The prologue tells how the author “put on… coarse clothes, as if <…> was a shepherd,” and went roaming the “wide world to listen to his miracles.” Tired, he lay down on the Malvern hills, by the stream, and soon fell asleep. And he had a wonderful dream. He looked east and saw a tower on the dais, and beneath it a valley on which there was a prison. Between them is a beautiful field full of people.
There were people of all sorts here: some did hard work, following the plow, others “gluttonously wiped out what they produced,” there were those who indulged in prayer and repentance, and those who cherished their pride. There were traders, minstrels, clowns, beggars, beggars. Special indignation of the author was caused by pilgrims and mendicant monks, by deception, false interpretation of the Gospel, fooling their fellow citizens and devastating their wallets. With sarcasm he describes the seller of indulgences, which, showing a bull with bishop’s seals, let go of all sins, and trusting people gave him rings, gold, brooches. The king came there, whom “the authority of the communities put <…> on the kingdom,” and after him his adviser – Common sense. Suddenly a horde of rats and mice appeared. After a discussion about how to neutralize the cat,
A beautiful woman appears. She gives an explanation to the author about everything he saw. The tower on the dais is the abode of Truth. The prison in the valley is the Castle of Care, in it lives Evil, the father of Lies. A beautiful lady teaches the author, advises him “not to believe the body,” not to drink, not to serve gold. After listening to all the useful tips, the author is interested: who is this lady? And she answers; “I am the Holy Church.” Then he fell to his knees and began to ask him to teach him how to save the soul. The answer was laconic: to serve the Truth. For Truth “is a treasure, the most experienced on earth.” True, Conscience and Love.
The author listened attentively to the teachings of the Holy Church. And he began to pray for mercy – to teach him to recognize the Lie. The lady answered: “Look to the left and see where lie, flattery and their many comrades stand.” And he saw a luxurious and richly dressed woman named Mead. Meade prepares for the wedding with “the product of the enemy of the human race.” Her fiance is a lie. Its retinue consists of lay judges and bailiffs, sheriffs, forensic couriers and brokers, lawyers and other corrupt people.
Flattery grants the bridegroom and the bride the right to be princes by pride and despise poverty, “to slander and boast, perjure, mock, scold, etc.”. County greed – covetousness and stinginess. And all of the same kind. For these gifts, they will give their souls to Satan at the end of the year.
However, the Theology against this marriage was indignant. And she insisted that Mead go to London to make sure “whether the law wants to be sent to live together.” Lies, Flattery and Deceit are rushing ahead of all, in order to present the case in London in a false light. However, Truth overtook them and reported on this matter of Conscience. A conscience reported to the king.
The king is angry, he swears, that he would order these scoundrels to be hanged, but “let the law, as the law indicates, fall on them all.” Fear overheard this conversation and warned Lies, and he fled to the wandering monks. The treachery was sheltered by merchants, and the Liar found shelter in the merchants of indulgences. And the virgin Mead was brought to the king. The king ordered to give her all sorts of comforts, adding that he would deal with her case. “And if she will act according to my sentence, <…> I’ll forgive her this guilt.”
All those who lived in Westminster came to her bow: clowns, minstrels, clerks and a confessor dressed as a mendicant monk. Everyone promised to help her in her cause – to marry someone for whom she wants, contrary to the “tricks of conscience.” And all Meade richly endowed.
The king announced that Mead forgives, and proposed instead of Lying another groom – Conscience. But Conscience refuses such a bride, listing her sins: debauchery, lies, treachery… Mead began to cry and asked the king to give her word for justification. She fervently defended herself, proving that everyone needed it. The king favorably listened to the deceitful impostor. But Conscience is not deceived by sweet speeches. He explains the difference between rewarding for honest work and bribe, money-grubbing, leading a biblical story about Seoul, who took a piss on the bribe, for which the wrath of God fell on him and his descendants.
