Media Distribution


This subject is made up of several individual titles and one sub-series:

The York Cycle Pageant

Castle of Perseverance: A Perspective
Still photographs from the full-length production of the play are used in a comprehensive introduction, and key scenes are shown in their proper dramatic order. A commentary provides historical background to the play along with an analysis of its structure and content. The program was written and narrated by David Parry, former Artistic Director of the Poculi Ludique Societas, University of Toronto.
55 minutes / 1982

Castle of Perseverance: A Perspective -- Full Length Version
The Castle of Perseverance is the earliest English morality play to have survived with a complete text. This is a recording of the entire performance, which took place at the University of Toronto presented by the Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama and Poculi Ludique Societas in association with Records of Early English Drama.
4 hours, 15 minutes / 1980

Carolingian Luxury Manuscripts
Using selected illuminated manuscripts produced for royal and ecclesiastical patrons during the Carolingian period, the interplay between earlier artistic tradition and contemporary ideologies is explored. Written by K.M. Openshaw.
25 minutes / 1988

Constantine and the City
The evolution of the city in a Christian world is explored using a variety of visual images beginning with a description of the main elements of a typical Greco-Roman city and ending with the general development of cities in the post-Constantinian era. Written by Professor Caroline Williams.
15 minutes / 1990

Ceremony and Allegory of the Medieval Hunt
The 14th century produced several handbooks on hunting, such as the Livre de Chasse of Gaston Phebus, or William Twiti's The Art of Hunting which set out the etiquette of the hunt, as well as a collection of hunting lore. At the same time, literary authors made use of the allegorical possibilities of the hunt. This program explores the visual presentation of the hunt practical and allegorical in illuminated manuscripts, paintings and tapestries of the 13th to 15th centuries. Written by Robin Healey.
23 minutes

The Coronation of Henry V
An abbreviated performance of a live production of the consecration service for Henry V of England, in 1413. None of the important ceremonies have been left out, but the Coronation Mass which follows the consecration has been omitted. The service begins immediately following the procession into Westminster Abbey. Presented by Poculi Ludique Societas.
58 minutes / 1985

The Crowning of Charlemagne
Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day in the year 800 by Pope Leo III. An event of tremendous importance, the coronation came to be recorded in history and depicted in art in very different ways. Here is an historical presentation of the coronation from five divergent accounts: the Royal Annalist; a papal biographer; Theophanes the Byzantine historian; the Lorsch Chronicle; and Charlemagne's court biographer Einhard. Written by Professor Colin Chase.
19 minutes / b&w / 1972

Dante's Ulysses and the Homeric Tradition (Inferno XXVI) / Homerica (Inferno XXVI) / L'Ulisse Dantesco e la Tradizione
Using illuminations from early Dante manuscripts and other sources, this program compares the linear trajectory of Dante's Ulysses with the circular pattern of the homeward bound Homeric hero. The voyage of the Dantesque figure is plotted on medieval maps to illustrate its moral significance for Dante's Christian audience. Available in English or Italian.
28 minutes / 1987

A 14th Century Easter Matins with the Harrowing of Hell
Preceded by a complete monastic Easter Matins and the Harrowing of Hell, a "Visitatio sepulchri" written for the 14th century Benedictine nuns of Origny-Ste-Benoite is produced in its liturgical setting. Both clerics and nuns take part in the ceremonies, according to the rubrics. This program uses poetry throughout and is partly in French. Performed by Poculi Ludique Societas; musical direction by Professor Andrew Hughes.
Part 1: 43 minutes
Part 2: 37 minutes
Total running time (both parts): 80 minutes / 1989

English Handwriting in the Dark Ages
A concise introduction to English palaeography illustrated with manuscript samples from the 7th to 12th century. It shows the characteristics of four early styles of writing: the decorative Rustic Capitals; Uncials used for bibles and important documents; Insular Majuscule; and the most commonly used Insular Minuscule. Written by Professor Angus Cameron.
18 minutes / 1972

Falconry: The Medieval Art
The history and practice of medieval falconry is explored using manuscript illuminations, Turkish miniatures, tapestries and other visual images. Written by Jeff Singman; produced and directed by Ron Bearden.
19 minutes / 1990

La Femme au Moyen Âge
Mise en valeur de la participation des femmes en société entre 1150 et 1400. Ce vidéo dissipe des mythes courants sur le role de la femme dans divers contextes. Des enluminures et des gravures sur bois servent à illustrer divers éléments de la vie quotidienne de la femme au moyen âge.
22 minutes / 1991 / Also available in English: see Women in the Middle Ages

The Fifteen Joys of Marriage
In a humorous yet revealing manner, this program examines some of the predominant medieval attitudes toward women. Illustrated with medieval sculpture and scenes from medieval drawings, it shows how women were often portrayed as inherently evil and as the cause of the downfall of men. The title of the program is from a fifteenth century French satire on wives. The highly prejudicial views held of women explored here are especially useful in provoking classroom discussion about women and their representation throughout history. Written by Professor Roberta Frank, Dept. of English and Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto with Carolyn Eisen.
11 minutes / b&w / 1972

From Field to Feast
From field to merchant to kitchen to feast, this program traces the production, preparation and consumption of food in the middle ages. Illustrated by manuscript illuminations and woodcuts. Written by Professor Terence Scully .
25 minutes / 1996 (to be released)

The Gothic Cathedral
Using a wide range of architectural photographs and illustrations, this program examines the remarkable evolution of cathedral architecture between the 12th and 16th centuries. It shows the adaptations to a variety of regional, climactic and religious requirements in central and western Europe, as Gothic building advanced from timber barns and framed halls to the dramatic evocations of light and space found in the great cathedrals. Written by Professor James Acland.
16 minutes / b&w / 1973

The Killing of Abel
This biblical drama from the Book of Genesis is based on the Wakefield Master's version of the story of Cain and Abel. It is performed in original Middle English dialect which adds greatly to the scholarly interest of the program. Performed by Poculi Ludique Societas.
35 minutes / 1987

King Arthur: From Romance to Archaeology
The existence of King Arthur and the time and place of his life are subjects of historical debate. On-site archaeological evidence is presented of a large fortress which existed at South Cadbury in the late 5th century. Vestiges of ramparts and breastworks, traces of gateways and the roads leading through them are all shown with commentary. The legendary burial place of Arthur at Glastonbury is also examined for the rich evidence it yields concerning Celtic burial practice and pre-invasion monastic culture. Written by Professor James Carley.
22 minutes / 1975

Last Judgement in Medieval Sculpture
The long awaited second coming of Christ, when all men would be judged according to the lives they had lead on earth, was a popular theme which inspired the sculptural decoration of abbeys, churches and cathedrals in the middle ages. This program explores the Biblical accounts of this event and shows how it was artistically represented up to the end of the 13th century. Romanesque and Gothic examples of Last Judgement tympana are shown, with particular reference to the Abbey of Moissac and the Cathedral of Bourges. Written by Professors Susan Jupp and Sarah McKinnon.
19 minutes / 1972

Late Medieval Liturgical Books, Part 1: The Contents of Missal and Breviary
A number of separate liturgical books of the earlier middle ages were combined and condensed as a result of 12th and 13th century reforms: that the new books would be self-contained. This part of the program highlights in both written and sung profiles the late medieval Missal and Breviary.
20 minutes / 1982

Late Medieval Liturgical Books, Part 2: Design and Execution
The detailed process of incorporating music, initials and other design elements into the format of the medieval text is explored here. Through close visual analysis, the method of producing regular columns and of alternating music and text is also outlined. Written by Professor Andrew Hughes.
20 minutes / 1982

Learned Medicine at the Time of Chaucer
The discipline of medicine, as taught in the universities of Chaucer's day, was largely based on knowledge derived from classical sources. The works of Hippocrates, Galen and others were the foundations of medieval medicine, and an examination into the knowledge and medical practice of the learned doctors typified by Chaucer's doctor of physik. It uses medieval illustrations of doctors at work and of the medical and astrological lore upon which they based their practice. Written by Robin Healey.
24 minutes / 1982

