Instructions for First-Time Users

Jump to a particular question and answer:

Where do I start?

The poem Piers Plowman comes down to us in over 50 different manuscripts, in three different versions (A, B, C). This archive contains both editions of individual manuscripts and a reconstruction of the common ancestor of the B manuscripts (the B-archetype).

If you want to look at an individual manuscript, select Texts. If you want to access the B-Archetype, go to About, then select Materials and Methods for Reconstructing the B-Archetype.

Note: In order to view the manuscripts properly, you will need to download the font Junicode. To do so, please go to Downloads.

Note for Internet Explorer Users: If you cannot utilize the mouse-overs on the main tabs, please be sure to enable your Active X controls.

What do I want to do?

View the text of a particular manuscript:

  • Select the manuscript's nickname (sigil) from the drop-down list on the home page to go to the main page for the manuscript, or select the manuscript from the Texts page.
  • Select which passus (verse chapter) you wish to see from the drop-down menu on the manuscript's main page, or jump directly to the passus from the Texts page.

See the text transcribed as it appears in the manuscript:

  • Select Diplomatic from the Stylesheets drop-down meu at the top of the page.
    Note: This view shows links to notes but otherwise no editorial interventions.

See the text as it appears in the manuscript, but with some editorial guidance:

  • Select Scribal from the Stylesheets drop-down menu at the top of the page.
    Note: This view reproduces the manuscript's ink colors and uses color-coding to indicate where the editors have provided further information about a particular reading.

See the text as it appears in the manuscript, but with full editorial annotations:

  • Select All Views from the Stylesheets drop-down menu at the top of the page.
    Note: This view shows all notes, editorial annotations, and apparatus to give you all the information we have collected about the various readings and idiosyncrasies of the scribe's text.

See the text as it would appear in a printed edition:

  • Select Critical from the Stylesheets drop-down menu at the top of the page.
    Note: This view displays links to notes and attempts to represent the scribe’s original intentions.

Search for a particular word in the poem:

  • Use the Keyword Search tool available from the Search tab.
  • The default setting will search all the manuscripts on the website. To limit the search to a particular branch of the tradition (one of the three distinct versions of the poem, or one of the spliced versions created by scribes), select that branch from the Specify Manuscripts drop-down list.
  • If your search does not return the results you expect, try various spellings of the word you wish to find. Remember that medieval spelling is not standardized and many of the manuscripts are written with heavily dialectal forms of words.

Search for a particular tag in the XML:

  • To search for editorial notes, marginalia, instances of foreign languages, etc., use the Element Search tool available from the Search tab.
  • Fill in the Contains field to find, for instance, a note containing certain text, or a certain word within a marginal annotation or a section of Latin.
  • Use the Attribute field to narrow your search to a specific type of note (codicological, textual, etc.) or a specific language.
  • See Sample List of Elements and Attributes (below) for common searches, and Transcriptional Protocols for the complete set of elements and attributes used in the Archive.

Sample List of Elements and Attributes

Element: note

  • Attribute: type
  • Value: codicological, lexical, paleographic, textual

Description: These are editorial notes that discuss aspects of the text, dialect, or physical manuscript not otherwise marked by XML tagging.

 

Element: foreign

  • Attribute: lang
  • Value: fre, lat

Description: Foreign tags mark instances in the poem of languages other than English, generally Latin (lat) and French (fre).

 

Element: marginalia

  • Attribute: type
  • Value: gloss
  • Attribute: hand
  • Value: hand1, hand2, handx, etc. See the list of hands in the Introduction to each manuscript.

Description: Marginalia tags surround any text or meaningful marks in the margins of the folio. The "gloss" value is not available on all manuscripts.

 

Element: app

Description: The "apparatus" tag explains the relationship between the texts of various manuscripts, marking where the manuscript at hand differs from others. To search for specific app tags, use the Contains field with the reading you are looking for. Not available on all manuscripts.

 

Element: orig, reg

Description: The "original" tag marks where a scribe has written as one word a phrase that would ordinarily be considered two or more words, and the "regularized" tag gives the phrase with standard spacing. (For example, scribes often write the indefinite article together with the following word: "asomer" for "a somer".) To search for specific orig or reg tags, use the Contains field with the reading you are looking for.