Langland’s Clergial Lunatic.
WL recognizes the use of ye referring to a single individual as a stylistic mark of the higher echelons of fourteenth-century society; as it represents acceptance of courtly values it is inconsistent with a sharply satirical viewpoint. That the lunatic of B.Prol.123-27 (replaced as speaker by Kynde Wit in C) addresses the king with the pronouns thee and thi reflects the tradition of a clerkish instructor who earnestly wishes to communicate vital information. WL elsewhere uses ye to indicate politeness to someone who deserves respect, but in scenes from the world of beggars or court ye is to be understood as “faire speche,” equated with equivocation and flattery, and treated with suspicion.
Phillips, Langland, the Mystics and the Medieval English Religious Tradition 31-38.