The Lord, or King of Misrule was a traditional Christmas official in Medieval
England. The Lord was a peasant chosen by lottery.
A paper crown
d clothing were worn in mockery of royal
Location, Location, Location.
A Lord of Misrule was typically appointed at the court
, houses of prominent noblemen, law schools, and universities
What's your function?
This office was given complete secular
power, even over the reigning monarch/s. The temporary role reversal present in this system is akin to the Saturnalia
practice of masters and slaves exchanging positions
. However, this control
was limited by the Lord's good sense to avoid being punished ex post facto
, and primarily used for comic effect
As well as having near total control
, the Lord was charged with arranging and directing all local Christmas jollification.
Besides these responsibilities, the Lord and his concomitant entourage provided satiric, sometimes bawdy entertainment.
The entourage of the Lord could be anything from a mock royal court to an outfit of mummers (performers that dressed up in drag and masks, providing chaotic fun and skits).
Here Comes the Reign Again
A Lord of Misrule held office generally either for the Twelve Days of Christmas, or from All Hallow's Eve unitl the Feast of Purification (approximately three months).
The Abbot of Unreason and the Boy Bishop are two related Christmas offices. The Abbot was the Scottish version, whereas the Boy Bishop fulfilled the role in choir schools.
Supressor In Action
Assignment of the King of Misrule began in the late Medieval period, and ended after the death of King Edward the Sixth
in 1553 due to Puritanical supression. Likewise, the Abbot of Unreason was abolished in 1555.
The last residual marker of the Lord of Misrule is the paper crown found in Christmas crackers