Description of the Manuscript


S. xv1. George Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson assign this manuscript to the first quarter of the fifteenth century, a dating with which the late Dr. Jeremy Griffiths concurred. Dr. Griffiths, who was kind enough to supply us with his draft description of the manuscript in the summer of 1994, was of the opinion that it is "probably earlier rather than later even within this dating" (Private communication, 4 August 1994).

Physical Description

The manuscript is made up of ninety-three vellum leaves bound within four paper end leaves with a watermark of pot design. Cf. Briquet, No. 12691, dated 1580. The vellum is of uneven quality, and a number of folios (e.g., fols. 22I and 29I especially) are difficult to read because of bleed through from the opposite side.NJames Weldon, "Ordinatio and Genre in MS CCC 201: A Mediaeval Reading of the B-Text of Piers Plowman," Florilegium 12 (1995, for 1993): 171, n. 6, mistakenly attributes this difficulty to "erasure and overcopying." Many holes in the manuscript were patched by Ms. Linda Lee in the 1989 restoration of the manuscript "using fine parchment and Goldbeater's skin." A number of small holes remain, but no text has been lost because they were present when the text was copied. At some point after the manuscript was given to Corpus Christi College, it was cropped but with no loss of the poetic text, though some marginalia are truncated.NThe evidence for the late date of cropping appears in the loss of some of the base of the pen and ink drawing of a pelican on folio 93r.I


iii (end leaves)

i8+2 (+3, +8), ff. 1-10; F1.1-F4.177

ii8+2 (+2, +9), ff. 11-20; F4.178-F5.461

iii8+2 (+4, +7), ff. 21-30; F5.462-F6.89

iv8+2 (+3, +8), ff. 31-40; F6.90-F8.46

v8+2 (+4, +7), ff. 41-50; F8.47-F10.55

vi6+2 (+5, +7), ff. 51-58; F10.56-F10.675

vii8+2 (+3, +8), ff. 59-68; F10.676-F12.76

viii6+2 (+3, +6), ff. 69-76; F12.77-F14.86

ix8+2 (+4, +7), ff. 77-86; F14.87-F15.388

x10+1 (+7, -8, -9, -10, -11), ff. 87-93; F15.389-F16.383

i (end leaf).

Several facts suggest that the manuscript was copied in at least two different stints. The colored parasigns generally alternate between red and green in the first six quires. The opening with the last leaf of quire six and the first of seven has red and green parasigns on fol. 58v and red and blue on fol. 59r, and this combination of red and blue parasigns continues. Fol. 58vI has just thirty-one lines instead of the more customary thirty-nine to forty-one. The scribe wrote this side in an unusually large and expansive style, even leaving a line empty, evidently padding to fill out the page, even though he was in the middle of a passus. The first leaf of the seventh quire has forty-three linesI, as though the scribe needed to make up for space lost. It therefore seems likely that the scribe temporarily lacked an exemplar for completing passus 10. Moreover, a few changes in spelling conventions occur, suggesting that some time elapsed between the completion of quire six and the resumption of copying. Most notably, words beginning with /š/ are spelled <sh> from 1.1 through 10.675, and afterward tend to be spelled <sch>. There is also a pronounced shift in the scribe's preferred abbreviation for quod from using a <q> abbreviation over 75% of the time before folio 59 and a <qd> abbreviation 90% of the time after that point. At the same juncture, he also abruptly stops drawing exaggerated ascenders on the top line of each page. Before folio 59 they appear touched with red ink on over half of the pages. Finally, the Roman numerals in the incipits and explicits to passus are spelled out before folio 58v and expressed thereafter only as numerals.

There are no extant quire or leaf signatures and no catchwords. Foliation in modern pencil, 1-93, is followed in this edition.

Leaf Size and Arrangement of the Page

Size: 295 x 175 mm. One column, with pricking for column ruling with line and column ruling in silverpoint. The pricked frame area is c. 240-250 mm x 110-112 mm, with the text copied generally below the top line of ruling.

The average number of lines per page is about thirty-nine. Up to the end of the third quire as many as forty-six lines may appear. After the end of the fourth quire the average is closer to thirty-seven or thirty-eight lines per leaf, and in the last quires the hand is noticeably larger and the interlinear space greater. Seventy-eight sides appear with thirty-nine to forty-one lines. Another forty sides have over forty-one lines, while of the sixty-six sides containing fewer than thirty-nine lines, sixty appear after the fourth quire.


The Middle English text is copied throughout by one hand in a current anglicana script in dark brown ink, with the Latin text in fere-textura, usually in red ink. The textura often shares features with the scribe's anglicana. Frequently, Latin passages open with an unflourished Lombard capital.I Occasional marginal glosses, notae, and pointing hands from two or three different scribes appear, as well as some underlining added by a late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century reader. The scribe wrote the Middle English text first, leaving a space for the Latin which he later added in red ink. He then highlighted important words and the beginning graph of each line, and the red paraph signs. Finally, he added the Lombard capitals and paraph signs in blue or green. On fols. 46v-47rI the scribe neglected to enter the Lombard capitals, and there are several openings on which he failed to supply the colored paraph markers. Someone using a different ink and style (perhaps the original scribe's informal hand) is responsible for a handful of interlinear corrections; e.g., 4.388,I 4.427,I 9.325,I etc. The same hand at 15.170 (fol. 84r)I supplied the correct Latin tag pax vobis in the right margin. Ultra-violet light shows original þese wordis had been erased, but the scribe failed both there and at 14.15 (fol. 76r)I to return with red ink to supply the missing text. The Latin tag seems simply to have been overlooked and never written on fol. 34vI. At 14.115-116 (fol. 77r),I the scribe has made the correction and left the corrector's note in the right margin.


The scribe uses four marks of punctuation—the paraph, the punctus, the punctus elevatus, and the virgule (or solidus). The caesura is steadily marked with a virgule or (less frequently) with a punctus elevatus. Occasionally the same marks appear within the half-line to indicate phrasal junctures. Beginning at the top of fol. 2r nearly every line closes with a punctus, and there is reason to think that the scribe intended so to end every line, though some dozens are omitted. Paraph markers appear in the left margin to mark both verse paragraphs and changes of speaker in dialogues. It is also possible, as David Benson and Lynne Blanchfield have argued, that they serve as the equivalent of marginal notae.NFor fuller discussion, see C. David Benson and Lynne Blanchfield, The Manuscripts of Piers Plowman: The B Version (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1997), and Marie-Claire Uhart, "The Early Reception of Piers Plowman" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Leicester, 1986). These paraphs are written in alternating red and green to the end of quire vi, after which red and blue tend to alternate except for the openings at fols. 67v-68r and 84v-85r. On a few openings, the scribe neglected to supply blue or green paraph markers, though marginal virgules mark the places where they would have appeared.N Failure to follow through with such paragraph marking is not uncommon in early fifteenth-century vernacular manuscripts. Manuscript R is even more erratic in this respect than F, and even a deluxe Chaucer manuscript such as Cambridge University Library, MS Gg.4.27, is marred by partial achievement of the scheme. See M. B. Parkes and Richard Beadle, eds., The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Facsimile of Cambridge University Library MS GG.4.27 (Norman, OK: Pilgrim Press, 1979), 3.41. After fol. 1r-v the scribe steadily put a punctus at the end of virtually every line of verse, occasionally adding a missing one in red ink as he was supplying rubrication in an opening. Now and again a punctus appears at syntactic junctures within the half line, though rarely and without apparent pattern. In a few instances the scribe supplied both virgule and punctus to mark the caesura, but we see no pattern for that activity. He steadily supplied a virgule (less often a punctus elevatus) at the medial half-line boundary, but that he intended neither the virgule nor punctus elevatus exclusively to mark the metrical caesura is shown by their infrequent appearance at phrasal junctures.


With the exception of the opening of folios 2v and 3r, the first letter of each line is regularly highlighted in red, and the first line of most pages before folio 59 is ornamented with exaggerated ascenders touched in red ink. Within the line, some proper nouns are written, and a few are underlined, in red ink. Important words are highlighted in red, frequently only on the first letter but from time to time with all or most letters highlighted. Passus divisions and some major intra-passus divisions are marked with ornamented capitals, pen-flourished in various combinations of red, blue, and green ink with sprays. Passus divisions exhibit more extensive marginal flourishes and sprays than those for intra-passus divisions. Ornamental capitals for intra-passus divisions appear at 4.158,I 4.216,I 4.345,I 5.62,I 5.188,I and 5.308.I At 5.135I and 5.394,I the scribe left spaces for three-line ornamental capitals, but neglected to complete either. The ornamental capitals vary considerably in size as well as in the care and expertise with which they were produced.

Marie-Claire Uhart describes the decorational scheme in F as "characterized by enthusiasm rather than professionalism" and as "highly erratic, with variation in colour and extent of flourish at passus heads."NMarie-Claire Uhart, "The Early Reception of Piers Plowman" (Ph.D. diss., University of Leicester, 1986), 33. However, in comparison with its sister manuscript in the alpha family, MS Rawlinson Poetry 38 (R), which has a much more reliable text, F's success in continuing a complex scheme of decoration and textual emphasis from beginning to end is remarkable in the tradition of the poem. As Uhart notes, Piers Plowman manuscripts in general tend to display "unsteady, rather flagging decoration," but she remarks that such incomplete schemes "may signify no more than a poorly organised book trade."N"The Early Reception of Piers Plowman" (Ph.D. diss., University of Leicester, 1986), 34.


On fol. 1r inside a historiated initial <A>, a male figure, "yrobed in russet," seated "vpon a brood banke" with his head resting in his left hand and wearing a hat and a three-fingered (laborer's? gentleman's?) glove on his right hand, appears to represent the dreamer asleep.INThere is disagreement about the social significance of the Dreamer's attire, especially the gloves. Anne Middleton (private correspondence) has suggested that they are distinctly recognizable as a plowman's gloves, while James Weldon, following Kathleen Scott, argues that "The dreamer is in gentleman's garb, as opposed to religious dress, as indicated by his hat and gloves, and it is perhaps significant that F omits the line, 'In habite as an heremite, unholy of werkes.' F's dreamer is fully secular, a man of the world, without the hint of religious orders" ("Ordinatio and Genre in MS CCC 201: A Mediaeval Reading of the B-Text of Piers Plowman," Florilegium 12 [1995, for 1993]: 167; Kathleen L. Scott, "The Illustrations of Piers Plowman in Bodleian Library MS Douce 104," Yearbook of Langland Studies 4 [1990]: 18). There is disagreement as to whether the structure before his feet represents a stool (Scott), a tower (Weldon), or possibly even a walled city.NKathleen L. Scott, "The Illustrations of Piers Plowman in Bodleian Library MS Douce 104," Yearbook of Langland Studies 4 (1990): 18; James Weldon, "Ordinatio and Genre in MS CCC 201: A Mediaeval Reading of the B-Text of Piers Plowman," Florilegium 12 (1995, for 1993): 167. As Weldon notes, the green color of the "brood banke" links "the Prologue of Dream 1 to those of Dreams 2 and 3, and to F's restructured Dreams 4 and 5 and the 'grene launde' of those spurious prologues."NJames Weldon, "Ordinatio and Genre in MS CCC 201: A Mediaeval Reading of the B-Text of Piers Plowman," Florilegium 12 (1995, for 1993): 169. The <A> is inlaid with gold leaf, flourished in blue and maroon with white highlighting, and extends down the left side of the page and across the bottom with a bar border.NEarly printed facsimiles are in Hans Hecht and Levin L. Schücking, Die Englische Literatur im Mittelalter (Wildpark-Potsdam: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1927), 99, and Allan H. Bright, New Light on Piers Plowman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1950), frontispiece.

At the top of fol. 11r, the beginning of the second quire, the ascenders are flourished more elaborately than usual and embellished with a crude line drawing of a male face on the left and a lion's head on the right.I

A similar crude pen-and-ink drawing of two human heads and two grotesques elaborated from the ascenders appears at the top of fol. 76v.I

Following the conclusion of the text of fol. 93r is a pen and ink drawing with colored wash, probably dating from the late seventeenth century, of a pelican, the emblem of Corpus Christi College, with a blank banderole around its neck and clutched in its raised right foot.I


Dimensions: 305mm high x 185mm wide x 27mm deep. The manuscript is bound in a sixteenth-century limp vellum with four slip stations. It was rebound in 1989 by L. J. Lee, who noted that "There is evidence of a previous sewing with six sewing stations and endbands."NMs. Lee has very kindly permitted us to reproduce her preliminary report on the condition of the manuscript and her account of the restoration with photographs. (Click here.) The number "10" appears in ink on the spine. "Peers the Ploughman" is written in an early modern hand on the upper cover. Traces of fantail ties remain on upper and lower covers by the fore-edge.


The manuscript was given to the College by a fellow, William Fulman, M.A.NCharlotte Brewer, Editing Piers Plowman: The Evolution of the Text (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 21, n. 6, points out that Fulman also owned two Crowley printed editions, one now in the Bodleian Library, the other in the British Library, which later came into the possession of Thomas Hearne. Nothing is known of its earlier history. Fulman donated at least one manuscript (CCC 174) to the college as early as 1676.NHenry O. Coxe, Catalogus codicum MSS. Qui in Collegiis Aulisque Oxoniensibus hodie adservantur, II.4 (Oxford: E Typographeo Academico, 1852), 80. The college acquired his personal papers in 1707.NPersonal communication from Mrs. Christine Butler, Archivist at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. An inscription at the foot of fol. 1r reads "Liber C.C.C Oxon. Ex dono Gulielmi Fulman A.M. hujus Collegii quondam Socii." The current shelfmark appears in pencil inside the upper cover. The obsolete Bernard catalogue number and shelfmarks which appear on the third front flyleaf and in ink on fol. 1r, read "No. 1668. 201. D.3.10." The entry in Edward Bernard's Catalogi Librorum Manuscriptorum Angliæ et Hiberiæ in unum collecti, cum Indice Alphabetico (Oxford, 1697), p. 56, entry 1668, is the barest list, carrying next to no information about the manuscript except to show that it was in the possession of the college before 1697.

The Scribe

Dr. A. I. Doyle has recently discovered in the collection of Ushaw College, Durham, two binding fragments written by the F scribe. The fragments, Ushaw College MS 50, consist of upper and lower portions of the first leaf of the Southern Recension of the Prick of Conscience, with a new prologue of twelve lines and lines 1-55 (with two additional lines before l. 26 and two after l. 30). Dr. Doyle describes the hand as "clearly by the same hand as Corpus Oxford 201, and the initials possibly also the same."NDr. Doyle's letter to Turville-Petre, 8 February 1997. It was discovered unattached and therefore cannot be connected with the binding of any book, though Dr. Doyle thinks that the rounding of the corners and the horizontal fold in the lower part of the leaf make it likely to "have been in some sort of wrapper of a small book." He describes the border ornament and cadel sketches as done in a provincial style, that is, "not the most fashionable metropolitan modes of c. 1400, about when it may belong." The historiated initial on the recto of the first fragment illustrates Christ of the Apocalypse.

Fol. 1r Upper portion of the Ushaw fragment rectoI

Fol. 1r Lower portion of the Ushaw fragment rectoI

Fol. 1v Upper portion of the Ushaw fragment versoINThe sketch in the top margin of the versoI may be compared to the sketches on fols. 11rI and 76v.I

Fol. 1v Lower portion of the Ushaw fragment versoI

Sean Taylor has pointed to what may be a third instance of the same scribe's handwriting, a rubric entered into another B manuscript of Piers Plowman,N"The F Scribe and the R Manuscript of Piers Plowman B," English Studies 77 (1996): 530-48. the Bodleian Library's MS Rawlinson Poetry 38, and Dr. Doyle agrees that the hand is "not unlike." Though this evidence may place the R manuscript in the hands of the F scribe, Taylor's claim that F is itself copied directly from R is consistent with neither the evidence of textual variation between the two witnesses nor the dialectal history of F. For a photocopy and discussion of the altered rubric in R, see Robert Adams, "Langland's Ordinatio: The Visio and the Vita Once More," The Yearbook of Langland Studies 8 (1994): 51-84, esp. Appendix I.


fols. 1r-93r William Langland, Piers Plowman B
begins "Al in somer sesoun whan softe was the sunne . . . ."
ends ". . . . So sore he gradde after grace / þat . . . be-gan a-wake."

