Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Manor, the Plowman, and the Shepherd: Agrarian Themes and Imagery in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance English Literature

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Manor, the Plowman, and the Shepherd: Agrarian Themes and Imagery in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance English Literature

Article excerpt

Ordelle G. Hill, The Manor, the Plowman, and the Shepherd: Agrarian Themes and Imagery in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance English Literature (Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania: Susquehanna University Press; London and Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1993)· 257 pp.; 3 maps; 14 illustrations. ISBN o- 945636-42-3. £32.jo.

The Manor, the Plowman, and the Shepherd is an able and interesdng production, directed primarily at the student of late medieval English literature, but one which will sometimes engage the historian as well. At its best it offers readings of real originality, as when Ordelle G. Hill examines together the description of Unite in Piers Plowman and the design of the medieval barn (c. 1205) at Great Coxwell (Berkshire):

Mercy is the name for the mortar made from the water of Christ's baptism and the blood on the cross, and it is used to construct a 'good foundement' upon which the walls of his 'peynes and his passion'... are built. At Great Coxwell, one of the main qualities to which the barn owes its longevity is the 'foundacopying tions of impeccable design,' which, set into unusually solid ground, support the 'roughly coursed rubble of Cotswold stone' and the reinforcing 'ashlarfaced buttresses.' The rood of Unite is made of 'al holy writ', heterogenous, certainly, in the various books but homogenous also in its oneness or unity for the Christian. So also, lying on the numerous rafters of the Great Coxwell barn is a roof consisting 'of a vast expanse of slates of Cotswold stone, its silvery gray enriched by the color of the countless patches of soft brown moss and yellow lichen, covering walls and roof alike. …

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