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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

Wayback Wednesday: Guy Fawkes Convicted 1606

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Gun Powder Plot Wiki Image
Image Credit: Wikipedia & Wikimedia

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, […] often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason [in earlier centuries], was a failed assassination attempt against King James I by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on [November] 5, 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands, during which James’s nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. His fellow plotters were John and Christopher Wright, Robert and Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in the failed suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives.

The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on [October] 26, 1605. During a search of the House of Lords in the evening on [November] 4, 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder, enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble, and [was] arrested. Most of the conspirators fled from London as they learned of the plot’s discovery, trying to enlist support along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House […]. [In] the ensuing battle, Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial on [January] 27 1606, four hundred, fifteen years ago, today, eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

The thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot was commemorated for many years afterwards by special sermons and other public events such as the ringing of church bells, which evolved into the British variant of Bonfire Night of today.

Wikipedia Summary

Throwback Thursday: Waco Siege 1993

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Branch Davidian Compound Image One
Photo Credit: wacotrib.com
Rod Aydelotte with the Waco Tribune-Herald
Branch Davidian Compound during 1993 siege.
Sheet says: “God help us. We want the press.”

Twenty-six years ago, today, at 9:45 am CST, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) attempted to serve a search warrant for illegal weapons, and possible methamphetamine manufacture (brings in military assistance due to the War on Drugs), to the Branch Davidians religious group at the Mount Carmel Center in Axtell, Texas. The raid did not go well. The ATF was unable to get into the compound after a two-hour battle that claimed the lives of four ATF agents and five Branch Davidians. Sixteen more agents were wounded. A ceasefire was called until another branch member attempted to re-enter the compound six hours later and was gunned down.

The ATF made contact with David Koresh (Vernon Wayne Howell) inside and, the FBI moved in and took over the operation. Early on, 25 FBI negotiators nearly had Koresh agreeing to the Davidians leaving peacefully in exchange for a recorded message of his being released via radio. After the recording was aired, Koresh changed his mind and, stated that ‘God’ had told him to stay and wait. Despite the reversal, nineteen children were released and, interviewed regarding alleged physical and sexual abuse. Koresh gave phone interviews to the local media until the FBI cut all communication.

Branch Davidian Complex Image Two
Photo Credit: rollingstone.com

The stand-off lasted 51 days, culminating in a deadly fire on April 19. Seventy-six Branch Davidian members died. Autopsies revealed some died due to collapsed concrete walls, others by gun shots (either self-inflicted or consensual execution) and, there was one stabbing. Autopsy photographs of some children seemed to indicate cyanide poisoning.

The raid was criticized extensively. A slew of controversies emerged. There was no meth lab and no evidence of child abuse. Despite the Danforth Report, the whitewash of bureaucratic misconduct fueled resentment. The Oklahoma City Bombing occurred on the second anniversary of the Waco fire.

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Nothing remains of the buildings, today, other than concrete foundation components, as the entire site was bulldozed two weeks after the end of the siege. Only a small chapel, built years after the siege, stands on the site.