“Drawne to the life”: Ghosts, Gold, and Governance in Anthony Munday’s “Chruso-thriambos” (1611)

The following paper was originally presented at the “Making Connections” London Shakespeare Centre Graduate Conference, held at Shakespeare’s Globe, London, February 2018 (the location of the conference is relevant to the content of the paper!). It is undoubtedly a work-in-progress that requires a good deal of extra research and a fair amount of polish, but it’s one of the most enjoyable things I’ve written in many years, and I’m proud of what it represents. Enjoy!


Just across the river from where we sit today is the site of Baynard’s Castle, one of the grand fortifications that used to line the River Thames. The castle no longer stands – it was lost in the Great Fire of 1666 – but, in its time, it was one of the key stopping-off points of the annual street theatre spectacular, the Lord Mayor’s Show. Baynard’s made for an impressive stage as the Lord Mayor disembarked from his barge, following an extravagant water show along the River. Every year the Castle became a site of fanfare, of pageantry, and of Connection.


Baynard’s Castle. pre-1666 Great Fire
On 29 October 1611, the crowds who lined up at the Castle for that year’s Lord Mayor’s Show – Chruso-thriambos, written by Anthony Munday for the Company of Goldsmiths – witnessed the kind of Connection that was something of a hallmark of the Lords Mayor’s Shows: a powerful living man being greeted at the dock by a powerful dead man. The living man was Sir James Pemberton, Goldsmith and newly elected Lord Mayor of London. The dead man was Henry Fitz-Alwine, the very first Lord Mayor and some four hundred years deceased, and about to take Pemberton to the graveyard.
This moment encapsulates the central message of Chruso-thriambos, as Munday draws connections between the living and the dead, the past and the present, in order offer political commentary. Today, I will discuss the political significance of the resurrected Lord Mayors of the Show, focusing primarily on the scenes that take place at Baynard’s and St Paul’s Churchyard. At these points, I suggest, living death packs a powerful political punch in two ways: firstly, through the act of resurrection itself, and the interactions that the revenant mayors have with the newly elected one. And secondly, through the visuals created at these points. Both of these aspects, I suggest, establish, in front of the general public, the Lord Mayor as part of a chain of political power and moral responsibility – a responsibility that he would be wise not to forget.


The Shows were always spectacular fares, especially following the high benchmark set by the pagaentry of King James’ Royal Entry in 1604. Chruso-thriambos, though, is a particularly extravagant and multi-faceted example of the genre, and it merits a brief explanation. It will also help illustrate my later points if we tot up now the number of dead characters in the Show…
Written as a love-letter to the “Triumphes” of gold, the theatrics begin with a spectacular water show that features “Sea-fights and skirmishes”, an “Indian King and his Queene” mounted on “Golden Leopardes”, and barges laden with “Ingots of Gold and Silver” (sig. A3v), all of which follow the new mayor along the Thames to Baynard’s Castle, where he lands and is greeted by Fitz-Alwine, who is in turn accompanied by the ghosts of “ten halberdiers”. [1] From there the procession makes its way to St Paul’s, accompanied by lavish pageant carts including a grand “Triumphall Chariot” featuring the ghostly “shapes of king Richard the first … and King John his brother” (sig. B3). At the churchyard the procession halts so that Pemberton may attend a church service, following which he and Fitz-Alwine convene with the figure of Father Time, who proceeds to bring back from the dead ANOTHER former mayor – Nicholas Faringdon. The procession then heads to Cheapside, where sits the centrepiece of the entire Show, an immense “Orferie” in the shape of a “Mount of Golde” (sig. A4), featuring miners, “Mother Earth”, and even the body of King Midas (sig. B). This grand Orferie represents the role of the Goldsmiths in London’s economic prosperity. It showcases not only the Goldsmiths’ primary resource but also their wealth (indeed, Fitz-Alwine makes a point of reminding his audience how much the Show cost, and who paid for it!). The procession ends outside Pemberton’s home, where he is given some sage advice by Time, Fitz-Alwine and Faringdon. Faringdon, in particular, imparts upon the new Lord Mayor the importance of “Charitie” and retaining virtue “as beseemes a Maioralitie” (sig. C4r).

As Faringdon’s moral implies, Chruso-thriambos represents what Philip Robinson deems “a timely intervention in socio-political issues of the period”, predominantly economic ones. [2] (Faringdon extolling the Goldsmiths’ honesty and virtue feels like a direct response to suspicions of financial corruption earlier that same year – suspicions from none other than King James himself!) I would add that it is particularly significant that the men delivering that message to the new mayor are the ghosts of dead ones. The purpose of all of these ghosts is, as was the primary aim of these annual Shows, to legitimise the power of the new mayor by establishing a relationship – a chain of authority – between him and an idealised past. The precise nature of this relationship as depicted in Chruso-thriambos, though, is decidedly ambiguous: do the messages from the dead communicate goodwill? Or do they express a warning?

