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This examination of dramatic patronage in the Henrician era explores and accounts for the relative disengagement of Henry VIII from the drama. Far from buttressing the image of an enthusiastic patron of court and household plays, key details in diplomatic reports, revels accounts, and play texts demonstrate the tenuous connection between Henry and the drama. Henry appears to have seen none of the period's surviving plays and none can be attributed to his support. Rather, court plays can first be associated with Wolsey, and when they again became prominent in the late 1530s, they appeared under Cromwell's, Cranmer's, or Catherine Parr's patronage. Others, including his albeit frugal father Henry VII, churchmen, educators, noble women, courtiers, and his heirs, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth, were quicker to recognize the drama's persuasive power, and can be credited more directly with encouraging an emergent humanist drama in school and secular plays. By contrast, Henry's quixotic entertainments embodied a return to a medieval chivalric aesthetics. His insular and quasi-dramatic revels, even those involving William Cornish and chapel children, suited a king who appears to have only tenuously embraced the Renaissance, promoting instead a late flowering of traditional medieval court pageantry and conventional participatory disguisings. (J.H.M.)