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Rygge, Robert


Chancellor of Oxford; d. Exeter, by April, 1410. He was a fellow of Exeter College (136165) and Merton, where he served as bursar (137174). He was also a secular priest and a doctor of theology (Oxford, 137980). Sudden notoriety came to him in 1382, when as chancellor of Oxford he invited two Wyclifites, Nicholas here ford and Philip repington, to preach before the University. There is little reason to believe that Rygge was motivated by any sympathy for Wyclifite teachings; rather, he was asserting the independence of the university from outside pressure. Abp. William courtenay had ordered Oxford to publish a condemnation of 24 theses drawn from Wyclif's works; the chancellor's answer was to invite the two Wyclif followers to preach. But when he realized that his defiance of Courtenay could be interpreted as sympathy for suspected heretics, Rygge quickly threw himself on Courtenay's mercy. He agreed to publish the condemnation, to suspend John wyclif and four followers, and to ferret out all lollards. The Royal Council backed the archbishop and ordered Rygge to sue the secular power, if necessary. Henceforth, Rygge put aside all defiance. The rest of his life was uneventful. In 1395 he became a canon of Exeter; and in 1400, chancellor of Exeter cathedral.

Bibliography: c. l. kingsford, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 17:542543. j. h. dahmus, The Prosecution of John Wyclyf (New Haven 1952). k. b. mcfarlane, John Wycliffe and the Beginnings of English Nonconformity (New York 1953). a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the Scholars of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 3:161617. j. a. robson, Wycliff and the Oxford Schools (Cambridge, Eng. 1961).

[j. e. healey]

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