John Wyclif (c.1330-84) was the foremost English intellectual of the late fourteenth century and is famed as an ecclesiastical reformer who was instrumental in the creation of the first English Bible and the spread of the Lollard heresy. But at a time when England was engaged in the bitter Hundred Years War, Wyclif also devoted significant energy to analysing the problem of violence. From the writings of St Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century, Christian justifications of war had revolved around three key criteria: just cause, proper authority and correct intention. Using Wyclif's extensive Latin corpus, the author shows how he dismantled these three pillars of medieval "just war" doctrine, exploring his critique within the context of contemporary political thought and ideology, and showing that he not only repudiated the concept in both theory and practice, but also championed an interpretation of Christian obligation that stressed the virtues of sacrifice, suffering, and, above all, charity. The author thus fundamentally changes the way in which we perceive Wyclif, demonstrating that he created a coherent doctrine of pacificism and non-resistance which was at that time unparallelled. Dr Rory Cox is a Lecturer in late medieval history at the University of St Andrews.
Subjects: History, Religion
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