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.

Political and contemporary contexts of the Shows
Tracey Hill

Bolles a ‘Sabbatarian’, and there is an anecdote that, immediately after the publication of James’s Book of Sports, he allegedly intervened to stop the royal retinue in its progress through the City on a Sunday, during church services.138 She also argues that the 1613 Show Political and contemporary contexts 315 too was ‘evidently tailor-made to suit [Sir Thomas Middleton’s] personality and interests’.139 The phrase ‘tailor-made’ is an oversimplification, however, and her potentially reductive approach to the relationships between mayoral politics and Middleton’s own

in Pageantry and power