Editorial Method

The Color Facsimile

We were fortunate in choosing F as our first text since it immediately challenged our initial assumptions about the kind of text we wanted to present by putting before us some difficulties that less complicated physical documents might have spared us. Initially, we had intended to make digital facsimiles from black and white microfilms of each Piers Plowman manuscript. Experience with digitizing the microfilm of this manuscript quickly changed our minds. This image of folio 9r demonstrates the decent quality of images obtainable by this method.INThis microfilm image was made before the manuscript was repaired. The large hole toward the center of the page has since been repaired. Nevertheless, the black and white images failed to convey textual information encoded in color in the original documents. Compare fol. 9r as seen above and the color image.I The problem of bleed through in F proved so extreme on several leaves that they were rendered completely unreadable when digitized from black and white microfilm.I Color images proved as easy to decipher as are the originals. Indeed it turned out that in at least one case in which the manuscript itself is difficult to read even with a powerful hand glass and in a good light (bottom of fol. 29v), the digital image proves to be much easier to read after fairly minimal manipulation.I Since digital color images are not so expensive as reproductions for a printed text, we have decided, when libraries will permit us new color photographs, to provide color digital facsimiles of every page of every Piers Plowman manuscript with each facsimile leaf hypertextually linked to its transcription.

High quality color digital images enable access to manuscript texts in ways previously unimaginable. We have experimented with two different ways of making color digital images. For experimental purposes, Dr. Andrew Prescott in the spring of 1994 provided color images made on the British Library's then newly acquired Roche/Kontron ProgRes 3012 digital camera. Full leaves (or details) could at that time be scanned at resolutions of 2000 x 3000 pixels per inch in 24-bit color with truly astonishing fidelity to the originals, often making it possible to see clearly what cannot be seen with the naked eye. We also produced quite satisfactory digital images from 35mm slides. Using a Nikon LS-3510 Slide Scanner attached to a Macintosh Quadra 800 running Adobe PhotoShop, we experimented with scans at input resolutions varying from 635 to 3175 dpi and output resolutions between 72 and 1000 dpi. These JPEG and TIFF files varied in size from a low of 168 KB to just over 35 megabytes. It should go without saying that the largest of these files are expensive to store and slow to call to the screen and to manipulate. We found that a rational compromise between the highest and lowest grades, producing facsimiles more than adequate for most manuscript leaves, involved input resolutions of 1587 dpi, output resolutions of 500 dpi, and JPEG files of 750-1000KB. Such images may be doubled four times without pixillation, and they run very efficiently on most 486 and Pentium machines, on upper-end Macs, and on RISC stations.

The original digital images of CCC 201 were made at the Bodleian Library by Dr. David Cooper using a Dicomed 7520SE digital back on a Sinar process camera at an input resolution of 600 dpi in TIFF format. Files average between 75 and 95 megabytes per leaf. Those image files are archived in Oxford at the Bodleian Library. High quality JPEG reductions are available on the World Wide Web in the "Early Manuscripts at Oxford" archive at the following URL: for downloading and use of those images are provided at the following URL: Applications for permissions of any kind, enquiries concerning copyright or fees, and requests for traditional types of hard-copy photography should be addressed to the Librarian, Corpus Christi College, Oxford OX1 4JF. The e-mail address is ""
We provide in this edition a set of smaller JPEG images of around 400 to 550K by means of hypertextual links in our transcriptions. As with every other aspect of this edition, our policy is experimental, and we are eager to have comments about these images.NWe supply in the subdirectory labeled "IMG2" five of the large image files of the first leaf and folios 22 and 29, the two most affected by bleed through. These are not hypertextually linked to our edited texts, but they may be accessed using ACDSee.

Presentation of Text: Levels of Inscription

Except in those rare instances in which the scribe is also the author, medieval manuscripts are like palimpsests. Each surviving copy represents the work of its immediate copyist. Each also reflects traces of the efforts of a usually indeterminant number of scribes whose work separates the immediate copy from the author's original text. The evidence suggesting the possible number of copyists is inferential, derived from collation of variant readings or, as is the case of texts surviving in single copies, from analysis of the language.NThe work of the editors of A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English since the early 1960s has provided numerous discussions of the uses of relict forms in Middle English manuscripts. For a practical demonstration of the technique in relation to Langland's texts, see M. L. Samuels, "Langland's Dialect," Medium Ævum 54 (1985): 232-47. In this instance, we cannot know the number of hands and intelligences intervening between the poet and the immediate copyist of F, but inferential evidence permits us to distinguish five layers of inscription after the author's fair copy. Initially we intended to present texts of the last two such layers of scribal labor, the one a diplomatic transcription of the text of the final copyist (F-Scribe) and the other a lightly annotated critical text of the work of a scribal-editor (or set of scribal-editors) which we have designated as F-Redactor.N For discussion of our initial plans to provide an edition of F-Redactor's text, see Hoyt N. Duggan, "On Constructing Documentary Texts for The Piers Plowman Electronic Archive," in Rationality and the Liberal Spirit: A Festschift Honoring Ira Lee Morgan (Shreveport: Centenary College of Louisiana, 1997), pp. 37-41. We are now convinced that F-Redactor's text cannot be distinguished from that of the immediate scribe with sufficient consistency to claim that our critical text is his. When, for example, a line or phrase is missing in F that is present in R and other B witnesses, it is usually impossible—except in clear instances of homeoteleuteon or other form of mechanical error—to determine with confidence that the omission reflects the decision of F-Redactor or an error by the immediate or an intermediate scribe in the tradition. On the other hand, since F-Redactor's revisions represent the intentions of an intelligent medieval reader/editor, it seems worthwhile to offer as close an approximation of his text as the technology permits while at the same time offering a close rendering of the immediate scribe's achievement. To that end, we now offer a lightly edited reading version of the text to accompany the literal transcription and facsimile edition of the immediate scribe's work. In spite of our inability always to distinguish in individual lections the level from which each derives, we nevertheless think that there were layers of scribal copies. We attempt to lay out immediately below what we take to have been the determinable layers of inscription in this manuscript.

1) The Authorial Text:

We know next to nothing of William Langland, the man who wrote these poems, for the life of fictional Long Will, the dreamer-narrator of the poem, cannot be assumed to correspond to the life of the poet. The linguistic evidence in the surviving witnesses tends to corroborate his identity as a Southwesterner, and many descriptive details in all three versions demonstrate that he must have lived for at least a while in London. We cannot claim more than that. Though The Piers Plowman Electronic Archive ultimately aims to determine and restore the authorial texts, we do not attempt at this level of the Archive systematically to distinguish the work of scribes from his.NFor what is known of the life of William Langland, see Ralph Hanna III, William Langland, Authors of the Middle Ages, no. 3 (Aldershot and Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1993): 1-24.

2) The B Archetype (Bx):

At the second level F reflects the work of a scribe who produced the already defective manuscript copy from which all extant B manuscripts descend. Detailed reconstruction of the Bx-scribe's work lies outside the primary concerns of this edition of F. It will then appear paradoxical that we nevertheless cite in our textual notes the readings of Bx. When we refer, as we will numerous times in this edition, to the readings of Bx, those lections represent a preliminary working hypothesis about that text, constructed from analysis of the variants provided in the Kane-Donaldson edition. Having already transcribed some thirteen B manuscripts, we have had many occasions to check the Athlone collations, and we have found them remarkably accurate. Moreover, preliminary collations by Adams and Hanna in the years before the Archive began have suggested the essential correctness of the now conventional view that there are two major manuscript families in the B tradition, alpha and beta.N For consideration of the two families, see George Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson, eds., Piers Plowman: The B Version, 2d ed. (London: Athlone Press; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 57-59, 70-97; A. V. C. Schmidt, ed., William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman. A Critical Edition of the B-Text Based on Trinity College Cambridge MS B.15.17, 2d ed. (London: J. M. Dent; Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle, 1995), lx-lxv. Though a few cruxes remain in those lines where F's relation to Bx is at issue, in general it is a simple matter to determine the Bx reading, at least in the light of present evidence. We expect that in a number of details our working hypotheses about Bx will require correction, and it is one advantage of the electronic text that it so readily permits that kind of adjustment.

Though our reconstructions of the readings of Bx must appear logically circular, a moment's thought should suggest that some such provisional reconstruction is inevitable and need not be logically vicious. In one sense, we are beginning the editorial project ab ovo, editing each manuscript witness afresh with the goal of working inductively to construct from the corpus of variant lections the intermediate hyparchetypes, archetypes, and eventually the critical texts of the three canonic versions. A critical question at once poses itself: if we already know the readings of Bx sufficiently to cite them for understanding the relation of this manuscript to others, what is the point of laboring to transcribe documentary editions or of doing either elaborate collations or complex thinking about the relationships among the manuscripts? The fact of the matter, however, is that we are not starting at the beginning, that we come to this task in the middle of a long-standing scholarly project and after more than a century of editorial work on these poems and these manuscripts. A great deal of careful and reliable work by a variety of scholars has been done, and a number of theories about the work exist which, in the light of presently available evidence, we take to be valid. Though we must reconsider the most basic issues in the light of new evidence, we necessarily use those theories we have found persuasive until such time as we have reason to think them wrong. We begin our editorial project with fundamental hypotheses about the author, the number of versions, the relations among the manuscripts, the governing features of the poet's metrical rules, as well as a number of assumptions about what it is that editors ought to do. We are aware that all of these are contestable, some of them hotly. Like scholars in other fields, we can only attempt to revise our hypotheses in the light of the data, as fresh data becomes available. That is, the process of editing a textual archive such as this will consist of a series of provisional passes through the evidence, and we anticipate that at least some of the hypotheses we have formulated now will require revision at a later date when we have more precise and full data to bring to bear on the reconstruction of Bx. Therefore, our citations of Bx are offered as provisional, and we do not devote annotations in this edition to the still-to-be-constructed text of the archetype.N Though for the most part we use the forms of W (Kane and Donaldson's copy text) to represent the readings of Bx, we cite the spellings of other manuscripts when W's forms are improbable. One such instance occurs at 13.19 where we give HmCrYOCBmBoL's more probable reading, wiþout, rather than W's unmetrical wiþouten.

3) The Alpha Family:

At the third level F contains the work of a scribe whom we, following Schmidt, will call "alpha."NOne of us, Ralph Hanna, has recently argued that some of the distinctive alpha lections represent authorial revision, a kind of transitional state between the B and C versions. For discussion, see his "On the Versions of Piers Plowman," in Pursuing History: Middle English Manuscripts and Their Texts (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 215-29. As is the case with Bx, our ad hoc reconstructions in our notes of the text of alpha are also provisional. They are based upon our detailed comparison of F's lections with those of its sister manuscript R, a task made easier by the careful work of Kane and Donaldson in their edition of the B text.NSee the lists and discussion of the relationships between F and R in George Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson, eds., Piers Plowman: The B Version, 2d ed. (London: Athlone Press; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 16-69. We are grateful to Dr. Sean Taylor for supplying an electronic copy of his edition of manuscript R which he edited for his dissertation at the University of Washington (1995). We offer here neither systematic comparison of F with R nor a detailed reconstruction of alpha—both must come at a later stage in the construction of the Archive—but we have incorporated into our apparatus numerous textual notes calling attention to readings in the text of F that are owed to the efforts of alpha.

4) The F-Redactor:

At the fourth level F contains the work of a scribe whom we call "F-Redactor." The F-Redactor's work is conceivably the product of several scribes at different stages in the ancestry of CCC 201. However, we think it more likely that the bulk of the work was done by a single revising editor-scribe who rationalized the dream structures and converted Langland's twenty-one passus to sixteen. That is, it seems to us probable—though not certain—that the medieval "editor" who made the macro-changes was also responsible for most of the hundreds of apparently intentional, unique substantive micro-revisions in this manuscript. Many of these revisions bear no clear evidence of motive beyond the occasional hint of a need for semantic adjustment or the lure of metrical whimsy. But a significant number of whole lines, phrases, and even omissions in CCC 201 appear to reflect A-version influence and may result from the use of an A-version manuscript (probably related textually to M and the VH family) at some point to correct the scribe's primary exemplar. Such interversional correcting, if it occurred, is not unparalleled and might have been regarded by the scribe as mere prudence since he is unlikely to have shared our acute sense of the distinctive identities of Piers A, B, and C. At any rate, whether these various types of micro-revision are the work of one scribal editor or several, we attribute them here heuristically to the F-Redactor.

The most remarkable contribution of F-Redactor to the poem is his revision of the passus and dream-vision structure of the poem. Weldon is correct to claim for this scribal response to the B text that it

represents a sophisticated, intelligent, and consistent mediaeval reading of Piers Plowman B. Reader F seeks textually and visually to interpret the poem and to clarify its essential structure, for the "ordinating" passus arrangements together with the spurious lines and illumination do not add meandering digressions or innovative interpolations but heighten existing formal elements in a conventional way. While we may lament his textual distortions, we can also admire Reader F's interpretative guidance for a poem whose only verifiable authorial structure rests on passus division and dream vision sequence.[emphasis his]NJames Weldon, "Ordinatio and Genre in MS CCC 201: A Mediaeval Reading of the B-Text of Piers Plowman," Florilegium 12 (1995, for 1993): 169. Charlotte Brewer is even ready to consider whether the F-Redactor might be Langland himself, a proposal which at this point seems to us extremely improbable. See her suggestion in "Authorial vs. Scribal Writing in Piers Plowman," in Medieval Literature, Texts and Interpretation, ed. Tim William Machan (Binghamton, NY: MRTS, 1991), 75. She complains there of the Kane-Donaldson discussion of F's ordinatio and the "more than 100 original readings" they find uniquely in F: "There is a striking contrast between the apparent rigor with which they discuss various explanations for F's authentic readings, and their failure to investigate the most obvious one, that F may represent a separate, authorial strand of the B tradition." For the Kane-Donaldson discussion of authorial readings uniquely preserved in F, see pp. 165-73 in their edition of B. That position retracts the argument made earlier by Donaldson in "MSS R and F in the B-Tradition of Piers Plowman," Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 39 (1955): 177-212.
Whoever F-Redactor may have been, he made striking changes in the architectonics of the poem, converting Langland's prologue and twenty passus into sixteen and his eight dreams with two dreams within dreams into ten separate dreams. Click hereI for a chart displaying the differences between F's passus structure and that of other B manuscripts.N We have adapted with minor revisions James Weldon's useful chart from his Appendix 1, "Ordinatio and Genre in MS CCC 201: A Mediaeval Reading of the B-Text of Piers Plowman," Florilegium 12 (1995, for 1993): 170.

5) The F-Scribe:

Finally, the manuscript also contains the work of a person (or collection of persons) whom we call "F-Scribe." Ordinarily, such references can be taken to mean the immediate Essex scribe who copied the Corpus 201 manuscript. However, because an indeterminate number of copyists separates the Essex scribe from the editorial F-Redactor, and him, in turn, from the alpha scribe, we also use the "F-Scribe" label in a more comprehensive way to describe all the producers of unintentional textual variation that accumulated both before and after the exemplar left the hands of the F-Redactor. Unfortunately, the work of the F-Scribe (or group) is neither in logic nor in practice always separable from the F-Redactor: the latter, for all of his sophistication, presumably introduced at least a few inadvertent errors and inherited others from copies between his own and alpha, whereas the immediate scribe of our present manuscript, a fairly careful and modest copyist, may intentionally have introduced some semantically equivalent phrasal variants without appreciating their textual uniqueness. Likewise, he may have imported some conflated A-version readings under the mistaken impression that he was simply correcting. Though most commentators on the poem have projected onto the immediate scribe their sense of the eccentric high-handedness of F-Redactor—Elsie Blackman, for instance, described his work as "so bad that it is useless"—there is a good bit of evidence that he intended to copy his exemplar faithfully.N"Notes on the B-Text MSS of Piers Plowman," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 17 (1918): 502. There is little evidence in the manuscript itself of on-going revision but rather its opposite.N Students of the poem, cognizant of the hundreds of variant readings in F, have tended to assume that the immediate scribe was actively engaged in changing the text. However, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that though his success in faithfully rendering his exemplar was only partial, he was not himself likely to have been responsible for the bulk of the changes. Our notes to 9.315, 13.125, and 13.328 provide about the only evidence of the immediate scribe's willingness to intervene in the text, but in general, there is little reason to identify him with the medieval editor responsible for F's bad reputation. Instead, corrections throughout the manuscript suggest that he intended to reproduce faithfully his exemplar and that he (or his supervisor) carefully planned and executed a complicated scheme of manuscript ordinatio and decoration. As James Weldon aptly notes, W. W. Skeat's notion that the copying of this document was "rather loose and hurried" is an unwarranted extension from the eccentricities of the earlier revising scribe.N"Ordinatio and Genre in MS CCC 201: A Mediaeval Reading of the B-Text of Piers Plowman," Florilegium 12 (1995, for 1993): 161; W. W. Skeat, ed., The Vision concerning Piers the Plowman together with Vita de Dowel, Dobet, et Dobest secundum Wit and Resoun by William Langland, EETS OS 38 (London: Oxford University Press, 1869), xxvii. Everything suggests a scribe careful to correct his own omissions and miswritings. His success in that effort can only be described as uneven—witness the openings in which he failed to supply rubricated Latin text or the colored paraph markers—but there is little reason to think of the immediate scribe as a textual innovator.NAs James Weldon notes, even the blank spaces attest the scribe's having given thought to the layout of the page and reflect his intentions to copy accurately his exemplar. "Ordinatio and Genre in MS CCC 201: A Mediaeval Reading of the B-Text of Piers Plowman," Florilegium 12 (1995, for 1993): 159-75.

