John Ball (priest)

From Academic Kids

John Ball (d. 15 July 1381) was an English Lollard priest who took a prominent part in the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.

Little is known of his early years, but he lived probably at York and afterwards at Colchester. He gained considerable fame as a preacher by expounding the doctrines of John Wycliffe, but especially by his insistence on the principle of social equality. These utterances brought him into collision with the archbishop of Canterbury, and on three occasions he was committed to prison. He appears also to have been excommunicated, and in 1366 all persons were forbidden to hear him preach.

His opinions, however, were not moderated, nor his popularity diminished by these measures, and his words had a considerable effect in stirring up the rising which broke out in June 1381. Ball was then in prison at Maidstone; but he was quickly released by the Kentish rebels, to whom he preached at Blackheath which incuded the following:

When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?[1] ( From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may ( if ye will ) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.[2] (

He urged his hearers to kill the principal lords of the kingdom and the lawyers; and he was afterwards among those who rushed into the Tower of London to seize Simon of Sudbury, archbishop of Canterbury. When the rebels dispersed Ball fled to the midland counties, but was taken prisoner at Coventry and executed by being Hanged, drawn and quartered in the presence of Richard II on July 15 1381. Ball, who was called by Froissart "the mad priest of Kent," seems to have possessed the gift of rhyme. He undoubtedly voiced the feelings of the lower orders of society at that time.


  • Gerrard Winstanley (1609 - 1676) a religious reformer and political activist during the 1650s who was aligned with the True Levellers (the Diggers).
  • William Morris (1834-1896) who wrote "Dream of John Ball"[3] (


From 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica

  • Thomas Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, edited by H. T. Riley (London, 1863-1864);
  • Henry Knighton, the Chronicon, edited by J. R. Lumby (London, 1889-1895);
  • Jean Froissart, Chroniques, edited by S. Luce and G. Raynaud (Paris, 1869-1897);
  • Charles Edmund Maurice, "Lives of English Popular Leaders in the Middle Ages" (London, 1875);
  • Charles Oman, "The Great Revolt of 1381" (Oxford, 1906).
    • Republished Oxford University Press, 1969.


see Wikipedia:Footnote3
  1. Template:Anb "When Adam delved and Eve span,/Who was then the gentleman" Sources
    • R B Dobson 'The Peasants revolt of 1381' Pitman, Bath, 1970, pp373-375 ( quotes from Thomas Walsingham's Historia Anglicana: "When Adam dalf, and Eve span, who was thanne a gentilman? From the beginning all men were created equal by nature, and that servitude had been introduced by the unjust and evil oppression of men, against the will of God, who, if it had pleased Him to create serfs, surely in the beginning of the world would have appointed who should be a serf and who a lord" and Ball ended by recommending "uprooting the tares that are accustomed to destroy the grain; first killing the great lords of the realm, then slaying the lawyers, justices and jurors, and finally rooting out everyone whom they knew to be harmful to the community in future."
  3. Template:Anb Project Gutenberg: Dream of John Ball, A: a king's lesson ( Ball

uk:Болл Джон


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