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Enter the KingTheatre, Liturgy, and Ritual in the Medieval Civic Triumph$
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Gordon Kipling

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198117612

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117612.001.0001

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The Idea of the Civic Triumph

The Idea of the Civic Triumph

(p.6) 1 The Idea of the Civic Triumph
Enter the King

Gordon Kipling

Oxford University Press

The cities of northern Europe celebrated the ceremonial arrivals of their sovereigns with dramatic embellishments of an already colourful ritual that can be traced back to late classical times. Civic guilds now began to erect pageants in the streets and fill them with actors. These civic triumphs, then, share a common dramatic heritage with the great religious dramas — the Continental Passion plays and the English Corpus Christi cycles — which sprang up throughout northern Europe at precisely the same period. However popular these shows may have been among their contemporaries, modern commentary has been quick to sense a sharp distinction between the sublime religious drama and the pompous civic triumph. If Johan Huizinga's dismissal of such medieval courtly festivals as expressions of unworthy ideas has proven widely influential since he wrote, it also sums up eloquently the received critical opinion of his own time.

Keywords:   northern Europe, civic triumphs, religious drama, Johan Huizinga, festivals, Continental Passion plays, Corpus Christi cycles

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