Nursery Rhymes

William Longland

Medieval life and Times

Short Biography about the life of William Longland
The following biography, short history and interesting facts provide helpful information for history courses and history coursework about the life and history of William Longland a famous Medieval character of historical importance who lived during the Middle Ages:

  • Country of Origin / Nationality: English

  • 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

William Longland
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
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 oppressed.

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.

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