Europe after Wyclif

Europe after Wyclif

Europe after Wyclif

Europe after Wyclif


This volume brings together scholarship that discusses late-medieval religious controversy on a pan-European scale, with particular attention to developments in England, Bohemia, and at the general councils of the fifteenth century. Controversies such as those that developed in England and Bohemia have received ample attention for decades, and recent scholarship has introduced valuable perspectives and findings to our knowledge of these aspects of European religion, literature, history, and thought.

Yet until recently, scholars working on these controversies have tended to work in regional isolation, a practice that has given rise to the impression that the controversies were more or less insular, their significance measured in terms of their local or regional influence. Europe After Wyclif was designed specifically to encourage analysis of cultural cross-currents--the ways in which regional controversies, while still products of their own environments and of local significance, were inseparable from cultural developments that were experienced internationally.


J. Patrick Hornbeck II and Michael Van Dussen

[T] here have remained [in England] not a few shoots of this heresy
which, unless they are quickly rooted out, will continue thus to
grow high; so that there is great doubt whether England (may God
in His mercy prevent it) may not come to the same fate as Bohemia.
Even if no indications appeared in former times, it has been
detected more evidently in recent days, when in different parts of
England, many heretics have been detected and captured. a rumor
reports, and it is very likely, that they have many associates and a
great number of allies who (as daily it comes to pass), infecting and
seducing others to the destruction of the entire realm, will increase
and become more abundant, until this heresy thrives in Bohemia.
Similarly, we have been informed by a trustworthy source (and you
certainly ought to have perceived) that frequently messengers of the
Wycliffites, hiding in England, set out for Bohemia, to encourage
[the Hussites] in their faithlessness and provide them with hope
of assistance and support.

—Pope Martin V

Writing in the 1420s, Thomas Netter (ca. 1374–1430) introduces his Doctrinale antiquitatum fidei ecclesiae catholicae as the latest in a venerable tradition of defenses “by the ancient Church against heretical novelties from the time of the apostles,” before he eventually reveals the Wycliffite heresy to be his primary subject. From an English domestic perspective, Netter’s massive Latin treatise would seem to have been out of touch with the times, something that might have been useful, perhaps, in countering Wycliffite heresy earlier in the century, but too blustery (and directed at the wrong audience) for the 1420s. Even Netter recognized the belatedness of his polemic, as if he would have preferred to present it during Wyclif’s lifetime. Earlier, the so-called Oldcastle Rising of 1414 had arguably foreclosed any chance of official support for Wycliffism in England, at least in . . .

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