The later medieval English church is invariably viewed through the lens of the Reformation that transformed it. But in this bold and provocative book historian G. W. Bernard examines it on its own terms, revealing a church with vibrant faith and great energy. Bernard looks at the structure of the church, the nature of royal control over it, the clergy and bishops, the intense devotion and deep-rooted practices of the laity, anti-clerical sentiment, and the prevalence of heresy. He argues that the Reformation was not inevitable, nor made unavoidable by the defectiveness, corruption, superstition or outdatedness of a church ripe for a fall: the late medieval church had both vitality and vulnerabilities, the one often linked to the other. The result is a thought-provoking study of a church and society in transformation.