As has been remarked often enough, Lollardy was the first real English heresy, and its progenitor, John Wyclif, inspired what Anne Hudson has so rightly termed a ‘premature Reformation’, a reformation which had far more immediate impact in Hussite Bohemia, but in England left Wyclif for a century and a half as a voice crying in the wilderness, a prophet without honour in his own country. Since history is usually studied backwards, his name is most commonly associated with the alleged eucharistic heresy condemned at the Blackfriars Council of May 1382. This was more significant for its timing than its substance. The actual charges were not only a distortion of Wyclif’s theory, and Wyclif himself was never specifically named, but any reasonably intelligent scholastic could have worked it out from Wyclif’s philosophical principles at least ten years earlier. But the eucharist had the great advantage of being a theological matter, which no one could contest the right of bishops and masters to deal with, and this made it a far more effective stick with which the papalists could belabour their lay opponents—and by 1382 the times were far more propitious. The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, an event with which Wyclif’s name was quickly linked, had thrown the regency government of the young Richard II into turmoil: and Lollardy, newly introduced as a term of abuse, could be represented as a recipe for any number of horrors, not least the assassination of bishops. The murder of Archbishop Sudbury in 1381 had opened up the way for his replacement by Wyclif’s leading opponent, the very vigorous bishop of London, William Courtenay. All this was however simply the culmination of a long process against Wyclif which had resulted in two abortive heresy trials in 1377 and 1378. In both cases Wyclif was rescued by royal intervention, by John of Gaunt. Wyclif, as he had proudly proclaimed, was a dericus regis, a king’s clerk, a member of the royal household: and as Christopher Given-Wilson has recently shown, king’s clerks might be few in number (and exceptionally cheap to maintain, since they could—as Wyclif was—be paid out of normal pluralism), but they wielded a degree of influence out of all proportion to their numbers.