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William Swinderby and the Wycliffite attitude to excommunication

Ian Forrest;
  • Country: United Kingdom
The early Wycliffite William Swinderby expressed some strong criticisms of excommunication. He was alarmed that churchman thought that it was their power, rather than God's power, that consigned a soul to hell. The rhetoric of sentences of excommunication in this period was indeed intended to frighten offenders into compliance with ecclesiastical judgements, but the theory and practice of excommunication was in fact far less simple that the Wycliffite criticism of it allowed. This article examines Swinderby's attitude towards ecclesiastical sanctions in light of Wyclif's own ideas, and the theory and practice of excommunication in the late medieval Church. Swinderby's links with early Wycliffism are elucidated and the relationship between Wycliffism and the Church is looked at in a new light.
free text keywords: History, Theology and Religion
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  • Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage
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