Making of a Manuscript
This program presents illustrations from the middle ages along with live action scenes and actual medieval samples to illustrate the materials and processes which went into the production of medieval manuscript books. Parchment, papers, ink, leather bindings and writing implements are examined in detail, and a brief history to modern times surveys how manuscripts have been compiled, damaged and supplemented by later readers and librarians. Written by Professor A.G. Rigg.
23 minutes / 1974

The Medieval House
The extraordinary burst of creative building in Europe between the 12th and 15th centuries had its roots in the construction of everyday dwellings: the relatively humble houses along the street and the utilitarian farm buildings of the countryside. Using photographs, manuscript illuminations and original sketches, the development of house types in Eastern and Western Europe is followed. Considered are the origins and varieties of wood construction, and how builders made practical responses to climate and defense requirements in their housing designs. Written by Professor James Acland.
25 minutes / b&w / 1974

The Medieval Monastery
Early medieval thought was shaped by the monastic experience. It was in the monasteries that learning flourished, books were written, manuscripts copied and art produced. Medieval illustrations and music are combined with narration in this program which focuses on seven medieval monasteries: St. Michel, Canigou, Senanque, Thoronet, Silvacana, Vezelay and St. Benoit. The beautiful architecture and natural surroundings of these monasteries and the daily routines and duties of the medieval monk are examined. Written by Professors Philip Niles & Stephen Kelly.
23 minutes / 1979

The Medieval Plough
Of all the farming operations in medieval European agriculture, ploughing consumed the most time and effort. Using drawings, diagrams and selections from medieval art, this program examines the heavy-wheeled plough of England and Northern Europe: how it worked; how it influenced the shapes of fields; and the forms of social contract and behaviour. Written by Professor Thayron Sandquist.
15 minutes / b&w / 1973

The Medieval Universe: The Planets
To ancient and medieval man each planet had a definite, characteristic influence on the course of events and the shape of personality. The basic medieval conceptions of the seven heavenly bodies which were counted as planets are outlined: how these conceptions were derived from sources in antiquity, how the planets were seen as agents of divine providence, and how celestial and mythological attributes were combined. Earth's five closest planets, the sun and the moon are discussed in particular detail. Written by Professor A.G. Rigg.
27 minutes / 1975

The Medieval Universe: The Stars
Rich in meaning and far from being merely ornamental, astrological imagery is of central importance in medieval literature. Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is used as a point of reference here, as the intricate and orderly universe of the middle ages is clearly described. Illustrations are used to show the Ptolemaic conception of the universe before it was displaced by the Copernican system. Written by Professor Colin Chase and Bob Rodgers.
24 minutes / 1976

The Origins of Liturgical Drama
The use of dramatic re-enactments, which taught congregations about the life of Christ and events in the Bible, was an important aspect of worship in the medieval church. Reproductions of medieval paintings, and quoted liturgical text from the period, are used to trace the development of liturgical drama from the 10th century through to the mystery cycles of the 14th and 15th centuries. Also featured is a live performance (staged at Trinity Chapel in Toronto, 1979) of a 13th century Easter play portraying the Resurrection of Christ, taken from the manuscript Visitatio Sepulchri. Written by Marcie Epstein.
35 minutes / 1982

The Psychomachia
One of the first full personification allegories of Western literature and one of the most influential early Christian texts, the "Psychomachia" was written by the 4th century Spanish Latin writer Prudentius. It is retold here using vivid accompanying illustrations. The battle within man's soul between his vices and virtues, each of which is armed as a warrior, is recounted with scholarly commentary. Written by Professor A.G. Rigg.
22 minutes / 1977

Le Rete di Vulcano Passione e Punizione (Inferno V)
The story of Paolo and Francesca (Inferno V), Dante's famous condemned lovers, is set against the broader theme of love and war. Its archetype is traced to Ovid's story of the adultery of Venus and Mars. Created and written by Amilcare A. Iannucci, in Italian. English language version also available see Vulcan's Net: Passion and Punishment.
22 minutes / 1987

Robin Hood and the Friar
Robin Hood and the Friar is filled with vigorous action, songs, morris-dancing and a good measure of skilled fighting. An accompanying handbook features the complete performance text, historical background, director's notes and commentary on staging, acting, costuming and music. Performed by Poculi Ludique Societas.
18 minutes / 1983

