"The Revolt is a feast for the senses filled with accounts of battles, deception, heartache, integrity and devotion." CHUCK BENTLEY, CEO Crown Financial Ministries
Synopsis of The Revolt, by Douglas Bond
Chapter 1 excerpt
Chapter 26 excerpt
“In The Revolt, Douglas Bond uses his unique writing style to produce a highly readable imagining of the travails of John Wycliffe, ...a vivid and exciting narrative..." BOB CRESON, President/CEO, Wycliffe Bible Translators, USA
The Revolt, a novel set in John Wycliffe's England. Synopsis:
Commissioned as secretary to the Earl of Oxford, Hugh West'all finds himself horrified by the realities of war at Crecy, 1346, thereafter haunted by what he witnessed in the battle. Soon after, now a student at Oxford, he is fascinated by the intellectual powers of another young scholar, John of Wycliffe. Warring between envy and wonder at Wycliffe, Hugh must overcome the scars of war, the dishonesty lurking in his own ambitions, and his fears about the plague and the rising storm of the Peasants Revolt. Meanwhile, Willard the plowman, embittered at the grinding tragedy and injustice pressing down on his life, becomes obsessed with protecting Beatrix, his sister, threatened by lecherous friars, the deprivations of poverty and plague, and the whims of corrupt civil powers. At last, Wycliffe develops a plan to bring light to all--earl and peasant, man and woman, boy and girl--dispelling the darkness.
This was a super delight to write. It ended up being about 12,000 words more than Hand of Vengeance, probably due to it being a biographical novel, with more material drawn and shaped from Wycliffe's writings, but what a rich time for me immersed in his works! Artist whipped out a cover prototype overnight! Not there yet but a good beginning from an able artist. Still working on title... (and cover art). WYCLIFFE historical fiction final draft at publisher (completed nearly 3 years ago and stalled in the sometimes deeply frustrating machinations of traditional publishing stuff--ugh)!
Leading 55 high school students on one of our Church history tours when Iceland's volcano erupted stranding us for an extra six days in the UK. CBS London was following my blog and linked up to interview us in front of Wycliffe's Balliol College, Oxford.
...Later in the afternoon of that same day, Alfred went to Carfax Square to purchase bread and beer for our sustenance. I labored on alone over the thousand-year-old text, struggling first to comprehend the Latin meaning, and then to render it in the English of the plowman. It was that cold afternoon when something strange began to come over my mind. "Et de plenitudine eius nos omnes accepimus et gratiam pro gratia quia lex per Mosen data est gratia et veritas per Iesum Christum facta est."
I read and reread the sacred words. I felt there was some connection to the words we had been translating in Leviticus, and I wondered what Alfred would find in them, were he not at the moment in the marketplace haggling over our victuals.
After warming my fingers over my candle, I cut the tip of my quill afresh, dipped it in the pot of ink, and began. "Of the plente of him we alle han takun, and grace for grace. For the lawe is knouun by Moyses; forsoth grace and treuthe is maad by Jhesu Crist."
I set down my quill and cradled my chin in my hands. Scanning back over the opening lines of John's Gospel, rendered before me, by my own quill, in the English of the common man, I felt I could not go on. "And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." I gulped in the words as a dying man craves water. From the Word, from Jesus himself, from his fullness alone comes grace. But not just grace, "grace upon grace."
"You've gone and smudged yourself again, Hugh," said Wycliffe, pausing at my writing table and nodding at my chin and cheek.
I glanced absently at my ink-besmeared fingers. What did I care about ink smudges on my face? "It was merely Latin before," I stammered. "Just Latin. Oh, I more or less understood the words. But not like this. Nothing like this. I understood the part about Moses and the law, if I failed to do it I was condemned; I understood that from the Latin. But not the rest. Not the part about the fullness of grace, grace upon grace, not the part that declares that grace and truth come through Jesus Christ. How could I have missed it? All these years. How could I have missed it?"
John of Wycliffe at first said nothing. He merely leaned his hands upon my writing table and smiled at me, his eyes ablaze and watery with joy.
"Trust wholly in Christ, Hugh," he said. "Rely altogether on the fullness of his grace. It is an inexhaustible grace. There is nothing you can add to it, no price you can pay for it. You must beware of seeking to be justified in any other way--any other way, Hugh--than by the righteousness of Jesus Christ."
And then Wycliffe turned and raised his hands; a hush fell over the hall as dozens of young men halted mid-stroke in their writing and turned their eyes toward him, their quills poised over their parchments.
“O everlasting love," he cried, his eyes heavy with water and seeing through, as it were, the stone vaulting above us, "inflame each of our minds to love God, that it burn not except to his callings. O good Jesus! Living Word of God! Who else could give to us what we feel from you?”