At the margins of probability, then, our labels and claims for these two (or more) sources of textual input necessarily seem hypothetical, circular and non-historical: if the evidence for the F-Redactor consists of the apparently intentional editorial changes wrought in the text after the work of the alpha scribe, F-Scribe is our name for the source of apparently unintentional divergences from the work of alpha. To say this, however, and to make these two strata available in the form of separate style sheets, is not to imply that we think such a tidy distinction reflects the temporal reality of F's text in more than a broadly accurate pattern.

6) The Nachleben Scribes:

In addition to scribal copies of the text, the manuscript contains the work of a small number of marginal annotators. These readers, beginning in the fifteenth century and continuing in late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century secretary hands, added some marginalia, mainly notae, crosses, and pointing hands. Though potentially interesting as indicators of what some readers found noteworthy, their significance is, in general, remarkably opaque. We have treated these additions to the margins of the text exclusively in our notes.

These six levels of inscription must have occurred in this sequence, but we do not consider them steadily distinguishable. A number of unique alpha lections, for instance, probably reflect authorial readings. F-Scribe may conceivably be F-Redactor working at a later date, though dialectal evidence suggests that is improbable. Certainly, it is almost inevitable that some of the erroneous lections (which we take to be unintended and thus the product of F-Scribe) will have been introduced by the F-Redactor. Kane and Donaldson argue that the scribal editor we have called F-Redactor had access to a manuscript superior to Bx, while Schmidt thinks that improbable.NGeorge Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson, eds. Piers Plowman: The B Version, 2d ed. (London: Athlone Press; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 165-73; A. V. C. Schmidt, ed., William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman. A Critical Edition of the B-Text Based on Trinity College Cambridge MS B.15.17, 2d ed. (London: J. M. Dent, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle, 1995), lxiv. Our primary access to the work of these scribes is MS CCC 201, which is the direct product of F-Scribe and the later marginal annotators, but we rely upon R for evidence about alpha and upon other B manuscripts for the B archetype.

Presentation of Text: Style Sheets

Starting from this understanding of "F," we conceive our editing project in the following ways. First, we attempt to present the scribal text of F in as unmediated a form as is practical. To that end we are providing high quality color digital images of the manuscript. At this least speculative level of our interpretation, we provide as well an electronically readable, searchable, and analyzable transcription of F, supplemented occasionally by notes which will communicate information about F-Scribe's work which is not fully captured in the images. Such an "objective" level of interpretation is likely to be useful to scholars working on a wide variety of questions. However, it is unlikely that we can anticipate all of the specific needs of these scholars. Paleographers, for instance, may well wish to add markup to our base text that would distinguish allographic variants, or linguists might wish to identify dialect forms, or metrists the patterns of stress. The electronic text permits future users to build upon textual work without fresh transcription.

Second, using both notes and SGML tagging, we attempt to interpret both these physical products and the mass of indirect evidence concerning the work that went on in the F textual tradition for which we have no direct physical evidence. In general, that consists of identifying various features of the manuscript and asking about them: "At what level of copying did this feature originate?" For the most part, this question is answered through our knowledge of the products of the other B scribes, who presumably had direct and indirect access to some of the products we would like to describe. Our analysis of the physical evidence and inferences from the textual tradition has led us to formulate the following policies:

Most problems appear in connection with item 1 above, with determining the intentions of F-Scribe. For instance, the scribe at 14.135 wrote the following words:

Withoutyn wem in-to þis world / a kaue child she broghte.
"She" in this case is the Virgin Mary, and it is obvious that the scribe intended to write "knaue child." The diplomatic text displayed in the F-Scribe style sheet retains the scribal reading, though it is marked as defective, while the edited text reads "a k[n]aue child she broghte." To suggest that the "correct" reading here must be knaue is not to claim that it is Langland's reading, nor even the reading of Bx or alpha. The edited text at this level in the Archive is the text the F-Scribe intended to write, and the combination of <SIC> and <CORR> tags offers a "correction" only in relation to the intentions of the F-Scribe and possibly those of F-Redactor. That is, it seems to us very likely that alpha's reading was different from F-Redactor's and not dissimilar to Bx's defective verse "Wiþouten wem into þis world she broȝte hym." Kane and Donaldson are possibly correct to emend to supply wommene before wem.NC manuscripts for the most part have either singular wommane or genitive singular womanes. However, that question must wait for another level of editing the Archive. At this level, correctness is a function of the intentions of either the F-Redactor or the F-Scribe. F-Scribe's writing kaue is an unconscious, unintended error and thus properly corrected in the edited text.NWe have in the works of Hoccleve autograph manuscripts in which he copied his own texts, and in each case, editors find it necessary to correct his scribal slips. For instances of Hoccleve acting as his own scribe and making scribal errors, see John Bowers, "Hoccleve's Two Copies of Lerne to Dye: Implications for Textual Critics," The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 83 (1989): 437-72. See also Peter J. Lucas, "An author as copyist of his own work: John Capgrave OSA (1393-1464)," in New Science Out of Old Books: Studies in Manuscripts and Early Printed Books in Honour of A. I. Doyle, ed. Richard Beadle and A. J. Piper (Aldershot, Hants.: Scolar Press, 1995), 227-48.

Determining scribal intention is not always so straightforward. A typical problem arises in the first lines of the text. F uniquely begins the first line "Al in somer sesoun . . . ." We may speculate that F-Scribe's motive for revision lies in his (or his supervisor's) desire to begin the text with a historiated capital letter containing a portrait of the Dreamer. An <A> provides more scope for such illustrative work than an <I>, so we may assume that F-Scribe intended to begin the poem with Al in spite of the fact that Bx begins "In a somer sesoun."NOf course, the change to "Al" may have occurred at the hand of F-Redactor for reasons of his own, and F-Scribe may simply have taken advantage of the opportunity presented by initial <A> to create the portrait. The distinction between F-Scribe and F-Redactor cannot steadily be drawn. Yet, it is useful to keep in mind the differences between the actively interventionist scribe(s) responsible for the innovations we attribute to F-Redactor and the would-be careful copyist who is the immediate scribe. That is, we take Al to reflect scribal intention, though we cannot be sure that intention is to be identified with the immediate scribe, the F-Redactor, or some intermediate scribal copyist. Was F's omission of the indefinite article in this first half-line also intentional? Or had the loss occurred by accident in the tradition of copying between alpha and the immediate scribe? It soon becomes obvious in the first dozen lines that this scribe's treatment of articles is distinctively problematic. For instance, his lection for the second line lacks Bx's article before sheep:

I shoop me in-to shrowdes / as y [a] sheep were.
Two lines below that, we encounter a similar instance of F's omitting an article in Bx:
& on [a] May morwe / on malverne hillis.
The expected articles appear in lines 5, 7, and 8, but then the indefinite article in line 9 is absent from F:
I slumbrede in-to [a] slepyng / it swyȝede so merye.
Articles appear then in lines 10 and 11, but the idiomatically required definite article is absent from line 12:
I beheld in-to [þe] Est / an heyȝ to þe sunne.
Which (if any) of those omissions are intentional? Which (if any) should be marked for correction in the edited text? We could have achieved the appearance of consistency by marking all of F's differences from Bx, but then many divergences from Bx reflect F-Redactor's intentional revisions of his exemplar. The decision as to which article omissions we would mark turns out, of course, to be a matter of judgment. In these cases, it has seemed to us likely that the omission of the article is intentional in lines 1 and 9 and unintended—because less idiomatic—in lines 2, 4, and 12. Eventually, when all of the B witnesses have been transcribed and collated, it will be easy to see in detail all the readings unique to F. However, at this stage in the creation of the Archive we wanted to create a reading text of this scribal copy as well as an accurate diplomatic rendering of its readings. Doubtless we will have been guilty of some inconsistencies in the presentation of such variation, but that seems a chance worth taking in order to present an edited reading text of this important and eccentric alpha witness.

We make no effort to mark all of F's changes from Bx. For instance, the unique inversion in 1.5 of Bx's Me bifel to By-fel me goes without notice, since it represents either F-Scribe's or F-Redactor's intention. The same may be said in 1.7 of F's substitution of Vpon for Bx's Vnder or similar substitution in 1.8 of wawys for watres. Again, we have not sought utter consistency in this respect, and in some dozens of lines we have called attention with textual notes to some of F's more interesting or characteristic revisions.

Frequently F reflects the activity of alpha; those lections which are unlikely to represent Bx are flagged in textual notes. At 10.805 F reads "Synne scheweth vs good semblaunt / & sory gan he wexen." In this case, erroneous scheweth is owed to alpha. Beta reads "Synne seweþ vs euere quod he and sory gan wexe." F revises patently erroneous alpha to supply an appropriate direct object for the verb. In such a case where F has taken a defective reading from alpha and then attempted to make sense of it by adding grammatically appropriate words, we use a textual note to convey this information. The F-Scribe is not responsible for the initial error, and a <SIC> tag would be inappropriate since he has obviously intended the revision.

As we have noted, distinguishing intentional revisions of the text from unintentional failures of attention is a matter of judgment, and decisions frequently are required for which inadequate evidence exists. We have, for instance, usually taken F's unique omission of an alliterating word to have sprung from unconscious error except in those instances in which we could perceive in context a reason for revision. We claim no infallibility in marking with <SIC> tags what we take to be unintended scribal substitutions in such cases as 1.66, where lawhte appears for correctly alliterating rawhte. We think that the scribe in such cases would probably have corrected the error had it been called to his attention, but certainty is not possible.

Our edited text attempts in a modest way to open new territory in textual editing. An edition of a lost text at an indeterminate remove from the extant document, but not an edition of the poem that provides its raison d'être, our texts of F-Scribe's (and to some degree, F-Redactor's) poem attempt to represent an almost contemporary reader's response to Langland's text. Ideally, present-day readers of such a text would want to know where it differs from Langland's original text, from Bx, and from alpha. The kind of inversion noted above in 1.5, where we have chosen not to annotate, or the substitution of wawys for Bx's watres ought, one might reasonably argue, to be recorded in the apparatus or at least mentioned in a note. However, consistency in this regard involves begging too many questions, requiring us to edit Bx and alpha before we have accumulated the data on which such editions must be based. What we have attempted now is less ambitious, but more consistent with the long-range goals of the Archive.

To summarize, readers may choose, by selecting the appropriate style sheet, to view one of five versions of the text. The F-Scribe style sheet offers a diplomatic transcription of the manuscripts together with a set of descriptive and explanatory notes. It presents the scribal text with all of its corruptions and incompetences so that the reader will need to click on the PSample paleographic note. or CSample codicological note. icons for explanations or suggested interpretations of codicological or paleographic matters or on the gray dog-eared document icon for notes on matters of textual or historical interest. The F-Critical style sheet offers a reading text purging the text of the errors of the F-Scribe and his immediate predecessors, presenting the text as the F-Redactor would have wished to see it. This text is, of course, a hypothetical construct based solely on the criterion of good sense and adherence to the formal features of the form, the working hypothesis behind it being that the F-Redactor and his successors would not knowingly have written nonsense. The text has more practical than theoretical justification in that it offers a corrected (though peculiar) reading text of Piers Plowman. The NoPalTag style sheet presents exactly the same text but spares the reader some of the distraction of the paleographic and codicological notes. A fourth style sheet, AllTags, shows the contents of all the SGML tags except for <DAMAGE>, <SPACE>, and <GAP> tags. Finally, a fifth style sheet we have called Diplomatic omits all note tags and does not display the color coding for <SIC>, <CORR>, <ORIG>, or <REG> tags.

Presentation of Text: Transcriptional Policy

We have two major goals in creating documentary editions. Since we intend ultimately to produce critical editions of the authorial texts, we look at each manuscript text and its documentary edition as a step toward restoration of an authorial text. From that perspective, much of what interests us in a manuscript lies in its relations to other witnesses and to the texts that lie between it and the archetype. Because each documentary text will be electronically collated with all the other texts, we have transcribed a few more aspects of the manuscript than has become the fashion in editing vernacular texts in the late twentieth century. We are also aware that these manuscript texts are often of considerable interest in their own right. As George Kane has argued, the recent trend in literary criticism to speak of such manuscript versions as medieval "readings" of the poem tends to sentimentalize the scribal role.NIn recent years, encouraged by persistent rumors of "The Death of the Author" and by legitimate interest in the reception history of literary texts, some scholars have tended to blur or ignore the distinction between scribal and authorial inscription, literalizing the trope of the scribe as literary critic, an idea initially proposed by Barry A. Windeatt in his important study, "The Scribes as Chaucer's Early Critics," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 1 (1979): 119-41. For Kane's response, see his "The Text," in A Companion to Piers Plowman, ed. John Alford (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 194. Derek Pearsall has also spoken to the desirability of studying scribal texts in a number of articles, perhaps most fully in "Editing Middle English Texts," in Textual Criticism and Literary Interpretation, ed. Jerome J. McGann (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 92-106, as well as in "Texts, Textual Criticism, and Fifteenth-Century Manuscript Production," in Fifteenth-Century Studies: Recent Essays, ed. Robert F. Yeager (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1984), 121-36. See also Wendy Scase, Piers Plowman and the New Anticlericalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), passim. We have, however, found in the work of F-Redactor a highly interventionist scribe and editor whose interest in the text was steadily intense, if not as steadily intelligent; we have found a medieval editor who did not hesitate to revise his exemplar to satisfy his own sense of the poem's structure, its meter, and its meaning. In this case, it is not too much to claim that the scribal text constitutes a serious response to and rethinking of Langland's poem.

In the interest of reflecting as accurately as possible the features of the scribal document, we mark with SGML tags all changes in hand, style of script, or color of ink. We retain scribal punctuation, introducing none of our own. Except those entered by the later marginal annotators, which we mark with codicological notes (symbolized by the C icon in the browser), we tag all textual insertions in this manuscript and attempt, where possible, to identify the hand responsible for such additions. Similarly, we mark deletions, subpunctions, and significant erasures. In the case of erasures, the quality of the vellum is uneven, and we found that discoloration or roughness of texture could look like an erasure even in the original. We concluded that it was most reasonable to record erasures only when the text differs from the reading of Bx or where the erased text is still legible. We record our resolutions of all abbreviations, suspensions, and brevigraphs, sometimes including material of dubious significance. The F-Scribe tends, for example, to put what appears to us to be a meaningless curl over various letters throughout the manuscript.I When we eventually do machine collation, such elements will almost certainly constitute only distracting informational noise. Nevertheless, those sporadic and otiose curls appear to represent a scribal intention, though what he intended is unclear, and we have preserved them in a series of paleographic notes. If they have significance, perhaps that will become clear to a reader who examines them with greater penetration or imagination. And possibly, though not, we think, probably, they may correlate with problems of textual interest in other manuscripts. We do not, on the other hand, mark what appear to be unintended ink trails and blots.NWe remind readers who do not wish to be distracted by such paleographic or codicological details that they are suppressed when the NoPalTags style sheet is selected.

The scribe's mise en page, his use of colored paraph markers, as well as changes in style of script and color of ink all provide textual information available to medieval readers and usually lost in modern printed editions. Using SGML tagging, we are able to render on screen a partial representation of that information. Viewed in the style sheets for the diplomatic transcription of the scribal text (labeled "F-Scribe," "NoPalTags," and "Diplomatic" in the Multidoc Pro command line under Styles), such changes are signaled by changes of font or color. The basic anglicana text hand is represented in roman type with resolved abbreviations and suspensions in roman italics. Texts written in fere textura are represented in bold roman italic, and when such text is rubricated, it appears in red roman italics and increased in size by five per cent. Resolved abbreviations and suspensions appear as roman characters inside the normal italics for textura scripts. Ornamental capitals appear in bold roman at 25 point size, without regard to their relative size in the manuscript, a twelve-line capital displayed the same size as one of only four lines.NSuch capitals are nearly always constructed of two or three colors—usually red, green, and blue—but the browsing software permits us to display only one color. Many, we hope most, readers will in any case with a click of the mouse be able to access the hypertextually linked color facsimile. For those readers who cannot display the color facsimile, we have attached codicological notes with a brief description of each capital. Such notes are, we expect, a short-term measure until more humanists have access to powerful computers that can display high-quality images. We should add the further caveat that readers who are interested in the changes of ink or hand need to access the underlying ASCII text, since the style sheets cannot represent every feature tagged. Lombard capitals are represented by a change of font size to 18 point, making them intermediate in size between the capitals touched in red and the ornamental capitals that mark major structural divisions.

