``Assess the significance of the role of individuals in the development of reformation, protest and rebellion in Late Medieval Europe.
The rebellion in Late Medieval Europe was caused by numerous individuals, events and developments in the 14th Century. In this essay I will be discussing the significance of each of these factors concerning the English, Czech and German revolts, and the opinions of Cohn, Tuchman and Walsingham.
The historian Barbara Tuchman commented that 'Seen through the telescope of history, John Wycliffe was the most significant Englishman of all time.' Her argument is supported by the cemented fact that Wycliffe had an immense influence over future generations; concerning his views on the church, the corrupt monarchy and that 'the bible is the final authority to which men's consciences must give an accounting'. His resounding influence on the rebellion was shown through the strong links between the English and Bohemian revolts, caused by Jan Hus' conformity to Wycliffe's philosophies. For instance, Hus translated Wycliffe's teachings into Czech and spent over five years preaching and circulating his ideas through Bohemia. Wycliffe's ideas were received enthusiastically in Prague, just as they had done in England, and it now seemed that Wycliffe, along with Bohemian Jan Hus, understood the prospective power of the bible to change lives and shake nations. Tuchman highlights the link between Wycliffe and Hus to be 'dramatically increased by their shared belief in the supremacy of the bible over the church.' Moreover, she is supported by the fact that both gained such widespread support across the two countries; 'Both Wycliffe and Hus galvanized the people of their respective countries due to their stand against the corruption, indulgences and immortality of the church.'
Wycliffe was the first man to challenge the teachings of the church. He condemned its abuses of the ordinary people and had a significant role in the development of reformation and rebellion in Late Medieval Europe. His influence had an overwhelming effect on the Bohemian protests and the actions of those in English Parliament. John of Gaunt, for example, acted as Wycliffe's political protector whilst he was attacking the church. Gaunt was no longer satisfied with how parliament was treated as an inferior by the church and hoped to gain public favour by propagating Wycliffe's ideas. Having a powerful member of parliament supporting Wycliffe and his teachings was stated by William Langland, author of Piers Plowman, a satirical alliterative poem of the period, to have greatly influenced the magnitude of Wycliffe's power by 'spreading and scattering such controversial yet righteous ideas abroad, simplified into propagandist slogans.' Tuchman reiterates that ‘his widespread influence in England was reinforced by the impact of the Lollards, who spread his ideas, and his position with regard to the temporal rule of the clergy.’ The fact that Wycliffe's ideas and teachings were so well received in Bohemia, and that he had such a lasting effect on the people of England, clearly shows that, as an individual, he had a major influence on reformation, protest and rebellion in Late Medieval Europe.
John Ball was a priest of St James' Church in Colchester. He was another influential figurehead responsible for galvanizing and educating the peasants originally. He encouraged them in a speech made in York in 1377 to 'Stand together in God's name and defend our right to be free from enslavement by our so-called masters.' Ball strongly believed it was wrong that some people in England were very rich while others were very poor. Ball was recognized first by criticizing the feudal system and was imprisoned regularly for his controversial sermons, denouncing the power of the Roman Catholic Church. In 'The Pursuit of the Millennium', Norman Cohn refers to Ball as 'the crazy priest from Kent.' Ball told the peasants that the nobility should not have...
Bibliography: • Arthur Bryant/ 'The Age of Chivalry ' (1963)
• Norman Cohn/ 'The Pursuit of the Millennium ' (1957)
• Rodney Hilton/ 'Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of 1381 ' (1973)
• Julie Jones/ 'The Medieval World ' (1979)
• Henry Knighton/ 'Effects of the Black Death ' (1980)
• William Langland/ 'The Vision of Piers Plowman ' (1984)
• Stephen J.Lee/ 'Aspects of European History 1494-1789 ' (1978)
• Barbara Tuchman/ 'A Distant Mirror ' (1978)
• Thomas Walsingham/ 'Peasant Rebels of London 1381 ' (1997)
• www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/YALDdeathtyler.htm - Wat Tyler and the Peasants Revolt
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