William Prynne (). Histrio-mastix. The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, divided into two parts. Wherein it is largely evidenced, by divers arguments. Vol. 6. The Drama to , Part Two. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature: An Encyclopedia in Eighteen Volumes. – Histrio-mastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, divided into two parts. Wherein it is largely By William Prynne, an vtter-barrester of Lincolnes Inne.
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William Prynne, from Histrio-Mastix: The Player’s Scourge; or, Actor’s Tragedy. In this passionate tirade of over one thousand pages larded with authorities in text and margins — classical philosophers, church fathers, Protestant theologians — Prynne denounced stage plays, cross-dressed male actors, court masques, mixed dancing in masques and everywhere else, maypoles, wakes and other rural festivals, country sports on the sabbath, Histrilmastix ritual, stained-glass windows and much more, staking out the most extreme Puritan hishriomastix on traditional recreations at court and in the countryside.
This blanket denunciation of Caroline culture was probably a factor in Charles’s decision to reissue James I’s Book of Sports a few months later.
Some of the remarks, especially about “women actors, notorious whores” and “scurrilous amorous pastorals,” were thought to refer directly to the queen, who produced as well as acted in several masques and pastorals. In consequence, Prynne was immediately imprisoned and a year later stripped of his academic degrees, ejected from the legal profession, and placed in the pillory at Westminster and Cheapside; his books were burned before him, his ears were partially cut off, and he was remanded to life imprisonment though later released by Parliament.
The severity of the sentence indicates the high stakes in these culture wars: Effeminate, lascivious, amorous dancing, especially with beautiful women, or boys most exquisitely adorned in an infecting womanish dress on the open stage, where are swarms of lustful spectators, whose unchaste unruly lusts are apt to be enflamed with every wanton gesture, smile, or pace, much more with amorous dances is utterly unlawful unto Christians, to chaste and sober persons; as sundry Councils, Fathers, modern Christians, with ancient Pagan authors and nations, have resolved.
Amorous, mixed, effeminate, lascivious, lust-exciting dancing, be it of men, or women, on the stage or elsewhere [is] a dangerous incendiary of lust; an ordinary occasion of, a preparative to much whoredom, adultery, wantonness, and such effeminate lewdness: It hath been always reputed dishonorable, shameful, infamous, for Emperors, Kings, or Princes to come upon a theater histriomaastix dance, to masque, or act a part in any public or private Interludes, to delight themselves pryhne others.
Stage-Plays are thus odious, unseemly, pernicious, and unlawful unto Christians in the precedent respects [they were prjnne by idolatrous pagans and infidels for idolatrous worship] so likewise are they in regard of their ordinary style, and subject matter; which no Christian can or dares to patronize: What wantonness, what effeminacy parallel to that which our men-women actors, in all their feminine, yea, sometimes in their masculine parts express upon the theater?
And dare we men, we Christians yet applaud it? The Player’s Scourge; or, Actor’s Tragedy In this passionate tirade of over one thousand pages larded with authorities in text and margins — classical philosophers, church fathers, Protestant theologians — Prynne denounced stage plays, cross-dressed male actors, court masques, mixed dancing in masques and everywhere else, maypoles, wakes and other rural histriiomastix, country sports on the sabbath, Laudian ritual, stained-glass windows and much more, staking out the most extreme Puritan position on traditional recreations at court and in the countryside.
The New Jacobean Order. The Gunpowder Plot Conspirators.
Histriomastix: The Player’s Scourge (1633)
The Whitehall Banqueting House. Inigo Jones and Costumes of the Masques.
Styles of Belief, Devotion, and Culture. Picturing the Religious Life.
Women actors are “notorious whores”, writes Prynne
hisrtiomastix The Parable of the Tares, Matthew The Trial of Charles I. The Execution of Charles I. King Charles the Martyr. John Milton, Samson Agonistes.