There was a decline but it was most obvious in the ranks of the clergy which would spill out onto the laity. Why the clerical decline? The plague took a disproportionately higher percentage of the best clergy who stuck around to administer the last rites to the dying and then they succumbed to the contagion. The clergy who abandoned their flocks were more likely to survive and then to take over vacant clerical positions but were more apt to not take their spiritual calling and duties seriously leading to a general decline and scandalous behavior much noticed by the laity. It did not take long for much of that laity to start questioning not only who was teaching them but what was being taught to them. In addition, the clerical hierarchy, desperate to fill the depleted ranks, opened up ordination to the clergy to improperly prepared candidates. Among those who noticed and noted this, was John Wycliffe, first among the proto reformers of the Reformation.