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Jeden Tag ein Buch. Berlin: Aufbau, Crashaw about the anti-puritan satire The Puritaine in a sermon at Paul's Cross in This paper aims to explore whether Crashaw's urging the magistrates to act could have led to an intervention of the authorities. Given the absence of a pervasive and repressive system of censorship and control of stage-plays in Early Modern England and in view of recent theories of censorship, the controversy about The Puritaine is examined as part of a struggle over discursive power characteristic of the politics and culture of the time.

The play is shown to reflect and comment on the history of this struggle as well as the uneasy coexistence of players and puritans throughout London. It appears, however, that Paul's Boys were silenced neither through repression nor defamatory discourse but through market forces. In the Hollywood movie Shakespeare in Love we see Edmund Tilney, Her Majesty's Master of the Revels, regulator and censor of the drama, marching grim-faced, accompanied by a heavily armed band of militia-men, towards The Curtain to stop the first performance of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

He has been tipped off that the players are seriously offending against a regulation for the theatre by bringing a woman on the stage.

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Tilney is determined to close the place and arrest the culprits. In a film that marvelously combines accurate historical detail with imagination, the Master of the Revels' military intervention certainly belongs to the latter. Not even those critics who regard the Master as the powerful agent of Tudor and Stuart despotism suggest that Tilney or his successors ever appeared in person at a playhouse to silence unruly players by force of arms. His responsibilities did not include the closing of playhouses and the prosecution of offenders.

As a censor, the Master of the Revels was responsible for the playscripts which he read and licensed for the stage, sometimes after ordering alterations. The practice of licensing plays, however, was not part of a coherent system of pervasive and repressive government control apprehended by playwrights 34 Enno Ruge and playing companies, as Richard Dutton and others have shown. His 'allowance' made for a range and complexity of expression on the social, political and even religious issues of the day that was remarkable, given the pressures on all sides to enforce conformity or repress comment altogether.

No severe punishments were carried out, however; the playwrights were soon let off the hook and the players were allowed to continue playing. Dutton, Mastering the Revels, p. For a contrasting view see e. See also Hadfield ed. Moreover, the fees the companies had to pay in order to obtain a license were a major source of income for the Master.


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Preaching and Playing at Paul's 35 When actors or playwrights got into trouble it was often as a result of a complaint by a notable person who felt offended by a performance. Crashaw charged the players and their master with slander and libel of the Puritans living in the parishes adjacent to St. Paul's Cathedral.

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According to Reavley Gair, "Paul's playhouse ceased operation in mid to late , possibly as a direct consequence of Crashawe's attack. Did Paul's Boys really go too far this time, and what made The Puritiane so particularly offensive?


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  • Did Crashaw's sermon really lead to Tilney's order to his agent Kirkham to wind up the place or at least to "an offical warning"? It is also worthwhile to examine the attitude towards censorship of a group whose members regarded themselves as moral censurers of society and whose clergy was under constant pressure to conform, pressure that included censorship. Given the absence of a pervasive and repressive system of censorship and control of stage-plays in Early Modern England we will need to turn to a more comprehensive concept of censorship in order to address the questions posed above.

    In our case, then, both the Puritans' attack on the stage and the ridiculing of the Puritans from the stage could be regarded as censorship. In their power struggle each group tries to delegitimate the other's discourse. The question remains, however, to what extent, if any, this struggle over discursive power — which could, with Bourdieu, be referred to as "structural censorship"16 — can be related to concrete measures of official censorship taken against the antagonists by the authorities while avoiding 'post-modern' relativism.

    Lindsay Kaplan suggests "that we need to situate our examination of state control of poetry within th e larger context of language that transgresses the law": 18 While defining a legitimate means of official response to transgressive language, censorship is nevertheless a subcategory of the laws and responses to defamation; as a focus it assumes a very restricted legal, social and political role for literature. When we understand, as contemporaries did, censorship and literature itself in their larger cultural contexts, we can see their participation in the processes of defamatory discourse.

    See also his " Un Censoring in Detail", p.

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    Burt, Licensed by Authority, p. Like Foucault and Bourdieu, whose works form its theoretical foundation, the New Censorship is said to "veer between the concrete measures of silencing and the abstraction of struggle. The result seems to flatten distinctions among kinds of power, implicitly equating suppression of speech caused by legal action with that caused by the market, or by the dominance of a particular discourse, or by the institution of criticism itself. Interestingly, several essays in Andrew Hadfield's recent collection Literature and Censorship in Renaissance England focus on actual cases of suppression.

    One side-effect of the recent critical interest in censorship of drama in Early Modern England is that we have once more been reminded that a number of well-known plays of the first decade of the 17th century were originally written for and performed by child actors. It cannot be mere coincidence that these children are associated with several of the severest incidents of repression of Early Modern drama.

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    Even though it is unlikely that they found it any easier to evade censorship by the Master of the Revels and thus bring offensive matter on the stage that would normally not have got past him,22 they certainly tested the limits of tolerance more than the adult companies. The repertoires of the two boy companies consisted largely of satires, and offence lies in the nature of this genre. The second Blackfriars Children in particular made satire their speciality, doubtlessly because a certain notoriety promised to draw large audiences.

