Reference > Cambridge History > The End of the Middle Ages > “Piers the Plowman” and its Sequence > Jacke Upland
  The Ploughman’s Tale The Crowned King  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

I. “Piers the Plowman” and its Sequence.

§ 32. Jacke Upland.


Three pieces belonging to the Wyclifite controversy, which also bear a more or less remote relation to Piers the Plowman, are ascribed by their editor, Thomas Wright, to 1401, and by Skeat, who re-edited the first of them, to 1402. The first of them, called Jacke Upland, is a violent attack upon the friars by one of the Wyclifite party. By John Bale, who rejected as wrong the attribution of it to Chaucer, it is, with equal absurdity, attributed to Wyclif himself. There is some alliteration in the piece, which made Wright suppose it to have been originally written in alliterative verse. Skeat denies that it was ever intended as verse, and he seems to be right in this, though his repudiation of Wright’s suggestion that our copy of the piece is corrupt is hardly borne out by the evidence. The second piece, The Reply of Friar Daw Thopias, is a vigorous and rather skilful answer to Jacke Upland. The author, himself a friar, is not content to remain on the defensive, but tries to shift the issue by attacking the Lollards. According to the explicit of the MS. the author was John Walsingham, who is stated by Bale to have been a Carmelite. This piece is in very rude alliterative verse. The Rejoinder of Jacke Upland, which is preserved in the same MS. with the Reply, is of the same general character as Jacke Upland, though, perhaps through the influence of the Reply, it contains a good deal more alliteration. None of these pieces has any poetical merit, but all are vigorous and interesting examples of the popular religious controversy of the day.   87

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  The Ploughman’s Tale The Crowned King  
 
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