The King asks Conscience to lead the Mind to rule the kingdom. Conscience sets out on a journey. Reason, after learning about the invitation, quickly got ready to go on the road. He called to Cato, his servant, and Tom and told them: “Put my saddle... on Terp until my time comes, / And pull it up well with girths from clever words, / And put on it a heavy bridle, so that he lowly kept his head, / For he will grieve twice before he is there. “
The Mind and the Conscience went to the King. He met them kindly, planted himself among themselves and his son, and they long led wise speeches.
Mir came and brought a bill about violence, depravity and robbery of Falsehood. The truth was afraid of accusations and began to ask for wisdom for big money to arrange peace with Mir. But the king swears by Christ and his crown that the Injustice will severely pay for their deeds. Injustice is forced into the iron so that he does not see his feet for seven years. However, Wisdom and the Clever ask the King to forgive the Injustice: “It is better that the compensation should destroy the damage…” The king is adamant until the Mind has taken pity on the Injustice, and Submission will not vouch for him, The lie will sit in the pads. Everybody welcomed this decision, recognized Mead as a great sinner, and Meekness – having the right to dominate. The king firmly decided: “As long as our life continues, / we will live together” with Mind and Conscience.
The author, meanwhile, woke up, quietly sat down on the ground and began to read the prayers. And again he fell asleep peacefully under his murmur. And again he saw a dream. The mind speaks preaching to the whole kingdom. He explains that “the plague of the plague was sent solely for sins, / And the south-west wind, apparently, for Pride.” And mortal sin on the day of judgment will destroy all.
With warm, sincere words, he enthralled his listeners. He urged people to do their work honestly and conscientiously and seek the Holy Truth. And Pride promised to submit to humility. Intemperance swore “to drink only with the duck water, and to eat only once”, Anger told me frankly that he prepared food from evil words. And repentance told him: now repent. Greed, Laziness, Eating – all repented of their great sins and promised to take the path of correction. The power of the speech of Reason was so great that thousands of people wanted to seek the Truth. “They appealed to Christ and His Most Pure Mother, to receive the mercy of going with them to seek the Truth.”
But among them there was no man who knew the way to Truth. And they wandered like wild beasts. And they met a pilgrim that came from Sinai from the Holy Sepulcher. And in many places he visited Bethlehem and Babylon.
And people asked him: “Do you know the holy man whom people call Truth?” And the pilgrim answered: “No, God help me!”
And then Pyotr Pakhar came out and said: “I know him as closely as a scientist knows his books.” Conscience and Common Sense led me to his dwelling. “
And everyone began to ask Peter to be their guide.
The plowman agreed, but first, he said, I need to plow and sow polakra land on the big road. “And what will we do all this time?” the lady asked under the veil. And Peter Plowman found a job for everyone. Lady – to sew up a sack, wives and widows to spin their wool and flax and teach their daughters this craft, and all the rest – to take care of the needy and naked. “Help actively in the work of those who earn you food,” – concluded Peter.
The knight fervently sympathized with Peter’s words. Peter promised to work all his life, and the Knight guarded him and the Holy Church from all sorts of evil people. Many helped Pyotr Pakhar at work, but there were lazy people who drank beer and sang songs. Peter Plowman complained to the Knight. But they did not listen to the Knight’s warnings and all did not stop. Then Peter called the Famine. After a while slackers began to rush to work “like hawks”. But only at the request of Plowman Hunger left, and there was abundance. Loafers and wastefuls again began to shirk from work.
The truth hurried to help Peter Pahar, she bought for him and for everyone who helped him plow and sow, an indulgence for ever. And in indulgence it was written: “And those who have done good, will go to eternal life.” And whoever is evil is in eternal fire. “
The priest, having read the indulgence, did not want to admit it. The priest and Peter began to argue fiercely. And the author woke up from their screaming and began to reflect on his dream, and decided that “Do good deeds exceed the indulgence / And that Do good on the day of judgment will be accepted with honor…”.
All Christians, the author called for mercy: “Do such things, while we are here, / So after our death, Do good could declare / On the day of judgment, that we did as he ordered.”