Guild Day and Mayor-making in Early-modern Norwich: Civic Ritual from Renaissance to Enlightenment

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: History


Research Questions and Problems: this work is intended to break new ground in terms of what we look at and how we consider it. It is a type of micro-study designed to address larger questions. These include whether the reformation or the enlightenment were responsible for the end of ritual (the transformative kernel) as distinct from ceremony (the performative husk) and the extent to which ritual was secularised in the 16th century (contra Burke 1987). It poses questions as to how material culture can be used as an aid to the reconstruction of a mindset. It attempts to revive the relationship between history and sociology/anthropology and asks If he historian can contribute to middle range theory rather than simply serving as an empirical handmaiden. It poses questions about the interdependent needs of the plebeian and patrician elements as revealed in the events of Guild Day, and eschews old-fashioned notions of social control. It raises issues to do with access to and the understanding of the signs and symbols such as were deployed on Guild Day, and others which were more generally displayed in the City throughout the year. It asks questions about contemporary categorisations eg, of sounds (outlined in Morgan, 2004b).
Research Context: a number of conventional studies examine separately aspects of Norwich and its ceremonies from the viewpoints of institutional, religious and social history, art history and the history of the drama. This work incorporates these approaches but takes a broader view over a longer timespan. It is set within a reading of the wider economic, social and cultural history of Norwich based in part on the work of my research students. As a necessary context along the way (chapters 2 and '2a') it provides an argued interpretation of the history of Norwich in this period which is, perhaps, lacking from the recent two-volume composite history. A superficial comparison is drawn with civic ritual elsewhere
Through a demonstrative case study the book tries to correct the imbalance among 'core' historians in the attention devoted to the Reformation and the Renaissance impulses in England, especially in the later 16th century. Moreover, little detailed work has been done on the renaissance in provincial England in its urban context, apart from Tittler's scattergun studies. It draws on my own earlier work on Norwich (see bibliography) and the work of four of my former research students.
The book takes cognizance of the work on Court ceremonial and royal entries (eg, Adamson; Mulryne & Golding), and coronations (Bak) both in England and abroad. It attempts to break down our compartmentalisations by eg, comparing the Mayors' Court Chamber to the great house long gallery (cf. Morgan, 2003b). It argues for the importance in Norwich of 'cultural artisans' from the Low Countries (cf. Morgan, 1999b, 2003a), and places their contribution in the context of what we now know was a wider diaspora (Esser).
There is a scattering of mainly French and Italian scholarship on issues such as taste and smell (eg, Corbin), themes discussed here (chs. 6-8) and English empiricist work on foodways (eg, Brears and Summers).

In the process of reviewing the literature the development in anthropology of an interest in the interpretation of the senses has been an important new discovery for me. An overview of this development is provided by the new series, "Sensory Formations", published by Berg. It will inform my interpretation of the historical data.
Reference is made to both the empirical and the theoretical literature in liturgy and ritual studies (eg, Turner; Grimes; Frankiel). A new section, not originally envisaged, has now been added to chapter 10. This provides a relatively brief discussion of liturgy in England in a more conventional sense as part of the wider 'performative culture' within which subsisted civic ritual.
The book is likely to be attractive to those who currently are enamoure


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