Civic London to 1558, ed. Anne Lancashire

The Civic London to 1558 collection will complement REED’s Inns of Court (eds. Alan H. Nelson and John R. Elliott Jr, 2010) and Ecclesiastical London (ed. Mary C. Erler, 2008), filling in the picture of the variety and richness of dramatic activity in the capital city with the records of London’s civic government and its craft guilds. The Civic London collection covers all major extant series of Corporation records 1275-1558, as well as the major extant records for that period of all London guilds. A detailed chronological appendix adds important supplementary items from the twelfth century to 1558 as recorded in City custumals and in some 100 national and local chronicle histories (written in Anglo-Norman, Latin, and English).

The Civic London collection will add substantially to the amount of published evidence of drama in London outside the professional theatres. For example, by the late fourteenth century a multi-day biblical play was performed regularly at Clerkenwell, a district on the northern edge of the city. In the fifteenth century, a significant number of the London guilds sponsored plays in their own guild halls, typically employing the professional players who would anticipate the acting troupes — including Shakespeare’s — that were to build their own theatres in the late sixteenth century. This collection will provide new information on the economics of early theatre; on theatrical professionals like the playwright John Heywood; and on aspects of pre-1558 theatrical practices, such as the apprenticing of boy actors, which continued into the Shakespearean period.

London also saw a wide range of other civic dramatic activities, from informal ‘mummings’ or disguisings with improvised dialogue to grand theatrical pageantry, and the Civic London collection will add extensively to the evidence of these activities. REED’s detailed records of occasions such as these allow scholars to analyze relationships amongst the city’s various hierarchies of power — royal, noble, mercantile, ecclesiastical, artistic, educational, and civic.

This significant collection will be published in 2015.

Other Collections in Progress

Robert J. Alexander — Percy Family
John Geck — Cambridgeshire
Sarah Carpenter — Scotland Royal Court
Jane Cowling — Hampshire (with Peter Greenfield)
Audrey Douglas — Salisbury
JoAnna Dutka — Norwich to 1540
James M. Gibson — Kent: Diocese of Rochester
Peter Greenfield — Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire; Hampshire (with Jane Cowling)
Rosalind C. Hays — Wiltshire (with C.E. McGee)
Alexandra F. Johnston — Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire
David N. Klausner — Yorkshire North Riding
Sally-Beth MacLean — Surrey including Southwark
John J. McGavin — Scotland Provinces (with Eila Williamson)
C.E. McGee — Derbyshire, Yorkshire West Riding (with Sylvia Thomas); Wiltshire (with Rosalind C. Hays)
John McKinnell — Durham
Alan H. Nelson — Essex
Dave Postles — Nottinghamshire
J.A.B. Somerset — Staffordshire, Warwickshire
James Stokes — Rutland, Suffolk
Sylvia Thomas — Derbyshire, Yorkshire West Riding (with C.E. McGee)
Suzanne Westfall — Northumberland
Eila Williamson — Scotland Provinces (with John J. McGavin)
Matthew Woodcock — Norwich 1540-1642 (2nd ed with JoAnna Dutka)
Diana Wyatt — Yorkshire East Riding