Taking Back Our Stolen History
Peasants’ Revolt
Peasants’ Revolt

Peasants’ Revolt

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John Ball was born in St Albans in about 1340. Twenty years later he was working as a priest in York. He eventually became the priest St James’ Church in Colchester. (1) Ball believed it was wrong that some people in England were very rich while others were very poor. Ball’s church sermons criticising the feudal system upset his bishop and in 1366 he was removed from his post as the priest of the church. (2)

Ball now had no fixed job or home and he became a travelling priest and gave sermons, whenever he found “a few people ready to listen, by the roadside, on a village green or in a market place, he would pour forth fiery words against the evils of the day and particularly the sins of the rich.” (3)

According to Dan Jones, the author of Summer of Blood: The Peasants’ Revolt (2009) Ball was “a preacher, a poet, a maverick thinker and a natural rabble-rouser” and the authorities saw him as “being an incessant, heretical nuisance, preaching in churchyards and in public places across the region, railing against inequality, the corruption of the established Church and the tyrannies of the powerful against the powerless.” (4)

John Ball was highly critical of the way the church taxed people and urged them not to pay their tithes. He also believed that the Bible should be published in English. It is claimed that Ball was influenced by the 14th century preacher, John Wycliffe. For example, Thomas Walsingham a Benedictine monk at St Albans Abbey, stated that Ball “taught the people that tithes ought not be paid” and that he was preaching the “wicked doctrines of the disloyal John Wycliffe.” (5)

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