The exact relationship between Lollardy and the sixteenth-century Reformation long has eluded students of English history. Recent detailed studies of Lollard texts have underlined a continuity of belief and polemic.1 One significant difference, however, is the way in which reformers in the two periods used the commonplace saying that images are “laymen's books.” The Lollards, even those who were the most outspoken critics of images, used Gregory the Great's metaphor to support their positions. In the I 530s the English reformers used the commonplace in similar ways, but by the 1540s they had rejected it altogether. The English reformers, however, did more than merely reject Gregory as an authority. Instead of dismissing the old justification of images as a false sophism, as the continental reformers had done in the 1520s, they appropriated the laymen's-book metaphor for their own polemic, turning it against the iconophiles. Furthermore, they developed the metaphor in a new way that provided a positive alternative for the illiterate, arguing that the simple and unlearned read not from the book of art but rather from the natural world around them.