Our edited pages are not intended to reproduce literally the manuscript page, only to represent abstractly its salient features. For those who want to see the manuscript page, color images of each page are readily available with a click on the icon at folio breaks. For that reason we have taken advantage of color in our display to mark in the diplomatic transcription a small number of other features, most notably oddities in scribal word division (presented in lime), scribal insertions (presented in aqua), or errors in the scribal text (presented in purple). Needless to say, the manuscript is not lime, aqua, or purple at those points. In the edited text the corrected errors are represented more conventionally by displaying the emended words or phrases in square brackets, while the regularized word divisions are not marked at all. For example, at line 1.2b, the diplomatic text read through the F-Scribe style sheet renders the manuscript lection "as y sheep were" with the word sheep appearing in purple. A reader reading the edited text through the F-Critical style sheet will see the display: "as y [a] sheep were."

Transcription into an electronic medium is quite as interpretive an activity as that into printed texts, though the electronic edition offers greater flexibility. Extensive as our present markup of the text is, it would have been possible to provide an even more fine-grained transcription than we have chosen to do. The scribe, for instance, offers three distinctive letter forms for <r>.IINThe regular minuscule form of <r>I may well have been that of his exemplar, since it appears mainly on the first leaf and in the Latin materials written in textura. Beginning with fol. 2, the usual forms in the English text are the longer anglicana and 2-shaped <r>s. The Ushaw fragment, on the other hand, shows the three forms in free variation in the Middle English text of the same scribe. Two distinctive forms of <s> appear. We could have distinguished sigma <s>I from long <s>I with entity references. However, since those distinctions represent allographic forms with a readily determinable rationale for their distribution, we, like Peter Robinson and Elizabeth Solopova in their transcriptions of the manuscripts of The Canterbury Tales, concluded that our text might most reasonably aim at graphemic rather than graphetic representation.N"Guidelines for the Transcription of the Manuscripts of the Wife of Bath's Prologue," in Norman Blake and Peter M. W. Robinson, eds., Canterbury Tales Project Occasional Papers 1 (Oxford: Office for Humanities Communication, 1993), 19-52. To that end, we have not distinguished allographic forms.NConsistency occasionally runs afoul of well-established convention. We have treated the long <i> when it appears in the manuscript usually as <I> whether it represents consonant, glide, or vowel. However, when it appears after the short <i>, we transcribe it with <j>. On the other hand, we have distinguished <z> from <ȝ>, though the letter forms are identical. The characters developed independently from quite distinct origins. Moreover, though SGML markup permits transcribers to specify expansion tags in some detail, distinguishing suspensions, contractions, brevigraphs, superscriptions, etc., the range of abbreviations in F is entirely conventional for both Middle English and Latin texts, and such detailed specification seemed to us an instance in which any potential gains in specificity are offset by added complications for transcription and proofreading. That game, we think, is not worth the candle. Indeed, so conventional are the abbreviations in this manuscript that users who prefer to insert more extended tags (or entity references) can easily supply them by a search/replace procedure on their word processors. Experienced readers of English late medieval hands, for example, will know instantly what range of abbreviations lies behind the display in italics of <es> or <er> or <pro>. Moreover, publishing the hypertextually linked color facsimile provides both experienced scholar and novice with a picture of the graphs themselves as the scribe produced them.

The scribe highlighted some characters, words, and phrases throughout the manuscript. He wrote most of the Latin text in red ink, further emphasizing the Latin with a change of hand from bastard anglicana to textura, though not always maintaining consistency in letter forms. On most leaves the parasigns are done in red, green, or blue ink, though tell-tale ticks appear in the left margins on those leaves where the rubricator failed to achieve his intentions. Similarly, though he clearly meant to mark every initial character in every line with a touch of red ink, he infrequently failed to make the touch in one line or sometimes several in a row. On folios 2v-3r, he began the red touches on the first several lines, then neglected to finish them on that opening. We think these lapses to be of no significance. Also, throughout the manuscript he emphasized words and phrases by underlining them or touching them with red ink. A few words are treated to both red touches and underlining. In general, we have tried to represent as closely as possible what is on the page, but because this is a handwritten document, we have sometimes disagreed about whether the scribe intended to underline the whole word or to touch in red every graph. For instance, when the ligature <st> appears with a red touch between the characters, do we take the <s> or <t> alone to have been emphasized or the full ligature? We think in such cases that the rubrisher intended to highlight the ligature, and we have tagged both characters as "touched in red." Generally, we have taken a word partially underlined to have been underlined wholly, since we assume that the scribe intended to emphasize a word rather than a collection of graphs. When ascenders on the first line are extended and touched in red, we have marked the red touches, though we take them to be only decorative. We do not imagine that we have achieved utter consistency in rendering these points of emphasis and decoration, and indeed, had we done so, such consistency would better reflect our concerns than those of the scribe or his readers.N We have, for instance, transcribed line-initial graphs as capitals without reference to letter forms on the basis that the scribe usually chooses a capital in this position when the letter has a distinct upper-case graph. The graphs <a, h, p, s, þ, w> have proved steadily difficult to distinguish, and generally within the line we have chosen to represent them as lower case and as capitals at the beginning of the line. The concern, it is important to note, is more ours than the scribe's.

Word division in handwritten documents is irregular. This text is no exception, and we have not attempted to represent in detail irregularity in word spacing, rendering both large and small spaces with single spaces. We mark with <gap> or <damage> or <del> tags only those instances in which a larger than usual space is created by an erasure or damage to the manuscript.NWe have marked holes in the manuscript with <DAMAGE> tags, but since in each case the damage had occurred before the scribe wrote on the vellum, we do not display those tags. Readers who wish to see where such holes appear in the manuscript may search the ASCII text. The difference in some instances between words and phrases is a matter of convention established within print culture. For instance, in modern British usage for ever is a phrase, while US publications will print the single word forever. We have in ambiguous cases taken the headword of the Oxford English Dictionary as our standard. When words appear in the manuscript with a clear space between morphemes which are treated in the OED as a single word, we represent that fact with hyphenation; e. g. a-begge, bonde-man, brest-boon, mys-dedys, i-callid, y-armed, etc.NThe formation of compound words from phrases is a historical process, and in cases such as the phrase "be war of þe weddyngge" (3.139), we have treated what is now regarded as one word as the phrase it was in Middle English. Whether the scribe took these morphs to represent separate words is not determinable, for many words appear with and without spaces between prefixes and the stem. In a small number of words, usually those in which elision in the spoken language might easily have led to misanalysis, we have recorded in the diplomatic text the spacing of the manuscript and regularized in the edited text; e.g. a tese, a toones, etc. However, we have ignored erratic word divisions such as that appearing at 14.105 where the scribe has written "& ȝe lordeynes havey loost . . .," interpreting the graphs according to what we take to have been the scribe's intention as "have y-loost."N We have ignored manuscript word spacing at the following points, transcribing as two words what the scribe wrote as one: F2.24 tothe ; F2.78 tofulfille; F4.488 hewerke; F4.529 tome; F4.532 frome; F5.172 itelle; F5.387 toþe; F7.167 Telme; F7.213 goddislove; F8.62 itolde; F10.511 Noman; F10.591 noblysse; F10.734 alman kynde; F11.280 onroode; F11.334 exadipe; F11.463 ryght fulmen; F12.49 toloke; F13.74 Beþe; F13.375 sumrestitucioun; F14.22 onme; F14.97 shalbe; F14.128 aleem; F14.231 awyght; F14.297 goddissone; F15.162 þerhe; F15.200 toþe; F16.52 amannys; and F16.145 heheeld. Following MED and the scribe's practice, we have transcribed as one word F3.95, F11.387 alday; F4.64, F12.11 goodmen; and F10.511 noman.

In addition to marking abbreviations with superscripted letters, the scribe also tended simply to supply the vowel above the line. In such instances, we initially transcribed about one-third of the manuscript recording those superscriptions and then analyzed the data to see whether the difference between, say, þe and þe or was and was is graphemic. Since they appear in free variation and carry no distinction in meaning, we concluded that the difference is not graphemic and took no notice of that graphetic difference. Words most commonly so written include brouhte, nou, nout, þe, þoru, what, and was. Barred single and double <l> are ambiguous, and we have resolved them according to context either as <-le> and <-lle> or as <-les> and <-lles>/<-llis> depending upon the usual spellings of the words in which they appear. Barred <ll> is frequently a meaningless ornament in late medieval vernacular hands, but by searching for the scribe's treatment of <ll> in words where the inflection was spelled out, we could determine from both the words in which it appeared and the distribution of its appearances that it is a genuine abbreviation for this scribe. A suspension following word-terminal <d>I is resolved by context either as <-e> or <-is/-es> except following quod. Other abbreviations and suspensions are typical of late medieval vernacular hands and require no special comment, though as we have noted above, readers interested in studying the scribe's forms may readily search for <EXPAN> tags in our text and then consult the facsimile. For thumbnail images of the most common abbreviations and suspensions in the manuscript, click here.

The scribe tends to write a curled down-stroke after word-terminal <-f, -g, -k, -s, -lle -t> and the <-st> ligature. On some occasions, as at 1.67, 2.29, 2.38, 2.137, 14.338,I etc., where it appears at the medial caesura and the scribe has not written a solidus, we have taken it to reflect his intention to provide a caesural marker and have rendered it with </>, but in general it appears to be meaningless. Its appearance on words such as willeI where the horizontal bar already represents final <-e>, as well as its appearance in the Latin text where no inflectional ending is wanted, suggests that it is usually a meaningless ornament, and we have not marked it.I For some instances in which we have not taken it to mean anything, see its appearance in the following words: yfI, departyngI, PekookI, InparfyghtI, lustI, etc. In a few instances, as at 14.47, which reads "Boþe as long & as large / ...," where it appears on the <g> of long and at a phrasal juncture within the a-verse, the mark is thoroughly ambiguous. It also occurs in some dozens of instances at the end of an a-verse and where the solidus is still written, suggesting that the scribe sometimes used it to indicate a solidus and sometimes a flourish.II

As we have noted, the rubrishing scribe failed occasionally in some openings to make the color parasigns. Since the places where parasigns should go were marked when the text was written with small virgules in the left margin, we have in the "F-Critical" style sheet provided the parasigns inside square brackets.

Line numbering in the printed editions is not consistent from edition to edition. In general, Sister Carmeline Sullivan's tripartite division of the Latin quotations and tags provided a basis for the Athlone and other modern editors for deciding when to provide serial line numbering and when to treat the Latin materials as supplementary to the English text.NThe Latin Insertions and Macaronic Verses in Piers Plowman (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1932). Derek Pearsall's explicit statement of his practice in his edition of C is essentially that of modern editors: "The practice here is to number Latin lines which contain any word of English or which are integral to the syntax of the surrounding English lines. The remainder, mostly biblical quotations, are unnumbered and indented."NWilliam Langland: Piers Plowman: The C-Text, 2d ed., Exeter Medieval English Texts and Studies (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1994; original edition Los Angeles and Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), p. 23 [quoted in John A. Alford, Piers Plowman: A Guide to the Quotations, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 77 (Binghamton: MRTS, 1992), 3-4]. The problems we face in providing hypertextual linkages between every manuscript text and the editorially constructed hyparchetypes, archetypes, and critical texts have led us to provide for each documentary edition a set of absolute line numbers of both English and Latin texts. Even that policy is not entirely straightforward, since long prose passages often occupy more than a single line of manuscript text. We have let the scribal indications of structure determine when and where to assign a single line number. An indication of the problematic nature of the manuscript text may be seen at 11.129-131,I where the scribe has written two lines separately and the remainder without a line break. His practice here appears to be eccentric, and Kane-Donaldson's decision to print the entire quotation as one single unit of prose is entirely reasonable. In any case, we have, in addition to our own line numbers, also supplied a reference to the Kane-Donaldson line numbering in every line in the poem. That is, we have assigned to every line its unique identifier in a line tag (<l>) and a reference number which will serve eventually as a basis for hypertextual linkages among the documentary texts. We are using the Kane-Donaldson numbers for reference in the early documentary texts both because they represent a rational modern standard and because they can serve as place-holders until such time as we have established our own text of B. The Kane-Donaldson numbers are displayed immediately following the F passus and line number in parentheses, but only under the F-Critical style sheet. F, of course, has a number of lines rejected in the Kane-Donaldson text, and these are designated by the number for their last line before the added material followed by a decimal and numbers for each additional line. For instance, F7.286 is labelled "KD10.272.1."

We have used <MILESTONE> tags to provide readers an indication of foliation and the differences between F's passus divisions and those of the B text.

Linguistic Description

A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English (LALME) places the manuscript in Essex, a few miles north of Maldon near present day Witham.NA Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English, ed. Angus McIntosh, M. L. Samuels, and Michael Benskin (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1986), LP 6110, 3.118. We have found no evidence inconsistent with LALME's finding and a good bit to confirm it, certainly sufficient to be confident that the immediate scribe was from southern East Anglia. Since LALME's standards of accuracy have been questioned by T. L. Burton, especially the Southern sections, we have compiled the evidence afresh for each of the relevant questionnaire items.NT. L. Burton, "On the Current State of Middle English Dialectology," Leeds Studies in English 22 (1991): 167-208; Michael Benskin, "In reply to Dr. Burton," Leeds Studies in English 22 (1991): 209-62. The machine-searchable text has made it possible to survey quickly and accurately all forms, and it should surprise no one that we have both added to the recorded forms and in some instances discovered that LALME's relative frequencies were in error. The LALME project, though it was able to make sophisticated use of computer technology in compiling and analyzing the masses of data accumulated in field workers' notes, necessarily lacked significant access to reliable electronic texts of the manuscripts from which they collected that data. Hand compilation of such data is subject to all of the problems of fatigue and inattention that plague all scribal productions. It has, therefore, come as no surprise to find that machine searches of the electronic text have produced a number of spellings and forms not picked up in the original LALME survey. Nevertheless, we have been impressed by the general accuracy of LALME's account of the formal features of this manuscript. Nothing we have found is inconsistent with its placement of the dialect of the immediate scribe. (Click here to see the table.)

In the following account of the immediate scribe's language, we have given attention primarily to those features of the scribal language likely to be of assistance in localizing the language of the immediate scribe and in determining what can be recovered from relict forms of traces of anterior copyings. In the case of vowels, we have concentrated primarily on the development of native sounds and have relatively neglected words of romance origin. Forms occurring rarely are listed in parentheses. All the features we list and discuss below are consonant with an East Anglian provenance, while features listed in paragraphs 13, 14, 16, 30, 32, 38, 41, and 44 tend to identify the text as broadly East Anglian. Relicts more consonant with Norfolk than Essex appear as minority forms in paragraphs 6, 34, and 45. As M. L. Samuels has noted, F was "thoroughly translated" into the immediate scribe's dialect, showing "very few signs of relict forms."N"Scribes and Manuscript Traditions," in Regionalism in Late Medieval Manuscripts and Texts, ed. Felicity Riddy (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1991), 5. However, occasional relict forms survive, and we have attempted to note the most significant of these below, from Langland's dialect, from the B archetype, from the alpha hyparchetype, and from the scribe we have called the F-Redactor. The process of determining these layers is to a degree speculative, but because of the recent work of M. L. Samuels and others on Langland's dialectNM. L. Samuels, "Langland's Dialect," Medium Ævum 54 (1985): 232-47; "Dialect and Grammar," in A Companion to Piers Plowman, ed. John A. Alford (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1988), 200-21; Hoyt N. Duggan, "Langland's Dialect and Final -e," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 12 (1990): 157-91. it is now possible to determine at least some features of the language of those earlier copyists. It might go without saying that the analysis we offer here is more than usually provisional and subject to change in the light of our analyses of other manuscripts in the B tradition. In this instance, it would have been especially useful to have completed analysis of the language of Rawlinson Poetry 38 (R), the other alpha family witness, before we attempted to disentangle the layers of copying in F. It should eventually be possible to draw some conclusions about at least some of the features of the dialect of the scribe who copied alpha, but definitive analysis must await our collation and analysis of R.

In the case of the F-Redactor, the scribe who restructured Langland's passus divisions and made hundreds of revisions at every level, our preliminary study in relation to LALME maps suggests a location in Central Norfolk.NWe are grateful to Professor M. L. Samuels for his advice. The salient features are these: two appearances of kyrke spellings added by a scribe after alpha, the -s forms of third person singular indicative verbs, the appearance of the spelling er for the coordinating conjunction "or," the spellings feyȝr, fyȝr for "fire,"NR, the other alpha manuscript, has the following spellings for "fire": fire, fuer, fuir, fuire, fuyr, feer. the appearance of ȝeet for "yet,"NThis form is perhaps attributable to alpha. It appears four times in R and only once in F. F's usual form is ȝit (57x). and ke(e)me for "came." The unique occurrence of þerknesse for "derknesse" is consistent with that placement.NSee LALME 1.542 and Dot Map 1120. See also Angus McIntosh, "Word Geography in the Lexicography of Medieval English," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 211 (1973): 55-66, and Richard Beadle, "The Medieval Drama of East Anglia: Studies in Dialect, Documentary Records and Stagecraft" (D.Phil. thesis, University of York, 1977). All these elements point to the activity of an East Anglian scribe more northerly than the immediate scribe. Lacking, as we do, any means of determining the number of scribes intervening between Langland and the immediate scribe, we cannot prove that any particular change in the text is to be attributed to the medieval "editor" who revised the passus divisions, but it is reasonable to think that the interventionist scribe who changed his text in large matters also felt free to emend in small. Alternative explanations are, of course, possible, since it cannot be determined whether a single hand is responsible for the scribal forms and changes or whether each is a relict of a different copyist.



