Gloria Betcher asked why I chose to gloss "scaffoldes" as execution 
platforms. The fuller context for the swatch of More that I quoted is 
that Richard, duke of Gloucester, has play-acted reluctance in taking 
the crown, after a stage-managed set of events in the spring of 1483 
that included at least four executions (two nobles and two knights) on 
execution platforms and several arrests, not to mention the rumored 
murder of the Princes in the Tower. So while More has an analogy to a 
"staige plaie," the stage for Richard's play is more likely a scaffold 
set up for beheading.

A bit more. In the longer context, More reinforces that Richard has been 
putting on a performance by referring to what seems to have been the 
traditional practice of a man having to be asked three times to be 
bishop before he accepts. Richard finally accepts the crown, supposedly 
at the behest of nobles and commons, and the people cry "King Richard!" 
More comments (quoting Hall's version) that "the people departed 
talkynge dyuersely of the matter, euery man as hys fantasye gaue him, 
but much they marueyled of this maner of dealing, that the matter was on 
both partes made so straunge, as thoughe neuer the one part [Richard] 
hath communed wyth the other parte [Buckingham] thereof before."

In other words, they know they have seen play-acting between Richard and 
Buckingham but conclude that this is what kings do, by means and for 
reasons the people cannot know. "Howbeit, some excused that again, 
saiyng: al thing must be done in good ordre, and menne must somtyme for 
the maner sake not bee aknowen, what they knowe..." Then followed More's 
comments about the "staige plaie" including a sultan character in a 
miracle play played by an amateur actor who is in real-life a shoemaker. 
In this royal performance, an ambitious duke has removed obstacles 
between himself and the throne. "[T]hese matters be kynges games, as it 
were staige playes, and for the moste part plaied vpon scaffoldes 
[execution platforms], in which poore menne be but lookers on, and thei 
that wise bee will medle no ferther, for thei that steppe vp with them 
when thei cannot plaie their partes thei disorder the plaie and do theim 
selues no good." An ordinary person best not question what Richard is 
doing lest his head rolls too.

Bill Ingram: nice note that builders' scaffolding is also called staging.

Al Magary
Hall's Chronicle Project

On 4/5/2021 7:30 AM, Betcher, Gloria J [ENGL] wrote:
> Al,
> On another note, the explanation “plaied vpon scaffoldes [/execution 
> platforms/]” is limiting, I think. The primary meaning of “scaffoldes” 
> in a theatrical metaphor would have been raised stages, rather than 
> execution platforms. Of course, the term means both here, and it’s 
> commonplace for commentators to note the pun on the term “scaffoldes” 
> to evoke the execution platform. I’m curious why you chose to define 
> the term using only the secondary meaning rather than the 
> less-well-known one or both meanings.
> Gloria
> Gloria J. Betcher, PhD (she/her/hers)
> Associate Teaching Professor
> Department of English
> 419 Ross Hall
> 1527 Farm House Lane
> Ames, IA 50014
> *From: *Al Magary <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> *Sent: *Monday, April 5, 2021 1:08 AM
> *To: *[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> *Subject: *Re: Thomas More's "staige plaie"
> Thanks to Anne Lancashire and Michael Winkelman for leads on what the 
> "staige plaie" reference in More's Richard III was all about. The 
> Warnicke article I found at JSTOR. I especially needed that correction 
> to my misapprehension: More was not referring to some skit in which a 
> sultan (character) was really a shoemaker (character)--which is good 
> comedic stuff for later decades and centuries--but a civilian 
> shoemaker acting in the role of the sultan in a morality play who 
> would not want anyone in the audience to call him by his actual name.
> I won't be doing much explaining of More's influences (not just the 
> miracle plays but Latin dramatists too) as my work is about Hall's 
> Chronicle. Thus I am more interested in the interplay of the two 
> texts, with reference to some Latin version passages that Hall omitted 
> (he seems not to have been aware of More's Latin version) and 
> differences in wording. Responsibility for many variants could be 
> placed on Hall's publisher, Richard Grafton, who was first to include 
> More's history in his prose continuation of Hardyng's metrical 
> chronicle (1543), and of course on typesetters. But a footnote 
> explaining More's connection to miracle plays he may even have acted 
> in will catch some interest.
> Cheers,
> Al Magary
> Hall's Chronicle Project
> On 4/4/2021 1:59 PM, Michael Winkelman wrote:
>     It's been ages since I've read it, but Retha Warnicke's article,
>     "More's Richard III and the Mystery Plays," in Historical Journal
>     35 (1992): 761-78, may also be helpful.
>     ~Michael A. Winkelman