Note: See also the files: theater-msg, theater-bib, jesters-msg, Jestrs-Mumrs-lnks, masks-msg, humor-msg, jokes-msg, juggling-msg, masks-mumming-lnks

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Medieval puppets.
NOTE: See also the files: theater-msg, theater-bib, jesters-msg, Jestrs-Mumrs-lnks, masks-msg, humor-msg, jokes-msg, juggling-msg, masks-mumming-lnks.

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at:
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Thank you,

Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous

Stefan at


From: David Salley (6/24/94)

To: markh at sphinx

RE>Historical Analogy??
There's a book at the main branch library here in Buffalo titled something

like _The History of Puppets in England_. It has to be _the_ most comprehen-

sive book on puppet history every written. Despite the title, he covers

most of Europe and traces the history of several stock characters (e.g. Punch

Judy, Harlequin, etc.) from live actors to puppets. When I go to the

library the next time, I'll get all the info like author and such and post

it to the Rialto because you're not the first to inquire.

- Dagonell

SCA Persona : Lord Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake, CSC, CK, CTr

Habitat : East Kingdom, AEthelmearc Principality, Rhydderich Hael Barony

Disclaimer : A society that needs disclaimers has too many lawyers.

Internet : salley at

USnail-net : David P. Salley, 136 Shepard Street, Buffalo, New York 14212-2029

From: salley at (David Salley)


Subject: Re: Historical Analogy??

Summary: Perhaps a _different_ model ;-)

Date: 15 Jun 94 12:28:05 GMT

Organization: Canisius College, Buffalo NY. 14208
I don't remember the exact years or names off the top of my head,

but I know exactly which book it's in at the library...

For several hundred years, there has been an annual fair in the south

of London. One Lord Mayor of London decided there was profit to be had

from the performers. Certain types of performers were charged with a

license fee, others were banned outright. The main criteria was the amount

of equipment you had. If you were encumbered, you paid for a license.

If you could cut and run when the cops showed up, you were banned.

Marionette puppeteers had to get licenses, glove puppeteers were banned.
When he finally died, the next Lord Mayor of London, who missed the glove

puppets at the fair, recinded the ban and cancelled the license fee. All

performers were welcome at the fair. At the very next fair, all the puppeteers

both marionette and glove had 'Hizzoner So-and-so Lord Mayor of London'

puppets, a caricature of the mayor who had banned them. A puppet who was

used to play the part of a buffoon or fool. ;-) ;-)

I'm going to have to think about trying my hand at puppet making this

summer. What exactly does Tony Provine look like anyway? ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

- Dagonell
SCA Persona : Lord Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake, CSC, CK, CTr

Habitat : East Kingdom, AEthelmearc Principality, Rhydderich Hael Barony

Internet : salley at

USnail-net : David P. Salley, 136 Shepard Street, Buffalo, New York 14212-2029

From: umspeary at (Wendy Lyn Speary)


Subject: Re: early puppets

Date: 19 Dec 1994 03:22:31 GMT

Organization: The University of Manitoba
In <3cr3ac$up at> bootman at (James Bootman) writes:
>we are launching a home school project into 500-1000AD does

>anyone have any info on where I can look for help, any

>historical data on puppets/theater, especially for children,

>sounds impossible but thought I would ask, thank you, julienne

Not impossible my Lord, just difficult.

One of the earliest depictions of a puppet we have is in the Romance of

Alexander, one illustration clearly shows three ladies (perhaps girls)

sitting in front of a puppet theatre shaped like a castle.

We know that such things existed but to prove it is another matter.

Some books that may help: Charles Magnin, histoire des marionettes en europe.

Revised edition, Paris 1862

George Speaight, the history of the english puppet theatre. London,1955

Max von Boehn, dolls and puppets, Revised edition 1966.
Your local library should be able to help. If not try the local

university library.

I wish you luck.

From: salley at (David Salley)


Subject: Provine Puppet (was Re: WWW site for SCA stuff !)

Date: 13 May 95 15:39:24 GMT

Organization: Canisius College, Buffalo NY. 14208

Hal Ravn (Hal Heydt) writes:

> Just the other day I dug out some older

> pictures to have scanned. I thought that one of the more

> 'infamous' people ever connected with the Society might be of

> interest: Tony Provine. Look for it in a couple of weeks.
Yes!!!! Now I can do a puppet of him! ;-) ;-)
For those who missed the discussion last year, in the summer of 1647,

John Warner, Lord Mayor of London, banned puppets from the annual

St. Bartholomew Fair. In the spring of 1648, he died. In the summer

of 1648, all the puppeteers had a `John Warner' puppet speaking the

lines of a fool!
"Here lies my lord Mayor, under this stone,

That last Bartholomew's Fair, no puppets would own,

But next Bartholomew's Fair, who liveth to see,

Shall view my lord Mayor, a puppet to be!"