Tonic Syllables

1. OE, ON /a:/: <oo> ~ <o> ~ (<a>)NThe spellings in each category are listed in descending order of frequency with specially rare spellings in parentheses.

a-brood 3.178; aloone 4.495; cloþ(e) 5.210 ~ clooþ 15.290; a-roos 15.53; froo 5.284; goost (22x) 2.38 ~ gost (1x) 7.248 ~ gast (1x) 3.213; groone 5.1140 ~ grone 5.913; hoot 5.965 ~ hote 1.216; pope 1.102 ~ poppe-holy (1x) 10.293; soor(e) 10.586; stoon 11.502 ~ stones 3.15; wones 4.224 ~ woones 14.271; wore "were" (2x) 7.235, 13.174 <ON váru; woot 1.39; etc.

2. OE /a:/ + w: <ow> ~ <ou> ~ (<owh>) ~ (owhȝ)

slowhȝ "slow" 10.419; sowle (65x) 2.39 ~ soule (25x) 2.128 ~ sowhle (1x) 5.1110; etc.

3. OE, ON /a/ before a nasal: <a> ~ (<o>)

wan 5.464; can 1.105; fram (85x) 1.122 ~ from (2x) 13.8, 13.106; game 5.415; man 2.113; name 1.101; shame 4.374; etc.

4. OE, ON /a/ before lengthening consonant groups: <o> ~ <a> ~ <oo>

a-mong 1.188; hond (15x) 5.590 ~ hand (7x) 13.221;NCuriously, these spellings of hand with <a> appear only in a brief passage beween 13.221 and 13.271, and in the compound hand-mayde 12.102. Spellings with <o> are more evenly distributed. Both F and R prefer hond except in the short passage in which the Trinity is compared to a hand. hange (12x) 1.163 ~ honge (5x) 1.170; longen 3.46; lo(o)mb 5.563, 16.36 ~ lambren 11.222; stonde (10x) 5.355 ~ stande (2x) 13.50; etc.

5. OE, ON /a/ + -nk: <a> ~ <o>

drank 5.177 ~ dronk 10.104; sank 14.69; þank- 6.104 ~ þonk- 3.150; etc.

6. OE, ON /o:/: <o> ~ <oo> ~ <oi> ~ <oy>NThe spellings <oi> and <oy> are probably relict forms from the Norfolk revisor, reverse spellings suggesting some levelling in that dialect of OF /oi/ to /o:/. The N-Town Play shows dole < OF doel) spelled doyl. Stephen Spector, ed., The N-Town Play. Cotton MS Vespasian D.8.1: Introduction and Text, EETS SS 11 (Oxford: Oxford U Press, 1991), 4.215. For discussion, see Jacob Bennett, "The Language and Home of the 'Ludus Coventriae'," Orbis 22 (1973): 50-51. This change is customarily associated with Northern, especially Scottish, dialects. See Richard Jordan, Handbook of Middle English Grammar: Phonology, trans. and revised by Eugene J. Crook (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1974), §238.

barefoot 14.11; blood 2.152; book (40+x) 1.95 ~ boke (5x) 5.238; dome (8x) 3.207 ~ doom(e) 4.310; flood 6.267 ~ flodis (1x) 10.520; foode (15x) 1.38 ~ fode (2x) 5.673; looke (25x) 2.207 ~ loke (15x) 2.143; oþer(e) 1.47 ~ oyþer (3x) 2.173 ~ oiþer 7.283; weet-shood 10.638 ~ wetschod 14.1; etc.

7. OE, ON, OF /o/: <o> ~ <oo>

apostl- (12x) 7.35 ~ apoostlis 12.169, 13.29; box 11.230 ~ boox 5.650; borwe 4.451; corps 2.135 ~ koors 10.9; cros (16x) 5.10 ~ croos (4x) 6.92;N The spellings crois (1x) 7.438 and croys (1x) 6.55 reflect reborrowing from OF. folk 1.16; foox 16.44 ~ foxes 5.682; god (244x) 1.39 ~ goode 7.345;NThe spelling with <oo> is perhaps simple scribal error, the scribe having taken the word to be "good." However, Peter J. Lucas, "Consistency and Correctness in the Orthographic Usage of John Capgrave's Chronicle," Studia Neophilologica 45 (1973): 351, notes two instances in Capgrave where "good" is spelled god and one instance where "god" is spelled good. Capgrave served as his own copyist, and Lucas thinks he mistook the word to have been "good" instead of "god." holpe 4.511; look 2.200 ~ lokkys (n.) "lock(s)" 10.379; moos "moss" 11.303; northȝ 14.168; ofte 3.19; pekok 9.366 ~ pekook 9.348; poot- 5.839 ~ pot 10.261; spottys 10.284 ~ spoot 10.285;NSpoot, written in error for "plot," is probably the immediate scribe's form, having been picked up from the end of the preceding line. stook "trunk" 12.7; top 4.129; etc.

The doubled <oo> spellings do not appear necessarily to reflect lengthening of OE /o/. The spellings apoostlis, boox, foox, look, and pekook are not otherwise recorded, and MED, s.v. stok, marks its single instance of stook from Lydgate's Troy Book as "?error." The appearance of moos, poot, and spoot in a variety of East Anglian texts shows that the spellings are to a degree conventional in that area. Cf. paragraphs 13, 18, and 21 below for parallel development of other OE short vowels. Note as well the apparent indication of length in spellings of unstressed syllables recorded in paragraph 28 below.

8. OE, ON /o/ + lengthening consonant cluster: <o> ~ <oo>

bold (7x) 1.179 ~ boold (3x) 13.13; gold (20x) 1.69 ~ goolde (2x) 4.25; moolde (13x) 1.58 ~ molde (4x) 1.202; word- (65+x) 2.144 ~ woord- (29x) 2.13; etc.

9. OE, ON /u:/: <ou> ~ <ow> ~ <owh>

a-bowte (30+x) 1.28 ~ abowhte (16x) 3.11; clowdes 14.418 ~ clowhde 4.181; clowtys 10.61; doun 4.434; how (70x) 1.96 ~ hou (8x) 7.92; mous 1.193 ~ mows 1.173; prowd(e) (7x) 4.167 ~ prowhd(e) (4x) 10.56 ~ prouhde (1x) 7.75 ~ proud- (1x) 8.244; etc.

10. OE, ON, OF /u/: <u> ~ <y> ~ <o>

botere 5.446; curse 4.131; flyx 5.179 ~ fluxes 16.81; ful (107x) 1.16 ~ fulle (6x) 4.53; love 4.282; pulle 9.379; etc.

11. /u/ before lengthening consonant clusters: <oo> ~ <ow> ~ <ou> ~ <o> ~ <u>

found 10.543; hound 5.365 ~ hownd 5.261; moorne 4.17; tunge (40+x) 4.120 ~ tonge (1x) 16.162; etc.

12. OE /y:/: <e> ~ <ee> ~ <yȝ>

beelis 16.84; fyȝr 5.1039 ~ feer 7.433; her(e) 5.560 ~ hyȝre (n.) 5.566; heren 5.767 ~ heere (v.) 5.848 <OE hýrian; keen 5.794 <OE cýna; wyȝshede 10.81 ~ wischede 16.194 ~ wysshed 5.354; etc.

13. OE /y/: <e> ~ <i> ~ <y> ~ <u> ~ <ee>

ken (5x) 2.190 ~ kyn (5x) 10.389 ~ keen "kin" (2x) 4.192, 6.259 (Bx=kynde) <OE cynn; dyde (21x) 2.28 ~ dide (14x) 4.188 ~ dede (8x) 5.508; gylt- (10x) 4.97, 6.273 ~ gelt- (3x) 7.273; gilt- (9x) 1.74, 4.443; hedde 7.452; heddyn 9.30; hellys 1.206 ~ hillis 1.4; kyll- (11x) 12.145 ~ kulled 15.144; lyft 3.5 ~ left 5.590; mychil (32x) 1.173 ~ myche (28x) 4.134 ~ mychel (7x) 2.37 ~ meche (2x) 9.251 ~ michil (3x) 4.518 ~ miche 10.742;NThe scribal change of muche to myche at 4.408 suggests the latter is the scribe's own form. synne (60+x) 2.141 ~ sennys (2x) 10.663; þenne "thin" 15.408 <OE þynne [cf. OFris þenne (OED)]; w(h)ich(e) (35x) 5.786, 7.28, 9.236 ~ wheche (3x) 1.68; etc.

The unrounding of OE /y/ and /y:/ to /i/ and /i:/ and subsequent lowering is characteristic of spellings in East Anglian manuscript spellings in LME.NRichard Beadle, "The Medieval Drama of East Anglia: Studies in Dialect, Documentary Records and Stagecraft" (D.Phil. thesis, University of York, 1977), 64-65, 70; Richard Jordan, Handbook of Middle English Grammar: Phonology, trans. and rev. Eugene J. Crook, Janua Linguarum, Series Practica, no. 218 (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1974), §40; Edmund Colledge, O.S.A. and Cyril Smetana, O.S.A., "Capgrave's Life of St. Norbert: Diction, Dialect, and Spelling," Mediaeval Studies 34 (1972): 427; P. H. Reaney, The Place-Names of Essex, EPNS 12 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1935), xxxv-xxxviii; M. C. Seymour, "A Fifteenth-Century East Anglian Scribe," Medium Ævum 37 (1968): 166; Peter. J. Lucas, "Consistency and Correctness in the Orthographic Usage of John Capgrave's Chronicle," Studia Neophilologica 45 (1973): 344, 353; Asta Kihlbom, A Contribution to the Study of Fifteenth-Century English, Uppsala Universitets Årsskrift (Uppsala: A. -B. Lundequistska Bokhandeln, 1926), 24-25; Henry C. Wyld, "South-Eastern and South-Eastern Midland Dialects in Middle English," Essays and Studies 5 (1920): 112-45. However, the <ee> spelling for keen "kin" 4.192, is puzzling in suggesting an unaccountable lengthening of the tonic vowel. The same spelling in deene 14.64, is more readily explicable by the change of /y/ to /e/ and its subsequent lengthening in an open syllable.

14. OE, ON /y/ before lengthening clusters: <y> ~ <ee> ~ <eu>(?)

beurde 14.120NThis spelling occurs only here in the manuscript, and it does not appear in MED or OED citations. It possibly reflects miswritten buerde, a more probable relict form. See Richard Jordan, Handbook of Middle English Grammar: Phonology, trans. and revised by Eugene J. Crook (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1974), §42. The alternate spelling with <ee> is characteristic of East Anglian dialects. See Jordan, §40. ~ beerde 4.15; keende (26x) 3.78 ~ kynde (16x) 1.112; meende (5x) 8.264 ~ mynde (4x) 11.311; etc.NSee Richard Jordan, Handbook of Middle English Grammar: Phonology, trans. and rev. Eugene J. Crook, Janua Linguarum, Series Practica, no. 218 (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1974), §40, and Richard Beadle, "The Medieval Drama of East Anglia: Studies in Dialect, Documentary Records and Stagecraft" (D.Phil. thesis, University of York, 1977), 64-65.

15. OE, ON /i:/: <i> ~ <y> ~ <yȝ> ~ <e>

blythe 3.159; chyde 4.166 ~ chyȝde (1x) 7.321 ~ chide (1x) 5.973; knyf 5.81; lyf (111x) 1.116 ~ lif- (4x) 2.27 ~ lyȝf (4x) 4.415; pyȝk- 5.756, 16.261 ~ pyk 5.480; ryde (7x) 4.351 ~ ryȝde (1x) 4.202; syȝd(e) (8x) 5.81, 5.197 ~ syde (4x) 1.7 ~ side (1x) 5.378; styf 11.513 ~ stef 6.28;NThe doublet form stef is, according to the MED, "perhaps related to OFris. stēf and MDu stēvich." MED citations with this spelling tend to be drawn from East Midlands texts. tyme (84x) 1.78 ~ tyȝme (15x) 4.212; wyȝd(e) (9x) 5.543 ~ wyde (4x) 1.3; wyȝn (10x) 2.31 ~ wyn (1x) 1.219; wise (9x) 7.8 ~ wyȝs (7x) 1.199; wyȝsdom (7x) 4.370; etc.

16. OE, ON /i/: <y> ~ <i> ~ <e> ~ <yȝ>

bitterly (2x) 14.408 ~ betterly (1x) 5.111; (by)twixe 5.98 ~ by-twexe 4.119; lyȝnde 2.153; lyve (36+x) 4.533 ~ lybbe(n) (12x) 4.215 ~ leve (1x) 15.214; neme 12.72; wyȝnd (4x) 4.324 ~ wynd (7x) 6.26; wyght (13x) 2.64 ~ whyȝt (6x) 5.117 ~ wyȝht- (2x) 4.215 ~ wyȝght (1x) 6.65 ~ wyht (1x) 9.145 ~ wyȝt (1x) 7.177 ~ whyht (1x) 6.145; wyke 5.911; y-wrete (1x) 2.198 ~ y-wryte(n) (2x) 5.1104; wrete 9.378; etc.

This feature is consonant with East Anglian, though it is common in other northerly dialects. See Norman Davis, "A Paston Hand," RES n.s. 3 (1952): 216, and Wilhelm Dibelius, "John Capgrave und die englische Schriftsprache," Anglia 23 (1901): 189-91.

17. OE, ON /e:/: <e> ~ <ee> ~ <y>

be (400+x) 1.47 ~ by "be" (3x) 5.1080; bedeman 4.47 ~ beedemen 11.221; beech 5.592; brede 9.347; crede 5.743; deme 4.520; feede (8x) 1.84 ~ fede (1x) 8.193; feet 4.428; grene 5.936 ~ greene 9.1; heede 7.206 ~ hede 5.667;NThe scribe distinguishes the verbal and nominal forms of "heed" from the noun "head" by steadily writing the latter as heed, without the final -e. kene 1.216 ~ keene 15.309; keep(e) 3.47 ~ kepe 1.69 ~ kep (1x) 10.281; meede (80+x) 3.19 ~ mede (1x) 4.234; meet(e) 8.26 ~ mete 5.100; seeke 5.1162 ~ seke 4.341; spede 4.263 ~ speede 4.159; sweete 13.211 ~ swete 1.80; etc.

Some spellings of "fed" (pret. and ppl.) indicate the expected shortening before a long consonant (Jordan, §§ 23, 33.1); e.g., fed 12.132 (pret. sg.), fedde 11.301 (pret. pl.), but two spellings with <ee> suggest retention of length: e.g., feede (pret. pl.) 11.431, y-feed (ppl.) 11.318.

18. OE, ON, OF /e/: <e> ~ <ee>NFor this scribe's frequent representation of reflexes of OE short vowels with doubled graphs, see paragraph 7 above. Not all of these spellings are unique to this scribe. Spellings of feester "fester" and geest are common in manuscripts from the East Midlands, and lengthened forms of "well" developed early in Middle English in northerly dialects. ~ <y>

best(e) 7.388 ~ beest(e) 5.22 (adj.); dowel (64x) 5.1108 ~ doweelis 10.803; fedre 15.420 ~ feedre 4.380; fellyn 2.120 ~ fyllyn 2.117; feestrid 13.190; goweel 6.146; ieestys 3.86 <OF geste ~ iestys 7.20; rek(e)ne (5x) 10.585 ~ ryk(e)ne (3x) 8.129; web(be) 5.199 ~ weeb 5.112 <OE web(b); weed 10.371 <OE wed(d); wel (100+x) 1.63 ~ weel (15x) 2.198; etc.

19. OE, ON, OF /e/ before lengthening consonant clusters: <e> ~ <ee>

beende 5.577; beendiþ 5.175; beerne "barn" 4.403;NThis spelling appears in MS. Bodley 959, an early manuscript of the Wyclif Bible which MED places broadly in the Southeast Midlands and A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English more precisely in Northamptonshire (LP 762). bleenden "blind" 14.141 ~ ablendiþ 7.282; elde (16x) 5.193 ~ eelde (2x) 10.365 ~ heelde 8.53; feld(e) (3x) 2.2 ~ feelde (2x) 4.489; seelde(n) (11x) 5.413, 5.128 ~ selde(n) (10x) 7.419; send- (11x) 5.980 ~ seende (4x) 14.395; etc.

