Also known as William of Langley
Lifetime: c1332 - c1386
Born: William Longland was born c1332
Died: William Longland died c1386
Accomplishments and Achievements or why William
Longland was famous: an English Poet
The story and biography of William Longland which contains interesting
information, facts & the history about the life of this Medieval person
of historical importance. William Longland lived from c1332 - c1386.
Short Biography of
William Longland was believed to
have been born at Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire. From his great poem,
Piers the Plowman, it is to be gathered that he was bred to the Church,
and was at one time an inmate of the monastery at Great Malvern.
However, he chose to marry and had a daughter which precluded him from
going on to the priesthood. He moved from the country to a house in
Cornhill in London and, as he says, supported himself by singing
requiems for the dead. References to legal terms suggest that William
Longland may have copied for lawyers. Longland stands out as a sad, earnest, and clear-sighted onlooker in a
time of oppression and unrest. It is thought that he may have been the
author of a poem, Richard the Redeless: if so he was, at the time of
writing, living in Bristol, and making a last remonstrance to the
misguided King, news of whose death may have reached him while at the
work, as it stops in the middle of a paragraph. He is not much of an
artist, being intent rather on delivering his message than that it
should be in a perfect dress. In
later life he appears to have lived in Cornwall with his wife and
daughter. Poor himself, he was ever a sympathiser with the poor and
William Longland -
The Vision of Piers Plowman
His poetry appears to have been the great interest of his life, and
almost to the end he was altering and adding to, without, however,
improving it. The full title of the poem is The Vision of Piers Plowman.
Three distinct versions of it exist, the first c. 1362, the second c.
1377, and the third 1393 or 1398. It has been described as "a vision of
Christ seen through the clouds of humanity." The Vision of Piers Plowman
is divided into nine dreams, and is in the unrhymed, alliterative, first
English manner. In the allegory appear such personifications as Meed
(worldly success), Falsehood, Repentance, Hope, etc. Piers Plowman,
first introduced as the type of the poor and simple, becomes gradually
transformed into the Christ. Further on appear Do-well, Do-bet, Do-best.
In this poem, and its additions, William Langland was able to express
all that he had to say of the abuses of the time, and their remedy.
There is a theory that The Vision is not the work of one, but of several
writers, William Longland being therefore a dramatic, not a personal
name. This theory is supported on such grounds as differences in metre,
diction, sentence structure, and the diversity of view on social and
ecclesiastic matters expressed in different parts of the poem.