Open Access (free)
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

important aspects of the Shows. The fundamental question to be considered is, when we talk of the Lord Mayor’s Show, what entity do we actually mean? The performance, the printed text or some ambiguous combination of the two? Building on the large and growing body of knowledge about the London book trade, this chapter will explore who the printers and The Show from street to print 215 publishers of the texts were and what connections they may have had with the writers, artificers and/or the livery companies.4 I will also address the questions of where and by whom the

in Pageantry and power
The writers, the artificers and the livery companies
Tracey Hill

2 ‘Our devices for that solemne and Iouiall daye’: the writers, the artificers and the livery companies Planning the look and content of the Shows was a complex and expensive business. Such events, Mulryne has written, ‘represent a remarkable coming-together of organisational and management skills . . . [including] the task of harnessing and co-ordinating the talents of writers, musicians, scenographers, choreographers’, as well as performers.1 In addition, being the creator of a Lord Mayor’s Show was often (although not always) a contested position, where

in Pageantry and power
Political and contemporary contexts of the Shows
Tracey Hill

Paster assumes when she writes of ‘the clear atmosphere of the communities of praise’ and of an absence in the Shows of any ‘ambivalence about urban life’.16 In themselves, as a starting point, the mayoral Shows’ nostalgia and reification of the past were ideological strategies, attempts to fend off what was perceived by the City’s great livery companies as an undesirable decline in their power and influence. As Hentschell has written in relation to the cloth trade, there was ‘in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a recurrent strain of loss and nostalgia

in Pageantry and power
Critical and historical contexts of the Lord Mayor’s Show
Tracey Hill

disparate crowd-pleasing effects such as fireworks and giants on stilts.1 The Lord Mayor proceeded by water to Westminster to take his oath of office before representatives of the sovereign, and then processed back through the City in all his finery accompanied by hundreds of others, including civic dignitaries, members of the livery companies and ‘poor men’ dressed in blue coats. The impact of the Shows has been testified to in various contemporary sources, perhaps most valuably in the eyewitness accounts that survive in surprisingly large numbers. The Shows themselves, as

in Pageantry and power
Bringing the Shows to life
Tracey Hill

sometimes extremely detailed livery company records shows the printed texts, on the whole, and perhaps contrary to expectations, to be a rather formal and static account of the proceedings. As Watanabe-O’Kelly argues, the printed texts ‘present the festival already pre-packaged, already interpreted. The iconography is spelled out for us, the political pretensions of the ruler are underlined’.41 Munro writes that although the printed book may represent ‘a textual progress of quiet contemplation . . . the performed scene of the shows remains inherently mixed and

in Pageantry and power
Open Access (free)
Neil McNaughton

local authorities had had mayors as figureheads for centuries, but these were not elected, but appointed by the rest of the council. The ancient institution of Lord Mayor of London, was also an appointment, in this case of the traditional livery companies which control the small ‘City’ of London. The idea of an elected mayor was imported from the USA and France and represented a complete break with the past. The people of London took to the idea with enthusiasm and a 1999 referendum endorsed the measure decisively. Thereafter, however, matters began to take an

in Understanding British and European political issues
Open Access (free)
Rodney Barker

distinctions within the group. Where one sits, whether one sits or serves, all construct identities and distinctions of superiority or inferiority. The hall of a college or a City of London livery company sets its members off from the world outside. But, at the same time, ‘high table’ is more distinguished than the commoners’ table, and wily humility can conspire to achieve the former whilst appearing to choose the latter: ‘When thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou

in Cultivating political and public identity
Chloe Porter

and Rowland Buckett, many dramatists worked with artisans on the production of spectacle for civic pageants and royal entertainments commissioned by the London Livery Companies. 118 In the playhouses, moreover, dramatists were engaged in the collaborative production of spectacle that was consumed by sizeable crowds of people. In this light, the choice to depict image-makers and spectators as singular figures seems

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama