Antimercantilism in Late Medieval English Literature by Roger A. Ladd (auth.)

By Roger A. Ladd (auth.)

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VIII. 33–36). ”69 This “contract” represents just such a moment. The difference between economies is brought into sharp relief, because although the letter seems to offer an exchange of salvation for charity, it hardly represents an even exchange of a “penyworþ for anoþer,” since the grace offered here is vastly more valuable than merchants’ charity. 110a). While it is not an even exchange, neither is any promise of salvation. At the same time that it offers salvation to merchants without episcopal involvement, the letter directly recalls Matthew 25 and the parable of the talents: since those who do not invest their talents will lose them, virtue must be an active enterprise, and the most active material form of virtue must be charity.

Antimercantilism Without Merchants: Conscience and Usury Theory If Coveitise and Haukyn allow Langland to apply antimercantile discourse to the problems of spiritual living in the material world, what happens when that discourse erupts into other conf licts between material and spiritual economies in the poem? This conf lict appears primarily in Conscience’s debate with Mede, the Pardon scene, and the search for Charity. The tension between spiritual and material economies drives much of the poem’s approach to the problem of salvation.

V. 247). V. 249). This term approaches the heart of the sins associated by Piers Plowman with usury and abuse of money in this context, because “maintenance” implicates money in the problem of class transgression and the instability of one’s estate. ’ ”12 Presumably those landowners unable to convince the crown to support their estates had recourse to loans, so that borrowing to “maintain” oneself in this modern sense of the term would be socially acceptable. 13 Although we cannot know what bills the former owners of such manors had to pay, loans to landowners potentially undermined the social hierarchy.

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