A crucial element in the late medieval Church was the emergence of the literate layman and along with this, partly as a consequence, the development of printing. It was an age which produced labourers who could read, tradesmen who could write, merchants who compiled commonplace books, and gentlemen who composed poetry; books were being bought and bequeathed by men who were neither nobles nor clerics; Bibles were being read by artisans. 1 The year 1500 saw fifty-four new titles issued from the presses of England, and though the career of Wynkyn de Worde is exceptional among the printers of his day, his production of some 700 books from 1492 to 1532 is symptomatic of the age. 2 More than ever before, to elicit respect and to defend the faith, the parish clergy had need to be learned or, at least, capable of learning, teaching and preaching. That they were not so, evidence is not lacking, even ignoring the tendentious witness of men like Tyndale and St. German.