Article Title

The Bible in English Renaissance Civic Pageants


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Biblical allusions abound in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, often reflecting a keen awareness of and sensitivity to the implications of the biblical text, however the text may have been mediated to the writer. The seventeenth century, we know, gives rise to an extraordinary group of poets who focus on religious matters, notably Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, and Crashaw. Despite studies of Shakespeare's use of the Bible and of Renaissance religious poetry, scant attention has focused on civic pageants for their use of biblical material, though we recognize that these street entertainments of the Tudor and early Stuart periods contain reminders of medieval dramatic traditions.1 Indeed, the great biblical Corpus Christi drama, flourishing by the end of the fourteenth century in such places as York, Chester, Coventry, and elsewhere, persisted in performance until in the middle of her reign Queen Elizabeth suppressed the plays.2 Therefore, it would be relatively easy for the biblical content of one dramatic form to influence the other since the Corpus Christi drama historically overlaps the rise of regular performances of civic pageants.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.