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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Vision of Piers Plowman

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>A sixteenth-century copy of the <i>Vision of Piers Plowman</i>, one of the most famous medieval texts in English, by the otherwise largely unknown figure, William Langland. Written in the late fourteenth century, this allegorical dream vision poem offers both a quest of personal purification, and a critique of lax morals at all levels of Langland's society. It details the encounters of a pilgrim, Will, with various allegorical figures representing the soul's journey to salvation and the perils along the way; this varied and colourful cast of characters includes the mysterious Piers the plowman, who has a strong connection to Christ.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The poem survives in more than 50 manuscripts in three distinct versions, labelled A, B and C. CUL MS Gg.4.31 is a copy of the most widely accepted and edited version, the B text. Its significance primarily lies in the evidence it offers of continued interest in and engagement with the text in the sixteenth century, possibly due to its critique of the immorality of lax clergy. Gg.4.31 is unique in containing a table of contents after the main text, on folio <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(207);return false;'>101v</a> onwards, which may represent an otherwise unattested personal engagement with the Piers Plowman text on the part of the original scribe, or annotator who signs him/herself W. H. There is also a short devotional poem at the end of the manuscript.</p>

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