The Englische Komoedianten in German-speaking states, 1592-1620 : a generation of touring performers as mediators between English and German cultures
From the beginning of the Reformation until the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War, there was brisk and far-reaching cultural interaction between England and German-speaking states. Towards the end of this period, the Englische Komoedianten (EK) - itinerant troupes of English actors and musicians - began a century of touring German courts and cities, with remarkable though neglected success. This thesis is a study of the first, truly English, phase of those tours, 1592-1620, arguing that the EK deserve recognition for their achievement as mediators between English and German cultures in their own right, not because of the remote possibility that they may have been the first to take Shakespeare to Germany. The thesis concentrates on a collection of EK plays, Engelische Comedien vnd Tragedien (1620), which contains a representative selection of their comedies, tragedies and "Singspiele", the genre associated with their clown, Pickelhering, the figure with whom they were most closely associated in the popular mind. There are five main sections: 1) A survey of scholarly attitudes to the EK; 2) A study of Anglo-German cultural relations in the sixteenth century; 3) The EK on tour, and their dealings with courts, cities and the church; 4) A study of four versions of perhaps the most popular of all fictions in Germany in the sixteenth century, Fortunatus, and his magic gifts, from its origins in the Augsburg Volksbuch (1509), through Hans Sachs (l553), Thomas Dekker (1599), to the EK themselves (1620): this is the one work which crosses from Germany to England and then back again during the century, changing and developing at each step; and 5) a detailed analysis of the 1620 collection of plays, according to questions of recognisability, socio-political immediacy, generic impurity and minimal staging. A brief investigation of English influences on Andreas Gryphius concludes the work.