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De heretico comburendo

De heretico comburendo, 1401. This statute, 2 Hen. IV c. 15, was directed against the lollards, ‘a certain new sect’, who were causing dissension ‘under the cover of dissembled holiness’. It threatened them with the stake ‘in some conspicuous place’. Strong action against the heresy was pushed by Archbishop Arundel (1399–1414) and by the new king, Henry IV. The immediate cause was prosecutions against William Sawtre and John Purvey. The church was alarmed at increasing criticism of clerical wealth and the new regime was concerned that heresy might take a political turn. But the statute was not followed up by any sustained campaign to eradicate lollardism.

J. A. Cannon

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