Lucy Worsley's 12 Days of Tudor Christmas


The Lord of Misrule

We join Lucy Worsley as she gets an inside look at the holiday festivities that took place at Henry VIII’s court and meets the “Lord of Misrule.” This role was often appointed to one of the king’s courtiers and was charged with overseeing party activities and merriment.

AIRED: December 25, 2019 | 0:02:25

(upbeat English folk music)

- [Host] I want to experience how people

amused themselves before the days

of Christmas TV, movies, and games consoles.

(upbeat English folk music)

(man shouts)

So, historic performance specialist Charlotte Ewart

has recreated the kind of party you'd find at Henry's court.

This sort of mayhem is what the Tudors called "misrule."

- You could say that the Twelve Days of Christmas

were the high point of Tudor entertainment.

They played games, and they danced dances,

and there were plays that were staged.

But of course, all of this revelry needed a ring leader.

(man blows horn)

- I am the Lord of Misrule.

I am appointed to make sport in the court.

(crowd laughs)

And this is my band of lusty guts.

(crowd cheers and bangs on drum)

- So, are you sort of like a jester or a fool?

- No!

This is my fool.

(man shuffles through gravel)

(man blows high-pitched horn)

- My lords, gentlemen and ladies,

absolutely nothing's about to happen!

(crowd cheers and laughs)

- Now, despite appearances and behavior,

the Lord of Misrule was actually appointed

from among the courtiers.

He was quite the high status.

- So, he's a toff? - He is, yes.

- I'm in charge of Christmas. (laughs)

- [Charlotte] There's more to him than meets the eye.

- Yes, and what was the point of all this?

- It's sort of like court-ordered chaos.

It was a parody of what would happen

in the court for the rest of the year.

- How did they know not to go too far?

- Well, well exactly, and that's--

(women gasp)

- [Host] I think he's gone too far!

(crowd chatters and laughs)

- Fool, I command you to bring her back.

Give her to me.

I'm so sorry.

(women laugh and crowd chatters)

There you go, Sir Lucy.

- You see, order is then restored.

- Sort of.

(Charlotte laughs)