‘To prune and dresse the Tree of Gouernment’
Political and contemporary contexts of the Shows
in Pageantry and power

This chapter explores the contemporary aspects of the Shows which Leah Marcus calls their 'present occasions'. In the context of a very charged political atmosphere Heywood's 1639 Show, the last Show with any pageantry before the first civil war broke out, is entitled Londini status pacatus; or, Londons peaceable estate. The invocation of past and present civic glories stands as a contrast to the eventful, crisis-ridden reigns of the Stuart kings before the civil wars. More contingent form of goodwill towards the royal family and state policy is in evidence in 1623. In their transition from guild to livery company, the civic bodies had become focused on merchandising than on the production of commodities. The members of the oligarchy from which the Lord Mayors emanated were turning to trade to maximise their income.

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Pageantry and power

A cultural history of the early modern Lord Mayor’s Show, 1585-1639

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