The Road to Santiago
Using a pot pourri of manuscripts, miniatures, maps and music, this video explores the cultural phenomenon of the medieval pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, focusing in particular on the experience of the individual pilgrim. Written and narrated by Kathleen Openshaw and Andrew Taylor.
25 minutes / 1993

Le Roman de la Rose: Allegorie du 13e Siecle
This 13th century French allegorical poem written by Guillaume de Larris and Jean de Meung is retold using the illustrations from the 15th century MS Douce 195. The complex allegorical text relating the lover's wooing of his beloved, along with many of the numerous digressions and examples which elaborate the romance, is recounted. The program contains a useful introduction and commentary. Written by Professor Brian Merrilees. Available in English or French.
37 minutes / 1976

The Ruthwell Cross
The Ruthwell Cross was one of the first monuments of the Christian Anglo-Saxons in Great Britain. The figure sculptures, the Latin inscriptions, the inhabited vine-scroll patterns and the Old English poem in runic characters are all closely examined. The program closes with a reading from The Dream of the Rood, a poem which appeared in a 10th century collection, parts of which correspond in a particularly interesting manner to the poem inscribed on the cross. Written by Professor Angus Cameron.
20 minutes / b&w / 1974

Saint Cuthbert
Illustrated with pictures from two 12th century manuscripts of his life, the story of St. Cuthbert, a Northumbrian saint of the 7th century, is told. The program follows Bede's Life of St. Cuthbert, documenting incidents of his life which show his miraculous powers and his love and concern for all creatures. Written by Professor Angus Cameron.
14 minutes / b&w / 1972

Sutton Hoo Ship Burial
A day-by-day account of the 1939 discovery and excavation of a ship buried at Sutton Hoo in Sussex, thirteen hundred years previously. Beginning with a view of the Sutton Hoo site in 1972, the program returns to 1939 to show the discovery of the ship's detailed impression in the earth, and to retrace its excavation. As the dig proceeds, evidence is uncovered of a collapsed burial chamber and the treasures contained within. A diagram shows the arrangement of the objects and each is examined in turn. The ship was buried as a memorial to a dead king, and a reading from Beowulf at the end of the program solves the puzzling question of who owned its treasures. Written by Professor Colin Chase.
14 minutes / 1972

The Toronto Passion Play
Based on the two-part passion play segment from the medieval manuscript Ludus Coventriae, the only extant example of a medieval cycle passion play which presents the events in continuous action.
120 minutes / 1983

To Syngen and to Playe: Music and Instruments in Chaucer's Day
The characteristic sounds of medieval music and the instruments used to produce them are a ubiquitous element of Chaucer's world. Here examined are some of the instruments common to the late 14th century, and the styles of music to which each is related. References to these instruments are taken directly from Chaucer, with relevant passages quoted in the program; also, musical selections from such composers as Landini and Machaut are featured. Written by Professor David Klausner.
25 minutes / 1973

Tools in Medieval Life
People in medieval times altered their world through the invention, borrowing and adaptation of tools, and such changes "ushered in a new era" in the 13th century. The technologies of agriculture, textile production, clocks, mills, mining, transportation and printing are discussed. Written by Professor Bert Hall and Robin Healey.
30 minutes / 1981

Vulcan's Net: Passion and Punishment (Inferno V) / Punizione (Inferno V)
The story of Paolo and Francesca, Dante's famous condemned lovers, is set against the broader theme of love and war. Its archetype is traced to the adultery of Venus and Mars, called by Ovid, "the best-known story in all heaven". Available in English or Italian.
22 minutes / 1987

Word Power in Islamic Art
This program shows the basic structure of this ancient kufic script and how Islamic artists used it to create objects of art.
12 minutes / 1992

This is a lively performance of an important medieval morality play from late 15th century East Anglia. Colourful costumes and props faithfully follow details from the Wisdom manuscript. Added features are the live music and three formal dances. Performed by Poculi Ludique Societas.
88 minutes / 1991

