The Prologue of Piers Plowman and the Tripartite Division of Medieval Society.
WL viewed fourteenth-century English society under the traditional tripartite division of oratores, bellatores, and laboratores, though his emphasis on labor as the real basis of society is extraordinary. The revision of A.Prol. in the B text was partly guided by WL’s conscious decision to employ the tripartite social division as a structural principle. Yet the last section of B.Prol. reveals his sense of the inadequacy of that traditional model, and the laborers and tradesmen included at this point are among those very classes most affected by the economic changes in late medieval England.
mss. (University of Connecticut) 1, no. 2 (Spring, 1990): 1-6, 15.
Petrie, Paul R.