John Ball and the Peasants’ Revolt
Lecture by James Crossley
Given online by the Australian National University on April 1, 2022
Abstract: John Ball was the most famous priest and theological voice of the so-called “Peasants’ Revolt” in England, 1381. We have letters attributed to him which appear to have been sent to rebels and we have his preaching presented in medieval chronicles. This public lecture will look at how Ball’s ideas about the Bible and apocalyptic transformation would have been understood in 1381, particularly among peasant audiences. The lecture will then analyse the changing history of his reception, from the epitome of seditious religious excess, through a hero of homegrown socialism to the precursor of parliamentary democracy. Some consideration will also be given to the changing nature of his fame and popularity, where his memory still thrives and where it has dwindled.
James Crossley is Professor in religion and politics at St Mary’s University (London) and MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (Oslo), and is Academic Director of the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. He is the author of Spectres of John Ball: The Peasants’ Revolt in English Political History, 1381–2020, published by Equinox Press.
Out in March: Spectres of John Ball here's the ToC pic.twitter.com/ku4OESxk8z
— James Crossley (@JGCrossley) January 21, 2022
Top Image: An illustration of the priest John Ball on a horse encouraging Wat Tyler’s rebels of 1381, from a ca. 1470 manuscript of Jean Froissart’s Chronicles in the British Library. Wikimedia Commons