Research

September 3, 2020 at 8:33 am

Ingram Illuminates Gift-Giving during 17th-Century Lord Mayor’s Shows in London

Jill P. Ingram, portrait

Dr. Jill P. Ingram

Dr. Jill Ingram, associate professor of English at Ohio University, contributed a chapter to a new book, Civic Performance: Pageantry and Entertainments in Early Modern London.

Civic Performance brings together a group of essays from across multiple fields of study that examine the socio-cultural, political, economic, and aesthetic dimensions of pageantry in 16th- and 17th-century London.

In her chapter, “Financial Encounter Customs: Tradition and Form in London’s Civic Pageantry,” Ingram probes the performances and pageantry during annual processions celebrating the new Lord Mayor of London, with a focus on the entertainers’ collection of “gifts” from their audiences.

“My work on processions led to an invitation to edit Thomas Heywood’s 1633 mayoral show, London’s Mercatura, for the Map of Early Modern London project,” notes Ingram. “I will be applying to use some research funds this coming summer to travel to England for that project.”

Ingram also has a book, Festive Enterprise: The Business of Drama in Medieval and Renaissance England, forthcoming in January 2021 from the Notre Dame University Press.

Abstract for her chapter in Civic Performance: Seventeenth-century pageantry conventions can be traced to traditional, seasonal perambulatory “shows” performed provincially for over a century before Elizabeth I’s coronation royal entry of 1559. Participants’ collection of money or goods—the “quête”— as the price of their entertainment sometimes structured part of the perambulatory shows. I examine this neglected historical context, looking specifically at “encounter customs,” a term coined by Thomas Pettitt. I anatomize 1) the presentation of gifts; 2) the calling for a “largesse”; and 3) the formal acceptance of a dramatic role by a sovereign or Lord Mayor. I look at Queen Elizabeth I’s inaugural civic triumph; mayoralty shows including Anthony Munday’s 1605 The Triumphs of Re-United Britannia and his 1611 Chruso-Thriambos, The Triumphs of Gold; Ben Jonson’s 1604 entertainment for James and Anne at the house of Cornwallis at Highgate; and Munday’s 1610 civic entry for Prince Henry, London’s Love. It is only with an understanding of earlier provincial perambulatory festivities that we can properly understand how notions of economic agency and civic responsibility shifted from earlier periods to London’s age of great civic pageantry.

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