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

The London Lord Mayors' Shows were high-profile and lavish entertainments that were at the centre of the cultural life of the City of London in the early modern period. The Show was staged annually to celebrate the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor. The London mayoralty was not simply an entity of civic power, but always had its ritual and ceremonial dimensions. Pageantry was a feature of the day's entertainment. This book focuses on the social, cultural and economic contexts, in which the Shows were designed, presented and experienced, and explores the Shows in textual, historical, bibliographical, and archival and other contexts. It highlights the often-overlooked roles of the artificer and those other craftsmen who contributed so valuably to the day's entertainment. The Show was the concern of the Great Twelve livery companies from the ranks of one of which the Lord Mayor was elected. The book discusses, inter alia, the actors' roles, the props, music and costumes used during the Show and looks at how important emblems and imagery were to these productions. Pageant writers and artificers took advantage of the space available to them just as dramatists did on the professional stage. From 1585 onwards the Lord Mayor's Show was with increasing frequency transmitted from event to text in the form of short pamphlets produced in print runs ranging from 200 to 800 copies. The book also demonstrates the ways in which the Shows engaged with the changing socio-economic scene of London and with court and city politics.

The Show from street to print
Tracey Hill

). The standings of the printers varied. The majority, like Raworth and Okes senior and junior, were associated with what Watt calls ‘cheap print’ – pamphlets, play quartos, popular histories, and so on – whereas others, like the Printer to the City, William Jaggard, had more stature in civic circles. Nicholas Okes was primarily a printer and typesetter of drama and as such would have had the right kind of experience to print mayoral pageants, for, as well as being set out in similar ways to play-texts as far as the verse elements were concerned, the printed Shows were

in Pageantry and power
Bringing the Shows to life
Tracey Hill

helpful to them only if they were audible, and we do know that in some cases they were not. In Metropolis coronata, for instance, Munday warns that the first speech of the Show should be heard with ‘such silence . . . as the season can best permit’ (sig. A4v). Furthermore, Bringing the Shows to life 177 despite what many modern commentators tend to assume, the descriptions in the printed pamphlets may not correspond precisely to what was experienced on the day. Smuts too argues that many ‘have failed to recognise . . . that the elaborate allegorical schemes recorded

in Pageantry and power