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Piers Plowman and the Books of Nature$
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Rebecca Davis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198778400

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198778400.001.0001

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Beyond Measure

Beyond Measure

Langland’s Law of Kynde

Chapter:
(p.178) 4 Beyond Measure
Source:
Piers Plowman and the Books of Nature
Author(s):

Rebecca Davis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198778400.003.0005

Chapter 4 argues that Langland associates kynde with the tradition of natural law described by Alan of Lille as the innate desire to love God and neighbor and codified by Gratian’s Decretum in terms equivalent to the “golden rule” of Matthew 7: 12, which solicits a personal response from judges and law-givers, stipulating that they do unto others as they would have others do unto them. In the speeches of Hunger and Trajan, Langland envisions the “lawe of kynde,” and its related formulation as the “lawe of loue,” as an improvisational jurisprudence that resembles the emerging concept of equity. Like the biblical golden rule, Langland’s “lawe of kynde” appropriates the structure of justice as reciprocity—a balanced exchange of outcome for action—to turn judgment on its head by bringing the claims of the one to be judged to bear upon the decision of the one who judges.

Keywords:   William Langland, Piers Plowman, natural law, kynde, equity, golden rule, Trajan, justice

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