Priesthood and tithes
in Lollards in the English Reformation
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This chapter analyses lollard views of the priesthood and tithing found in Foxe’s Acts and Monuments. It begins by looking at the nature of the lollard critique of clergy, revealing that despite the nuanced categories modern scholars have given to ‘anticlericalism’ (including distinctions between ‘literary anticlericalism’, ‘hyperclericalism’, and ‘antisacertodalism’), Foxe’s portrayal of the priesthood is dominated by calls for an abolition of a separate priestly class. It then hones in on two radical concepts in the lollard narratives: clerical disendowment and the notion of temporal possessions more generally, and the idea of episcopacy. Beyond the ministers themselves, Foxe’s book describes a range of opinions concerning the tithes which maintained them, from scepticism to outright denunciations. It confirms that these ideas, preserved by Foxe’s tome, offered historical precedents for separatists and puritans as well as conformists in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Lollards in the English Reformation

History, radicalism, and John Foxe

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