ORB Online Encyclopedia
The Corpus Christi Celebration
Of all religious drama, modern critics are best able to reconstruct the autos performed during the Corpus Christ celebrations--especially those in Toledo. This is so because account books recording the purchase of materials for these celebrations are still preserved in cathedral libraries. Carmen Torroja Menéndez and María Rivas Palá, who have studied the Libro de Cuentos del Cabildo from Toledo, describe the Corpus Christi in Toledo in Teatro en Toledo en el siglo XV16. From their studies, they speculate on the route the pageant parade likely followed, which seemed to regularly include the Puertas del Perdón and of las Ollas, and the streets of Chapinería, Feria, and occasionally Tripería. 17 Torroja Menéndez and Rivas Palá describe the expenditures listed for the various years, which included: wax for the candles, wood for the pageant wagons, cloth, paper, and paint to decorate the wagons' figures, and payments to the artisans who did the work creating materials for the festival. Additionally, there are references to payments for minstrels, and in 1445 the first payments to actors for the "juegos." 18 In 1456, Torroja Menéndez and Rivas Palá note the first references to "representaciones." By the time Alonso de Campo took charge of the celebrations in 1481, their theatrical nature is certain. Corpus Christi then consisted of a parade of as many as 92-130 pageants carts. Some of these carts had monsters, giants or other figures on them. Others were used for the performances of the autos at various stops and at the end of the parade route. Torroja Menéndez and Rivas Palá state, "Algunas obras tenían un solo escenario, pero la mayor parte utilizaban varios....Conste que en 1496 para seis autos se utilizaron trece carros y lo mismo el año siguiente"(Some works had only one scene, but the majority utilized many...Certainly in 1496 for the six autos they used thirteen carts and did the same the next year.) 19 The fact that the Libro de Cuentos del Cabildo mentions 31 different Corpus Christi autos (unfortunately only preserving fragments from two), is good evidence of the importance of this type of drama in Toledo.
16 Torroja Menéndez, Carmen and Rivas Palá, María. Teatro en Toledo en el siglo XV. Madrid: Anejos del Boletín de la Real Academia Española, 1977.
17 Torroja Menéndez and Rivas Palá, 20.
18 Torroja Menéndez and Rivas Palá, 20.
19 Torroja Menéndez and Rivas Palá, 44.