His prayer was suddenly interrupted. Thud, thud, thud! Someone was hammering on the door of the scriptorium with what sounded like the butt end of a halberd.
Courage at Crecy, 1346
August 26, 1346 was my birthday. I mused on how many other men--French or English--had birthdays on this day. Surely among 40,000 men there were others. Eighteen years ago on this day, I, Hugh West'all, was born. My innards revolting at the prospect, I wondered if the date of my first day on earth--would be my last.
The events of that fateful day are forever imprinted in my memory. For my ability to write, I had been pressed into service in the army of King Edward III of England and claimant to the throne of France. It was for that claim we English found ourselves on French soil that day, an invading army, intent on ousting King Philip VI of France and seating Edward in his rightful place.
Overhead bulbous gray clouds roiled and thickened, like a vast quavering brain. Forgive me the frankness of the comparison, but it was at Crecy where first I witnessed the cleaved skulls of men in battle and was struck by the similarity between storm clouds and the human brain. An ominous darkness descended over the broad ridge that connected the villages of Crecy and Wadicourt, and the valley of the River Maye that would be the stage for the battle. Terrified as I confess I was that day, I could little know how famous that battle would become in history—as famous for the victors as it would be infamous for the vanquished.
Against the backdrop of that hovering darkness, yet another kind of blackness swept overhead. Now rustling and darting like a shadowy specter, the sky gradually became alive with a murder of encircling crows. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of them, their screeching and cawing, and the rustling of their wing beats, filled me with dread.
Suddenly a bolt of lightning illuminated the eerie daytime darkness. The crows dispersed in a flurry. In that flash of light, I witnessed the grim faces and wide baleful eyes of nearly 2,000 yeoman, their longbows strung and at the ready. I blamed them not for their expressions of fear, for we were encircled by an army five times our numbers. A fraction of a second after, I felt in my bowels, more than heard with my ears, the gut-wrenching roar of thunder, followed by yet another kind of roar, this a wave-like roar as the rain descended in torrents.
As if from a spigot, water ran off my hood and shoulders. Grimly I watched the soil turn to mud at my feet. With a shudder, I wondered at the barrels full of blood that were sure to be churned into that mud in the hours ahead. The odds so opposed to us, I feared the blood of many English would color those clods of French soil that day--and mine with it.
I hugged my leather satchel to my breast, making to protect it from the deluge. Here I found myself surrounded by stout fighting men, men-at-arms, girded with armor, armed with sword and mace, mounted on fierce chargers, champing to enter the fray. And here was I, Hugh West'all, secretary to the Earl of Oxford, armed against a vast French army, I with nothing more lethal than a goose feather, a sheaf of parchment, and a pot of ink.
While I mused thus, with haste, the yeoman surrounding my position unstrung their longbows and protected the hemp of their bowstrings from the wet inside their jerkins. I had learned from them that wet bowstrings were sure to launch arrows short of the mark, so each man guarded his string as if guarding his life.
Before the crows and the storm, I had heard King Edward with my own ears as he moved among his army charging his nobles to "be friends without jealousy, and be courteous without pride." I had hastily penned the words, so representative of how I was determined to think of my king. Though I had not witnessed this with my own eyes, I had it on good authority that he prayed fervently on his knees to God, not for victory, but that he would conduct himself with honor in the battle, that all his men would do so. As he moved among us, the king spoke so sweetly, so comfortingly to his army; with such cheerful countenance did he charge us to guard his honor and defend his right in the battle about to be joined with France.
I must confess when the heavens opened with the rumbling of thunder, the crashing of lightning, and the drenching of rain, I wondered if God was angry with our king, with us English, with our campaign against the French. After all we were an invading army, we the ones treading on their soil. Perhaps God was on their side, and we were doomed. Perhaps the storm was merely a foretaste of the coming destruction we were about to undergo in the battle. I feared it might be treasonous to give rein to such thoughts, but as secretary I had been required to swear an oath. "I, Hugh West'all, before God do swear to record everything I observe with the eyes of my body, and everything I experience and feel in the bowels of my soul." I was at that moment very much experiencing and feeling the impending doom that awaited our beleaguered army. I had no sword, so I scribbled on fiercely with my quill.
As if in reply to my dour musing, the rain halted as suddenly as it had first descended upon us. The clouds parted and then dissipated into the blue sky until they were no more. In place of the gray and drabness, blinding sunlight now glistened on every helm. My spirits soared. It was a token from the heavens. God was once again on our side.
"For God and St. George!" the cry rang throughout our ranks.
