Cast off the Yoke of Bondage

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Cast off the Yoke of Bondage  (1381) 
by John Ball (1338-1381)
The speech allegedly given by John Ball, one of the leaders of the English Peasants Revolt against King Richard II, at Blackheath on the march on London, June 1381.

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 bondsmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who would have had any 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. I counsel you therefore well to bethink yourselves, and to take good hearts unto you, that after the mannar of a good husband that tilleth his ground, and riddeth out thereof such evil weeds as choke and destroy the good corn, you may destroy first the great lords of the realm, and after, the judges and lawyers, and questmongers, and all other who have undertaken to be against the commons. For so shall you procure peace and surety to yourselves in time to come; and by dispatching out of the way the great men, there shall be an equality in liberty, and no difference in degrees of nobility; but lika dignity and equal authority in all things brought in among you.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.