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Fleury Playbook

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Abbaye Saint Benoit de Fleury, the supposed origin of the book.

The Fleury Playbook is a medieval collection of Latin biblical dramas dating from around 1200 AD. It was bound and kept at the library of Abbaye Saint Benoit de Fleury, a Benedictine monastery at Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, France, until after the French Revolution and is now housed in the Bibliothèque de la Ville (Municipal Library) at Orléans, France.[1] The works in the playbook are told in a musical style similar to that of plainsong.[2] The origin of the book is unknown, but it is possible that it was written by multiple authors.[1] The playbook consists of a total of 10 works.[3][2]


The playbook was compiled in the late 12th century, in Fleury. Although it is widely accepted that the Fleury Playbook was created there, the neumes in the musical scores are not similar to those found in Fleury Abbey, nor was Fleury known for any achievements in drama prior to the Fleury Playbook, both of which suggest that the book may not have been bound in Fleury Abbey. However, the manuscript was copied and housed in the abbey's scriptorium, and may have served as an early example of a liturgical musical.[4]


The plays are both liturgical and non-liturgical (specifically those pertaining to St. Nicholas), and may be performed both monastically and non-monastically, as the text does not specify. As each drama appears to correspond with different dates of the liturgical year, it is likely that main purpose of the playbook is not liturgical.[5] The plays are meant to be performed, as evidenced by their structure, staging, and effects. Overall, the plays cover both Old Testament and New Testament themes such as the Ten Commandments and conversion.[6]


The ten works in the Fleury Playbook are written in the following order:[7]

  • Tres Filiae (The Three Daughters)
  • Tres Clerici (The Three Clerks)
  • Iconia Sancti Nicholai (The Image of Saint Nicholas)
  • Filius Getronis, (The Son of Getron; the most popular of those relating to Saint Nicholas) [8]
  • Ordo ad Representandum Herodem (The Play of Herod; about the Nativity)
  • Interfectio Puerorum (the Massacre of the Innocents)
  • Conversion and rebirth



  1. 1.0 1.1 Tinkle, Theresa (2004). "Coperative Drama, Vol. 38" (in English). Questia Media America. pp. 1.;jsessionid=LTnNvYMfQQwYbxchbRjGSNNL24dYzK5QSHhmSw1WpvdKvY3JlQvG!1515409072!125390872?docId=5008189280. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thomas, Wyndham. "Fleury playbook". United Kingdom: Antico Edition. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  3. Hayes, Holly. "Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire Abbey". Centre, France: Sacred Destinations. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  4. Ogden, Dunbar H. (2002). The Staging of Drama in the Medieval Church. University of Delaware Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-0874138634. Google Book Search. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  5. Petersen, Nils Holger. "The Ordo ad repraesentandum Herodem from the Fleury Playbook: Biblical Reception and Representational Ritual". Spain: Universitat de València-Estudi. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Thomas, Wyndham. "Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution Proceedings vol.9". University of Bristol: BRLSI. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  7. "Medieval Latin Drama in English Translation=". Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  8. Watkins, David; Oxford University Press (1963). "Music and Letters" (in English). London: United Music Publishers. pp. 198. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 

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