A Middle Ages Rebel Yell

16 10 2010

I love the poetry of this rebel document from 14th Century England. Peasant revolt leaders dispatched this letter to local rebels in other cities to give them instructions on how to proceed.

John Schep, sometime Saint Mary’s priest of York, and now of Colchester, greeteth well John Nameless, and John the Miller, and John Carter, and biddeth them that they beware of guile in borough, and stand together in God’s name, and biddeth Piers Plowman go to his work, and chastise well Hob the Robber, and take with you John Trueman, and all his fellows, and no more. And look sharp you to one-head and no more. John the Miller hath ground small, small, small; The King’s sone of heaven shall pay for all. Beware or ye be woe, Know your friend fro your foe, Have enough, and say ho! And do well and better, and flee sin, And seek peace and hold you therein, And pray for John Trueman and all his fellows.

Instructing husbandmen (and indicating a rebel leader known for that profession) to join with a well-known rebel priest, and with the various other classes of peasants–including the miller, the carters, and of course the many professionless (or nameless), and to remain anonymous. Don’t loot (“chastise well Hob the Robber”). Choose one leader amongst you all. We will kill the Archbishop (“The King’s sone of heaven shall pay for all.”) Incite people to direct their anger at their true oppressors (the barons, and the lawyers): “Know your friend fro your foe, Have enough, and say ho!” (But, also, identify friendlies through your war cries.)




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