The Texts of Piers Plowman

The texts presented here are of two kinds. Documentary editions are transcribed from individual manuscripts. You can view these editions with varying levels of editorial intervention, from diplomatic texts designed to reproduce faithfully the physical details of individual manuscripts (Scribal stylesheet) all the way to mark-up that presents texts as they would appear in a printed edition (Critical stylesheet). See "Instructions for First-time Users" for more detail.

Critical editions are constructed by editors based on comparison of surviving manuscripts in order to reconstruct, as best they can, a lost version from which surviving copies descend. A critical text is not the author’s original, or autograph, but it is as close as we can come given the materials left to us by history. This category includes archetypal editions, such as Bx, which reconstructs the lost ancestor of all surviving B version manuscripts of Piers Plowman.