The York Corpus Christi Play: Selected Pageants
A Broadview Anthology of British Literature Edition
  • Publication Date: September 7, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554814299 / 1554814294
  • 408 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The York Corpus Christi Play: Selected Pageants

A Broadview Anthology of British Literature Edition

  • Publication Date: September 7, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554814299 / 1554814294
  • 408 pages; 5½" x 8½"

The York Corpus Christi Play as we know it consists of 47 surviving individual plays or “pageants,” 27 of which are included in this volume; together, these 27 plays represent the cycle’s core narrative of creation, fall, and salvation. This new edition offers extensive annotation (both marginal glosses and explanatory footnotes), an illuminating introduction, and a helpful selection of background contextual materials.


“Fitzgerald has made the York Corpus Christi Play accessible to students in a way that it has never been before. She provides an instructive and incisive overview of the play’s complex performance history, spanning from the fourteenth century to the present day. The pageants’ straightforward introductions and modernized spellings open them up to a broader audience of students who will undoubtedly enjoy analyzing and performing these foundational works of English drama.” — Kimberly Fonzo, The University of Texas at San Antonio

“Christina M. Fitzgerald’s new edition of the York Plays will be a very valuable resource for teachers, students, and performers of early English drama. The volume features a well-chosen, expansive selection of pageants, including several important episodes anthologized for the first time. Combining well-edited texts and judicious annotations with key contemporary documents and images, Fitzgerald’s edition offers a richly explanatory introduction to one of England’s longest-lasting, most culturally significant performance traditions.” — Nicole R. Rice, St. John’s University

“This useful textbook for the undergraduate classroom (or non-specialist) offers essential contextual material, ample footnotes, and adept glossing to assist students in discovering the complexity of the York Cycle. The play selection is intelligent and responsive to current critical trends. In addition, the lucid, up-to-date introduction and pageant notes set the Cycle in the context of urban lay devotion, facilitating deeper understanding of one of the most significant literary and cultural phenomena of the later Middle Ages. No doubt this will become the standard classroom edition.” — Margaret Aziza Pappano, Queen’s University

The York Corpus Christi Play offers students and scholars an outstanding overview of York’s social, economic, and literary past. Lucidly written, it situates the cultural complexity of York’s dramatic productions as both medieval and early modern phenomena. Fitzgerald’s judicious selection of plays maintains the feel for the original cycle, as she routinely edits them with an eye towards detail. She also glosses unfamiliar words and concepts, while providing content-rich headnotes to each play. An invaluable resource, the headnotes provide readers with comprehensive, relevant background information on theme, structure, and context, yet they don’t spoil the plays! This edition makes the York Corpus Christi plays accessible to a wide range of students in both literary studies and theater programs.” — Ann Hubert, St. Lawrence University

“The Broadview Lucifer boasts, ‘I feel me featous and fair’ — here, and throughout this eminently teachable edition, Fitzgerald maintains York’s distinctive rhythm and diction, updating the spelling just enough so that undergraduates at all levels will quickly understand the words’ meaning (with the help of thoughtful glosses) while still feeling the poetry’s rap-battle bombast (and, later, its rich working-class pathos). Throughout, introductory material lays down key fundamentals (form, content, context, performance) for each pageant, providing built-in lecture notes and provocations for close reading. Traditional literary, religious, and archivally-based readings are well-represented here, but sharpened and updated toward use in woke twenty-first-century classrooms (Fitzgerald’s impressive prior scholarship on gender leaves many visible marks). Culminating in an enjoyable multimedia array of contextual materials, this edition is truly featous (elegant, neat, handsome, and cleverly fashioned), and certainly fair (not only pleasing to the eye, but also even-handed in its scholarship and implicit pedagogy).” — Matthew Sergi, University of Toronto, St. George Campus

“Christina Fitzgerald provides an accessible edition, rich with supplementary materials, that is sure to be an immediate success with teachers of medieval drama. … With its balancing of an accessible text with a rich variety of resources for understanding the York Play's cultural contexts and history of performance, this convenient and thoughtfully put together book will undoubtedly become the new standard classroom edition of the York Play.” — Emma Lipton, The Medieval Review


Map of Medieval York and the Route of the York Corpus Christi Play

The York Corpus Christi Play

  • Pageant 1: The Creation of the Angels and the Fall of Lucifer
  • Pageant 2: The Creation
  • Pageant 5: The Fall of Adam and Eve
  • Pageant 8: The Building of the Ark
  • Pageant 9: The Flood
  • Pageant 10: Abraham and Isaac
  • Pageant 11: Moses and Pharaoh
  • Pageant 12: The Annunciation and Visitation
  • Pageant 13: Joseph’s Troubles about Mary
  • Pageant 14: The Nativity
  • Pageant 15: The Shepherds
  • Pageant 16: Herod and the Magi; The Offering of the Magi
  • Pageant 19: The Slaughter of the Innocents
  • Pageant 24: The Woman Taken in Adultery and the Raising of Lazarus
  • Pageant 25: The Entry into Jerusalem
  • Pageant 29: The Trial Before Caiaphas and Annas
  • Pageant 30: The First Trial Before Pilate (The Dream of Pilate’s Wife)
  • Pageant 31: The Trial Before Herod
  • Pageant 33: The Second Trial Before Pilate (The Judgment)
  • Pageant 35: The Crucifixion
  • Pageant 36: The Death of Christ
  • Pageant 37: The Harrowing of Hell
  • Pageant 38: The Resurrection
  • Pageant 39: Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene
  • Pageant 44: The Death of Mary
  • Pageant 45: The Assumption of Mary
  • Pageant 47: The Last Judgment

In Context

  • The Ordo Paginarum
  • The York Mercers’ Indenture
  • Four Middle English Crucifixion Poems
    • “Ye that passen by the way”
    • “Men rent me on rood”
    • “Stand well, mother, under rood!”
    • “I sike when I sing”

Select Civic and Guild Records

  • from the Mercers’ Pageant Accounts
  • from the City Chamberlains’ Rolls: Account of Receipts for Station Placement
  • An Ordinance of the Tanners
  • from the City Council Minutes: Two Judgments Concerning Pageant Costs

Selected Images:

  • Weavers’ Assumption
  • Tile Thatchers’ Nativity
  • Girdlers and Nailers’ Slaughter of the Innocents
  • Pinners’ Crucifixion
  • Holkham Bible Adam and Eve
  • Bedford Hours Noah Building the Ark
  • Canterbury Psalter Scenes from Christ’s Infancy
  • Holkham Bible Crucifixion
  • Gough Psalter The Harrowing of Hell
  • Photo of York Minster and City Wall
  • Photo of Micklegate Bar

Christina M. Fitzgerald is a Professor in the English Department at the University of Toledo.