Lollards and Waldenses are two historical movements that spread out of Catholic church, in England and France, respectively. I know they had similar views such as opposing the corruption of the wealthy church, advocating lay service, focusing on the scripture instead of ritual traditions and translating scripture so people could study the Gospel in their native language.

Were these two movements separated by anything but time and geography? Was there any significant difference in doctrine, belief or politics between Waldenses and the Lollards?

2 Answers 2


According to each of their own "statements of Faith" they actually do contradict each other in big issues. before I lay it out, however, here are my citations:

The first issue on which they contradict each other is purgatory. Waldensians say there is no purgatory. They say people will go either two ways “(the) good to glory, wicked to torment” which leaves room for purgatory, but then later in their statement they say “For you shall be damned without remedy.” No purgatorial redemption.

They Lollards say that yes, there is purgatory. “(acts)...will have needful purgation or worse.”

The next issue is celibacy. the Waldensians say "That he might likewise keep firm the marriage tie, that noble accord and contract."

In the issue of celibacy, the Lollards say yes, do participate in celibacy.

And the last difference I will talk about is Confession (to priests). Waldensians say "Then he desires the Priest to confess him: But according to the Scriptures he has delayed too long, for that commands us To repent while we have time, and not to put it off till the last." They then go on expound on this topic.

The Lollards, however, say confession is necessary to the salvation of man.

Lollards and Waldensians contradict each other in purgatory, celibacy, and confession. Some say that one's view of purgatory and confession will, either positively or negatively, affect their eternal destiny.

  • It's amazing how despite the Waldensians being so many centuries before the reformation, they have doctrines that are so similar to many protestants.
    – Beestocks
    Apr 16, 2017 at 0:44

Brief Googling shows that Lollards were followers of John Wycliffe while the Waldensian church followed the teachings of the merchant Waldo of Lyons. The term Lollard seemed like more of a derogatory label (much like the term Christian) where the Waldensian church identified itself as such. How the followers of these two doctrines look today also seems to have veered in principle and preference, but not so much in doctrine.

Both were pre-reformation and both eventually joined Protestantism. And even though "significant" is subjective, based on current resources* they don't show any significant doctrinal differences. The differences between the two would be no larger than differences you might see in modern day Baptists and Lutherans and Episcopalians.

Even the catalysts for their movements seemed to be rooted in the same anti-papacy, anti-greed sentiments and principles:

  • The Waldensian Church is rooted in the preaching of Valdesius, a merchant in Lyon, France, who lived during the same period of the late Middle Ages as Francis of Assisi. Like Francis, Valdesius believed in the value of the evangelical poverty of the early church. source
  • During the earlier part of his public career Wyclif had come forward as an ally of the anti-clerical and anti-papal nobility, and especially of John of Gaunt. He had asserted the right of temporal lords to take the goods of an undeserving clergy and, as a necessary consequence, he had attacked the power of excommunication. source

*current resources provided in links in this answer, and Google.

  • 1
    I appreciate your efforts to dig up the answer, and especially sourcing it. Thank you very much!
    – kviiri
    Jul 28, 2014 at 14:24
  • 5
    Yeah, they don't have a convenient list of doctrines, but that's why the question was asked on Stack Exchange, a place for scholars and experts. I think the question has gone unanswered thus far because of that very thing, and I don't think "brief Googling" gives a reliable answer. I think a better bet is to try and enlist the aid of some professor of church history or something. Jul 28, 2014 at 15:57
  • @Mr.Bultitude I agree that it's a better bet. If you can find some professors be sure to send them this way.
    – LCIII
    Jul 28, 2014 at 16:01
  • Article on Waldensians. (polemical). fellowshipofthemartyrs.com/articles/44-about-the-church/… . One history claimed similar: That Valdese predated Waldo, for example. Mostly non-resistant, but would roll rocks down on attacking troops. The pastors (barbas) apparently went with the defenders to insure they did not exact vengeance. Valdese finally fought back with guerilla warfare. May be why the community was nearly destroyed the next time their opponents got the upper hand.
    – Bit Chaser
    Jul 28, 2014 at 23:11
  • The differences between the two would be no larger than differences you might see in modern day Baptists and Lutherans and Episcopalians -- There are some pretty vast differences between Baptists, Lutherans, and Episcopalians--to the point that in some cases, one calls the other heretical.
    – Flimzy
    Aug 4, 2014 at 11:28

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