had died. This chapter addresses this tension, and demonstrates how Foxe moulded the lollards into martyrs – whether they died suffering or not. By recounting in excruciating detail the trials, imprisonments, abjurations, and penance of the lollards, Foxe shifted focus away from the constancy of the martyr and towards the cruelty of the bishops who interrogated them. In particular, it shows how Foxe perceived the ecclesiastical oath to be an abuse of power, especially the ex officio oath. Due largely to Foxe’s success in establishing the lollards as true martyrs, post-Reformation Protestants rarely questioned their martyrological value, and this paved the way for discontented religious advocates to appropriate the lollards in line with the trials of their own religious traditions.

Lollards in the English Reformation

History, radicalism, and John Foxe

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