The York Memorandum Books feature both legal documents and dramatic records, suggesting that civic drama was defined by its engagement with legal as well as religious and guild practices. This essay argues that York’s Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem uses the legal paradigms of charter and witness to promote civic authority and engage the local history of York’s negotiations with royal authority. York’s charters combine the material geography of the city’s boundaries with abstract concepts of legal rights. Medieval law defined witnesses as neighbors close enough to have seen and heard relevant events, or to have knowledge of reputation accorded by spatial proximity. The play shows that the legal concept of the witness promoted local rather than central authority, and the play’s own dramatic practices can be theorized through legal concepts. In addition, the play draws attention to the crucial role played by the law in late medieval concepts of space.

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