Piers’ Protean Pardon: The Letter and Spirit of Langland’s Theory of Indulgences.
Minnis discusses (mis)understandings of the theology and discourse of indulgences, and L’s manipulation of these discourses with respect to the ‘tearing of the pardon’ episode in PPl. Tracing the shifts of allegorical significance of both Piers and the pardon throughout this episode, Minnis argues that the pardon ends up as ‘no pardon at all; it simply says that each and every one of us stands alone, and will get what he deserves’ (p. 234), whereas the doctrine of the superabundant treasury of merit underlying the theology of indulgences ‘offered far more hope than does the allegorical pardon which Piers physically destroys’ (p. 236). Observing that concern about the abuse of systems of indulgence hardly requires one to be a heretic, Minnis concludes by calling attention to the relevance of ‘orthodox rationalizations of, and anxieties concerning’ these systems (p. 240).
In Studies in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Texts in Honour of John Scattergood, ed. by Anne Marie D'Arcy and Alan J. Fletcher (Dublin: Four Courts, 2005), pp. 218–40.
Minnis, Alistair J.