Poetic history repeats itself

The situation in France today: a president who thinks or thought he was “royally” above the overtaxed people recalls the peasants’ revolt in mediæval England.

The rebellion failed, and the king executed its ring-leaders, who included in their number one John Ball, remembered today for a couple of lines from a poem of his. “When Adam delved and Eve span, where then was the gentleman?”

Few understand the reference to the “gentleman”.

The “gentleman”, a word of French origin, designated the oppressors of the people. Adam and Eve were salt of the earth. “Delving and spinning” (Saxon words) were the occupations of the Anglo-Saxon oppressed.

There was no “gentleman”, of course, “when Adam delved and Eve span”. History does seem to repeat itself!

Stephen BURROUGH, Charente


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