Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When John Wycliffe's followers gained support from the common people, why did the church call them Lollards? What does Lollard mean? Why didn't they just call them Wycliffites?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Tea Drinker, Eugene Seidel, Gwenn, Kobunite, Louis Rhys Aug 1 '13 at 10:19

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Requests for trivia or basic historical facts are off-topic if they can be easily answered by looking up the relevant topic on Wikipedia. We're trying to complement common historical references, not duplicate them." – Tea Drinker, Eugene Seidel, Gwenn, Kobunite, Louis Rhys
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4  
It think en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lollardy#Etymology provides a good discussion –  Squark Oct 13 '11 at 18:03
    
I disagree with the tag protestant-church added by @Voitcus. Protestantism, according to Wikipedia, is "a movement that is widely seen as beginning in Germany by Martin Luther with The Ninety-Five Theses in 1517". Wycliffe, however, was born nearly two centuries earlier. –  Eugene Seidel Aug 1 '13 at 6:48
    
So it would be better to remove the "reformation" tag. –  Voitcus Aug 1 '13 at 6:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Lollard means: "From M[iddle] [Dutch] lollaerd, lit. 'mumbler, mutterer', f[rom] lollen to mutter, mumble".

This was a pejorative term to refer to a CLASS of people that held certain religious beliefs, as opposed to holders of the beliefs themselves. Specifically, it referred to "uneducated" Englishmen (in the traditional sense), who had never been trained in the "catechism" in Latin, and therefore were considered to have "no basis" for their beliefs. Hence the designation Lollards, or "mumblers."

Wycliffe HAD been trained in the traditional way, and chose to deviate. Calling his followers "Wycliffites" was considered "too kind," when most of them could be attacked on grounds of "ignorance," as opposed to merely the "unsoundness" of their beliefs.

share|improve this answer

The name was derived from lollium, a tare, but was used in Flanders early in the fourteenth century to refer to one as a "hypocrite". Others took it to mean "idlers" and connected it with to loll.

In the fourteenth century the word "lollard" was used to represent a number of terms. People who were identified as anti-clerical and wishing to disendow the Church, tenants of an unpopular abbey, or parishioners who refused to pay their tithes, would often be called Lollards as well as fanatics.

There is a very lengthy discussion on the topic here.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.