Date of Award

Fall 1987

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Roy E. Aycock

Committee Member

Charles H. Haws

Committee Member

Lee Teply

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H85B53


The seventeenth-century masque is usually remembered as one of several kinds of entertainment that contributed to the evolution of staged drama and its allied forms, opera and ballet. It is not generally appreciated, however, that the tradition of masqueing was a rite of homage to the reigning monarch. This study shows how the Jacobean court masque served a ceremonial purpose.

Most studies of the English masque begin and end with analyses of liberetti and tell little about performance practices. This paper demonstrates how poetry, music, dance, and scenic design were employed by masque writers to further King James' concept of rule by divine right. Emphasis is placed on explaining how the various artistic components used acquired the religious underpinnings that held the court masque to its traditional ceremonial purpose.

This paper is based on interdisciplinary research, the findings of which provide conclusive evidence that the Jacobean court masque was a cult-like ceremony centering on the king. The findings were extrapolated from the court's ceremonial traditions and from artistic performance practices, and demonstrate that the masque was a manifestation of an English social order based on Christian ideals.


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