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John Ball's Sermon Theme


1 Both Walsingham's Historia Anglicana and the Chronicon Angliae claim that John Ball, priest, taught the "perverted doctrine" (perversa dogmata) and the "false ravings" (insanias falsas) of John Wyclif, whom Walsingham elsewhere describes as "vetus hypocrita, angelus Sathanae, antichristi praeambulans" (an old hypocrite, Satan's angel, a walking antichrist) as well as a heretic with "dampnatas opiniones." See Chronicon Angliae, ed. E. M. Thompson (Rolls Series 64, 1874), p. 281; Historia Anglicana, ed. H. T. Riley (Rolls Series 28.1), 2:32. For another setting of this theme, see the moral lyric beginning "When adam delf & eue span, spir, if þou wil spede" from Cambridge Univ. MS Dd. 5. 64, III (fols. 35v-36r), as printed in Religious Lyrics of the XIVth Century, ed. Carleton Brown and rev. G. V. Smithers, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1957), pp. 96-97; Index § 3921. The theme is proverbial. See Whiting, Proverbs, § A38.

2 gentilman. Walsingham and especially Froissart describe how Ball preached egalitarian doctrine.

(Walsingham, Historia Anglicana)

Whan Adam dalf, and Eve span,            
Wo was thanne a gentilman?            
dug; spun; (see note)
Who; nobleman; (see note)

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