Title Background

Remarks on Surviving Manuscripts of <i>Piers Plowman</i>.

Remarks on Surviving Manuscripts of Piers Plowman.

Drawing in part on researches by M. L. Samuels (later published MAE 54 1985: 232-47), notes that of 54 mss. of PPl earlier than Crowley’s editio princeps, only four are of the second half of the fifteenth century and only three of the first half of the sixteenth: demand apparently was met by mss. available by mid-fifteenth century. Earliest mss. are all or parts of B and C texts, rather than simple A text, which had been written two decades or more earlier; perhaps the earliest copies of the A text were lost when longer versions became available. No A-text mss. are linked with London, yet some were probably copied there by scribes who preserved the spelling of their exemplars. More B mss. than A mss. date before or slightly after 1400, and many show W. Midlands characteristics, although these mss., too, could have been copied in London. More early C mss. survive than for A and B, and with a greater concentration than of B of W. Midlands features. The C version was probably neither released by Langland in London nor got there early.