Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Abstract of M.E. Aston article about Lollards

Aston, Margaret E. "Lollardy and Sedition 1381-1431." Past & Present 17 (April 1960): 1-44.

Aston summarizes the main point of this fine, substantial article in her first paragraph: "Before 1381, though the English governing classes had encountered heretics as well as rebels against society, they had never had to deal with either on a large or concerted scale. By the end of May 1382 both had been on their hands, and heresy (in the event) had come to stay.  . . . A heretical movement and a major upheaval among the lower orders of society had arrived, in point of time, together" (1). Having detailed the political aspects of early Lollard history, Aston concludes: "This is not, at all, to deny that there was, throughout, a very genuine alarm for the salvation of souls, and concern for the maintenance of the orthodox faith; nor to say that this aspect of the Lollard movement was not, and is not, the first to be considered. But the nature of the heresy, of the society in which it spread, and of the government which had to deal with it, were such that its religious implications could not be considered alone. And other happenings of this period ensured that they were not. Sedition and dissent had come of age together" (35-36).

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