20. OE /æ:/(1) & (2): <ee> ~ <e> ~ <a> ~ <ey>

deele 13.308 ~ dele 2.199 ~ deyle 5.729; drede (20+x) 1.145 ~ a-dred 15.22 ~ adrad 15.310 ~ dreede (3x) 3.210; heele 10.353 ~ hele 9.350; hees "hest" 5.66; lasse (18x) 3.46 ~ lesse (4x) 5.224; laste (v.) 4.29 ~ leste 10.343; leene "lend" 1.84 ~ lene 5.669; see 4.471; swete 10.269; weet- 5.543, 10.648 ~ wet- 14.1; whete (5x) 4.403 ~ wheete (1x) 4.41; etc.

21. OE /æ/: <a> ~ (<aa>)NA nonce form, it is perhaps explicable by reference to the scribe's tendency to write derivatives of Old English short vowels with doubled graphs. See paragraph 7 above.

bak (7x) 4.184 ~ baak (1x) 5.1087; bathed 13.192; craft 2.135; dale 1.14; fadir 2.65; smale 12.84; wasshe 5.580; etc.

22. OE <ēa>: <e> ~ <ee>

beem 7.282; betyn 9.110; breed 5.173; chepe 5.326; deed(e) 10.803, 14.64 ~ ded(e) 2.184, 14.66; dreme 8.4 ~ dreem 12.22; ere 4.357 ~ eere 11.420; gret(e) 1.67 ~ greet(e) 5.388; hed 5.195 ~ heed 3.34; heep 5.329 ~ hep 5.233; leef 2.153; leep(e) 15.127 ~ lepe 1.191; reed(e) 3.14 ~ rede 3.11; etc.

23. OE <ēa> (Anglian /e:/) plus velar fricative: <ey> ~ <eyhȝ> ~ <eih> ~ <yȝ> ~ <eyȝ> ~ <e> ~ <y> ~ <eyhe> ~ <eyȝh> ~ <eygh> ~ <eyh>

heyȝ(e) (10x) 1.12 ~ hey(e) 1.134, 9.158 ~ hy 11.87 ~ hyȝ 2.170 ~ hyȝe 2.74; ne(e)yhe- (5x) 2.178 ~ neyȝh(e)- (4x) 13.156 ~ neyȝ (3x) 5.94 ~ neeyh 4.134 ~ neyghe- 5.262; þeyhȝ (22x) 4.149 ~ þeyȝ (6x) 4.343 ~ þey 10.716, 11.405 ~ þeih 10.506 ~ þeyh 5.559 ~ they 1.176;NFor the development of OE þeah, see Richard Jordan, Handbook of Middle English Grammar: Phonology, trans. and rev. Eugene J. Crook, Janua Linguarum, Series Practica, no. 218 (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1974), § 63. Þowh and þowhȝ also appear in this manuscript, but they are derived from ON þó. etc.

24. OE <ea>: <a> ~ <e> (<ee>)

al 1.1 ~ alle 1.49; barn 3.3; calf 5.942; falle 1.56; flex 5.665; salte 10.39; shafte 9.76; vnfelde 13.264NMED provides no parallels for the infinitive form.; weex 13.287 (n.); wex(e) (27x) 4.324 ~ wax(e) (3x) 4.293; etc.

25. OE <ēo>: <e> ~ <ee> ~ <ey> ~ <y> ~ <eyȝ>

beden 15.145 ~ beedyn 4.28; brest (4x) 5.399 ~ breest (1x) 11.205; cleve 8.228; creepe 16.44 ~ crepe 2.194; depe (6x) 1.15 ~ deep (2x) 1.14; feend- (13x) 6.38 ~ fend- (9x) 2.41; flee (6x) 3.211 ~ fleyȝ (5x) 3.212 ~ fley (1x) 13.186; frend- 11.191 ~ freend- 10.151; leem 14.128; syke 5.414; sykness (7x) 5.782 ~ seknesse (4x) 5.422; spewen 7.42; theef 9.309 ~ thevys 10.163; etc.

26. OE <eo>: <e> ~ <ee> ~ <o> ~ <i>

cherl 5.363 ~ chirlys 15.56; derk(e) 3.104 ~ dirk 2.60; erl 6.85; fele (44x) 1.22 ~ feele "many" (2x) 8.328; feer "far" 6.75; herte 2.139; hevene 1.97; leerne 5.45 ~ lerne 2.134; -selue (180+x) 5.496; sterre 14.234; sterve 9.111; werk 1.155 ~ wirkis 5.1196; worchepe 2.8; world 1.3; etc.

27. OE <ēo> or <eo> + <w>: <ew> ~ <ewh> ~ <eew>

blewe 15.343 ~ blewh 5.352; brewh 5.219 ~ brew- 15.404; rewe 12.150; sew (7x) 10.385 ~ seew (1x) 15.348; trewe 1.114; etc.

Unstressed Syllables

28. With apparent lengthening graph:

clergyȝe (6x) 7.178; doweelis 10.803; drapeer "draper" 5.255; drunkelewhȝ 6.80; fysyȝk 16.376 <OF fisique; grasees "grasses" 10.522; inparfyȝt 11.106; ioyneen "to join" 14.257; lovyȝe 8.182; lusyfeer 14.407 ~ lucifeer 14.310, 14.356; mateer 11.81; meryght 2.180; morteer 15.329; pereyl (8x) 5.771 ~ pereil 5.746; pylgryȝm 5.755; profyghte 10.241 ~ profyȝht 4.465; sodoom 10.555; vn-lowkeeþ 14.263; etc.


29. <wh> ~ <w> ~ <qwh> (1x):

qwhyle 4.324; wan "when" 5.767, 16.196; where "were" 1.59, 2.135, 3.65, etc.; where "wear" 1.158; wyt "white" 11.425; wyche "which" 5.302; whythyes wyse "like a withy" 5.531; whont "accustomed" 16.368; whonen "dwell" 3.76; whot "wot" 3.79, 3.123, 5.784; etc.

Since Langland himself alliterated words that historically began with /hw/ with words beginning /w/, this feature does not distinguish the scribal dialect from the poet's. However, it is very clear that /hw/ has become /w/ in this scribe's dialect.NIf other evidence were needed, the scribal revision of 1.157 shows his own forms: F reads "& oþere-whylys ellys-where as weyȝes me telle." Bx reads "And ouþer while þei arn elliswhere as I here telle." The scribe appears to take the alliteration to fall on /w/, uniquely supplying "weyȝes." For discussion of the treatment of <wh-> in East Anglian texts, see Richard Beadle, "The Medieval Drama of East Anglia: Studies in Dialect, Documentary Records and Stagecraft" (D.Phil. thesis, University of York, 1977), 51-54; M. C. Seymour, "A Fifteenth-Century East Anglian Scribe," Medium Ævum 37 (1968): 170; and Peter J. Lucas, "Consistency and Correctness in the Orthographic Usage of John Capgrave's Chronicle," Studia Neophilologica 45 (1973): 340f. The single instance of qwhyle, "while," is probably a relict form from the Norfolk redactor.

30. Loss of initial aspirate /h/:

The evidence of inverse spellings suggests that initial aspirate /h/ has been lost in the dialect of the immediate scribe. The phenomenon is common in East Anglia in late Middle English.NPeter J. Lucas, "Consistency and Correctness in the Orthographic Usage of John Capgrave's Chronicle," Studia Neophilologica 45 (1973): 339-40.

er-of 5.986 ~ here-of 7.255; hagews "agues" 16.84; hax "ax" 9.233; hetyn "eat" (pres. pl.) 7.10; herly "early" 5.308 (a reading not in Bx), 5.329; hers "arse" 7.328; hews "use" 1.93; evy 16.2; evynesse 14.249; huttyrly 6.232; etc.

31. Word-terminal <h>:

Neutralization or loss of /h/ may well have been nearly complete in all contexts in the scribe's dialect. At least, his spellings of reflexes of OE /u:/ or OF <ou> with <owh> and OF <au> with <awh> or OF <eu> before dentals suggest near complete neutralization of <h> in the scribal dialect:

agewh 10.347; baw wawh 15.404; bewh "beau" 5.1161; blewh 5.352; brewh 5.219; corlewh 10.521; drowh "drew" (5x) 5.359; Iewh 7.137; knewh 10.190, 15.421; lowh (3x) 5.140 ~ lowhȝ (3x) 5.602; lowhly (2x) 5.563; Matthew (3x) 5.892 ~ Mattheu (3x) 4.244 ~ Mathewh (1x) 15.266 ~ Mattheuh (1x) 8.253; nowh (2x) 5.863 ~ nowthe (4x) 5.858; ouer-threwh 5.360; rewhliþ 6.139; etc.

The series he ~ hey ~ hyȝ ~ hyȝe for "high" supports the hypothesis that the velar has disappeared in virtually all contexts in the immediate scribe's dialect, as does weyȝ for "wye." If further evidence of the loss of the velar in the scribe's dialect were needed, these inverse spellings would prove the case: lyth "light" 6.153 and lythlokere 5.581.

32. Loss of /x/ before /t/:

Many spellings using <ȝt> are conventional, predictable on the basis of etymology—fyȝt(e), hyȝt(e), knyȝte, etc. Others are explicable on grounds that the <ȝ> appears after front vowels as a lengthening graph: apetyȝt (stressed /xx) 5.919; byȝte 16.359; coueyȝteþ 15.309; delyȝte 7.383; disseyȝt 14.333; fayȝten 5.1088; feyȝth 14.15; petyȝt (/x) 5.1044; and whyȝt "white" 5.791. The <y> following <e> is itself already a lengthening graph, and in apetyȝt and petyȝt the stress is not on that syllable. At 12.106 we have treated the single instance of fytȝ, "fight," as scribal error, but as East Anglian scribes sometimes wrote <-tȝ> in such contexts, the spelling may have been intended.

These spellings appear in unstressed syllables in a number of words in which they never appeared historically, suggesting that the velar spirant /x/ had been completely lost before /t/: en-habyȝtid 10.294; hermyȝtis 5.799, 5.840; meryght 2.180 ~ meryȝt 5.387, 8.182; spyryȝt 13.354; tyȝhtly 8.53. In a dialect in which the velar spirant before syllable-terminal /t/ had been spelled <-ht>, its loss would lead to spellings such as awhter (3x) 4.52, bawhde 5.725; cawhdel 5.364; defawhte (10x) 3.141; defrawhdiþ 5.1056; sawhter (9x) 4.226; bewhte 9.169; lewhte 1.120; sewht 5.496; abowhte(n) (20x) 3.11; clowhde 4.181; cowhde (18x) 1.173; dowhte (3x) 9.111; lowhde (5x) 1.123; lowhtede 4.105; prowhd (3x) 10.287; rowhte (9x) 1.166; etc.NThis feature is characteristic of late Middle English texts in East Anglia. See M. C. Seymour, "A Fifteenth-Century East Anglian Scribe," Medium Ævum 37 (1968): 166-67; Peter J. Lucas, "Consistency and Correctness in the Orthographic Usage of John Capgrave's Chronicle," Studia Neophilogica 45 (1973): 339; Richard Beadle, "The Medieval Drama of East Anglia: Studies in Dialect, Documentary Records and Stagecraft" (D.Phil. thesis, University of York, 1977), 54-58; and Stephen Spector, ed., The N-Town Play: Cotton MS Vespasian D.8.1: Introduction and Text, EETS SS 11 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 1.xxxiii-iv.

33. Loss of voicing on syllable-terminal stops after /n/:

dunk "dung" 4.302;NIt is not possible at this stage to tell whether F is alone among B manuscripts in using this form, but Kane listed no such variants in the equivalent line in A when he was recording such spelling variants. Cf. F4.489, F11.124. dunkele "dung hill" 5.76; and þynk "thing" 10.405. The form dryng "drink" 10.796 is an inverse spelling. A West Midlands phenomenon, it is perhaps surprising to find F as the only witness among B manuscripts to such spellings in each case. There is no reason to think these can be relict forms, but they are not usually taken to be features of East Anglian dialects.

34. Neutralization of /š/ and /č/:

by-qwache 14.250; chafte "shaft" 6.155; felachepe 3.195; fychȝ 16.45 ~ fys(s)hȝ 5.391 ~ fysch- 6.50 ~ fyssh 5.177; florcheþ "flourisheth" 10.773; lordchepe (10x) 3.46 ~ lordschepe (1x) 10.738; marchal 4.189; punche(n) "punish" 10.766, 15.198 ~ punshe (4x) 3.49, 7.286; werkmanchippe 13.262; worchep- (18x) 2.8; etc.

The evidence suggests that this form is inherited by the scribe and is not his usual form, since at 10.561 he corrected cheltroum to sheltroum. At 4.67 he corrected punschyn to punsshyn and at 4.195 lordchepe to lordshepe. Perhaps contradictory evidence appears at 5.1054 where some scribe in the tradition has written shapman, intending chapman (itself an error). The form schapmen appears in the N-town cycle, also written in East Anglia.NThe N-Town Play: Cotton MS Vespasian D.8.1, ed. Stephen Spector, EETS SS 11 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 27.304. It is here very possibly the work of the Norfolk revisor responsible for a number of other non-authorial forms. Similar spellings appear in Capgrave's work.NSee Edmund Colledge, O. S. A. and Cyril Smetana, O. S. A., "Capgrave's Life of St. Norbert: Diction, Dialect, and Spelling," Mediaeval Studies 34 (1972): 432, though we are skeptical of their claim that such spellings "have no relation to pronunciation" (432). See also M. C. Seymour, "A Fifteenth-Century East Anglian Scribe," Medium Ævum 37 (1968): 170; Jacob Bennett, "The Language and Home of the 'Ludus Coventriae'," Orbis 22 (1973): 50-51; and Richard Jordan, Handbook of Middle English Grammar: Phonology, trans. and rev. Eugene J. Crook, Janua Linguarum, Series Practica, no. 218 (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1974), §260.

35. Neutralization of /š/ and /s/:

englyȝs (3x) 5.39 ~ englysch (2x) 11.27 ~ englyshȝ (3x) 5.1100 ~ englyschȝ (2x) 11.394; manshid(e) 3.40, 9.210 ~ manschid 16.221 ~ manshede "mansed" 7.299; sordych "Shoredich" 10.351; wysse 5.565 ~ wisshe "wisse" 5.148, 5.546, 6.108, 7.163, 7.406; etc.

36. Use of <ȝ> ~ <gh> as an indicator of vowel length:

byȝte "bite" 16.359; lyȝk "like" 15.8; nyghne 13.156 ~ nyhȝne "nine" 5.379; paradyȝs "paradise" 7.485; wyȝnys "wines" 7.383; wyȝse "wise" 13.340; etc.

37. <ȝd> spellings:

Before a voiced stop, yogh steadily appears as a lengthening graph after front vowels: abyȝde 3.214; by-tyȝde 3.119; hyȝd(e) 15.463; leyȝd(e) 7.51, 5.244; priȝd(e) 6.114; seyȝd(e) 6.162; syȝd(e) 5.81; etc.

38. Yogh appearing word-terminally after <th>:

a-cursethȝ 14.110; dethȝ 14.145; feythȝ (8x) 2.183; forfeetythȝ 16.25; forthȝ 13.288; frythȝ (2x) 9.42; furthȝ (2x) 1.213; kepithȝ 11.366; lyȝthȝ 14.388; morderythȝ 13.337; mowthȝ 15.291; nazarethȝ 15.139; northȝ 14.168; schryuethȝ 16.288; wernethȝ 16.12; etc.

There is little reason to think the spelling indicates any unusual pronunciation of /θ/, though it is possibly related to other East Anglian spellings in which a word-terminal <t> is followed by <ȝ>.NEdmund Colledge and Cyril Smetana cite a few instances of <-tȝ> in "Capgrave's Life of St. Norbert: Diction, Dialect, and Spelling," Mediaeval Studies 34 (1972): 427. See section 43 below as well.

39. Yogh appearing word-terminally after <sch>, <sh>, <ch> and <s> representing /š/ and /č/:

englys(c)hȝ 11.394; fys(s)hȝ 10.93 ~ fychȝ 16.45; fles(c)hȝ 10.775; Frenchȝ 5.239; freshȝ 5.965; pars(c)hȝ (3x) 5.44; and weschȝ 13.62.

40. Yogh appearing word-terminally after <r(g)h> ~<rwh> ~ <eyh> ~ <owh> ~<ewh>:

borghȝ 3.89; borwhȝ 5.1073; bowhȝ "bough" 5.30; drunkelewhȝ 6.80; y-nowhȝ 10.510 ~ y-nowh 5.1078; lowhȝ 5.602 ~ lowh 5.140; plowhȝ 5.755 ~ plowh 1.19; þeyhȝ "though" 4.149 (but also "they" 7.313); þor(g)hȝ 1.67; þowhȝ "thou" 6.68 and "though" 11.199.

