The Life Travels, Travels, and Library of an Early Reader of Piers Plowman
Known to have been a reader of PPl by the bequest of a copy in his will, Walter Brugge, parson of St. Patrick’s in Trim, Ireland, and receiver-general of the vast Mortimer estates, closely resembles the profile of the poem’s audience as described by Anne Middleton (“The Audience and Public of PPl” in David A. Lawton, ed., Middle English Alliterative Poetry and its Literary Background [Cambridge, 1982], 101-23, 147-54). His library suggests a clerical education with a sound grounding in theology and canon law, yet his oversight of the Mortimer estates demonstrates a shrewd financial acumen as well. His expense accounts from the years 1386-89 show that his geographical world closely mirrored that of L. He may have been acquainted with Iolo Goch, the Welsh author of an encomium on the plowman, “Ode to the Laborer,” and his duties included reviewing petitions from plowmen and peasants on Mortimer lands. Living on the cultural and linguistic divide between Wales and London, and the rich and poor, Brugge provides an example of the complexity and contradictions within the readership of PPl.
YLS 13 (1999): 49-64.