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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VI. The Drama to 1642, Part Two.

XI. The Children of the Chapel Royal and their Masters

§ 8. Royal patronage

The special interest felt by queen Elizabeth in the chapel boys at Blackfriars may have been due, in part, at least, to their music. At any rate, there cannot be any doubt of her interest in them. According to a letter from Sir Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain, she attended the play at Blackfriars on Tuesday, 29 December, 1601. The duke of Stettin speaks, indeed, as if the queen had established the theatre and provided the rich costumes of the plays, but the evidence in the suit of Kirkham vs. Evans et als (1612) indicates that the managers, Evans, Kirkham and their fellows, bore all expenses and took all profits. Kirkham was, indeed, yeoman of the revels, and had charge of the costumes and properties provided for the revels at court, but, though he may have been able to borrow from the revels garments for the use of his company, he could not have bought them without special authorisation. There is no evidence that the queen had any active part in the establishment or maintenance of the children of Blackfriars, though, of course, the company could not have been established or maintained without her tacit consent. She was fond of the drama and of music. On 8 April, 1600, the privy council addressed a letter to the Middlesex justices expressing the queen’s pleasure in the performances of Edward Alleyn and his company, and her desire that he should he allowed to erect the Fortune theatre.

Hasty as this survey of the long and brilliant career of the children of the chapel has, necessarily, been, it can hardly fail to have suggested their very great importance in the history of the drama and the stage. They were pioneers in more than one interesting movement, they produced plays by some of the foremost dramatists of their time, they were prominent in the curious, not to say ludicrous, “war of the theatres,” and they were finally put down because of the vigorous political satire spoken through their mouths.