King-led outlaw defiance, riotous lords of misrule, proud midsummer mock kings, and stately Inns-of-Court princes: in diverse ways all were reflections of the dominant social order in the Medieval and Tudor periods and, as this book shows, all influenced the writings of Shakespeare and hiscontemporaries. Mock Kings considers kingship in the light of contemporary accounts of elected kings in outlaw and rebel groups, and compares them with the phenomenon of festive mock kings. The result is a complex picture of interrelation between festive and more serious opposition to the dominantorder, as well as the discovery of a midsummer mock-king play tradition. The second part of the book considers the professional theatre from the late 1580s to the mid-Jacobean period, and demonstrates that mock-king patterns, found in less literary contexts, form the structure of many scripted plays. The popularity of some of the minor dramas is understood for the firsttime when their festive patterns are identified and, by contrast, Shakespeare's genius in transforming inherited structures into complex works of art is thrown into relief. The book shows that serious reflection on the nature of kingship was maintained throughout Renaissance drama.