The Reasons of Misrule Revisited: Evangelical Appropriations of Carnival in Tudor Revels

  • Robert Hornback Oglethorpe University


The argument here synthesizes an evangelical strategy statement, costume inventories and performance records, a treatise by Martin Bucer, studies of revels at the inns of court, and descriptions of Edwardian Lord of Misrule George Ferrers by an ambassador and a diarist to demonstrate that Tudor occurrences of such Lords emerged and appeared most frequently at court, colleges, and the inns under the zealously iconoclastic influence of Thomas Cromwell and Edward VI. Evidence in fact reveals a marked anti-papist polemical focus in misrule of the Reformation era, belying stubborn, anachronistic applications of a proto-puritan sobriety to the often raucous entertainments of early evangelicals. Consistent with these findings, much evidence reflects a crackdown on misrule under Mary I. Such an examination ultimately complicates our understanding of when, how, and why many puritans subsequently came to reject misrule and laughter alike.