Lunatyk Lollares’ in Piers Plowman.
In C.8 Hunger’s response to Piers urges discrimination in charity while recognizing an obligation in society that no one should starve. C.9 argues that charity must positively seek out the truly needy while maintaining a ban on professional beggary. Yet the able but feeble-minded “lunatyk lollares” are praised as exemplars of truly spiritual beggary and divine recklessness, idiots (opposed to manics and melancholics) whose lack of wit puts them under God’s protection and thus affords them access to powers of knowledge and prophecy. In their description, WL consciously uses a vocabulary that recalls satire of gyrovagi and friars, in order to interrogate the traditional values of society and religion embodied in such diction.
Boitani and Torti, Religion and Poetry, 163-78.