The Coventry Mystery Plays, or Coventry Corpus Christi Pageants, are a cycle of medieval mystery plays from Coventry, West Midlands, England, and are perhaps best known as the source of the "Coventry Carol". Two plays from the original cycle are extant having been copied from the now lost original manuscript in the early 19th century. A separate Ludus Coventriae once thought to belong to the Coventry cycle of Mystery Plays is now believed to have originated in East Anglia.
Performances of the Coventry Plays are first recorded in a document of 1392–3, and continued for nearly two centuries; the young Shakespeare may have witnessed them before they were finally suppressed in 1579. In its fullest form the cycle comprised at least ten plays, though only two have survived to the present day. Of these two, the Shearmen and Tailors' Pageant was a nativity play portraying events from the Annunciation to the Massacre of the Innocents, and the Weavers' Pageant dealt with the Purification and the Doctors in the Temple.
The only ancient manuscript of the Shearmen and Tailors' Pageant was destroyed by fire in 1879; but it had previously been transcribed and published by Thomas Sharp. The plays were most recently edited by Pamela M. King and Clifford Davidson in The Coventry Corpus Christi Plays (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 2000).
Famous quotes containing the words plays and/or mystery:
“With sweet May dews my wings were wet,
And Phoebus fird my vocal rage;
He caught me in his silken net,
And shut me in his golden cage.
He loves to sit and hear me sing,
Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;
Then stretches out my golden wing,
And mocks my loss of liberty.”
—William Blake (17571827)
“Its a perfect night for mystery and horror. The air itself is filled with monsters.”
—William Hurlbut (1883?)