Imagining Feudalism in Piers Plowman: Attempts to Restore an Order.
WL’s attempt to re-assert feudal custom fails for a society governed by greed. The B text shows that WL’s answer to questions of social disharmony lies in a reformation of the individual; feudal custom and practice cannot be restored in late fourteenth-century England. The opening of the B text (Prologue and passus 1) describes a society dependent on agreement of the three estates. The half-acre scene shows that Piers’s attempt to re-assert feudal custom is conceptually sound but unworkable. The pardon, intimately connected with the concept of feudal order and practice, condemns laborers who have not fulfilled their obligation; Piers’s destruction of the pardon may indicate that society is unable to participate in its stipulations.
The Rusted Hauberk: Feudal Ideals of Order and Their Decline. Ed. Liam O. Purdon and Cindy L. Vitto. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994. 29-46.
Pigg, Daniel F.