Women in the Middle Ages
Using manuscripts, woodcuts and illuminations, this program highlights women's participation in medieval society in the period c. 1150 - c. 1400. Women functioned as members of the three orders of society. Shown are rulers and noble women, exercising administrative tasks associated with their social rank; working women in their rural and urban contexts; women as independent entrepreneurs and as wives contributing to the family economy; and women's participation in religious life. This program illuminates the social history of the Middle Ages and dispels some popular misconceptions about the status of women. Written by Professor Jacqueline Murray, University of Windsor. Directed by Gail Singer.
22 minutes / 1992 / Also available in French: see La Femme au Moyen Age

The Wonders of the East
This program explores the conception of world geography held by Anglo-Saxons circa 1000 A.D., with a narrated text which describes strange men and beasts which inhabit unknown parts of the world. Using illustrations from tenth and twelfth century manuscripts, it is based on a Latin and Old English text which survives in three manuscripts, the earliest of which is attributed to Beowulf. Written by Professor Angus Cameron.
16 min. / b&w / 1973

The York Cycle in the 15th Century
Examined is the general organization of the plays by the guilds and city council and the actual route taken through the streets of York. One pageant Last Judgement or Doomsday Pageant of the Merchant's Guild is looked at in close detail, with quotations cited from an actual list of properties, costumes and equipment drawn up by merchants in 1433. Written by Professor Alexandra Johnson.
15 minutes / b&w / 1972

The York Cycle Pageant series

The pageant series is a recreation of the annual event which took place in York, England between 1376 to 1569, tracing Biblical history from Creation to the Last Judgement by presenting scenes both from the Old Testament and the Life of Christ. This presentation shows the event as it might have been seen in 1485, with performances by a wide range of dramatic groups, professional and amateur. Presented by Poculi Ludique Societas in association with Records in Early English Drama.

The York Cycle is available for purchase by groups of plays (refer to tape number) or the plays may be purchased individually.

Part 1 - The Creation and Fall of Lucifer
Presented by the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto.
12 min. (Tape #1)

Part 2 - The Creation of the Fifth Day
Presented by the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto.
14 min. (Tape #1)

Part 3 - The Creation of Adam and Eve
Presented by the Seventh Heaven Players, Syracuse University.
8 min. (Tape #1)

Part 4 - Adam and Eve in Eden
Presented by the English Dept., University of Guelph.
7 min. (Tape #1)

Part 5 - Fall of Adam and Eve
Presented by Victoria College.
12 min. (Tape #1)

Part 6 - The Expulsion of Adam and Eve
Presented by the Society for Creative Anachronism.
11 min. (Tape #2)

Part 7 - Cain's Murder of Abel
Presented by York University.
22 min. (Tape #2)

Part 8 - The Building of the Ark
Presented by Seneca College.
12 min. (Tape #2)

Part 9 - Noah and the Flood
Presented by the Drama Centre, M.A. Immersion Program.
22 min. (Tape #3)

Part 10 - Abraham and Isaac
Presented by McMaster University, Dept. of English Association for Drama.
20 min. (Tape #3)

Part 11 - The Exodus
Presented by the Rosedale Presbyterian Church.
25 min. (Tape #4)

Part 12 - The Annunciation
Presented by Records of Early English Drama, University of Toronto.
20 min. (Tape #4)

Part 13 - Joseph's Trouble About Mary
Presented by Drama Centre, M.A. Immersion Program, University of Toronto.
18 min. (Tape #5)

Part 14 - The Nativity
Presented by the University of Western Ontario.
10 min. (Tape #6)

Part 15 - The Angels and Shepherds
Presented by the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto.
9 min. (Tape #6)

Part 16 - The Purification
Presented by the Dept. of Drama & Film, Brock University.
29 min. (Tape #6)

Part 17 - The Three Kings
Presented by Grace Church on the Hill.
24 min. (Tape #7)

Part 18 - The Flight Into Egypt
Presented by the Public Library Players.
17 min. (Tape #7)

Part 19 - Massacre of the Innocents
Presented by Scarborough College.
16 min. (Tape #7)

Part 20 - Christ with the Doctors
Presented by the Tottenham Village Players.
18 min. (Tape #8)

Part 21 - The Baptism of Jesus
Presented by Knox College.
12 min. (Tape #8)

Part 22 - Temptation of Jesus
Presented by the Seventh Heaven Players, Syracuse University.
16 min. (Tape #8)