    After several years of inactivity both companies were revived around Paul's Boys began to decline around , the Blackfriars Children after when they had to leave the Blackfriars Theatre. According to Dutton, however, the revived boy companies were subject to Tilney's authority from the beginning. Dutton, "Censorship", p. Between and alone the Blackfriars company got into serious trouble on five occasions. In Samuel Daniels was called before the Privy Council, because his tragedy Philotas was seen as a play about the Essex rebellion, then still a serious matter of state.

    As a consequence, the boys lost their recently acquired status of members of Queen Anne's household and with it the right to play under the prestigious name of the Children of the Queen's Revels. They called themselves Children of the Revels afterwards. Samuel Daniels, the Queen's favourite poet, lost the profitable position of the company's exclusive licenser of plays.

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    Two of the authors of Eastward Ho! John Day, the playwright of the Isle of Gulls, was questioned before the Privy Council, and may have been imprisoned. Although ultimately no-one was punished, the series of scandals made it clear that the "rayling"-plays seriously endangered the relative freedom the theatre enjoyed. In his Apology for Actors, the playwright Thomas Heywood deplores "some abuse lately crept into the quality, an inveighing against the state, the court, the law, the citty, and their governements, with the particularizing of private men's humors yet alive noble-men, and others.

    See Dutton, Mastering the Revels, p. Worried about his own future as a dramatist, Heywood appeals to "wise and juditiall censurers, before whom such complaints shall at any time hereafter come" not to "impute these abuses to any transgression in us, who have been carefull and provident to shun the like". If the name of the Children of Paul's invariably crops up in the context of censorship of drama in Renaissance England, however, it is because of the first Paul's Boys company. When in all theatrical activities at Paul's playhouse came to a halt for almost a decade, it was probably because of the company's involvement in the Martin Marprelate controversy.

    In this spectacular pamphlet war that took place between and a group of Puritan satirists under the pseudonym of Martin Marprelate vigorously attacked the English bishops as "pettie popes" and "anti-christs. Probably commissioned by the bishops, several satirists started to counterattack the infamous Martin with pamphlets of their own, among others Thomas Nashe and John Lyly, then also Master and playwright of Paul's Boys.

    It appears that at some point the theatre joined the antiMartinist campaign, although there are no extant plays, and no titles are known. The theatrical campaign was stopped soon after it had begun, when in the Master of the Revels refused to license a series of new plays. John Lyly pleaded that "these comedies might be allowed to be plaid that are pend" in the conviction that Martin would thus "be decyphered, and so perhaps discouraged.

    According to Chambers the Apology was probably written in or Two men appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the mayor of London were to assist the Master of the Revels in the business of reading and licensing plays. According to their directions, these men were to consider of the matters of their [the playing companies'] comedyes and tragedyes, and thereuppon to strike oute or reform such partes and matters as they shall fynd unfytt and undecent to be handled in playes, bothe for Divinitie and State, comaunding the said companies of players, in her Majesties name, that they forbear to present and playe publickly anie comedy or tragedy other then suche as they three shall have seene and allowed, which if they shall not observe, they shall then knowe from their Lordships that they shalbe not onely sevearely punished, but made [in]capable of the exercise of their profession forever hereafter.

    The relatively lenient regulator of the London theatres, who nevertheless represented royal authority, was to collaborate with the London City Council, traditionally hostile to the playing companies,34 and with representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift, at that time still responsible for the licensing of printed texts, including playtexts, and known for his uncompromising suppression of seditious writings by recusants and Presbyterians alike. The directions to the commission can thus be read as an attempt to establish a system of total censorship of the London theatres.

    It might be expected that this marked the beginning of a period of hardship for companies, playwrights and booksellers alike, but as Dutton laconically remarks: "In fact, nothing of the sort happened. This is the first and last we hear of the commission.

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    Although quite in accordance with the censorship commission's directions, the dissolution of the Children of Paul's would have been an unusually severe measure, 32 Even if the precise cicumstances of the affair are not known, the controversy over the antiMartin plays supports Kaplan's argument that the state employed slander, too, and that the transgressive language tended to elude its control and become a threat to public order.

    See Kaplan, The Culture of Slander, p. Preaching and Playing at Paul's 41 considering that the other company involved in the anti-Martinist propaganda, the adult players at The Theatre, were allowed to continue.

    numytoons.com/1918.php If we accept the theory that the first Paul's Boys were dissolved because they performed satirical plays ridiculing Puritans, and recall that one of the last plays the second Paul's Boys put on stage before they disappeared forever was also a satire on Puritans, it is tempting to think that what we have here is a case of history repeating itself. We will see that there are indeed significant connections and parallels between the two controversies over Paul's plays.

    Even though the case for official censorship is much weaker as concerns the second closure, a considerable deal of censorial pressure was exerted around Paul's Church at the time. Several studies of Renaissance Theatre which take a historical approach place emphasis on the concept of social space. Their "subversive potential" was at best as "latent" as that of the traditional festive spectacles of "incontinant rule" and limited and conditioned by the market.

    Douglas Bruster posits that the theaters of Renaissance England public and private alike were both responsive and responsible to the desires of their playgoing publics, and were potentially no more marginal a part of London than their publics demanded. Places of business, they regularized and normalized carnival. And although the commercial in no way precludes the marginal or actively ideological, it seems undeniable that in Renaissance London the profit motive claimed a great, even predominant measure of the theaters' practical energy.


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    • For Mullaney they were more an "afterthought than [ Mullaney's claim that the boy companies obviously preferred "contained form s of social criticism"43 is hardly convincing.