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Title: The representation of the judiciary and judicial processes in English medieval and Tudor drama
Author: Suematsu, Yoshimichi
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 0921
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis examines the representation of law courts and legal and law-enforcement personnel in the late medieval mystery plays, morality plays and Tudor interludes. It aims to tease out how characteristics of medieval and early modern judiciary are woven into the details of dramatic representation of the biblical and classical materials while trying to look at the plays from the viewpoints of the medieval and early modern audiences. The introduction generally discusses the nature of medieval and early modern English courts and their close kinship with the contemporary theatrical performances. Both the early theatres and courts were quite open to their material environments, and their audience members entered and exited venues relatively freely. Many courts and theatres were peripatetic and shared a number of same venues such as churches, halls of gentry and aristocrats, guildhalls, streets and market places. Chapter 1 mainly examines the medieval legal motifs reflected in the courts of Pilate and Herod in the York Passion plays. These judges share the characterisations of the medieval tyrant often seen in other medieval plays. The appearances of material props such as 'bench' and 'bar' in the speeches, and the proximity of the performance sites to the castles in the streets of medieval York as well as the plays' similarities with medieval court procedures may well have stimulated the medieval audiences' empathy with the staged trials of Christ. Chapter 2 examines the ecclesiastical judges and their courts in the Passion plays. The worldliness of those historical Caesarian judges may reflect the judges of late medieval England. The trials of Jesus, especially in the N-town cycle, may have been influenced by the heresy prosecutions in late medieval England. Chapter 3 considers the characterisation of Pilate in the Towneley cycle as a part of the larger contemporary criticisms against judicial corruption and tyranny of the ruling classes. There are various examples of corruptions of judges and jurors not only in literature but also historical writings. Particularly interesting is the bribing of the soldiers in the resurrection plays which may mirror the corruption of jurors and witnesses in the medieval society. Chapter 4 continues the exploration of the theme of judicial corruption, especially focusing the phenomenon called 'maintenance-in-law'. In the morality play Wisdom, an allegorical Vice called Maintenance, deploying his subordinate Vices, corrupts the soul of mankind. That the worst of the human sins is represented in the allegorical figure of Maintenance shows how disliked this type of corrupt manipulation of legal system was in that period. Chapter 5 discusses how the older models of mystery and morality plays were adapted to the post-Reformation cultural and religious changes. The chapter looks at how the interludes exploit the traditional characters of tyrants and Vices to represent judges and lawyers and their corrupt behaviours in law courts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available