From Lawmen to Plowmen: Anglo-Saxon Legal Tradition and the School of Langland

By Stephen Yeager

© 2014

The reappearance of alliterative verse in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries remains one of the most puzzling issues in the literary history of medieval England. In From Lawmen to Plowmen, Stephen M. Yeager offers a fresh, insightful explanation for the alliterative structure of William Langland’s Piers Plowman and the flourishing of alliterative verse satires in late medieval England by observing the similarities between these satires and the legal-homiletical literature of the Anglo-Saxon era.

Unlike Old English alliterative poetry, Anglo-Saxon legal texts and documents continued to be studied long after the Norman Conquest. By comparing Anglo-Saxon charters, sermons, and law codes with Langland’s Piers Plowman and similar poems, Yeager demonstrates that this legal and homiletical literature had an influential afterlife in the fourteenth-century poetry of William Langland and his imitators. His conclusions establish a new genealogy for medieval England’s vernacular literary tradition and offer a new way of approaching one of Middle English’s literary classics.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 280 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.1in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP003324

  • PUBLISHED OCT 2014

    From: $53.25

    Regular Price: $71.00

    ISBN 9781442643475
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2014

    From: $53.25

    Regular Price: $71.00

Quick Overview

By comparing Anglo-Saxon charters, sermons, and law codes with Langland’s Piers Plowman and similar poems, Yeager demonstrates that this legal and homiletical literature had an influential afterlife in the fourteenth-century poetry of William Langland and his imitators.

From Lawmen to Plowmen: Anglo-Saxon Legal Tradition and the School of Langland

By Stephen Yeager

© 2014

The reappearance of alliterative verse in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries remains one of the most puzzling issues in the literary history of medieval England. In From Lawmen to Plowmen, Stephen M. Yeager offers a fresh, insightful explanation for the alliterative structure of William Langland’s Piers Plowman and the flourishing of alliterative verse satires in late medieval England by observing the similarities between these satires and the legal-homiletical literature of the Anglo-Saxon era.

Unlike Old English alliterative poetry, Anglo-Saxon legal texts and documents continued to be studied long after the Norman Conquest. By comparing Anglo-Saxon charters, sermons, and law codes with Langland’s Piers Plowman and similar poems, Yeager demonstrates that this legal and homiletical literature had an influential afterlife in the fourteenth-century poetry of William Langland and his imitators. His conclusions establish a new genealogy for medieval England’s vernacular literary tradition and offer a new way of approaching one of Middle English’s literary classics.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 280 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.1in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘This is an innovative, textually grounded inquiry into the connections between Old and Middle English literature.’


    M.B. Busbee
    Choice Magazine vol 52:11:2015

    ‘Yeager’s literary-historical argument is powerful and marches on firmly to the fifteenth-century poems of the Piers Plowmen… It convincingly demonstrates the durability of certain Anglo-Saxon attitudes as they were annealed in the distinction of style.’


    Christopher Cannon
    Modern Philology, vol 113:03:2016

    From Lawmen to Plowmen is an original, fresh approach to one of the large mysteries in medieval English literary studies: the relationship between the alliterative poetry of the late Middle Ages and Anglo-Saxon alliterative literature. Written and researched with confident expertise, Stephen Yeager’s book will provoke important discussions about literary history and periodization in medieval English literary studies.”


    Andrew Scheil, Department of English, University of Minnesota

    “Yeager has an interesting and innovative thesis that sheds a great deal of light on the possible connection between Old English legal-homiletic writing and Middle English alliterative verse.”


    Joyce Lionarons, Department of English, Ursinus College
  • Author Information

    Stephen M. Yeager is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Concordia University.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgements

    Abbreviations

    Introduction

    Chapter 1
    From Written Record to Memory: A Brief History of Anglo-Saxon Legal-Homiletic Discourse

    Chapter 2
    Leges Cnuti, Sermones Lupi: Homily, Law, and the Legacy of Wulfstan

    Chapter 3
    Ecclesiastical Anglo-Saxonism in Thirteenth-Century Worcester:The First Worcester Fragment and The Proverbs of Alfred

    Chapter 4
    Laȝamon’s Brut: Law, Literature, and the Chronicle-Poem

    Chapter 5
    Defining the Piers Plowman Tradition

    Chapter 6
    Documents, Dreams and the Langlandian Legacy in Mum and the Sothsegger

    Conclusion

    Bibliography

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