Authority and Dissent in the English Church the Prosecution of Heresy and Religious Non-Conformity in the Diocese of Winchester, 1380-1547

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This work examines the prosecution of religious heterodoxy in England, specifically in the diocese of Winchester, from the beginning of Wycliffe dissent through the end of the Reformation under Henry VIII. A comparison of legal proceedings against religious dissidents during the Lollard period and then during the Henrician Reformation sheds light on the nature of religious deviance, why it was suppressed, and how such suppressive measures may have affected popular faith during the final 15 years of Henry's reign. The book looks first at the period 1380-1532, when Lollards were hunted in the see of Winchester, then studies the years 1532-47, when conservatives and reformers hammered one another as religious and political adversaries. This discord bred such confusion among ordinary English believers that it encouraged outward conformity to doctrinal vagaries of official orthodoxy, while they came to rely on their own private convictions for real spiritual fulfillment. Thus, the Henrician Reformation was the first expression of religious individualism and religious pluralism in the early modern age.

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