Title Background

Friar William Appleton and the Date of Langland’s B Text

Friar William Appleton and the Date of Langland’s B Text

The portrait of Frere Flaterere, also known as Sire Penetrans Domos, in passus 20 of the B text, seems to be modeled on the Franciscan friar-physician William Appleton, retained for life as “phisicien et surgien” by John of Gaunt in 1373. His opulent salary as well as occasional lavish gifts from Gaunt indicate that he was a favored, and rather worldly, servant in the inner circle of the duke’s court. Sire leef-to-lyue-in-lecherie, who provides Sire Penetrans Domos with a letter (B.20.326) is probably modelled on Gaunt himself, whose affair with Katherin Swynford was common knowledge by 1381. The reference to the friar having been involved in scandal “no@t eighte wynter passed” (B.20.343) may refer to Appleton’s assassination by the mob at the height of the Peasants’ Revolt, which would force a radical revision of the dating of the passage to the late 1380s.

Volume

YLS 11 (1997): 87-96.

Author

Green, Richard Firth