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John Wyclif (c. 1320-1384) has been called both the last of the schoolmen and the morning star of the Reformation. A native Englishman and a Franciscan, he spent most of his life at the University of Oxford, first as scholar, later as teacher of theology, and, from 1356 to 1382, as master of Balliol College. He witnessed the opening battles of the Hundred Years' War between England and France (1337-1453) with its heavy toll of life, the beginning of the Great Schism (1378-1417) during which there was one pope at and another at Avignon, and finally the spectacle of peasant revolts in France and England. The situation in England during Wyclif's lifetime was complicated by the reluctance of Englishmen to support the policies and especially the heavy financial demands of a papacy which was operating from the French-dominated seat at Avignon. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section IV: The Medieval Ferment. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections ofIdeas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.