Short summary - Piers Plowman - William Langland

British literature summaries -

Short summary - Piers Plowman
William Langland

The prologue tells how the author "put on rough clothes, as if he were a shepherd," and went to wander around the "wide world to listen to his miracles." Tired, he lay down to rest on the Malvern Hills, near a stream, and soon fell asleep. And he had a wonderful dream. He looked east and saw a tower on an elevation, and below it was the valley on which the prison stood. Between them is a beautiful field full of people.

There were people of every sort: some did the hard work of walking behind a plow, others «gluttonously destroyed what they had done», there were those who indulged in prayer and repentance, and those who cherished their pride. There were traders, minstrels, buffoons, beggars, beggars. The author was especially indignant at the pilgrims and mendicant monks, who tricked and fooled the Gospel into fooling their fellow citizens and emptying their wallets. With sarcasm, he describes a seller of indulgences, who, showing a bull with the seals of the bishop, absolved all sins, and gullible people gave him rings, gold, brooches. The king came there, whom «the power of the communities put on the kingdom», and after him his adviser - Common sense. Suddenly a horde of rats and mice appeared. After a discussion on how to neutralize the cat, they heeded the advice of a wise mouse to leave this idea,


A beautiful woman appears. She gives an explanation to the author about everything he saw. Tower on the dais - the abode of Truth. The prison in the valley is the castle of Caring; Evil, the father of Lies, lives in it. A beautiful lady teaches the author, advises him to «not believe the body», not to drink, not to serve gold. After listening to all the useful tips, the author is interested: who is this lady? And she answers; "Holy Church I." Then he fell to his knees and began to ask to teach him how to save his soul. The answer was concise: to serve the Truth. For the Truth "is a treasure, the most tested on earth." True, Conscience and Love.

The author listened attentively to the teachings of the Holy Church. And he began to beg her for mercy - to teach him to recognize the Falsehood. The lady replied: "Look to the left and see where the Falsehood, Flattery, and many of their comrades stand." And he saw a luxuriously and richly dressed woman named Mead ("Reward, bribe, but also a bribe, bribery, bribery" translated from English). Mead is preparing for the wedding with the "creation of the enemy of the human race." Her fiance is a lie. Her retinue consists of assessors and bailiffs, sheriffs, judicial couriers and brokers, lawyers and other corrupt people.


Flattery grants the bride and groom the right to be princes in pride and despise poverty, «slander and brag, give false testimony, scoff, scold, etc.» County of greed - extortion and stinginess. And all the same. For these gifts, they will give their souls to Satan at the end of the year.

However, Theology was indignant against this marriage. And she insisted that Mead go to London to make sure "she wants to award the law to live together." Lies, Flattery and Insidiousness rush ahead of everyone to misrepresent the case in London. However, Truth overtook them and informed the Conscience on this matter. And Conscience reported to the king.

The king is angry, he swears that he would order the hang of these villains, but "let the law, as the law indicates, fall on them all." Fear overheard this conversation and warned the Lies, and he fled to the wandering monks. Treachery was given refuge to merchants, and Liar found refuge with merchants of indulgences. And Maid Mead was brought to the king. The king ordered her to be provided with all sorts of comforts, adding that he would deal with her case himself. "And if she does according to my sentence, I will forgive her this guilt."

Everyone who lived in Westminster came to her bow: jesters, minstrels, clerks and a confessor dressed as a beggarly monk. Everyone promised to help her in her work - to marry the one for whom she wants, contrary to the "tricks of Conscience." And Mead richly endowed all.

The king announced that he was forgiving of Mead, and instead of lying, offered another groom - Conscience. But Conscience refuses such a bride, listing her sins: debauchery, lies, treachery ... Mead began to cry and asked the king to give her a word to justify. She defended herself ardently, proving that everyone needed. The king favorably listened to the crafty liar. But Conscience is not deceived by sweet speeches. He explains the difference between reward for honest work and a bribe, money-grubbing, gives a biblical story about Seoul, who wanted to take a bribe, for which the wrath of God fell upon him and his descendants.

