Author: WU Xiaoling, Ph.D. student at School of International Studies, Zhejiang University
The mendicant orders were some of the most important religious organizations in late fourteenth century England, denoted by their ideals of evangelism, scholarship and poverty. On the eve of religious reformation, the orders were corrupt within, with contradictions and clashes intensifying. William Langland’s narrative poem Piers Plowman exposes these tense relations in the mendicant orders. Through the allegorical character “Conscience” probing the two aspects of “dowel” (do well) and riches, the author discusses the relation between power within the friar orders and individual reform. Piers Plowman reflects the poet Langland’s judgment on reform within the mendicant orders on the eve of religious reformation, and how at the time the strength of individuals was not enough to bring about a better form of church. In mainland China, little attention has been paid upon this long poem among the academics. This paper hopes to open the dialogue and attracts more discussions on this work in the future.
Piers Plowman , Friars, Religious Reform, English Literature
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