End of Europe's Middle Ages

William Langland

Generally accepted as the author of Piers Plowman, Langland seems to have been an educated servant of the Church. Between about 1360 and 1400, he wrote three substantially different versions of Piers. The poem's narrator recounts a dream of allegorical characters like Holy Church, Reason, and Anger discussing and displaying moral and spiritual conditions. Langland puts these characters in the midst of everyday life - so Gluttony, for example, sets out for church, strays into an alehouse, carouses and quarrels with other scoundrels, and finally staggers home, sick and drunk, in the dark. The plowman of the title embodies an ideal of simple virtue. Many of Langland's views resembled those of Wyclif and the Lollards, even though he criticized them for their rebelliousness.

- Janis Svilpis, Department of English, University of Calgary

  Piers Plowman (excerpt)

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The End of Europe's Middle Ages / Applied History Research Group / University of Calgary
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