Both are skimmingtons
, a customary form that (in the view of the perpetrator) turns punishment of women into a comic performance (as odd a perspective, in its way, as the conventional view then widely held that bear-baiting was allegorical comedy).
While, as Underdown has suggested, skimmingtons
were festive events, often attracting participants from neighboring villages, such incidents likewise underscore the overlap between the public and private spheres.
Unfortunately, these still operate and are maintained by social constructions like the "Rule of Thumb" myth and by the sanctions patriarchal power exerts through the vehicle of Skimmingtons
in modern guise (George, 2002).
They were actively involved in a wide range of activity that spurred laughter--such as skimmingtons
, horn fairs, Hocktide binding, riddling, rhyming mock verses, and even performing in jigs.
In that sense, the farce seems to follow more from ritually authorized moments of male cross-dressing, such as the presentation of scolding or shrewish wives in charivaris and skimmingtons
, than it does from the employment of boy actors for the Elizabethan or Jacobean stage.
Also included in her investigation of jesting culture are accounts of public events such as Horn Fairs and skimmingtons
, which Brown reads as unscripted performances of events reflected in early dramas ranging from the Chester plays of Noah and his wife to The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Alchemist.
Beyond these literary references and artifacts to Skimmingtons
, other resources support the contention of a wide knowledge of Charivari processions in England.
Stallybrass ends his essay with a list of actions of such "unruly women" in the early seventeenth century: tearing down enclosures, rioting against high grain prices, and conducting unruly "skimmingtons
."(34) He could perhaps have added one more: the women who, also in 1607, lead a series of riots against food exportation at a time of famine.
And those, in large part and loosely defined, are "the people," whose collective consciousness determined, on a community level, what it meant "to be."(23) We know that the local community, with all its rites and rituals of passage (marriages, skimmingtons
, charivaris, funerals, and the like), mentored and monitored the performance of self.(24) And these pressures were both manifested and represented on the stage.
The coincidence of history and theatre also emerges in Christina Bosco Langert's essay about cross-dressing and skimmingtons
, particularly the Lady Skimmingtons
who protested enclosure.
She stretches the definition of jest to emphasize the social drama inherent in horn fairs, jigs, skimmingtons
, and other impromptu displays of social criticism, acts that were often instigated and performed by women with a female audience in mind.
The ritual shaming of authorities or neighbours through skimmingtons
involved cross-dressing and allowed for expressions of frustration and repression to manifest themselves in this festive practice.