To my first point, then: the political connotations of the resurrected mayors. If we return to Baynard’s Castle, and the first meeting between Pemberton and Fitz-Alwine, we might see from the offset how swiftly Munday blurs the lines between celebration and intimidation. On the surface, to be received by the first ever Lord Mayor – and paragon of political integrity – is a ringing endorsement of Pemberton’s character and virtues. Here is a man, we are told, who is the equal of Fitz-Alwine himself.


Henry Fitz-Alwine / Alwin / Ailwin (credit: https://tuckdb.org)
On the other hand, we might question whether the comparison to a civic legend actually does Pemberton any favours. One of the first things that Fitz-Alwine does upon greeting Pemberton is to introduce him to “these my followers”, who “attend mee now / as in my time of authority they did” (sig. B2r). His words may simply refer to the ten armed guards who accompany him, but his language also seems to take in the entire attendant crowd – even Pemberton himself. The public are watching, Fitz-Alwine seems to suggest – and Pemberton has big shoes to fill. The next ghost against whom Pemberton is compared comes in St Paul’s Churchyard, after mass, where Father Time awakens the late Nicholas Faringdon, Lord Mayor during the time of Edward II.

Faringdon, a legendary Goldsmith, is the most prominently featured ghost in the entire pageant, and the scene in which he rises from the dead is one of the major focal points of the entire Show, and the only instance of resurrection to occur during the course of the pageant itself.
Faringdon’s imminent resurrection is feted as the return of a champion of the city: “These gates he built”, Time trumpets, “this ward of him took name” (sig. B3v). In the graveyard we see Faringdon’s tomb lie decorated with an effigy of the deceased mayor atop it. Time proceeds to rouse Faringdon from his slumber: “Arise, arise, I say, good Faringdon”, and he “striketh on the Tombe with his Silver wand” (sig. B3v). The effect, according to the pamphlet text, is immediate, and Faringdon – the effigy all along! – “ariseth” physically from his tomb. Like Fitz-Alwine, in his appearance the dead man bears no signs of death or decomposition. His initial reaction to being raised from the dead, though, is one of confusion and curmudgeonly reluctance:

Cannot graves containe their dead,
Where long they have lien buried,
But to Triumphs, sports, and shows
They must be raisd? Alacke, God knows
They count their quiet slumber blest
(sigs. B3v-B4r)

Faringdon’s anxiety is only temporary, and Daryl Palmer posits it is a necessary part of the process in order for Munday to draw parallels between the raising of the mayor to office and the raising of the dead. Palmer’s theory finds support in Faringdon’s swift recovery from confusion and cheerful offer to “doe what service else I may” for the Lord Mayor and the City (sig. B4r). It is by the looming presence of the Cathedral that the reanimated medieval mayor is able to re-orient himself in time and space:

How? Whence? or where
May I suppose my selfe? Well, I wot,
(If Faringdon mistake it not)
That ancient famous Cathedrall,
Hight the Church of blessed Paul.
(sig. B4)

