Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Precursor to the Protestant Reformation PLUS GIVEAWAY!


In my research for my medieval novel Sword of Forgiveness I ran across some interesting historical information about John Wycliffe and his followers, the Lollards. I found it so interesting I couldn't help but to change the direction of my story. 
Wycliffe and the Lollards The Poor Priests by William Fredrick Yeames
Martin Luther

We all know who Martin Luther is and The Ninety-Five Thesis and how it is credited as the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. But few are aware that John Wycliffe and the Lollard campaign was a precursor to the Protestant Reformation.  
John Wycliffe, born in 1330, was a lay preacher, university teacher at Oxford, and reformer in England. One of Wycliffe's greatest accomplishments to the people was his translation of the Bible into Middle English which was the first complete translation in the language. His translation of the Bible is said to have made a notable influence on the Middle English language.
John Wycliffe
He developed a number of doctrines, most importantly that the Bible is the supreme authority. He believed that if individuals understood the bible it would lead to moral living where the church taught that salvation was only gained by taking the holy sacraments. He also believed that a godly person was more important and morally superior to a wicked ordained cleric. He didn’t believe the church should be rich and have  luxuries, but should be more like the church of the apostles and they should hold no property. This belief was later condemned as heretical.  
Wycliffe, a dissident in the Roman Catholic Church, and extremely influential amongst the people, gained followers known as Lollards. His ideas flowed among the intellectual circles of his time from which many of the Lollards derived. These followers preached biblically-centered reform along with speaking out against the clerical. Wycliffe was one of the first to challenge the papal authority over secular power. His and the Lollard’s beliefs were considered a threat to the Catholic Church.
John of Gaunt
Wycliffe's colleagues at Oxford and many powerful laymen like John Of Gaunt supported him wholeheartedly. In 1377 John Wycliffe was brought to trial,  which nothing came of due to his strong and influential connections. Pope Gregory XI formally condemned Wycliffe and his doctrines in 1382 and demanded he be arrested. The pope's order was never carried out. The Archbishop of Cantebury was next to condemn him and his writings, but that didn't stop Wycliffe from writing. He continued to do so until his death in 1384.
After the death of John Wycliffe the Lollard movement grew rapidly and they adopted Wycliffe's ideas in their most extreme form. Shortly after Henry IV issued the first order for burning in 1401 the hunt for heresy earnestly began. 41 years after his death, Wycliffe's books were burned, his body was exhumed and burned and his ashes were scattered.
Since the Lollard movement some have accused the Lollards as only being a political group attempting to overthrow the papal rule.
I'm super excited to be giving away a copy of my new release Sword of Forgiveness.  
Answer one of the questions below or ask me a question about the post and be entered to win your choice of paperback or ebook. Giveaway ends March 11th. 

Have you ever heard of the Lollards? 
What do you think about some of the Lollards' beliefs?
Reading the last statement, do you think the Lollards sound like a political group rather than a group who cared about the souls of men?

When her father died, she had promised herself no man would own her again, yet who could defy an edict of the king? After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosencraig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution.
Royce of Hawkwood returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim.
Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was about eight years old. She studied journalism at Heritage University. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. 

37 comments:

  1. I have not heard of the Lollards but I am interested to learn more about them. Thank you for the chance to win. griperang at embarqmail dot com

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    1. Hello, Angela. I love this time of history. It's full of so many interesting facts. I hope you get a chance to read my book and learn a little more about lollards.

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  2. You certainly have done your "homework" here Ms. Costello. I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. My first Masters ( of three) is in Church History. The Lolliards were out for themselves. Heck, the Reformers were trying to fix a "co-opted"system of papal meglomania. You should see the movie Luther that came out about a decade ago. Some of those scenes were unfirgettable like climbing the steps to the Cathedral on your knees and PAYING for the "privlege" to do so. IMHO, the Lollards were political, not relgious, although the might have had true reformation on their docket when they first started.

    Your book sounds great. als@foxgull.com

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    1. Thanks Andrea, I'll have to see if I can find the movie Luther. It sounds interesting. Church history is so interesting. It's amazing how some started and when they started. I appreciate you sharing your information and opinion. Good luck in the drawing.

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  3. Thank you for your interesting post. I have not heard of a The Lollards. I am intrigued by your book and would love to read it. Thank you for the opportunity.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Hey Melanie!! Good luck in the drawing. I hope you get a chance to read Sword of Forgiveness.

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  4. I am fascinated by this history. I can't help but feel that any challenge to the corrupt church at the time was as much spiritually motivated as political. God will use a Balaams donkey to speak if He has to, so why not a politician. :) great post.

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    1. Thank you Kathy! Very well said. God can and will use anything He wants to further His plan!

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  5. This is an interesting aspect of Reformation history, such a turbulent time. Thanks for the stories!

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    1. Hey Rebecca, Yes, a very turbulent time. We romanticize it but wow, what a tough life they lived.

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  6. This is such an interesting post! To answer the question about the Lollards as a political movement. I think there are always moderates and extremists in any group. Probably some, or even most, of the Lollards tended toward being extreme, or maybe those are the only ones that have made it into the annals of history. It might have been similar to what we've seen in the United States over the last few decades. There are many Christians who have taken a stand in the political arena. And, there are many who have not. Debbie Lynne, thanks for the great article! I'm looking forward to reading your book.

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    1. Wonderful thoughts there Kay. It does seem most groups have both extremists and moderates. I believe there were those who truly loved the Lord and wanted to see God's people have God's word available to them. Thanks for coming by, and good luck.