The yeoman and the Welsh marauders within our ranks fell to their knees, bending low and kissing the soil. I joined them. A priest walked solemnly among us, his black robe drenched and muddy, his sandaled feet squelching in the mud. "Corpus Christi," he chanted, making the sign of the cross as he strode among us. I knew this was to be the extent of our communion. The priest drank the blood of Christ for us, and we would receive the body of Christ in token by kissing the earth. As was fitting, the knights and lords, now accoutered for battle and mounted on their chargers, had communed and heard the last rites before arming themselves earlier that morning.
I blinked at the glare flashing on the armor of the knights behind us. Everywhere there was noise and movement. The snorting and neighing of horses, the shouts of men--orders given out, the clatter of steel--weapons and armor readied, the barking of dogs, more shouting, the twang as men tested their bowstrings, the clattering of arrows, the grunting of men laboring to position artillery, the gaping months of the cannons aiming south and east.
I had, heretofore, avoided turning my gaze toward the French, and their allies. I knew what would happen when I did so. My heart would sink again into fear. But it could not be avoided forever. Taking fear in hand, I turned and looked south and east. In vivid color, every detail sharp and clear, I saw them. By their standards, I knew them to be King Charles of Luxembourg, the Earl of Flanders, the Earl of Alencon, the Earl of Blois, nephew of the King of France, Sir John de Fusselles, the Earl of Auxerre, the Lord Charles of Montmorency, the Lord Beaujeu, and King Phillip VI himself. And before them were several thousand Genoese mercenaries armed with crossbows.
It was a fearful array of men, an army of grand proportion, but there was something amiss. Horses were stamping, circling, and several reared up on their hind legs, hooves pawing the air. Men ran and shouted. Amidst flailing arms and legs, knights were hurled from their mounts. Pikes held high wavered like grain on a gusty day and then clattered into heaps of matchwood. Chaos and disorder reigned in the French lines.
"My Lords, the sun blinds them!" shouted the Earl of Oxford.
I turned around and looked behind me at the 800 men-at-arms led by the Earls of Warwick and Oxford, Sir Godfrey de Harcourt, Lords Cobham, Holland, Stafford, and Delaware. My eyes smarted and watered at the blinding flashes of sunlight reflecting off their armor. That's what the French and their horses were seeing--and by which they were being blinded and thrown into confusion. Thrilling at the prospect, I wondered if the French might flee the field in confusion, battle ended, life preserved, victory ours.
Just as my hopes soared, the front line of the French army began forming into some semblance of order. It was the Genoese footmen and they were advancing on the position of the Black Prince, a youth of yet fewer years than I. As they came on, they raised their voices in a shout of defiance. I froze, my quill poised. The collective voices of 6,000 men marching toward me to my destruction, their crossbows loaded, terrified me. If it was intimidation for which they shouted, it was, indeed, most effective.
"Steady, men!" shouted the young Prince. "Hold your positions!"
Another cry of defiance, and the Genoese came on. In our ranks, horses stamped in anticipation, visors of several hundred bascinet helmets snapped into position, yeomen fingered their arrows; men prayed aloud; some sobbed in fear.To determine range and trajectory, the captain of our English archers ordered a trial shot. I was near to him and studied him closely. Our fate in the next moments depended upon this one man’s judgment...
DOUGLAS BOND'S FAVORITE HYMNS (and others)
- A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
- Abide with Me, Fast Falls the Eventide
- Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended
- All For Jesus
- All Glory, Laud and Honor
- Alleluia, Sing to Jesus
- And Can It Be
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Away In a Manger
- Be Thou My Vision
- Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
- Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
- Come, Christians, Join to Sing
- Crown Him with Many Crowns
- Eternal Father, Strong to Save
- Fairest Lord Jesus
- Father, I know that all my life
- For the Beauty of the Earth
- God of Our Fathers
- Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
- Hallelujah, What a Savior
- He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought
- Holy, Holy, Holy
- I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art
- I Sing the Mighty Power of God
- Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
- Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
- It Is Well with My Soul
- Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
- Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come
- Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
- Lift High the Cross
- Like A River Glorious
- Make Me a Captive, Lord
- May the Mind of Christ My Savior
- My Jesus, I Love Thee
- Now Thank We All Our God
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- O Come O Come Emmanuel
- O God, Our Help In Ages Past
- O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
- O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
- Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
- Rejoice the Lord Is King
- Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
- Silent Night
- Soldiers of Christ, Arise
- The Church's One Foundation
- The Lord's My Shepherd
- Thine Be the Glory
- This Is My Father's World
- We Are God's People
- We Come O Christ To You
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross