chapter  9
19 Pages

Organization and Aims

The 'particular commands' were those cryptic letters reproduced by the chroniclers Walsingham and Knighton and attributed to John Ball2 (a name which we have no reason to treat as a pseudonym), as well as to three others, Jack Mylner, Jack Carter and Jack Trewman, names which may (as we have seen) have been pseudonyms, possibly for Ball himself. There is no reason to suppose that the letters are not authentic messages passed at the time of the rebellion, but they are not particular commands. They are cryptic, loaded with allegori-

cal and symbolic meanings, couched in poetic language with internal rhyme and alliterations which are used with considerable skill. There are recognizable echoes from Langland's Piers the Ploughman3-un1ess both echo some unknown common substratum of popular moralizing. Insofar as they are not exhortations about the priority of morality over expediency, truth over deception, open dealing over corruption and against the deadly sins, they are warnings about the need for unity and preparedness. They could have been written at any time during the course of the rising.