Advertisement

John Wyclif—All Women’s Friend?

  • Alastair Minnis
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

He was evir (God wait) all womanis frend.” Thus Gavin Douglas, in a passage in the Middle Scots translation of the Aeneid that he completed in 1513, sought to excuse Chaucer for depicting Aeneas as a false traitor in love, thereby calling in question the twelve years of labor that Virgil had put into his poem. One could expect nothing else from Chaucer, argues Douglas, since he was a friend to all women.1 This passage is, of course, very well known and rightly has received much attention. Less well known is the charge by Thomas Netter (ca. 1377–1430), Carmelite theologian and confessor of King Henry V, that the main target of his righteous indignation, the heresiarch John Wyclif, was a shameless worker for women:

Wyclif himself was not embarrassed to labor frequently on behalf of woman (non erubuit&pluries laborare pro foentina) in his book On [the Power ojj The pope, to the end that she might be suitable as a priest of the church, or a bishop, or a pope. I am ashamed to tell this story about a Christian man, a story which will be known to the Jews, will make a mockery of faith, and will be a scandal for the Saracens. But on the other hand, I am afraid to hide a whirlpool of such foulness: especially since from this very place [that is, this text] I believe that his followers have assumed the authority of ordaining women priests, who arc celebrating masses and other sacraments, being “readeresses” (lectrices) of the Scriptures and “preacheresses” (praedi-catrices) in the gatherings of Lollards.2

Keywords

Absolute Power High Office Trial Record Power Distinction Female Ministry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Gavin Douglas, Aeneid, in The Middle Scots Poets, ed. A.M. Kinghorn (London: Arnold, 1970), pp. 162–63.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Anne Hudson, The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 328–29.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    John Wyclif, De potestate pape, ed. J. Loserth (London: Trübner, 1907), p. 271.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    J.H. Martin, “The Ordination of Women and Theologians in the Middle Ages,” Escritos del Vedat 16 (1986): 115–77 and 18 (1988): 87–143.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Peter Stanford, The She-Pope: A Quest for the Truth behind the Mystery of Pope Joan (London: Heinemann, 1998).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Lawrence Moonan, Divine Power: The Medieval Power Distinction up to Its Adoption by Albert, Bonaventure, and Aquinas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. WJ. Courtenay, Covenant and Causality in Medieval Thought (London: Variorum, 1984).Google Scholar
  8. Rega Wood, “Ockham’s Repudiation of Pelagianism,” in The Cambridge Companion to Ockham, ed. P.V. Spade (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 356, 357–61, 365–66 [350–73].Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    AJ. Freddoso and F.E. Kelley, William of Ockham: Quodlibetal Questions, 2 vols. (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1991), pp. 42, 120, 290, 304, 324, 376, 587–88, 500–502.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    John Wyclif, Trialogus, ed. G. Lechler (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1869), p. 74 (1.11).Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    Michael Wilks, “Predestination, Property, and Power: Wyclif’s Theory of Dominion and Grace,” Studies in Church History 2 (1965): 223–26 [220–36].Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Alastair Minnis, “Respondet Walterus Bryth… Walter Brut in Debate on Women Priests,” in Text and Controversy from Wyclif to Bale: Essays in Honour of Anne Hudson, ed. Helen Barr and Ann M. Hutchison, Medieval Church Studies 4 (Turnhout, Belg.: Brepols, 2005), pp. 229–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 19.
    Helen Barr, ed., The Piers Plowman Tradition: A Critical Edition of Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, Richard the Redeless, Mum and the Sothsegger, and the Crowned King (London: J.M. Dent, 1993), p. 89.Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    Norman P. Tanner, ed., Heresy Trials in the Diocese of Norwich, 1428–31, Camden Fourth Series 20 (London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1977), p. 142.Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    Margaret Aston, “Lollard Women Priests?” repr. in her Lollards and Reformers: Images and Literacy in Late Medieval Religion (London: Hambledon Press, 1984), p. 66 [49–70].Google Scholar
  16. 27.
    Herbert B. Workman, John Wyclif: A Study of the English Medieval Church, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926), 2:13.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bonnie Wheeler 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alastair Minnis

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations