‘From low- obscure Beginnings raysde to Fame’
Critical and historical contexts of the Lord Mayor’s Show
in Pageantry and power

Utilising a diverse methodology that includes textual, historical, bibliographical and archival material, this chapter explores the Shows in all their manifold contexts. The London Lord Mayors' Shows were high-profile and very lavish entertainments that were at the centre of the cultural life of the City of London in the early modern period. A feature of mayoral Shows that may have led to their exclusion from critical attention is the way in which they were undertaken, from the initial commission to the staging on the river and streets of London. Mayoral pageantry was in itself a means by which civic traditions were preserved, which in itself constitutes another reason of why they deserve attention. The chapter then discusses the antecedents of the Shows and of the forces that lead to their rise to prominence in the later sixteenth century.

Pageantry and power

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


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