Title Background

The C-Revisions and the Crusades in <i>Piers Plowman</i>.

The C-Revisions and the Crusades in Piers Plowman.

Proposes ‘that L was in the period of the C-revisions thinking about the crusades, and that his conclusion was that their suspect goals and their notorious failures were the responsibility of clergy not knighthood’ (155-6). The three historical developments that support this proposal are the crusade in Flanders (c. 1383), John of Gaunt’s 1386 crusade in Spain, and the building pressure for a new expedition to the Holy Land, which culminated in the 1395, whose propaganda and preparation were well underway in the 1380s. With the hypothesis that L had the crusades in mind, Rogers goes on to examine the revisions of Anima’s speech in B.15 into Liberum Arbitrium’s of C.16-17, whose effect is to argue that world peace and the salvation of the Saracens depend on Christian clerics, not on crusaders; the Meed episode, whose removal of references to Edward III’s Norman campaign opens the way for it to apply to other wars, and whose term brutten (C.3.238), not in B, can refer to the sacking of a city (as in C.15.155); and the Hophni and Phineas passage (C.Prol.95-118), whose accusation that false priests collect offerings in iron boxes seems to refer to chests for crusading funds, and whose story about the biblical figures is ‘about clergy who rely on military action and lace the mysteries of their religion in its service’.


In The Medieval Crusade, ed. by Susan J. Ridyard (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004), pp. 145-56.


Rogers, William E.