'The Vision Concerning Piers the Plowman
.' Wiclif and the Lollard Bible, about 1380.
William Langland, a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer and author of The Vision of Piers the Plowman
, was born in the area, and is commemorated in a window at St Mary's Church.
The distribution of the relevant forms in the West Midland EH EIH EY(E) I(E)H c1310 Harrowing of Hell (Staf) 2 c1350 Stanzaic Life of Christ (Chs) 84 5 5 c1350 William of Palerne (Heref) 26 20 3 c1360 Sir Gawain (Lane) 3 25 4 c1367 Piers the Plowman
A (Staf) 5 11 c1377 Piers the Plowman
B (Staf) 33 4 8 c1400 Destruction of Troy (Lanc) 131 7 48 c1420 Sir Amadace (Lanc) c1435 Sir Torrent (Lanc) 1 2 5 c1440 Sir Degrevant (Lanc) 4 10 Y(E) OH OUH OW(E) UH (NER) c1310 Harrowing of Hell 1 1 c1350 Stanzaic Life of Christ 32 6 c1350 William of Palerne 2 24 c1360 Sir Gawain 11 1 c1367 Piers the Plowman
A 21 3 2 c1377 Piers the Plowman
B 1 2 64 13 c1400 Destruction of Troy 7 38 29 1 5 c1420 Sir Amadace 9 9 c1435 Sir Torrent 6 1 c1440 Sir Degrevant 3 1 2 7 Table 4.
Radical interpretations of the imaginary mock trial scene of Goneril and Regan (in Q) and Lear's assault on justice (4.6) are considered in the penultimate chapter, primarily in relation to the trial of Lady Meed in Piers the Plowman
, and the trial of Velvet Breeches and Cloth Breeches in a sixteenth century prose work by one "F.T." entitled The Debate betweene Pride and Lowlines ...
In Piers the Plowman
Langland alters the A-text reading 'Largesse the ladi ledeth in ful monye' to B- and C-text 'Largeness the/that lady'.(6) In all three texts 'Largesse/Largenesse' is said to 'serve Treuthe evere': Gawain takes his lapse as evidence of his 'trecherye and untrawbe' (2383).
At the beginning of passus 16, before Will swoons into his inner dream, we are told by Anima that "Liberum Arbitrium hath the lond to ferme / Under Piers the Plowman
to piken it and to weden it" (16.16-17).
The other main centre of interest is Conscience, whose endeavour to sustain his 'conative' character as remorse (inner contrition) develops to subsume those of Will and Piers, becoming at the end a quest for the latter after he become identified with Christ through the sharing of his suffering (a key passage Conscience's exposition of the meaning of 'Piers the Plowman
was peynted al blody' at the opening of B XIX).
Skeat did not collate its text (see The Vision of William concerning Piers the Plowman
in Three Parallel Texts, vol.
1 See Sister Mary Aquinas Devlin, 'The Date of the C-Version of Piers the Plowman', Abstracts of Theses, University of Chicago, Humanistic Series IV, 1925-6 (Chicago, 1928), 317-20.
It should be noted that Passus XVIII in this edition, where the Tree of Charity is described, is Passus XIX in Skeat's edition, The Vision of William Langland concerning Piers the Plowman in three parallel texts together with Richard the Redeless by William Langland, 2 vols (Oxford University Press, 1886).
'By Crist!' quod Conscience tho, 'I wole bicome a pilgrym, And walken as wide as the world lasteth, To seken Piers the Plowman
, that Pryde myghte destruye, And that freres hadde a fyndyng, that for nede flateren And contrepledeth me, Conscience.
Oon semblable to the Samaritan, and somdeel to Piers the Plowman
, Barefoot on an asse bak bootles cam prikye, Withouten spores other spere; spakliche he loked, As is the kynde of a knyght that cometh to be dubbed, To geten hym gilte spores on galoches ycouped.(57)