John Bale  

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-'''Morality plays''' are a type of [[theatre|theatrical]] [[allegory]] in which the [[protagonist]] is met by [[personification]]s of various [[morality|moral]] attributes who try to prompt him to choose a godly life over one of evil. The plays were most popular in [[Europe]] during the [[15th century|15th]] and [[16th century]]. Having grown out of the religiously based [[mystery play]]s of the [[Middle Ages]], they represented a shift towards a more secular base for European theatre. +'''John Bale''' (21 November 1495 – November 1563) was an English churchman, historian and controversialist, and [[Bishop of Ossory]]. He wrote the oldest known historical [[verse drama]] in English (on the subject of [[King John of England|King John]]), and developed and published a very extensive list of the works of British authors down to his own time, just as the monastic libraries were being dispersed. His unhappy disposition and habit of quarrelling earned him the nickname "bilious Bale".
-==History of morality plays== 
-At the dawn of the [[15th century]] morality plays were common throughout medieval Europe as didactic plays intended to teach good morals to their audience. Plays like ''[[Condemnation des banquets]]'' by [[Nicolas de Chesnaye]], ''[[The Castle of Perseverance]]'', ''[[Everyman (play)|Everyman]]'' are all surviving plays that were written and performed with this intention.  
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-However, by the [[16th century]] these plays started to deal with secular topics as [[medieval theatre]] started to make the changes that would eventually develop it into Renaissance theatre. As time moved on morality plays more frequently dealt with secular topics, including forms of knowledge (in ''Nature'' and ''The Nature of the Four Elements'') questions of good government (''Magnificence'' by [[John Skelton]] and ''Respublica'' by [[Nicholas Udall]]), education (''Wit and Science'' by [[John Redford]], and the two other "[[wit]]" plays that followed, ''The Marriage of Wit and Science'' and ''Wit and Wisdom''), and sectarian controversies, chiefly in the plays of [[John Bale]].  
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-Morality plays only gradually died out as tastes changed towards the end of the sixteenth century. Throughout his career [[Shakespeare]] made references to morality characters and tropes, suggesting that the form was still alive for his audiences, at least in memory, long beyond the period of its textual flowering.  
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-==Characteristics of morality plays== 
-Most morality plays have a protagonist who represents either humanity as a whole (''[[Everyman]]'') or an entire social class (as in ''Magnificence''). Antagonists and supporting characters are not individuals per se, but rather personifications of abstract virtues or vices, especially the [[Seven deadly sins]]. 
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-Morality plays were typically written in the [[vernacular]], so as to be more accessible to the common people who watched them. Most can be performed in under ninety minutes. 
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-==See also== 
-*[[Medieval theatre]] 
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John Bale (21 November 1495 – November 1563) was an English churchman, historian and controversialist, and Bishop of Ossory. He wrote the oldest known historical verse drama in English (on the subject of King John), and developed and published a very extensive list of the works of British authors down to his own time, just as the monastic libraries were being dispersed. His unhappy disposition and habit of quarrelling earned him the nickname "bilious Bale".




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