John Ball: A Preacher of Social Equality

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He was in favour of social equality and was also a preacher of Wycliffe’s doctrine.

He was imprisoned three times because of confrontations with the archbishop of Canterbury. He was very popular with the common people and his sermons had great effects on them. This idea is shown in the first line of the text: "...he knew would be pleasing to the common people". The author of the text is a clear supporter of the feudal system and he’s against Lollardy, he considers that the Lollard’s ideas can infect the other people in England. This is illustrated in some expressions used in the text: "speaking evil", "...the perverse doctrine of the perfidious Wycliffe, his opinions and insane follies..." As we can see, Thomas uses a subjective language. At the beginning of the revolt, John Ball was imprisoned but was freed by rebels ("when the commons broke open all the prisons and set the prisoners free") and gave his most famous sermon at Blackheath. The sermon begins with a famous quotation about Adam and Eve which is connected with the Bible and the nobility and church destroyed the idea of equality that the Bible defended. All people are equal, the idea of the servitude and the separation of the classes wasn’t conceived by God. The last part of the text is really significant; it might be anticipating the executions that took place, in which many important people were killed. Here the author is exaggerating about it. Also, they are proposing a system without a leader for the common good. To conclude, John Ball was executed after the revolt. This event means the beginning of the end of Feudalism and the Lollards can be considered the predecessors of the Protestants, the Lutherans, because they anticipated some ideas of the Protestant Reformation (16th century), but it’s important to clarify that they weren’t Protestants, they only criticized the corruption and the abuse of the Medieval Church.

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