In a generation when Western Christendom was convulsed by crisis in its religious leadership and its kingdoms were divided in political rivalries, John Wycliffe stood out with his torrid denunciation of abuses in the Christian Church. More works have been written about him than any other medieval Englishman, and yet to explain what he sought to do or achieved paradoxically remains difficult. The greater part of his life was spent in a university career and academic disputation, and very little is known of the details of this period before he emerged into public affairs. For the last dozen years or so before his death, he became entangled in English ecclesiastical and secular politics, and in this career eventually gave his attention more exclusively to demands for the reform of doctrines and abuses. --from chapter 2 G. H. W. Parker was Lecturer in History at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.