Title Background

The Premature Revolution: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History.

The Premature Revolution: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History.

Pp. 398-408:That PPl was perceived as an incitement to revolution is suggested by reference to it in the 1381 letter of John Sheep (a pseudonym of John Ball) and reference to Per Plowman along with Johannis B (John Ball?) in the Dieulacres Abbey Chronicle. PPl is never mentioned in the course of an investigation for Lollardy, yet it was clearly apprehended by Lollard authors as a work relevant to issues they considered important. Material in A, taken over unchanged in B and C, antedates Wyclif’s publication of any of the views for which he was later censured. Material introduced in B might have derived from WL’s hearing Wyclif’s sermons 1376-79; material peculiar to C could chronologically reflect Wyclif’s teaching up to his death and the teaching of his followers. Although the C text was presumably written after Wyclif’s views were condemned in 1382, it is uncertain how widely news of the condemnation circulated beyond Oxford academic circles. There is no sympathy in PPl with Wyclif’s heretical beliefs concerning the Eucharist, yet Imaginatif’s assertion of the clergy’s role in the sacrament, B. 12.87, is omitted from C. WL is orthodox concerning the legitimacy of the religious orders, yet the scene at the end of B and C where Contrition is “denatured” by Frere Flaterer might well have been perceived in the 1380s and 1390s as sympathetic to Wyclif’s rejection of the fraternal orders. PPl is closest to Wycliffite thought on the question of clerical temporalities, even though Wyclif was hardly alone in calling for disendowment. No aspect of lollarene lyf in the poem is assimilable to Wyclif’s ideals or practices, however, and WL did not associate loller with any particular creed. Indications that the C text was revised to avoid the implications of Wycliffite sympathy seem to be countered by indications of the reverse.


Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.


Hudson, Anne.