The king asks Conscience to bring Reason to rule the kingdom. Conscience sets off. Reason, learning about the invitation, began to quickly gather on the road. He called Cato, his servant, and Tom, and told them: «Put my saddle on Terpy until my time comes, / And tighten him up with good girths from clever words, / And put a heavy rein on him so that he keeps his head low / / For he will light twice before being there. "

Reason with Conscience went to the king. He met them affectionately, planted between himself and his son, and for a long time they made wise speeches.

Peace came and brought a bill of violence, debauchery and robbery of Unrighteousness. It was not true that he was afraid of the charges and began to ask Wisdom for big money to make him peace with the World. But the king swears by Christ and his crown that Untruth will pay dearly for his deeds. It is not true that they are shackled in iron so that for seven years he will not see his legs. However, Wisdom and Clever ask the king to forgive the Truth: «It is better that the compensation destroy the damage ...» The king is adamant, until Reason takes pity on the Truth, and Humility does not vouch for him, Untruth will sit in blocks. Everyone welcomed this decision, recognized Mead as a great sinner, and Meekness - having the right to domination. The King firmly decided: «As long as our life continues, / we will live together» with Reason and Conscience.

The author, meanwhile, woke up, quietly sat down on the ground and began to read prayers. And again peacefully fell asleep under his mumble. And again he had a dream. Reason says a sermon to the whole kingdom. He explains that "the pestilence was sent solely for sins, / A south-west wind, apparently, for Pride." And mortal sin on the day of judgment will destroy all.

With warm, sincere words, he captivated his listeners. He called on people to honestly and conscientiously do their work and seek the Holy Truth. And Pride promised to surrender to humility. Intemperance vowed to "drink only water with a duck and dine only once," Anger frankly said that he prepared food from evil words. And Repentance told him: now repent. Greed, Laziness, Overeat - all repented of their great sins and promised to embark on the path of correction. The power of the Speech of Reason was so great that thousands of people wanted to seek the Truth. "They appealed to Christ and his Most Holy Mother to receive mercy to go with them to seek Truth."

But among them there was no person who knew the way to the Truth. And they wandered like wild beasts. And they met the pilgrim that came from Sinai from the Holy Sepulcher. And in many places he visited Bethlehem and Babylon.

And people asked him: «Do you know the holy husband whom people call Truth?» And the pilgrim answered: «No, God help me!»

And then Pyotr Pakhar spoke and said: «I know him as closely as a scientist knows his books. Conscience and Common Sense led me to his home. »

And everyone began to ask Peter to be their guide.

The plowman agreed, but first, he said, I need to plow and sow a half-acre of land by the highway. «What are we going to do all this time?» The lady asked under the veil. And Peter the Plowman found a deal for everyone. Lady - to sew up the bag, wives and widows to spin wool and linen and teach this craft to their daughters, and everyone else - to take care of the needy and naked. «Help actively in the work of the one who earns you food,» concluded Peter.


The knight ardently sympathized with the words of Peter. Peter promised to work all his life, and the Knight to protect him and the Holy Church from all kinds of evil people. Many helped Peter Pahar in their work, but there were loafers who drank beer and sang songs. Peter Plowman complained to the Knight. But they did not listen to the warnings of the Knight and did not all relent. Then Peter called Hunger. After some time, the loafers began to rush to work "like hawks." But only at the request of the Plowman the Hunger was gone, and abundance came. Loafers and wasters again began to take off from work.

The truth hastened to the aid of Peter Pahar, she bought for him and for everyone who helped him to plow and sow, indulgence for eternal times. And in the indulgence it was written: «And those who did good will go into eternal life. And who is evil - into the eternal fire. "

The priest, having read the indulgence, did not want to recognize it. The priest and Peter began to argue fiercely. And the author woke up from their cry and began to reflect on his dream, and decided that «Do good exceeds indulgence / And Do good on the day of judgment will be accepted with honor ...».

The author called on all Christians to mercy: "To do such things while we are here / So that after our death Do good can announce / On the day of judgment, what we did as he ordered."