The Lollards were followers of John Wyclif, a late fourteenth century heretic, within the Church. Wyclif was opposed to the veneration of images, pilgrimages, transubstantiation, the Church owning property and having power. Lollards were mixed in their beliefs, and mostly took part in the Church as it was while holding their beliefs. They would often meet in study groups of English Bibles which had been translated in the early fifteenth century by Lollards shortly before being banned.
In Tudor England the Lollards represent to some historians a anticlerical opposition to the Catholic church which suggests popular support for the Reformation. They point to the increase in Lollard trials from 1480s to a peak in 1511-12 as evidence for increase dissatisfaction with the Church. Other historians however argue there was not a rise in Lollardy, but instead the persecutions were due to an increase in trials only possible after the ending of the turbulent times of the Wars of the Roses or to other factors such as a way to defend the Church courts against arguments of some lawyers against them.
Lollards in early Tudor England seemed to be confined largely to lower social orders, with no landed gentry being persecuted for it (although this might be only a reflection of the power of the gentry). A former MP and mayor of Coventry was prosecuted however.
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