What better way to emphasise the ideal priorities and civic pride of a model Lord Mayor than Faringdon’s reaction to the sight of St Paul’s? In this moment, the geography of London itself, like the outdoor theatre here at Shakespeare’s Globe, doubles as a combination of playhouse and time-capsule. The city is both the ideal setting in which to imaginatively reconstruct the past, and also an enduring medium through which the present might engage directly with history. By displaying him in the context of transcendent cultural and geographical loci, Faringdon – the paradigmatic civic authority – is guided through temporal confusion by the sight of a London landmark – a Christian landmark – that, like the disinterred former Mayor, belongs at once to history and also to the present.
When one considers the optics and practical staging of this scene, though, Faringdon’s message takes on a deeper significance than merely advising Pemberton to remember where he works and who he works for. The relationship between life and death in this scene becomes a meta-commentary of sorts on the fleeting nature of power, and of mortality itself. As the procession left the churchyard, those in attendance would have witnessed Pemberton and his entourage surrounded by ghosts – those of Fitz-Alwine, the armed guards, the kings in the chariot and freshly-raised Faringdon: a tableau of the living and the dead in which the differences between the two would not have been immediately obvious. Faringdon may have just been brought back to life, but – given that the two share the same theatrical space, and are dressed for the same position – Pemberton the politician could just as easily be the dead man walking.
It is true that the effect of this singular living dead tableau would have been decontextualized within minutes of leaving the churchyard. As Tracey Hill reminds us, “only those who followed the procession from start to finish (the Lord Mayor himself and other chief dignitaries) were able to see the Show in its entirety; for most onlookers, the Show was witnessed in a fragmented form”. [3] Those who did not witness Faringdon rise from the grave, or hear Fitz-Alwine and Time trumpet the presence of ghosts in the pageant, would surely not have perceived the characters in terms of life and death. For all of the detailed stage directions in Chruso-thriambos, Munday leaves remarkably few clues in the published script as to what props or practical effects may have accompanied the living and the dead here, and it is therefore difficult to judge the proportion of Munday’s audience that might have appreciated the post-churchyard ambiguity.
However, if we turn briefly to Munday’s 1616 Show – Chrysanaleia, written for the Company of Fishmongers – we may see that Munday repeats his earlier trick with a similarly ambiguous juxtaposition of living and dead characters – one that, with more detailed stage directions and an accompanying image, may offer some idea of how visible the tableau effect in Chruso-thriambos might have been, and what place it had in the message of the wider procession. In the 1616 Show Munday re-uses the tomb and effigy-cum-actor device at St Paul’s, and specifies in his description of the scene that the party leaving the churchyard is accompanied by “The Bower and Tombe” from which a different long-dead mayor (named Walworth) was raised (sig. B3r). [4] The company of living and dead men thus bring the graveyard along with them for the rest of the city to witness. Even more significantly, the tomb accompanying them has become symbolically different to that which they originally meet at St Paul’s: minus the “effigy” on top of it, the tomb which follows the new Mayor through the city becomes anonymous – the monument could be anybody’s. [5] Those audience members who did not see Walworth rise (thereby demonstrating that the coffin is his) would have seen instead the newly elected Lord Mayor being followed through the streets by an ominous reminder of his mortality.
I can only conjecture on whether or not Faringdon, Fitz-Alwine and Pemberton would have been accompanied from the churchyard by the powerful symbol of an empty coffin, but given the similar scenes in 1616, it is certainly possible. What is certain, on the other hand, is that even if the tomb had remained in the churchyard, at least a small number of those in attendance would have appreciated the ambiguity that Munday creates – not least of all the most powerful members of the audience, the mayor himself and his attendants. Alongside the obvious allusions to the temporal nature of human life, then, Munday’s amalgamation of living and dead bodies in Chruso-thriambos anticipates clearly-defined comments concerning the Lord Mayor’s temporal power.


St Paul’s Cathedral in present-day London (credit: Wikipedia)
It seems only fitting to end this paper by going back in time a little way. In 1598, Munday’s friend and mentor – the eminent historian and writer, John Stow – published his Survay of London, a book best described as a deeply interested walking tour through London’s geography and history. According to Steven Mullaney, Stow’s Survay history becomes a kind of “memory-theatre”. The term “memory-theatre”, though, is equally, if not more, applicable to the format of the Lord Mayor’s Show – and Chruso-thriambos in particular. At Baynard’s Castle, then, and at St Paul’s Cathedral, representations of living death foreground nothing so much as memory: Pemberton is reminded throughout that he is simply the latest link in a long chain, that his term is finite, that he must do what good he can while he can. Above all, London is watching, and history remembers.
I’d like to conclude this paper by returning to Baynard’s Castle, which is, we recall, Chruso-thriambos’ first site of connection between the past and the present, between life and death. The Castle may no longer stand, but I like to think that Munday might have enjoyed the significance of the building in its place today: an office block. An office owned by none other than British Telecom: BT.
How’s that for making connections?

Bob Hoskins, featured in an advert for BT, c.1995

[1] All references to Chruso-thriambos taken from: Munday, Anthony. Chruso-thriambos. The Triumphes of Golde. (London: Imprinted by William Iaggard, 1611).
[2] Robinson, Philip. “Mayoral pageantry and early modern London, 1605-1639”. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Exeter. 2009.
[3] Hill, Tracey. Anthony Munday and Civic Culture: Theatre, History and Power in Early Modern London 1580-1633. (Manchester: MUP, 2004). 80.
[4] All references to Chrysanaleia taken from: Munday, Anthony. Chrysanaleia: The Golden Fishing: or, Honour of Fishmongers. (London: Imprinted by George Purslowe, 1616).
[5] The precise form of this monument is not entirely clear, but it may not have resembled a coffin in the traditional sense. The 1616 image shows a bower with Walworth seated in front of a flat-topped table which might have also functioned as his ‘tomb’. The implication, therefore is that, as with Faringdon’s resurrection and accompanying monument, only a relatively small proportion of the London audience would have witnessed the full macabre significance of the props accompanying Mayor and performers from St Paul’s. See Hill, Tracye. Pagaentry and Power: A Cultural History of the Early Modern Lord Mayor’s Show, 1585-1639 (Manchester: MUP, 2010). 235.

N.B. Post cover image borrowed from Liam Sims’ excellent CUL post on the history of the Shows: https://specialcollections-blog.lib.cam.ac.uk/?p=11206

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