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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

II. Secular Influences on the Early English Drama

§ 4. The Minstrels’ Guild

In the first place, they consolidated their formation into guilds. A charter of Edward IV (1469)—after reciting that certain “rude rustics and artificers” were pretending to be minstrels and neglecting their business, to go about the country, levying heavy exactions on the lieges—orders all minstrels to join the guild on pain of suppression; and this guild still exists in the corporation of the Musicians of London. In the second place, they took the wind out of the sails of the amateurs by becoming interlude players themselves. They are found doing this probably so early as 1427; and it was not long before the greater convenience of hiring professional players than of training amateurs began to make itself felt—not to mention the element of farce, which the minstrels had kept alive and were ready and able to contribute to the attractions of the show. While the great towns continued to produce miracle-plays by means of their craft-guilds, smaller places and private houses depended on the transformed minstrels. They are found attached to the establishments of nobles by the middle of the fifteenth century, and Henry VII and his successors kept their own companies. Under Elizabeth, they, in their turn, made way before, or were incorporated into, the professional actors of the new drama.