Title Background

Retaining a Court of Chancery in <i>Piers Plowman</i>.

Retaining a Court of Chancery in Piers Plowman.

Kennedy, like Giancarlo (no. 11), reads the trial of Peace v. Wrong that follows the Lady Meed episode. She explores the fatal interrelation of maintenance and the law in this understudied episode, and after a brief survey of current criticism on passus 4, isolates as the subjects of her study Meed, Peace, Wrong, the maintenance networks inside which they operate, and the integration of these networks with the legal process described in this passus (175, 177). The kind of judicial body that Peace is addressing has been the subject of debate; Kennedy suggests that while the court may well be the Council-in-Chancery or Council as suggested by Anna Baldwin, the messiness of the court . . . may . . . point to the complexity of the birth of a new legal remedy (179). By the C text at the latest, Kennedy argues, L is deliberately evoking a [mythical] moment in the differentiation between the Council and Chancery (179). Drawing on the study of contemporary sources about the Chancery, including a new study by Timothy Haskett, Kennedy suggests that the trial scene in the A, B, and C recensions shows that L carefully and deeply implicat[es] his audience in the flawed origins of Chancery as a court (187). Passus 4 thus serves as a negative example against which . . . audiences had to struggle to imagine a new way of relating to their monetary world of gifts, maintenance, violence, and the law (188).