Map of Early Modern London Mayoral Shows

Crest of the city of London

MoEML Mayoral Shows

Para1At the end of October each year, early modern London celebrated the election of a new mayor. After the mayor took his oath of allegiance to the monarch in Westminster, he barged back to the city. Except in years of plague or civil unrest, the mayor was welcomed with speeches and spectacles. The participants in the procession walked or rode along the traditional ceremonial route through the city, stopping for sermons, feasts, and pageants. Written and coordinated by leading playwrights of the day, the pageants comprised speeches and emblematic tableaus performed by amateur and professional actors. Although some people consider these events to be insubstantial pageants faded, the show was the best attended theatrical event of the year. Ordinary people crowded into the streets; ambassadors and rich merchants booked rooms overlooking the route. Firecrackers, music, food, and alcohol made the event noisy, celebratory, and sometimes dangerous.
Para2These events are described in commemorative pageant books, the best known but certainly not the only witnesses to mayoral shows. The MoEML Anthology of Mayoral Shows (MoMS) offers the world’s first anthology of all the surviving pageant books between 1585 and 1639. We aim to bring these books back to life with resources that help us understand the live performances and their spatial dimensions.


Janelle Jenstad

Janelle Jenstad is a Professor of English at the University of Victoria, Director of The Map of Early Modern London, and Director of Linked Early Modern Drama Online. With Jennifer Roberts-Smith and Mark Kaethler, she co-edited Shakespeare’s Language in Digital Media: Old Words, New Tools (Routledge). She has edited John Stow’s A Survey of London (1598 text) for MoEML and is currently editing The Merchant of Venice (with Stephen Wittek) and Heywood’s 2 If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody for DRE. Her articles have appeared in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Elizabethan Theatre, Early Modern Literary Studies, Shakespeare Bulletin, Renaissance and Reformation, and The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. She contributed chapters to Approaches to Teaching Othello (MLA); Teaching Early Modern Literature from the Archives (MLA); Institutional Culture in Early Modern England (Brill); Shakespeare, Language, and the Stage (Arden); Performing Maternity in Early Modern England (Ashgate); New Directions in the Geohumanities (Routledge); Early Modern Studies and the Digital Turn (Iter); Placing Names: Enriching and Integrating Gazetteers (Indiana); Making Things and Drawing Boundaries (Minnesota); Rethinking Shakespeare Source Study: Audiences, Authors, and Digital Technologies (Routledge); and Civic Performance: Pageantry and Entertainments in Early Modern London (Routledge). For more details, see

Mark Kaethler

Mark Kaethler is Department Chair, Arts, at Medicine Hat College; Assistant Director, Mayoral Shows, with MoEML; and Assistant Director for LEMDO. They are the author of Thomas Middleton and the Plural Politics of Jacobean Drama (De Gruyter, 2021) and a co-editor with Jennifer Roberts-Smith and Janelle Jenstad of Shakespeare’s Language in Digital Media: Old Words, New Tools (Routledge, 2018). Their work has appeared in The London Journal, Early Theatre, Literature Compass, Digital Studies/Le Champe Numérique, and Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative, as well as in several edited collections. Mark’s research interests include early modern literature’s intersections with politics; digital media and humanities; textual editing; game studies; cognitive science; and ecocriticism.

Rylyn Christensen

Rylyn Christensen is an English major at the University of Victoria.


MoEML Mayoral Shows (MOMS1)

The MoMS General Editors are Mark Kaethler and Janelle Jenstad. The team includes SSHRC-funded research assistants. Peer review is coordinated by the General Editors but conducted by other editors and external scholars.