july 15

Throwback Thursday: John Ball & The Peasants’ Revolt 1381

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John Ball Wat Tyler Wikipedia Image
Medieval drawing of John Ball
Image Credit: British Library
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

John Ball was an English priest who took a prominent part in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Ball […] actively [preached] “articles contrary to the faith of the church” […]. Ball trained as a priest in York and referred to himself […] as “Seynte Marie priest of York”. [During his time], England was exhausted by death on a massive scale and crippling taxes. The Black Death was followed by years of war, which had to be paid for. The population was nearly halved by disease, and overworked, and onerous flat-rate poll taxes were imposed.

Ball was imprisoned in Maidstone, Kent, at the time of the […] Revolt. He […] gained considerable fame as a roving preacher without a parish or any link to the established order […] and [was known] especially [for] his insistence on social equality. He delivered radical sermons in many places […]. His utterances brought him into conflict with Simon of Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, and he was thrown in prison on several occasions. He also appears to have been excommunicated […] and, in 1366, it was forbidden for anyone to hear him preach. These measures, however, did not moderate his opinions, nor diminish his popularity, and he took to speaking to parishioners in churchyards after official services.

Shortly after the Peasants’ Revolt began, Ball was released by the Kentish rebels from his prison. He preached to them at Blackheath in an open-air sermon that included the following:

“When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? 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.”

When the rebels had dispersed, Ball was taken prisoner at Coventry, given a trial in which, unlike most, he was permitted to speak. (Six hundred, forty years ago) [he] was hanged, drawn and quartered at St Albans in the presence of King Richard II on July 15, 1381. His head was displayed stuck on a pike on London Bridge and the quarters of his body were displayed at four different towns. Ball, who was called […] “the mad priest of Kent” seems to have possessed the gift of rhyme. He voiced the feelings of a section of the discontented lower orders of society at that time, who chafed at villeinage and the lords’ rights of unpaid labour, or corvée.

Wikipedia Summary

Hmmm…it appears that we are still in bondage all these centuries later and censorship still reigns supreme from the overlords. There are a lot of parallels to today in the above. And, there are those that would like to see others cancelled (or, hanged, drawn & quartered) for refusing to be poisoned. ~Vic

Movie Monday: Fifteen Wives 1934

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Fifteen Wives Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Eighty-five years ago, today, the crime-drama mystery Fifteen Wives was released. Directed by Frank Strayer and produced by Maury Cohen, it starred Conway Tearle, Natalie Moorhead, Raymond Hatton, Noel Francis, John Wray, Margaret Dumont, Ralf Harolde, Oscar Apfel, Robert Frazer, Harry Bradley and Lew Kelly.

In a New York hotel, the body of Steven Humbolt is discovered and Chief Inspector Decker Dawes is called to investigate. After a brief inspection of Humbolt’s belongings, Dawes and Sergeant Meed determine that Humbolt had fifteen wives, three of whom…Sybilla Crum, a well-known reformer, wealthy Carol Arnold, and Ruby Cotton…live in New York. Dawes first questions the still devoted Sybilla, then quizzes Jason Getty, a florist who had sent Humbolt a funeral wreath hours before his death was discovered. While Meed checks out Getty’s lead that the wreath was ordered in Philadelphia, Dawes interrogates Carol Arnold. Carol tells Dawes that Humbolt had robbed, and deserted her, after three weeks of marriage and, that, a year later, she had received a letter from South America informing her of his demise. Just after Carol had married wealthy Gregory Arnold, Humbolt contacted her with blackmail demands but, according to Carol, she never saw him before his murder. Although Dawes doubts Carol’s story, he leaves her to talk to a chemist about a broken glass globe that was found near Humbolt’s body.

Fifteen Wives Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com

The chemist reveals that the globe, a Helmholtz Resonator, contained a lethal dose of hydrocynanic acid gas that was released when the glass was broken. Once Dawes determines that the globe came from Philadelphia, he demonstrates how a radio performer known as The Electric Voice, whose fiancée is Ruby Cotton, could have broken the globe during a broadcast. Dawes arrests The Voice and Ruby but, returns to question Carol, who he discovers is hiding a child she had by Humbolt. Then, Dawes receives a message from Sybilla about a clue she unearthed at Humbolt’s funeral. While at Sybilla’s home, Dawes discovers that florist Getty is impersonating the reformer and that he is wearing a pair of gloves similar to a pair Humbolt was wearing in his coffin. Suspicious, Dawes orders Humbolt’s coffin exhumed, which causes Getty, who needed the gloves to hide his amputated fingers, to panic. [He] confesses that he killed Sybilla and had used The Electric Voice’s broadcast to kill Humbolt out of revenge for stealing his wife in Australia. After thwarting Getty’s escape attempt, Dawes telephones Carol, who is divorcing [Gregory] Arnold and proposes that they leave for Europe together.

[Source]

Disclamer:
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Wikipedia state that this film was released July 15, 1934. The American Film Institute (AFI) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) state that it was released June 1, 1934. I have no way of verifying either. I also can’t find any video clips. ~Vic