Or, Wiclif, John De Wicliffe Wickliffe, an English reformer, born probably in a village which bears his name, near Eichmond, Yorkshire, about 1324, died at Lutterworth, Dec. 31, 1384. He was educated at Queen's and Merton colleges, Oxford. The earliest publication attributed to him, though on slight evidence, is a tract entitled "The Last Age of the Church" (1356), first printed under the editorial care of J. H. Todd, D. D. (Dublin, 1840). The "black death " had recently desolated Europe,' and the design of this tract was to prove that the day of judgment was impending. In a controversy with the mendicant orders about 1360, he upheld the authority of the parochial clergy against the friars. About the same time he became master of Balliol college, Oxford, and was preferred to the living of Fillingham. In 1365 he exchanged his office for the wardenship of Canterbury hall, under a new arrangement by which monks were excluded from it. The monks protested, its founder Archbishop Simon de Islip soon died, and his successor pronounced Wycliffe's appointment void. He in turn protested, but after a litigation of seven years both the pope and the king decided against him. While this suit was pending, Pope Urban V. demanded the* annual tribute promised by King John as an acknowledgment of the pontiff's feudal superiority.

Wycliffe, now a royal chaplain, declared against the papal claim. In 1368 he exchanged the living of Fillingham for that of Ludgershall, which was nearer to Oxford. In 1372 he took the degree of doctor of theology, and, availing himself of the right then conferred by that title, began to lecture in the university as a professor of theology, frequently assailing the corruptions of the begging friars. Two years later he was one of an embassy sent by Edward III. to negotiate at Bruges with the delegates of Gregory XL, chiefly concerning the papal reservation of benefices in England, which, being held by foreigners, diverted the revenues to Rome or Avignon. During an absence of nearly two years he was presented by the king to the prebend of Aust, in the collegiate church of Westbury, and to the rectory of Lutterworth. The part which he took in the embassy made him obnoxious to the pope, who in 1377 sent letters to Oxford and Canterbury, the bishop of London, and the king, demanding inquiry concerning the doctrines imputed to him, and that he should be immediately put in custody until further instructions.

Wycliffe had already been summoned on a charge of heresy before the English convocation in St. Paul's, Feb. 19. When he made his appearance, it was with John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, on one side, and Lord Percy, earl marshal of England, on the other. Between these noblemen and Courtney, bishop of London, the presiding churchman, a violent altercation at once ensued; the throng broke into tumult; the meeting was dissolved, and the reformer withdrew under the protection of his powerful friends. The populace favored the clergy, and attacked the magnificent palace of John of Gaunt, the Savoy, which was saved by the influence of the bishop of London. At the request of parliament Wycliffe drew up a paper against the right of the pope to divert the ecclesiastical revenues abroad. The papal bull was treated by the university with cold respect; but early in 1378, in obedience to a summons of the archbishop of Canterbury, Wycliffe appeared before a synod of the clergy in Lambeth. The populace were now disposed to take his part, and a messenger also arrived prohibiting the synod in the name of the queen mother from proceeding to any conclusions injurious to him.

He was released with an admonition, and resumed his pulpit discourses, academic lectures, and various writings, his opinions becoming more and more adverse to those upheld by the clergy. The most important of his writings was an English version of the whole Bible from the Latin Vulgate, finished about 1383, in which he was probably assisted by pupils and learned friends, and of which he multiplied copies by the help of transcribers. Editions of his New Testament were printed by Lewis in 1731, by Baber in 1810, and in Bagster's "English Hexapla" in 1841. The complete translation was first published by the university of Oxford, under the editorial care of the Rev. Josiah Forshall and Sir Frederick Madden (4 vols., 1850). Wycliffe's disciples, under the name of poor priests, disseminated his doctrines by open-air preaching. In 1381 he took his boldest step and gave the greatest offence by lecturing at Oxford against the doctrine of transubstantiating The chancellor summoned an assembly of twelve doctors, who condemned his conclusions; Courtney, who had been raised to the see of Canterbury, called another synod, which declared ten opinions that had been publicly preached to be heretical, and enjoined the most vigorous measures for their suppression; and the crown, on petition of the lords spiritual in parliament, empowered the sheriffs of counties to arrest all preachers of heresy.

Wycliffe remained unmolested till 1382, when an appeal which he addressed to the king and parliament caused him to be summoned before the convocation of the clergy at Oxford. He appeared, and gave two confessions or defences, one in Latin and one in English, in which he maintained a real presence while denying transmutation. No sentence was pronounced, but a letter was obtained from the king which debarred him from teaching in the university. He spent his later life at Lutterworth, where he continued to preach and write constantly. The council of Constance, May 5, 1415, after condemning 45 articles which he had maintained, ordered his bones to be taken from consecrated ground and cast upon a dunghill. But this was not done till the antipopo Clement VIII., in 1428, ordered the sentence to be strictly executed, when his remains were burned and the ashes cast into the Swift, a branch of the Avon. - Wycliffe maintained that the authority of the crown was supreme over all persons and property in England. He was opposed to the whole framework of the hierarchy as a device of clerical ambition, and to episcopacy and endowments, and held that the clergy should be supported by alms, and should require only livelihood and clothing.

He retained the ordinance of baptism, but without regarding it as essential to salvation, and the sacrament of the mass, but without the doctrine of transubstantiation. He denied, any intrinsic beneficial influence from confirmation, penance, holy orders, or extreme unction, and declared them all fraught with delusion. He believed in the existence of an intermediate state, but held masses for the dead to be a piece of clerical machinery, adjusted with a view to gain. He taught that men are neither the better nor worse for church censures, but that the destiny of each is determined according to his own spiritual condition as a responsible creature. The number of brief tracts which he produced baffles calculation; 200 are said to have been burned in Bohemia; many of them still exist in manuscript. The "Select English Works of John Wyclif" have been edited from original manuscripts by T. Arnold (3 vols. 8vo, London, 1871). His life has been written by the Rev John Lewis (1719), Dr. Robert Vaughan (1828; revised, 1853), and the Rev. Webb Le Bas (1832). See also "John de Wycliffe, D.D.; a Monograph," by Robert Vaughan, D.D. (London, 1853), and Lechler's Johann von Wiclif und die Vorgeschichte der Reformation (Leipsic, 1873).