The Two Ploughs of Piers Plowman
Toward the end of B.19/C.21, a ‘lewed vicory’ makes a speech in which he expresses the hope that ‘Piers with his newe plough and ek with his olde’ may be ‘Emperour of al the world — that alle men were Cristene’ (B.19.430–31, ed. Schmidt). What are these two ploughs, the old and the new? L must be referring here, not to the two harrows (‘aithes’) given by Grace to Piers earlier, to be drawn by four Fathers of the Church as draught horses following his plough, but to the two ploughs that Piers does in fact employ over the course of the poem. In that case, the terms old and new will refer not to the Vetus Testamentum et Novum, but to the ploughs of B.6 and 19 respectively: the old plough for the growing of wheat on the half-acre and the new one for the cultivation of the virtues on the manor of Grace.
Notes & Queries, n.s. 54 (2007), 123–24.
Burrow, J. A.