The theater, especially sacred, has shown a growing vitality in these two centuries; among the many documents that certainly went missing, a manuscript of the century. XIV has kept for us a precious collection of forty Miracles de Notre Dame, short representations in the service of a Parisian brotherhood: the legendary of the Virgin poses there in rather crude but effective scenes, which sometimes closely reflect bourgeois and popular customs (eg, Une femme que Notre Dame garda d’être ass); the action is almost always rapid, violent, and sudden changes of the soul; some miracles are connected to the most widespread and fortunate themes of the novellistic tradition (Amis et Amile, the Empereris de Rome, La marquise de la Gaudine, Roberto the devil, the “Manekine”, etc.), so as to present the sketch of a profane drama, of passion and fantasy, concluded by moral and religious training. From the end of the century. XIV is the estoire de Griseldis, a simple stage reduction of Griselda’s short story, which the Latin version of Petrarch had made known widely in Europe. In the century XV takes place in ever wider forms the “mystery” of the Passion, extended not only to all the episodes in the life of Jesus, from birth to crucifixion, but to the same dogmatic reasons of the Redemption, in a single cycle that starts from the creation of the world and includes original sin and the “procès de Paradis”, that is the contrast between Justice and Mercy, resolved by the divine sentence which reopens to man the way of salvation. From a Passion narrative, which the jesters divulged with their recitations, and on the example of the dramatic representations of the Nativity and the Resurrection, the first mysteries of the Passion had to be formed, of which some texts remain, such as that of the Sainte-Geneviève library; on the other hand, the existence of the brotherhoods of the Passion in various cities of France, since 1371 in Nantes, and soon in Paris, shows that the sacred theater was orienting itself towards that spectacle, in which it seemed to fully fulfill its task of edification.
According to MATHGENERAL, the three great passions Fifteenth-century French are that of Arras, attributed with strong arguments to Eustache Marcadé, who was the first to include the “procès de Paradis”; what we can call Paris, which is deservedly the most famous, and has as its author Arnoul Greban, and finally that of Angers, due to Jean Michel. Greban made use of the framing and some scenes from the Passion of Arras; Jean Michel worked on the Passion of the Greban, starting from the second day, insisting on the scenes that could most interest a popular audience. Arnoul Greban, who was waiting to compose his mystery around 1450, while he was assigned to the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, was able to organize it in a grandiose whole, not always immune from the usual defect of that theater, which is the prolixity and the sloppiness, but animated by happy scenes of artisans and shepherds, so as to evoke a broad background of humanity, in agreement with that of his listeners, and in the most dramatic and elevated moments, such as the despair of Judas and the pain of the Virgin, he came to express his emotion, both rude and kind. Arnoul’s brother, Simon Greban, took part in the editorial staff of a second and still more vast mystery on the Acts of the Apostles; and another cycle, compiled at the end of the century, brings together numerous episodes from Viel Testament, as a background and a prophetic preparation for the Passion. The representation of life, and above all of the martyrdom of the Saints, occupied numerous fatistes, or theatrical composers; one of these, unknown, wrote Le mystère du Siège d’Orléans, a recent historical event which should have aroused passions and feelings that were still alive in the souls of contemporaries; but, in its pedestrian and chronological development, the work was not equal to the assumption: the same figure of Joan of Arc has a limited and dull part in it. Jacques Milet with the Histoire de la Destruction de Troye la grant wanted to go back to classical legends, acquired for a long time in medieval culture, and on the same sources.
The middle of the century XV marks a notable awakening of the profane theater: to the farce, whose first examples are much older, but very rare, and which now appears lively and copious, are added the moralité (allegorical representation, for educational and moral purposes) and the sotie, which is a short stage play, recited by the sots, in their variegated costume and with rattles hood, attributed to the personification of Madness: and the sots also took up the monologue of the jesters and the sermons joyeux. The nursery of comic production took place in the festive societies of youth, such as the Enfants sans souci and la Basoche, which gathered notary and court clerks; and from that circle came out, around 1464, the masterpiece of the genre, that is the farce of Ma î tre Pathelin: few scenes, which are enough for the release of such a lively wit, of such a sure mastery of the effects of comic language, to justify the fortune of the Pathelin type in the French literary tradition. The moralité was enough to treat the subjects more varied, sometimes similar to those novels that were already been dramatized in miracles: frequently, aimed at a satirical commentary of the history of time.