This article examines the later medieval royal entry ceremony in York from the perspective of the social groups that designed and produced the spectacle. Deliberations of York's civic council comprise the main body of evidence for this study. It is argued that a mercantile oligarchy controlled the production of ceremony at every level. York's merchants dominated the design of civic receptions by excluding other secular and ecclesiastical groups native to the city from the decision-making process, and by resisting external interference by groups such as the nobility. The civic council made use of the topography of the city to reinforce the mercantile dimensions of the ceremony and to create a ceremonial space where they could communicate with the royal visitor. The merchant élite also adapted the form and content of the city's nuanced Corpus Christi celebrations to the royal entry. By these means they displayed and consolidated their position at the pinnacle of urban society at a time when their dominance over the city's economic, social and political structures was weakening.