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  7. I cannot recall anything about the Lollards from my Church History studies at Bible school, but I do recall much about Wycliffe and have always admired the man and his work. God's hand was upon him. There can be no doubt about that. Whether for spiritual or political motivations the Lollards carried on his work, I cannot say. But I agree with Kathleen. Throughout history we've seen much evidence that God is not limited to use whomever or whatever to further His Kingdom. He confounds the wisdom of people. Thank you for this post. I am a student of all history, but especially of the Middle Ages through Reformation. It was a good read.

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    1. Thank you, MN. Amen, God is not limited! John Wycliffe was an amazing man and went against the church but so did the Lollards. by 1401 lollards were burnt at the stake for their beliefs so whether political or spiritual they must have firmly believed in it to be willing to give their lives for it.

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  8. Boy do I want to read your book and go back to check on Wycliffe. The Lollard's showed their true colors and pushed for political gains, but it is a tough time to decipher because the "Church" & government were corrupt. Thank you for your article and book!!

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    1. Yay! I'm glad this has peeked your interest, Chris. It was a corrupt time and even if it had some political substance I'm not convinced there wasn't spiritual conviction there too. I think it could easily be a combination of both.

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  9. Interesting article. I had not heard about the Lollard's before. It sounds like they started off with the right intentions and perhaps may have become somewhat corrupted by the actual battle itself instead of listening to God. Your book is on my TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Woo Hoo! I'm so glad it's on your TBR list, Loraine! Good luck!

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  10. I have heard of the Lollards, but I don't know much about them.
    a.f.washburn(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. I hope you found some interesting information in the post. Good luck!

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  11. Maybe they were the original conservative party! Back in folks actually believed in the hood....

    missionwife AT hotmail DOT com

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  12. I vaguely recall the name Lollards, but know nothing about them. Fascinating thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. I thought so, too, Mary! Thanks for coming by. Good luck!

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  13. I had not heard of the Lollards. It sounds like they were on the right track. Having been raised Catholic, I concur with their beliefs about the church. Knowledge beats tradition.

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    1. Yes, knowing Jesus Christ is our salvation. Jesus himself didn't follow traditions. Thanks for coming by, Martha. good luck!

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  14. I don't recall hearing about the Collards but I am fascinated by this information. It always amazes me how two people reading the same scripture can interpret it so differently. Thanks for your interview
    Blessings,
    Connie
    cps1950@gmail.com

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    1. Sorry, auto correct kicked in, Lollards!

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    2. LOL! I have a love/ hate relationship with auto correct! Just think if we all read the same scripture the same there would be one denomination and religion. Wow that is hard to even comprehend. As long as it was interpreted correctly it be like being in heaven!

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  15. Very interesting article, and to think it predates Martin Luther and his theses by a century. Like your previous poster, it is interesting to see how differently scripture is interpreted. I was not raised in the Christian faith, yet this is indicative across many faiths and religions.

    I read the free sample of "Sword of Forgiveness" via Amazon. The opening scene has Pater, a Lollard urging Birthwin to let go of her bitterness towards her father, easier said than done, I say! It is so simple to be difficult yet so difficult to be simple.

    Congratulations on a great beginning!
    deo.monica@gmail.com

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  16. Thank you, Monica! Yes!!! Letting go of bitterness is very hard. It's part of why I wrote the book. Forgiveness is such a monumental part of Christianity and holding on to it destroys the person God means for us to be. I think most if not all people have faced a time in their lives when they were confronted with bitterness. Some worse than others, but we've all experienced this emotion and need to help each other to work through the anger, hatred and hurt. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  17. I had never heard of the Lollards before. I like how they hold the Bible as the supreme authority, but then some other things are skewed, such as holding property, etc. It's important that we know salvation comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ rather than only upholding religious rites, but we do need to watch for legalism. Interpretation.... (o: Very interesting!

    I'd love to win a copy of this book! Thanks fot the chance!
    kathrynlvoss(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for coming by Kate! Yes, there was legalism there. But at this point in time there only was the legalism of the Catholic Church so Lollards' beliefs were really going against the grain. Delving into their beliefs about not holding property I believe that was because the Catholic Church had become very rich. The Lollards wanted the church to return to the way it was in biblical times where helping people was more important than accruing wealth.

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  18. I had not heard of the Lollards before reading your post. Rhonda
    nashhall@aol.com

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    1. I hope you enjoyed learning something about them, Rhonda. Thanks for coming by!

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  19. RANDOM NUMBERS PICKED CONNIE AS THE WINNER OF SWORD OF FORGIVENESS! CONGRATULATIONS CONNIE!!!

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  20. I had to do some work on the Lollards for my BA History Dissertation, as it involved an event known as 'The Oldcastle Rising' in 1414. Basically, a prominent Lollard Knight, Sir John Oldcastle, escaped from prison was supposed to be behind a rising intented to take over the government. That was actually under King Henry V, John of Gaunt's grandson.

    It seems that after Wycliffe's death some took Wycliffe's teachings to extremes, using them as a pretext for rebellion against the secular authorities, and rebellion, such as the idea that nobody in a state of mortal sin should hold a position of authority. Wycliffe himself never seems to have supported such action, but in later years, especially after the rising such actions seem have made Lollardy seem to dangerous that there was a crackdown against it.

    The ironic thing is that some today denigrate Henry V because seven people involved in the Rising were burned, but often do not mention that a number of other were hanged for rebellion (or some such) which rather suggests that many of those involved were no motivated by relgious zeal or piety, but might have just been out to cause trouble....

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