And it was through one of these poor priests, named William Langland, that the sorrows of the people found a voice.
We know very little about Langland. So little do we know that we are not sure if his name was really William or not.
Langland was born in the country, perhaps in Oxfordshire, perhaps in Shropshire, and he went to school at Great Malvern.
Perhaps Langland's friends saw that he was clever, and hoped that he might become one of the great ones in the Church.
But if Langland did not rise high in the Church, he made himself famous in another way, for he wrote Piers the Ploughman.
There are several versions of Piers, and it is thought by some that Langland himself wrote and re-wrote his poem, trying always to make it better.
In the beginning of Piers the Ploughman Langland tells us how
Although people had, for many years, been writing rhyming verse, Langland has, you see, gone back to the old alliterative poetry.
"Langland wrote altogether in metre," he says, "but not after the manner of our rimers that write nowadays (for his verses end not alike), but the nature of his metre is to have three words, at the least, in every verse which begin with some one letter.
The followers of Chaucer, and the precursors of Shakespeare, are alike real persons to him--old Langland
reminding him of Carlyle's "Gospel of Labour." The product of a large store of reading has been here secreted anew for the reader who desires to see, in bird's-eye view, the light and shade of a long and varied period of poetic literature, by way of preparation for Shakespeare,  (with a full essay upon whom the volume closes,) explaining Shakespeare, so far as he can be explained by literary antecedents.