By Roger A. Ladd (auth.)
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Extra resources for Antimercantilism in Late Medieval English Literature
XIV. 145), the rich require people to whom they can give, who must also be deserving PI ERS PLOW M AN B 33 or nonsolicitous. There must be poor people, because poverty is seen as a moral good in itself, because the poem ratifies the social hierarchy, and because those not fortunate enough to be poor require the poor in order to cleanse themselves of their wealth. The catch is that since poverty and charity both resist the sins of the worldly economy, Haukyn’s weeping at the conclusion of Pacience’s sermon reminds us how the necessities and complications of material life make a pure focus on caritas and poverty “of herte” difficult.
As we will see, even the more directly antimercantile satires of the late fourteenth century bore within them traces of the emergent acceptance of trade, while by the late fifteenth century, mercantile emphasis on charity had entered the mainstream of popular piety through didactic poetry and the cycle drama. Reading (Like) Merchants? The development of this ideological dialectic within fourteenth- and fifteenth-century English literature then begs the question of just how involved those merchants were with the textual culture that sought to chastise or encourage them.
48 There remains, however, the question of to what extent the “permutacion . . [of ] a penyworþ for anoþer” represents an invocation on Langland’s part of the “just price,” or whether it instead applies an inelastic natural value to merchandise. As D. ”49 With just price theory, the church tentatively recognized the contingency of a market price on material conditions surrounding sale, so that the just price was never too closely defined. 55 If we accept Schmidt’s reading of the passage, and see Langland as enough of a Latinist56 to attempt to shift Latinate diction for exchange, permutacion allows Langland to distance himself from scholastic economic theories that use commutatio, and thus to differentiate his preference for equal exchange from the increasing acceptance of economic contingency.
Antimercantilism in Late Medieval English Literature by Roger A. Ladd (auth.)