-- Broadside, 1648

- Dagonell

SCA Persona : Lord Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake, CSC, CK, CTr

Habitat : East Kingdom, AEthelmearc Principality, Rhydderich Hael Barony

Internet : salley at (Please use this, reply may not work.)

USnail-net : David P. Salley, 136 Shepard Street, Buffalo, New York 14212-2029

From: baronfum at (Baron Fum)


Subject: "Oh excellent motion!"- puppets in period

Date: 22 Oct 1995 18:20:19 -0400

Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Good gentles,

I like Captain Pod of Pye Corner am becoming somewhat of a puppeteer

or, more in period, a motion man. What I have found so far is that whils

sources exist for the presence of medieval puppetry, there is very little

as far as the actual construction of puppets. At least three types were

known, those being the "jiggling" puppet, the glove puppet, and the

marionette. While puppets were well known in Greece and Rome, they are

virtually absent from sources between 400 to 1200. Caucer may be

referring to puppets in two quotations:

". . .let this man have place,

He in the waist is shaped as well as I;

This were a popet in an arm to embrace

for any woman small and fair of face."

"In all this world,. . .

There was no man so wise, that he could thench

so gay a popolete, or such a wench,"

It could be a reference to puppets, or again this could be a reference to

a doll, the the two being related.

There are also some representations of puppet theatre in

illuminations, notably two in The Romance of Alexander, found in the

Bodlian library, showing spectators at puppet theatres that appear to be

of the glove puppet type. The theatres are made to look like two towers

joined by a parapet with a scrim behind which the puppeteer could work.

One of the two illustrations looks for all the world like a Punch and Judy

type of presentation, though Punch as a charachter derived from Italian

Commedia del Arte is about 100 years out of period

A reference is made to a religious puppet presentation of the

resurresction at Witney in 1500, at which a comical charachter of a

watchmen appeared who shook so to the noise of sticks being smacked

together that he was known as Jack Snacker of Whitney.

In August 1561 Lady Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk, recorded in her

household accounts the payment of 6s. 8d. to "two men which played upon

the puppets."

Finally, just out of period, Ben Johnson in Bartholomew Faire

includes an entire puppet play performance, this in 1614. It is

postulated that this play was lifted from a play that Johnson himself had

written for the puppet theatre some 15 years earlier, in 1599.

I am obviously interested in sources for medieval puppetry and

puppets- if you have any ideas please send them to me by e-mail or join

the thread here (and copy me in e-mail). I would also appreciate any

ideas for my actual theatre- for why do the research if we do not want to

do the play?

I plan to make up the next theatre (the last was destryed) in the

fasion of the ones in the Bodlian miniatures, and make up the puppets as

glove type puppets with heads of papier mache (the old ones, now in some

disrepair, were combination glove and rod puppets with heads made of

"super sculpy"). There shall be several stock charachters, The old crone,

the young lovers, the dottard, the haughty knight, the yeoman, the king,

and (being from the Mid Realm) the Dragon- and of course I'll be having

the Devil. We (the popets and I) shall play forth old romances, tales of

classical nature, some historical dramas of the SCA, and everything with a

mixture of topical humor and mixed and mashed period, person, and place as

is proper for the puppet theatre to do according to research for in The

Blind Beggar of Bednam Green (1600) you are told, "You shall likewise see

the famous City of Norwich, and the stabbing of Julius Ceasar in the

French Capitol by a sort of Dutch Mesapotamians. . ."

Thank you all for your time and interest- let me know what you know or

come and see the show.

Ritter Baron Karl Aerdigwidder von Zauberberg, C.P.

Baron Andelcrag, Middle Kingdom

From: becky_b at (Becky L Becker)

To: markh at

Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 16:33:33 EST
By the way, on the puppet front, I have a wonderful book called "The Last

Days of Mr. Punch" by D.H. Myers, 1971, McCall Publishing. The Punch and

Judy may be out-of-period, but the precessors were not. Anyway, it is a

delightful book, and may be useful for those building travelling puppet

stages. I don't believe it is in print because I purchased mine in a

used book store. My daughter (Alys of the Lair - Protector of Dragons)

and I own a mundane puppet theater.
Lady Rebekah

From: baronfum at (David K. Schreur)


Subject: Period Puppetry

Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 08:26:35 -0500
Dear Gentles,
Any who are interested in period puppetry may find some information in an

article including bibliography that I have placed on my web page. The URL

is as follows:
follow the links to puppets, poetry, songs, etc.

Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 23:53:17 -0500 (CDT)

From: Jasper Fieth

Subject: Re: SC - apples

> I did something really dumb today. There's a farm near us that has a

>scarecrow contest, haunted house, cornstalk maze and all that and they

>have hayrides out to the orchards where you can pick your own apples. I

>took the kids out there today and they had so many varieties and they

> all looked so good that we came home with 37 pounds of apples.


>Anyone have any period apple treats that I can make up for the fighters

>to take to "Not Necessarily Pointless War" this weekend?


>Your help would be greatly appreciated. I can't get into my kitchen!



Do you need documentation by this weekend, or will a word do?

I have three books worth of apple-things, but I'd have to hunt for the

documentation on most of them...
Here's one, though it is more of a craft than a receipe:

Peel apple.

using a sharp implement of destruction, carve a face into the apple.

Mount apple on stick.

Allow apple to dry in the sun.
What you have is a shrunken "head" that was used in poppets of the period.

Doubters can go to a good doll collectors convention, or browse through

all the books in my mothers attic... she's the fanatic on that one.
Esko Sola

From: Alexandria Doyle

Date: April 14, 2009 5:08:37 PM CDT

To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc."

Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Puppets in Period
On Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 4:42 PM, Regan Caimbeul wrote:

<<< I was wondering if anyone has information regarding puppets in period: what

kinds of puppets were used, how to make them, sample shows, or other

introduction-like stuff (yes, that's a technical term).
I think that I would LIKE to stick with the Tudor/Elizabethan period in

England. However, information from other eras, and countries would also be

interesting. This is just something new that I would like to learn about,

and I thought I would put some feelers out on the list and see what was out

Rachel >>>
I think that the place to start is with DOLLS AND PUPPETS by MAX VON

BOEHM. This is the work that most modern doll historians go to as

their source for dolls, and the second half of this book is about

various puppets.

There's also somewhere an inventory of the things that Mary Stuart

brought back with her to Scotland that included a set of marionette

dolls that she and her ladies are reported to have dressed and

redressed as they pleased. This is not a source I now have to hand as

I think it was someone else's book webbed perhaps for a limited time,

but I'm sure that a little searching would turn it up.

Some books do lump dolls and puppets together, (but in our period they

seemed to be two very different things) so looking at some of the doll

histories might get you started. If you'd like, I can look at the

library at home and see if there's more puppet related stuff mixed in

with the doll stuff

From: Paulette Doyle

Date: April 14, 2009 5:15:39 PM CDT

To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc."

Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Puppets in Period
Lets see, where to begin You have your Marionettes, and you have your plain old hand puppet (Punch and Judy) There are loads of web pages out there. Also in Indonesia and India you have Shadow puppets (fun to play with but take some skill, and a loud voice, to get right) I know they have really good puppets in Japan but haven't done that much research on them...yet.
As far as how they used puppets, The marionettes stated out doing passion plays, In churches because it was thought a human couldn't bring the "innocents" of the Virgin Mary, so they made "Little Marys" and other part to the play would have been done by marionettes as well. That is until the "clown" got introduced, then bawdy humor was soon to follow and out into the streets the puppets went.

Then we get to Punch and Judy, (not my kind of plays) Very violent and adult based humor.

Most all of the puppets would have been carved out of wood then painted. The hand puppets would have a cloth "glove"/body.
For marionettes Check out Italian puppets, some of the best looking puppets around.
For Punch and Judy, just type in Punch and Judy on your favorite search engine.

As a "General" Rule is if it's mouth moves it ain't period.

Gwen / Paulette

From: Coblaith Muimnech

Date: April 15, 2009 12:22:55 AM CDT

To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc."

Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Puppets in Period
Rachel wrote:

<<< I was wondering if anyone has information regarding puppets in period. . . >>>
Puppet shows feature in bas de page illustrations on folios 54v and 76r of Bodleian MS 264 . They were painted in Flanders between 1338 and 1344, in the workshop of Jehan de Grise.
Coblaith Muimnech

From: roseofsheryn

Date: April 19, 2012 11:48:37 PM CDT


Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Anyone have info on these fighting knight puppets?

This gives more explanation from what I see. Sounds like it would not be difficult to make but take a bit of practice to make them work as you wanted them to move.



On Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 8:26 PM, Arthur Smith wrote:

<< I am looking for information on the fighting lnight puppets of Hortus Deliciarum -

I am curious on how they would have worked and been constructed. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


In Service - Arthur of Ballan Moor - Baron of Coeur d' Ennui

(MKA Arthur Smith )

Barony of Coeur d'Ennui -

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