- (Middle Dutch: noble plays) The earliest vernacular plays of the Netherlands, which are among the earliest in Europe. They developed in the 13th century from an amalgamation of mime with the ballads and lays of the minstrels. The subject matter was secular and nearly always drawn from chivalric romance. The abele spelen were generally followed by bawdy farces, called sotternieën or kluchten.
The earlier Dutch liturgical drama has not survived,but four abele spelen are extant from the 14th century, includingthe tragedy Lanseloet van Denemarken. The only surviving examplefrom the 15th century is De Spiegel der Minnen by Colijn van Rijssele.