Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation analyzes and explores the role of theater and public performance during the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549, a significant turning point in the Edwardian Reformation. As part of their response to the violence and dissent that had erupted in Cornwall during the summer of 1549, Edward VI’s privy council issued a proclamation banning all plays and performances in public or private settings for an eighty-four day period lasting from August 9 to November 1 of that year. This proclamation outlined a number of specific restrictions which were ostensibly intended to ensure all styles and contexts of performance were duly banned, but instead created loopholes that allowed the very areas that had rebelled to continue their traditional performances despite their highly seditious material.

Each chapter of this dissertation considers one of the five restrictions given in this proclamation, in an attempt to understand why each restriction was created, what it was meant to do, and the implications of its inclusion. I argue that the council intentionally left loopholes open in order to accommodate theatrical purposes which they found appropriate, but found that those same loopholes accidentally allowed Cornish-language theater to proceed. Government officials in Edwardian England saw theater as a useful propaganda tool when utilized for their own purposes, such as promoting appropriate behavior and correct interpretations of religious texts, but failed to see its significance for rural and non-English-speaking communities which had relied on a lengthy tradition of performance to communicate their own ideas and purposes.



Committee Chair

Stater, Victor

Available for download on Wednesday, April 02, 2031