Lollard Knights

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The Lollard Knights were a group of gentry active during the reign of Richard II, known either during their lives or after for an inclination to the religious reforms of John Wyclif. Henry Knighton, in his Chronicle, identifes the principal Knights as Sir Thomas Latimer, Sir John Trussel, Sir Lewis Clifford, Sir John Peachey, Sir Richard Storey, and Sir Reginald Hilton. Thomas Walsingham's Chronicle adds William Nevil and John Clanvowe to the list, and other potential members of this circle have been identified by their wills, which contain Lollard-inspired language about how their bodies are to be plainly buried and permitted to return to the soil from whence they came.

There is little indication that the Lollard Knights were specifically known as such during their lifetimes; they were largely men of discretion, and unlike Sir John Oldcastle years later, rarely gave any hint of open rebellion. What is remarkable about them is how long they managed to hold important positions without falling victim to any of the several prosecutions of the followers of Wycliffe during their lifetimes. Most likely they hoped that the more imporant reforms of Wyclif, whose erstwhile sponsor John of Gaunt was the King's uncle and the father of the future King Henry IV, would come to be accepted by the monarchy, at which point they would have been pioneers rather than traitors. Several of the Knights were apparently acquaintances of Geoffrey Chaucer, as they stood surety for him when a charge of raptus was lodged against him.

Unfortunately, Henry IV turned out to be a very enthusiastic opponent of the Lollards, and through legislation such as the Act De haeretico comburendo of 1401, showed himself virulently opposed to any such sentiments.