Part 23 - The Transfiguration
Presented by the Dept. of English, Queen's University.
13 min. (Tape #9)

Part 24 - Women Taken in Adultery
Presented by the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.
16 min. (Tape #9)

Part 25 - Entry Into Jerusalem
Presented by the Community of St. Dominique.
26 min. (Tape #9)

Part 26 - The Conspiracy
Presented by the Theatre Dept., Ohio State University.
14 min. (Tape #10)

Part 27 - The Last Supper
Presented by the Estonian Art Centre Players.
16 min. (Tape #10)

Part 28 - The Agony and Betrayal
Presented by the Dept. of English, University of Western Ontario.
19 min. (Tape #10)

Part 29 - Trial Before Caiaphas
Presented by the University Alumnae Dramatic Club.
22 min. (Tape #11)

Part 30 - The Dream of Pilate's Wife
Presented by The Julie Hannaford Players.
30 min. (Tape #11)

Part 31 - Trial Before Herod
Presented by the Ben Rose Players.
33 min. (Tape #12)

Part 32 - Second Trial Before Pilate
Presented by the Varsity Review, sponsored by the Students' Administrative Council.
23 min. (Tape #12)

Part 33 - The Condemnation
Presented by University College.
36 min. (Tape #13)

Part 34 - Christ Led Up to Calvary
Presented by Cornell University.
18 min. (Tape #8)

Part 35 - The Crucifixion
Presented by Erindale College.
16 min. (Tape #14)

Part 36 - Christ's Death and Burial
Presented by Glendon College, York University, and the University of Toronto Media Centre.
6 min. (Tape #13)

Part 37 - Harrowing of Hell
Presented by the Drama Centre M.A. Immersion Program, University of Toronto.
24 min. (Tape #15)

Part 38 - The Resurrection
Presented by the St. Joan of Arc Players.
24 min. (Tape #15)

Part 39 - Appearance to Mary Magdalene
Presented by the Fairview Theatre Company.
9 min. (Tape #16)

Part 40 - Travellers to Emmaus
Presented by the Drama Club, Stratford Central Secondary School.
11 min. (Tape #16)

Part 41 - The Incredulity of Thomas
Presented by the Bathurst Street United Church.
10 min. (Tape #16)

Part 42 - The Ascension
Presented by New College.
17 min. (Tape #16)

Part 43 - The Pentecost
Presented by the Society of Friends.
11 min. (Tape #17)

Part 44 - The Death of Mary
Presented by the Drama Centre M.A. Immersion Program, University of Toronto.
15 min. (Tape #17)

Part 45 - Appearance of Mary to Thomas
Presented by St. Thomas Anglican Church.
25 min. (Tape #17)

Part 46 - The Assumption of the Virgin
Presented by St. Joseph's Morrow Park High School.
12 min. (Tape #17)

Part 47 - The Day of Judgement
Presented by Poculi Ludique Societas and Records of Early English Drama, University of Toronto.
27 min. (Tape #18)


The Creation and Fall of Lucifer
The Creation of the Fifth Day
The Creation of Adam and Eve
The Fall of Adam and Eve

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve
Cain's Murder of Abel
The Building of the Ark

Noah and the Ark
Abraham and Isaac

The Exodus
The Annunciation

Joseph's Trouble
About Mary

The Nativity
The Angels and Shepherds
The Purification

The Three Kings
The Flight Into Egypt
The Massacre of the Innocents

Christ With the Doctors
The Baptism of Jesus
The Temptation of Jesus

The Transfiguration
The Women Taken Into Adultery
The Entry Into Jerusalem

The Conspiracy
The Last Supper
The Agony and the Betrayal

The Trial Before Caiaphas
The Dream of Pilate's Wife

The Trial Before Herod
The Second Trial Before Herod

The Condemnation
Christ Led Up to Calvary

The Crucifixion
Christ's Death and Burial

The Harrowing of Hell
The Resurrection

Appearance to Mary Magdalene
The Travellers to Emmaus
The Incredulity of Thomas

The Death of Mary
Appearance of Mary and Thomas

The Assumption of the Virgin
The Day of Judgement