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LO'LLARDS, or LO'LLHARDS, a semi-monastic society, the members of which devoted themselves to the care of the sick and of the dead. It was first formed about the year 1300 in Antwerp, where some pious persons associated themselves for the burial of the dead. They were called from their frugal life, and the poverty of their appearance, Matemans; also, from their patron saint, Brethren of Saint Alexius; and, on account of their dwelling in cells, Fratres Cettitoe; whilst they acquired the name L. from their practice of singing dirges at funerals - the Low-German word lollen, or lullen, signifying to sing softly or slowly. They soon spread through the Netherlands and Germany, and in the frequent pestilences of that period, were useful, and everywhere welcome. The clergy and the begging-friars, however, disliked and persecuted them, classing them with the heretical Beghards (see BEQUINES), till Gregory XI. took them under his protection in 1374. Female Lollard societies were formed in some places. The L. having been reproached with heresy, their name was afterwards very commonly given to different classes of religionists, sometimes to the truly pious, sometimes to the worst pretenders; and in England, it became a designation of the followers of Wicliffe (q. v.), and thus extended into Scotland, where the L. of Kyle (in Ayrshire) attracted attention, and became the objects of persecution in the end of the 15th century.
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