Though most of these are explicable historically, the scribe's writing "thou" as þowhȝ and "they" as þeyhȝ suggests strongly, especially in light of the evidence in other contexts above, that the velar spirant had been lost in the scribe's dialect, that he wrote yogh in various places where it had never indicated the velar (e.g. after <th> because <th> came to be written for <ht> in dialects where /xt/ > /t/).

Cf. agewh "ague" 10.347; bewh "beau" 5.1161; blewh "blew" 5.352; brewh "brew" 5.219; corlewh "curlew" 10.521; Iewh 7.137; knewh "knew" 10.190, 15.421; and Mathewh 15.266 for corroboration of spelling neutralization.

41. <-(h)t> for <-th>:

slewte "sloth" (1x) 5.458 ~ slewhte 16.158 ~ slewhthe (2x) 5.443 ~ slewthe (7x) 1.41 ~ slewþe (5x) 4.302; mowht "mouth" 1.207, 10.57; etc.

These spellings, though possibly simple scribal error, are consonant with a dialect in which the velar spirant had been lost before a syllable-terminal /t/.

42. <tȝ> for /t/:

Two instances appear in F, the first in 7.459 in an OF word quantȝ, "when," and another at 12.106 where "fight" is written fytȝ. The latter possibly reflects simple scribal error, and we have marked it with a "sic" tag. See the discussion in A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English, ed. Angus McIntosh, M. L. Samuels, and Michael Benskin (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1986), 2.xvii, of the forms of <ȝ> and <z>. The editors suggest that in some areas a word-terminal form that looks like <yogh> and <z> is derived from neither but from the French and Latin abbreviations for <-et>. Their examples are not precisely parallel to these, but it seems likely that the scribe attached no phonological value other than /t/ to the graph.

43. <sp-> for <ps->:

The scribe writes spalm(es) (4x) 5.904 for "psalm(es)" and speudo for "pseudo" 11.522.

44. <ch> ~ <k>:

lych "like" (4x) 5.119; machamet(h) (7x) 4.322 ~ makameþ 11.424; patriarch(is) (3x) 9.242 ~ patriark(is) (10x) 10.170; etc.

45. <v> ~ <u> ~ <w>:

At 16.237 cheve is written for Bx's chewe. The a-verse is repeated almost verbatim at 14.203. Since cheve makes at least a modicum of sense in context, it is possible the scribe intended to write that word. However, at 11.489 scheven is written for shewen. At 4.286 and 16.172 howe is written for OE hūfe, spelled howfes at 1.202. Instances of <u> for <w> appear in luscheburue 11.368 and stroued 10.48. <w> is written for customary <v> or <u> in lowe "love" at 10.145, while lowlyest appears at 10.304 where Bx reads louelokest. Note also chewsaunce at 16.16. It seems very likely that these are relict forms from the revising Norfolk scribe. See Jacob Bennett, "The Language and Home of the 'Ludus Coventriae'," Orbis 22 (1973): 51, for this feature of that Norfolk text.


Parentheses indicate optional elements. When Bx appears after a reading, it attests not necessarily the spelling, but the feature: i.e. <-ith> (Bx) means that the <-th> form for the plural verb inflection is in the archetype, but the vowel might be <e, i, y>.

46. The Status of Final <-e>:

Since we are dealing with a scribal copy, the metrical evidence that might provide a clue to whether <-e> was sounded is not relevant, and we are, therefore, dependent upon the distribution of spellings. Such evidence suggests that the immediate scribe has preserved at least some systemic remains of the grammatical system in which final <-e> was sounded, but it is curiously mixed. A good bit of evidence suggests that <-e> was systematically written on the stressed stems of weak and plural adjectives, but not steadily on the unstressed syllables of dissyllabic adjectives: his grete grace 9.392, his owene grace 13.285, hise manye talys 3.219, hise leve seyntys 4.385, hise lawe-ful doomes 8.144, hise wikkide werkis 16.368, for siluerene plates 12.151;NThe form is not in Bx. etc. On the other hand, though most stressed stems of weak and plural adjectives are marked with <-e>, some adjectives are exceptions to rule, either appearing without the expected <-e> in weak or plural adjectives (as in his cheef lyflode 5.89, hise chef chyldryn 5.631, and fele fals be-hestis 16.118) or with unhistoric <-e> (as in & false doome 14.29, grete wisdom 7.416, of grete god 6.186.NThe conjunction of grete and god itself seems to be systematically represented with <-e> on the adjective. See 3.29, 5.1005, 6.152, 15.447. Unhistorical <-e> also appears on grete modifying hors and Roome, "Rome," 11.484. The evidence for <-e> in verb inflexions is similarly mixed.

The analogical formation in which hise/hyse appears before plural nouns and his before singular is carried through with remarkable consistency. However, the same pattern is not manifested in hir(e), "her," myn, nor our(e). Though the four instances of myne all modify plural nouns, myn modifies both singular and plural nouns in free variation, while in the case of our(e) the form with <-e> modifies both singular and plural nouns.


Nom./Acc. Sg.: nil

Gen. Sg.: <-is> ~ <-ys> ~ <-es> ~ <-s> ~ nil

Abraham-is 13.11; adam-is 14.224; Cayn-is 6.259; Iesu-is 14.103; Iohan-is 14.324; mannys (22x) 7.496 ~ mannis (1x) 5.497 ~ manne (1x error?) 15.440; meme[n]to-is 5.474; Peers 14.21 ~ perses 14.26 ~ Peersis (5x) 14.23 ~ Peersys (2x) 15.268; Penitencia-ys 5.480; and pharao-is 5.1163.

The B archetype at 5.480 reads "penitencia his pik." Such a "his" genitive, which tends to be a feature of Southwest Midlands texts, may well have meant little to the Essex scribe, though it is perhaps remarkable that he has in so many cases retained the space between stem and inflection. We have in each case treated the <is>/<ys> as an inflection and hyphenated. The "his" genitive was not completely unknown in East Anglia, since the reading "to haue mynde of cryste es Passion" appears in Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love in British Library, MS Additional 37790, fol. 97r. See Tauno F. Mustanoja, A Middle English Syntax, Part I: Parts of Speech, Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki, no. 23 (Helsinki: Société Néophilologique, 1960), 159-62.

S-less genitives:

Abraham 13.216; addir 5.88; broþir 7.281; chirche 7.267;NThis is possibly Langland's form. Certainly it derives from Bx. Constancius 7.344; hevene (Bx) 10.636; Prioresse 5.158; sowle 5.544, 7.266 ~ soule 14.370;N The scribe at 14.370 retains in "for mannys soule sake" both the s and s-less forms from Bx. trewþe 11.102; etc.

Nom./Acc. Pl.: <-ys> ~ <-es> ~ <-is> ~ <-s> ~ <-en> ~ <-yn> ~ <-ees> ~ <-ijs> ~ nil

blamegeris 10.92; bodijs 2.193 ~ bodies 12.131; childryn 1.33 ~ children 7.345 ~ childur 13.28; clerkys 10.11 ~ clerkis 10.136; dettys 10.10; dysshes 10.82; dubbler(e)s 10.82; eyȝen 5.359 ~ eyes 10.806; erys 4.488 ~ eryn 1.71;LGThe form is F's, since Bx has eris. ferlijs 1.56; flappis 10.64; foon 5.96; frydaes 10.462; grasees 10.522; infynytis 10.129; Iewis 10.212; ladijs (7x) 1.90 ~ ladies (2x) 11.338 ~ ladyes (2x) 8.17; londys 10.211; men 10.36; menstralis 10.232; morterelis 10.108; pesys 5.848;NBx has pesen. pylgrimes 10.22; preestys 10.11; prentyȝs "prentices" 5.321; Sarsynes 10.212; schoos 16.219 ~ schoon 10.812; scyenses 10.126; sones 10.123; thevys 10.163; wafres 10.272; weyȝes 5.1011 ~ wyȝen 9.390; werkis 10.148 ~ werkys 10.320; wordis 10.148; ȝeer(e) 5.196, 8.16 ~ ȝeeris 1.56; etc.

Gen. Pl.: <-es> ~ <-is> ~ <-ys> ~ (<-ene>)

bisschopis 11.464; kyng(g)ene 2.104 (< Bx.) 15.81; mennes 4.139 ~ mennys 15.385; wyfene (< Bx) 5.27; etc.

Adjectives and Adverbs:

Comparative: <-ere> ~ <-er> ~ <-re>

bygger(e) 7.326; blessedere 8.258; clennere 10.305; cursedere 15.425; deppere 7.193; feblere 11.367; frenlokere 7.237; geltyer(e) 9.205; hastlyere 15.475; leuere 5.155; lythlokere 5.581 ~ lyghtlokere 9.277; lyghtere 10.725; needfullere 2.21; plentevousere 7.85; etc. Though <re> is the most common comparative for bettre, it does not otherwise appear. F uniquely has double comparatives at 2.189 averouserere, and at 10.203 and 14.419 leuerere.

Superlative: <-est(e)> ~ <-st(e)>

be(e)st(e) 1.156, 5.22; brunneste 5.961; derrest 3.12; dowhtyest(e) 15.136; lowlyest 10.304; mervylokest 6.64; neest 13.345. The multiple superlative at 10.521 most klennest is archetypal.NSee Tauno F. Mustanoja, A Middle English Syntax, Part I: Parts of Speech, Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki, no. 23 (Helsinki: Société Néophilologique, 1960), 281.


Non-finite forms:

Infinitive: <-en> ~ <-yn> ~ <-e> ~ <-ne>NThis form appears only after voiceless stops: be-sekne 7.152; cristne 7.371; nempne 7.62; etc. ~ nil

asken 10.706 ~ aske 4.445; bere 16.91; faren 7.100 ~ fare 5.1092; fecchen 10.383 ~ fecche 3.182; helpen 10.682 ~ helpe 2.17; kennyn 10.445; lystne 6.62; pleesen 10.698 ~ plese 1.29; seen 5.542 ~ see 4.55; techen 11.424 ~ teche 2.142; etc.

Gerund: <-yng(e)> ~ <-eng(e)> ~ (<-end(e)>)

a-bydynge 13.103; beggyng(e) 4.207, 15.233; beryenge 8.72; doenge 11.520; dysyryng 10.367; etynge 9.17; iang(e)lyng(e) 3.86, 6.298; lawhyng 12.163; lyenge 10.333; lookenge 8.324; slepyng 1.9; tayl-ende 6.78 (< Bx); wenyng 16.33; etc.

Pres. ppl.: <-yng(e)> ~ <-ende> ~ <-enge>

abydynge 15.297; dryvende 16.100;NThe form is owed to alpha and is quite possibly archetypal since it is shared by LR. etynge 7.109; hippynge 13.157; lawhenge 4.495; lurkende 3.218; pleyende 13.90; slepynge 14.299; syttynge 4.338 ~ syttende 12.149NThe form is owed to alpha since it is shared by R.; waggynge 6.26; wenynge 10.289; etc.

The forms for both gerund and present participle are remarkably consistent. The dominant form by far, with over 350 occurrences, is <-yng(e)> for both. The <-ende> in five of its six occurrences marks a present participle, and tayl-ende as a gerund is a pun retained from Bx. The form <-eng(e)> appears on gerunds in all but six of its twenty-five occurrences. There are no instances of -ing(e), -ind(e), or -ynd(e).

Past ppl. Weak Verbs <-ed> ~ <-id> ~ <-yd> ~<-t(e)> ~ <-d> ~ nil

y-armed 15.146; a-basshid 7.305; y-blessed 15.392 ~ y-blessid 11.47; a-cumbred 2.201 ~ a-cumbryd 2.34 ~ a-cu[m]brid 2.194; bowht 1.167; browht 4.141; i-callid 11.245; cast 10.251; clepid 7.432 ~ clepd 4.103; for-beete 16.198; y-huslyd 15.403; lent 5.247; mawngid 5.913; peyed 10.399 ~ y-payed 4.417; y-qwit 13.364; sent 1.72; triȝed 2.205; went (Bx) 4.273; etc.

A few instances of participial adjectives appear with a final <-de>, but usually on strong or plural adjectives or when the adjectives are used as nouns. Otherwise only finite forms have final <-e>, except for callide 16.280, where the suspension is possibly an error. For weak and plural participial adjectives, see crabbide 9.276; crownide 8.323; cursede 5.814; hokede 16.226; (y-)le(e)rnede 4.39, 6.10, 15.88; lettride 7.418; etc.

Past ppl. Strong Verbs: <-en(e)> ~ <-yn> ~ <-e> ~ nil

bakyn "baked" 5.846; bownde 10.724 ~ bownden 10.726; broke 5.1012 ~ brokene 1.62; chose 8.113 ~ chosene 8.114 (serving as a nominal); dryve 5.623; faren 5.3; y-feed 11.318; for-getyn 5.406; gyve 3.122; holpe 4.511, 11.147; knowe 9.93; shryve "shriven" 5.313, 5.422; seyȝ 9.113; wasshe 10.475 ~ waschen 14.394; wrete 8.229 ~ wretyn 7.475 ~ wryten 13.118; wrooke 3.196, 14.392; etc.

Both weak and strong past participles are frequently marked with initial <y-> or (less often [5x]) <i->:

y-bakyn 5.834; i-blessid 8.163; y-born 14.236; i-boterased 5.600; y-broke 15.349; y-fownden 11.246 (varies with the weak form y-fownded 11.341); i-paraylid 5.529; y-seyn 13.359; etc.

Finite forms:



1st sg.: <-e> ~ nil

com(e) 7.232; deme 5.115; for-gyve 4.443; heyȝle 5.101; leve 1.32; sey 1.193; stumble 4.498; swere 5.228; walke 5.148; warne 1.199; wysshe 2.43; etc.

2nd sg.: <-ist> (52x) ~ <-yst> (26x) ~ <-est> (22x) ~ <-st> ~ (<-xt>) ~ (nil)

dotyst 2.136; dryest 2.25; gredist 15.433; leernyst 4.355; lyvyst 3.126; lyxt 5.164;NThese are relict forms from Bx, appearing only in this verse. myghtyst 1.206 ~ myght 5.875; seest 2.5; wyrchist 4.63; woost 4.168; etc.

3rd sg.: <-eþ> ~ <-iþ> ~ <-eth> ~ <-ith> (48x) ~ <-ethȝ> ~ <-ythȝ> (3x) ~ <-yth>(1x) ~<-þ> ~ <-yt> ~ <-(e)t>NFor this spelling as a characteristic feature of East Anglian scribes, see Richard Beadle, "The Medieval Drama of East Anglia: Studies in Dialect, Documentary Records and Stagecraft" (D.Phil. thesis, University of York, 1977), 58-60. Angus McIntosh and M. L. Samuels note that this feature also appears in the work of some Anglo-Irish scribes as well as in isolated instances in other dialects of Middle English, but it is "best attested in Norfolk" ("Prolegomena to a Study of Medieval Anglo-Irish," Medium Ævum 37 (1968): 1-11 (quoted by Beadle, 58.)

a-faytethȝ 10.775; akeþ 5.911; beryþ (10x) 4.403; bit (Bx) 5.1055; bryngþ (3x) 6.281 ~ bryngeþ(1x) 11.84; coueryth 15.299; fareþ (9x) 6.33 ~ faret 10.46; fynt (3x, all Bx) 4.473 ~ fyndes 5.1126 ~ fyndis 11.193, 15.450;NThe <-is/-es> form appears to be F's. Bx or R have "fynt" in each case. folweth 3.187; for-fret 12.30; gyfþ 4.127 ~ gyveþ 4.327 ~ gyviþ 10.800; halt (Bx) 13.203, 13.243; lykþ 14.32; lyþ 9.299; longeþ 7.143; makþ (9x) 4.112; seyþ 4.224; sekþ 10.574; sleeþ 10.570; smyt (Bx) 9.114; spekþ 7.469 ~ spekeþ 5.1032 ~ spekiþ 11.62; stant (Bx) 14.45; stynkþ 7.317; takþ (13x) 3.34; tellyþ (15x) 1.93 ~ telliþ (9x) 1.95 ~ telleþ (6x) 2.88 ~ tellyt 4.244 (1x) ~ tellethȝ (1x) 9.294; þynkþ 5.423; wytnessyþ 3.76; etc.

pl.: <-e> ~ <-en> ~ <-eþ> ~ <-eth>NThe eight <-eth> plurals are archetypal. ~ <-ith> ~ <-ethȝ> ~ <-þ> ~ <-ne>NThe <-ne> ending appears only after voiceless stops.

a-bide 12.28 ~ a-byden 16.79 (Bx); aske 4.211 ~ asken 5.1066; by-tokneþ 5.1153; burgoneþ 11.84; crave 4.213 ~ craven 4.210; cropyþ (Bx) 5.685; dwellyþ 6.121; fare 8.65 ~ faren 3.185; fecche 5.811 ~ fecchen 4.397; folweth 4.341; helpe 4.232 ~ helpen 5.632; lystneþ 10.788; makþ (Bx) (1x) 6.27; nemeþ 5.667; schryuethȝ 16.288; see 15.249 ~ seen 2.52; seweth 1.41; smerteþ 13.384; teche 7.289 ~ techen 11.104; tristne 4.113; wernethȝ 16.12; etc.

