The Lost Revision of Piers Plowman B
The majority of the thirty-seven passages unique to manuscripts R and F of the B text of PPl (Bodleian MS. Rawlinson Poetry 38 and Oxford Corpus Christi College 201) provide evidence of having been inserted into a pre-existing B text through the process of authorial revision. Oblique references made in these unique passages to the Peasants’ Revolt, William Courtney’s succession to the see of Canterbury, and the London “children’s” plague suggest that the revision took place subsequent to 1382. The emphasis placed on patient poverty and the sanctity of clergy in the added passages, as well as the omission of a passage advocating dispossession of clerical property, indicate the revision was motivated by the social upheaval and retrenchment of institutional power taking place in the wake of the Rising of 1381.
YLS 11 (1997): 97-134.