I Playne Piers and the Protestant Plowman Prints: The Transformation of a Medieval Figure’
The medieval figure of the plowman was put to various uses in the sixteenth century. This article examines the ‘plowman prints’ of the sixteenth century and explores the evidence those prints contain for their possible audience and reception. The prints divide roughly into three groups, both in terms of content and format: cheaply printed, polemical Protestant plowman pamphlets, which may bear little or no connection to the original medieval PPl; the high-quality but poorly printed editions of L’s PPl itself; and well-printed, folio prints of ‘The Plowman’s Tale’, many of which came to be included in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The article ends with a ‘case study’ of the complex way in which the medieval figure of the plowman, and possibly medieval plowman poems, were transmitted to a new context and audience in the sixteenth study through the analysis of a particular print, ‘I Playne Piers’. (KC)
Transmission and Transformation in the Middle Ages, ed. by Kathy Cawsey and Jason Harris (Dublin: Four Courts, 2007), pp. 189–206.