Shows of Joy and Malice

Performance, the Star Chamber, and the Celebration of James I’s Coronation in Norwich in 1603


  • Emily Mayne University of Oxford





The spread of the plague in Norwich in July 1603 disrupted the city’s celebrations of the coronation of King James I, and precipitated a conflict between the city’s mayor, Thomas Lane, and the alderman Robert Gibson, which culminated in Gibson taking Lane to the Star Chamber. Drawing on previously unexamined legal and civic documents, this essay reconstructs both Norwich’s planned and actual coronation festivities and their role in the dispute in July, including its longer legal aftermath in court. The essay examines the meanings and functions participants attributed to the celebrations in Norwich, and to what extent they can be understood as performances, and, if so, of what.

Author Biography

Emily Mayne, University of Oxford

Emily Mayne ( is a stipendiary lecturer in English at Merton College, University of Oxford. In 2019-20 she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. With Professor Matthew Woodcock she is editor of Records of Early English Drama: Norwich, 1540-1642.






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