With the rise of the Reformation in England, we see the abolishment of much of the religious drama of the late Middle Ages. The first pageants in York to fall victim to this were the pageants about Mary, which were produced by the weavers', drapers', and hostellers' guilds. While the content of the Marian pageants themselves made them a target of Reformational ire, public sentiment was still on the side of the Corpus Christi Play as a whole. Yet the guilds that produced the Marian plays were not as powerful as they had once been. All three of these trades were crafts associated with women in a time when there were increasing restrictions against women, and the cloth trades in particular suffered economic decline in the 15th century. This, I argue, left these pageants particularly vulnerable to suppression. Had these guilds not suffered both from economic loss and from increasing social restrictions the single women who worked in these crafts, they might have been better able to defend their pageants.
Medieval Drama, York, Women
Copyright © 2015 Andrea R. Harbin
Harbin, Andrea R. "Virgin'a End: The Suppression of the York Marian Pageants." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 50, No. 2 (2015) : 33-63.