The distribution of these dental suffixes across the text is of some interest. The most common form is <-eþ> with almost 600 instances, most appearing in the last seventy per cent of the text. The others are <-yþ> (162x, mostly in deciles 3-7 of the poem), <-ith> (57x, none in first decile), <-eth> (8x, seven in the first two deciles), <ethȝ> (5x), <-yth> (5x), and <-ythȝ> (3x, all in the last two deciles).


1st sg. <-ed(e)> ~ <-id(e)> ~ <-yd(e)> ~ <-d(e)> ~ <-t(e)>

awakid 6.1; a-wakned 15.488; batered 4.187; be-hyghte 14.332; borwede 5.752; clepide 15.9; covrbet 3.1; dyȝede 5.751; drempte 7.503; fawht 14.370; grette 7.231; herde 1.180; kyllyde 4.175; lenede 1.8; lefte 4.185; restid 14.7; wayted 10.354; wente 1.6; etc.

2nd sg.: <-dist> ~ <-dyst>

conseyledist 4.194; dyedist 5.496; eggiddist 14.288; feddyst 5.503; madist 5.232 ~ madyst 5.493; reddist 4.250; seydist 9.279; þoledyst 15.176; wroughtist 4.96; etc.

3rd sg.: <-ed(e)> ~ <-id(e)> ~<-yd(e)> ~ <-t(e)> ~ nil

a-cordid 8.41 ~ a-cordyd 4.500;NThough a-cordit at 4.433 is possibly intended by the scribe as a preterite form, Kane and Donaldson (B.4.91) took it to have been written for 3rd sg. pres. ind. All other B witnesses have the preterite acorded. The Kane-Donaldson reading is supported by the fact that the form <-it> is written nowhere else in the manuscript for the preterite. armed 16.123; askyde 5.77; be-sowhte 2.166; bowht(e) 3.3; brouht 8.3 ~ broghte 11.518; callede 2.4; dyȝede 6.55; enbawmed 13.168; gronede 16.309; hente 5.826; kawht 5.361; lakkede 6.166; parled 5.41; sweltride 16.105; wepte 10.806; etc.


Weak verbs: <-ed> ~ <-id> ~ <-eden> ~ <-edyn> ~ <-iden> ~ <-t(e)>

a-mortysyd 11.337; a-noyed 3.168; assentid 1.166 ~ assentide 3.69; belevid 1.63 ~ belevedyn 14.312; carolden 14.433; carpid 7.110 ~ carpedyn 7.112 ~ carpeden 10.223; casten 12.145; helyde 5.845; kneliden 15.84; openeden 14.322; pulliden 5.764; sente 16.307; etc.

Strong verbs: <-en> ~ <-yn> ~ <-e> ~ nil

be-come 8.202 ~ by-come 15.39; be-knewen 15.151; chose 16.237 ~ chosen 16.236; come 5.1086 ~ comen 15.153 ~ keme 4.389 ~ kemen 1.64; felle 5.386 ~ fellen 12.112 ~ fellyn 2.120; hongyn 2.170; knew 8.241 ~ knewe 6.12 ~ knewen 9.273; kestyn 3.152; lope 4.495 ~ lo(o)pen 2.114, 14.312; lurn 9.247; mette 3.214 ~ mettyn 14.125; stoden 3.73; sungen 14.324; tooke 4.74 ~ token 4.419; woxen 12.60; wooke 15.158; wopyn 5.1021; etc.


Pres. sg.: <-e>

carpe 13.220; fayle 5.669; folwe 6.45; gyve 5.107; lyke 6.47; rede 4.349; werke 4.488; etc.

Pres. pl.: <-en> ~ <-e> ~ <-yn> ~ <-n>

aske 5.432; carpyn 7.53; coueyte 16.251; don 5.878; grucche 5.869; haven 10.649; lykyn 10.189; lyve 5.45; loven 5.574; mettyn 5.823; reuerence 14.258; sewen 2.184; weryn 8.286; etc.


Sg.: <-e> ~ nil

be 16.48; com 5.584; coueyte 5.585; hav 10.528; lakke 3.48; sitte 5.918; etc.

Pl.: <-eþ> ~ <-iþ> ~ <-yþ> ~ <-e> ~ nil

be 3.139; beggiþ 5.1076; byddeþ 5.611; led 11.94; lediþ 3.136; let 5.53; seke 5.59; stynte 5.588; strike 5.589; wadiþ 5.580; weteþ 3.76; wyrcheþ 3.135; wytnessyþ 3.76; etc.


Nominative Sg.

1st person: y (900+x) 1.2 ~ i (220+x) 1.2

2nd person: þou (368x) 6.70 ~ þowhȝ (4x) 6.68 ~ þow (3x) 2.78 ~ thow (1x) 6.69 ~ þowhȝ (1x) 6.68

3rd person:

masc.: he (1160+x) ~ hee (3x) ~ a (1x) 5.808

fem.: she (120x) ~ sche (2x) ~ he (12x)

neut.: it (579x) ~ yt (51x) ~ hit (2x)

The first person singular ich does not appear in the manuscript, but the unique reading But Cheeste with Charyte be / y chylle on ȝow pleyne (10.110) shows that some scribe in the tradition used that form at least on occasion. Since R at that point agrees with beta family witnesses, the scribal revision occurred at some point between alpha and the present manuscript. Though such revision is consonant with the other changes we have attributed to the F-Redactor, the palatal is not a feature of his Norfolk dialect. The other spelling suggesting a palatal ich at 5.228, so þeech, is probably to be attributed to alpha, since it is shared by R as so theich. Curiously, perhaps, the archetypal and probably original form there is ik in the phrase "so thee ik." Langland's dialect joke—the same as Chaucer's in The Reeve's Tale—is at the expense of Sire Hervey, the Norfolk manifestation of covetousness.

The feminine singular form he is a relict from Langland's dialect as shown by alliteration in 14.156.NFor Langland's use, see M. L. Samuels, "Dialect and Grammar," in A Companion to Piers Plowman, ed. John A. Alford (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 209, 212. He appears for "she" at 3.134, 4.281, 5.199, 7.499, 8.104, 8.107, 14.156, 14.175, 14.178-80 and 15.161-62, usually reflecting an alpha lection.

The scribe perhaps preserves a for "he" at 5.808, though since most B witnesses read a-bosted the reading is insecure. This perhaps reflects another occasion when the difficilior lectio may not in fact be more probable than the easier reading.

Nominative Pl.:

1st person: we (121x) ~ wee (3x)NThe three wee forms appear in the last three passus at 14.170, 15.362; 16.65.

2nd person: ȝee (195x) ~ ȝe (19x)

3rd person: þey (427x) ~ þei (52x) ~ they (4x) ~ þeyhȝ (1x) 7.313 ~ he (3x?)

The appearance of he for "they" at 3.149 and 6.243 is owed to alpha, and the scribe at 1.198 appears to have taken it to be singular. See also the note to 10.317.NFor Langland's usage, see M. L. Samuels, "Dialect and Grammar," in A Companion to Piers Plowman, ed. John A. Alford (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 213. F substitutes þei for Bx's he at 7.140, 10.615, and 15.33.

Genitive Sg.:

1st person: my (196x) ~ myn (151x) ~ myne (4x) ~ my(n)ne (1x)NThe additional <n> is the result of a perhaps otiose tilde.

The scribe wrote out myn in only four of its 151 occurrences. He appears to use it in free variation with my since it appears immediately before consonants as well as before vowels, both conjunctively and disjunctively.LGThis feature is characteristic of East Anglian texts. See M. B. Parkes and Richard Beadle, eds., The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Facsimile of Cambridge University Library MS GG.4.27 (Norman, OK: Pilgrim Press, 1979), 3.55.

2nd person: þyn (115x) ~ þy (100x) ~ þi (6x) ~ þyne (4x)

þi and þy appear only conjunctively. Only one of 100 instances appears before a vowel (5.1062). þyn appears both disjunctively and (far more commonly) conjunctively. In some twenty-eight instances, it appears before a vowel, though as with the first person myn the two forms are essentially in free variation.

3rd person:

masc.: his (590+x) ~ hise (157x) ~ hys (19x) ~ hyse (7x) ~ys 9.235

fem.: hir(e) (57x) ~ hire (20x) ~ her(e) (3x) 2.10, 4.25, 5.219

neuter: his (2x) ~ hise (1x)

Of 157 occurrences of hise and 7 of hyse, only one (1.165) appears before a singular noun. Four appear before the formally singular but notionally plural collective nouns meyghne (2.106, 11.152), conseyl (5.971), and felachepe (3.195). All others precede plural nouns or are used disjunctively with a plural reference (10.258, 13.326, 16.61). The singular form his appears with plural nouns only twelve times in over 590 occurrences, and the nineteen occurrences of hys all modify singular nouns. Taken together, only thirteen exceptions in over 775 occurrences of his/hys/ys ~ hise/hyse strongly suggest that the scribe intended to distinguish singular from plural forms.

The neuter forms his and hise appear at F9.375, F13.303, and F15.213 and are in each case archetypal.

Genitive Pl.:

1st person: oure (134x) ~ our (2x)

2nd person: ȝoure (87x) ~ ȝowre (6x) ~ ȝour (6x) ~ ȝore (1x) 11.332

3rd person: here (300+x) ~ þeyre (2x) 11.476, 14.387 ~ þeere (1x) 11.198

Accusative and Dative Sg.:

1st person: me (362x)

2nd person: þe (100+x) ~ the (19x)NNo precise count was attempted of þe since it is identical to the most common form of the definite article. It is perhaps curious that there are no forms with <ee>.

3rd person

masc.: hym (500+x)

fem.: hire (70+x) ~ hyre (1x) 6.131

neuter: it (300+x) ~ yt (8x) ~ hit (2x)

Accusative and Dative Pl.:

1st person: vs (117x)

2nd person: ȝow (104x) ~ ȝou (23x) ~ yow (1x) 5.565

3rd person: hem (282x) ~ þem (3x) 4.376, 9.174, 11.352

IV. List of Manuscript Sigils

The following list of sigils of the manuscripts of Piers Plowman differs in some respects from the traditional sigils used since Skeat's edition. To a degree the inconsistencies in the sigils reflect the sequence of discovery of the relationships among them. If we were to use the traditional sigils, we would court ambiguity in an electronic text with identical sigils representing different manuscripts and different sigils identifying single manuscripts. British Library Additional 10574, for instance, has no sigil for A, is B's Bm, and C's L. We have, therefore, chosen to represent each manuscript with a unique sigil.

For descriptions of the B manuscripts see George Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson, eds., Piers Plowman: The B Version, Will's Visions of Piers Plowman, Do-Well, Do-Better and Do-Best: An Edition in the Form of Trinity College Cambridge MS B.15.17, Corrected and Restored from the Known Evidence, with Variant Readings., rev. ed. (London, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1988), 1-15; A. I. Doyle, "Remarks on Surviving Manuscripts of Piers Plowman," in Medieval English Religious and Ethical Literature: Essays in Honour of G. H. Russell, ed. G. Kratzmann and James Simpson (Cambridge, 1986), 35-48; and C. David Benson and Lynne Blanchfield, The Manuscripts of Piers Plowman: The B-Version (Cambridge, 1997).

1. B Manuscripts

C Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, MS Dd.1.17
C2 Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, MS Ll.4.14
Cr1 THE VISION / of Pierce Plowman, now / fyrste imprynted by Roberte / Crowley, dwellyng in Ely / rentes in Holburne (London, 1505 [1550]). STC 19906.
Cr2 The vision of / Pierce Plowman, nowe the seconde time imprinted / by Roberte Crowley dwellynge in Elye rentes in Holburne. / Whereunto are added certayne notes and cotations in the / mergyne, geuynge light to the Reader. . . . (London, 1550). STC 19907a.N Robert Carter Hailey (personal communication) informs us that the Short Title Catalogue designations are confused. Cr2 is actually 19907a and 19907 is Cr3. See his unpublished dissertation, "Giving light to the reader: Robert Crowley's editions of Piers Plowman (1550)," (University of Virginia, 2001).
Cr3 The vision of / Pierce Plowman, nowe the seconde tyme imprinted / by Roberte Crowley dwellynge in Elye rentes in Holburne / Whereunto are added certayne notes and cotations in the / mergyne, geuyng light to the Reader. . . . (London, 1550). STC 19907
F Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 201
G Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, MS Gg.4.31
Hm, Hm2 San Marino, Huntington Library, MS 128 (olim Ashburnham 130)
JbT This manuscript, like Sb and Wb below, is not described in the above sources, but they are listed by Ralph Hanna, III in William Langland, Authors of the Middle Ages, 3 (Aldershot, Hants.: Variorum, 1993), p. 40. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS James 2, part 1
L Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 581 (S. C. 987)
M London, British Library, MS Additional 35287
O Oxford, Oriel College, MS 79
R London, British Library, MS Lansdowne 398; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson Poetry 38 (S. C. 15563)
S Tokyo, Toshiyuki Takamiya, MS 23 (olim London, Sion College MS Arc. L.40 2/E)
SbT This manuscript is not described in the above sources, but it is listed by Ralph Hanna, III in William Langland, Authors of the Middle Ages, 3 (Aldershot, Hants.: Variorum, 1993), p. 40. London, British Library, MS Sloane 2578
W Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B.15.17
WbT This manuscript is not described in the above sources, but it is listed by Ralph Hanna, III in William Langland, Authors of the Middle Ages, 3 (Aldershot, Hants.: Variorum, 1993), p. 40. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Wood donat. 7
Y Cambridge, Newnham College, MS 4 (the Yates-Thompson manuscript)

2. A Manuscripts

A Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 1468 (S. C. 7004)
D Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 323
E Dublin, Trinity College, MS 213, D.4.12
Ha London, British Library, MS Harley 875, (olim A's H)
J New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M 818 (the Ingilby manuscript)
La London, Lincoln's Inn, MS Hale 150, (olim A's L)
Ma London, Society of Antiquaries, MS 687, (olim A's M)
Pa Cambridge, Pembroke College fragment, MS 312 C/6, (olim A's P)
Ra Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson Poetry 137, (olim A's R)
U Oxford, University College, MS 45
V Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet. a.1 (the Vernon MS)

3. C Manuscripts

Ac London, University of London Library, MS S.L. V.17, (olim C's A)
Ca Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College 669/646, fol. 210
Dc Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 104, (olim C's D)
Ec Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 656, (olim C's E)
Fc Cambridge, University Library, MS Ff.5.35, (olim C's F)
Gc Cambridge, University Library, MS Dd.3.13, (olim C's G)
Hc The fragment, olim Cambridge, John Holloway, a damaged bifolium, presently in the private collection of Martin Schøyen, Oslo, Norway, (olim C's H)
I London, University of London Library, MS S.L. V.88 (the Ilchester manuscript, olim C's J)
Kc Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 171, olim C's K
Mc London, British Library, MS Cotton Vespasian B.xvi, (olim C's M)
Nc London, British Library, MS Harley 2376, (olim C's N)
P San Marino, Huntington Library, MS Hm 137 (olim Phillipps 8231)
P2 London, British Library, MS Additional 34779 (olim Phillipps 9056)
Q Cambridge, University Library, MS Additional 4325
Rc London, British Library, MS Royal 18.B.xvii, (olim C's R)
Sc Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 293, (olim C's S)
Uc London, British Library, MS Additional 35157, (olim C's U)
Vc Dublin, Trinity College, MS 212, D.4.1
X San Marino, Huntington Library, MS Hm 143
Yc Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 102, (olim C's Y)

4. AB Splices

H London, British Library, MS Harley 3954, olim A's H3 and B's H

5. AC Splices

Ch Liverpool, University Library, MS F.4.8 (the Chaderton manuscript)
H2 London, British Library, MS Harley 6041
K Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 145, olim A's K and C's D2
N Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS 733B, olim A's N and C's N2
T Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R.3.14
Wa olim the Duke of Westminster's manuscript. Sold at Sotheby, London, 11 July 1966, lot 233, to Quaritch for a British private collector.N Ralph Hanna, III, William Langland, Authors of the Middle Ages, 3 (Aldershot, Hants.: Variorum, 1993), p. 39. Its present location is unknown to us. olim A's W and C's W
Z Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 851

6. ABC Splices

Bm London, British Library, MS Additional 10574, olim C's L
Bo Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 814 (S. C. 2683), olim C's B
Cot London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A.xi, olim C's O
Ht San Marino, Huntington Library, MS Hm114 (olim Phillipps 8252)



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