Bartholomew Fair


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Bartholomew Fair

August 24
Although St. Bartholomew's Day isn't really celebrated anymore, for more than 700 years (1133-1855) it was the day on which the Bartholomew Fair was held at Smithfield on the outskirts of London. What began as an opportunity for buying and selling cloth eventually turned into a major event. Almost every type of commodity could be purchased there, and a number of sideshows and other crude sources of entertainment were available as well—earning the Fair its present-day reputation as "the Coney Island of medieval England."
Eventually the entertainment aspects of the Fair outweighed its commercial purposes, and although it was very much a part of English life there was a movement to close it down. In 1822, thousands of people rioted in protest against the threat of closing the Fair. But finally, in 1855, it was permanently abolished.
St. Bartholomew's Day is also known for the massacre of the Huguenots (Protestants) in France, which began at the instigation of Catherine de Medici in Paris on the night of August 23-24, 1572, and spread throughout the country for two more days until between 5,000 and 10,000 had been killed.
SOURCES:
BkDays-1864, vol. II, p. 264
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 217
DictDays-1988, p. 9
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 176
OxYear-1999, pp. 343, 344
References in classic literature ?
'Bartholomew Fair' is a coarse but overwhelming broadside at Puritan hypocrisy.
Pollard's final chapter performs a deft move, arguing that in Bartholomew Fair Ben Jonson positions himself as the Aristophanes to Shakespeare's Euripides through comic parody of his contemporary's works.
Taking in a wide range of plays like Chapman's An Humorous Day's Mirth, Middleton's The Puritan Widow, and Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, Walsh persuasively shows that the theatrical Puritan is a multifaceted figure exhibiting a range of behaviours and so able to evoke "a spectrum of responses" from audiences.
Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair received its first performances on successive days in 1614 in front of very different audiences.
In Bartholomew Fair, Jonson taps into anxieties surrounding the early modern license, and not only through the signed marriage license around which much of the plot revolves.
Here, she comments on how the "public theater and the ballad trade worked in concert, and competition, to publicly communicate depictions of feminine malfeasance" (112), noting the ballad monger characters in Shakespeare's Winter's Tale and Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair. She also assesses woodcuts frequently used in the broadsides, surveying popular images from Damnable Practises, Anne Wallens Lamentation, The Devil's Conquest, Witchcraft Discovered and Punished, and The Unnatural Wife.
Hibbard situates Nashe's "burlesque" of Marlowe's poem as the "high-light" of Lenten Stuffe and observes: "To see what happened to 'Hero and Leander' when it was vulgarized, it is only necessary to turn to Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, where it is debased into a crude puppet-show by the stupid citizen John Littlewit." (3) Critical conventions clearly position Nashe "between" Marlowe and Jonson.
In Chapter 1, on the puppeteer and the puppet, Johnson focuses on Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy and Jonson's Bartholomew Fair. With strong supporting evidence, Johnson shows how the supposed male (puppeteer) dominance over female (puppet) is undermined as, in the former play, 'not only does Gloriana, as silent material, hold potential to mock Vindice, but, in his arrogant pleasure in manipulating and mastering her remains, Vindice is oblivious to having entered his own dance of death' (p.
Bartholomew Fair looked as though he could have a bright future when winning at Yarmouth and may be the middledistance three-year-old star the division is beginning to look in desperate need of.
Hirsch, "Three Wax Images, Two Italian Gentlemen, and One English Queen" (155-68); Juditch Bonzol, '"In good reporte and honest estimacion amongst her neighbours': Cunning Women in the Star Chamber and on the Stage in Early Modern England" (169-84); Jessica Dell, "'A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean!': Image Magic and Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor" (185-202); Helen Ostovich, "'Gingerbread Progeny' in Bartholomew Fair" (203-14); Andrew Loeb, "'My poor fiddle is bewitched': Music, Magic, and the Theatre in The Witch of Edmonton and The Late Lancashire Witches" (215-32).
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