This week in Christian history: Pope Leo X born, South Carolina mandates church attendance

John Oldcastle burned at the stake – Dec. 14, 1417

A 16th century image of Sir John Oldcastle (c.1378-1417) being burned at the stake.
A 16th century image of Sir John Oldcastle (c.1378-1417) being burned at the stake. | Wikimedia Commons

This week marks the anniversary of when Sir John Oldcastle, an English supporter of theological views that would later be championed during the Protestant Reformation, was executed for heresy.

Oldcastle belonged to a group known as the Lollards, who were supporters of famed English Bible translator John Wycliffe and championed church reform a century before the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

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Oldcastle had been condemned to die as a heretic back in 1413, however, he was able to escape execution and lived in hiding for four years before authorities caught up with him.

“At last someone betrayed his whereabouts. Oldcastle was captured, hanged briefly and then suspended in iron chains over a fire and roasted to death,” wrote Dan Graves of “The English Reformation would have to wait until a future century, but ardent believers such as Oldcastle helped prepare England for it.”

It is believed by many that Oldcastle might have served as the inspiration for the Shakespearian character Falstaff.

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