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The Barkers' Play, In 'The York Mystery Plays'

The Barkers' Play, In 'The York Mystery Plays'

Medium: Ink on vellum

Date: 1490

Shelfmark: Additional MS 35290

Item number: f.4r

Length: 281

Width: 201

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

This is the unique manuscript of a series of forty-nine religious plays, ranging from the Creation to the Last Judgement and the Coronation of the Virgin, which were performed on Corpus Christi Day by the various craft guilds of York in the late Middle Ages. Similar plays are known to have been performed in Chester, Coventry, Lincoln, Norwich, and Wakefield. In the manuscript, the name of the guild performing is given before each play.

The first play, given by the Barkers (men who cried out wares at shops), is 'The Fall of the Angels.' It opens with God speaking in Latin, "Ego sum Alpha," with the following dialogue between him, the angels, Lucifer, cherubim, and the devil in English. The characters' parts are identified in the margin.

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