Miracula and The Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge

Speculum 65 (4):878-905 (1990)
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Abstract

For over a century before the establishment of English vernacular religious drama in cities of the north, there was a concerted effort by the papacy and episcopacy to eradicate or rechannel lay and clerical ludi that struck the establishment as more conducive to lechery, gluttony, and the mocking of sacred things than to worshipful remembrance of Christ's sacrifice or to meditation on man's lamentable condition. However, legislating a distinction between appropriate and inappropriate ludi was not easy. When Innocent III sought to ban ludi theatrales among his clergy, his edict had to be glossed to assure religious communities that the pope did not oppose the decorous representation of certain topics — the story of Rachel, the Three Kings, and Herod. Since some of these ludi took place within monastic and other religious houses, not all the participants thought them objectionable, but English bishops, particularly Grosseteste and Grandisson, tried to put down raucous and inappropriate ludi — some of which they called miracula — whether they occurred within religious houses or among the laity

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