Democratic thought, England, 1381

“My good friends, matters cannot go well in England until all things be held in common; when there shall be neither vassals or lords; when the lords shall be no more masters than ourselves. How ill they behave to us! For what reason do they hold us in bondage? Are we not all descended from the same parents, Adam and Eve? And what can they show, or what reason can they give, why they should be more masters than ourselves?

They are clothed in velvet and rich stuffs, ornamented with ermine and other furs, while we are forced to wear poor clothing. They have wines, spices and fine bread, while we have only rye and the refuse of straw; and when we drink, it must be water. They have handsome seats and manors, while we must brave the winds and rain in our labours in the field; and it is by our labours that they have wherewith to uphold their pomp. We are called slaves and, if we do not perform our service, we are beaten, and we have no sovereign to whom we can complain or would be willing to hear us.

– John Ball, 1381  (noted 17/3/1977)

(John Ball was a priest who was involved in the Peasants Revolt. He was executed in July 1381.)

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