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Sacred FollyA New History of the Feast of Fools$
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Max Harris

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449567

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449567.001.0001

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Rereading the Letter from Paris

Rereading the Letter from Paris

Chapter:
(p.218) Chapter 19 Rereading the Letter from Paris
Source:
Sacred Folly
Author(s):

Max Harris

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801449567.003.0019

This chapter examines the letter issued by the faculty of theology at the University of Paris in March 1445 denouncing the Feast of Fools. Those who issued the letter were heirs to an extended campaign against the Feast of Fools, begun in 1400 by Jean Gerson and subsequently backed by the Council of Basel and the Pragmatic Sanction. In January 1445, the Paris theologians had been petitioned by Jean Leguise, bishop of Troyes, for support in his efforts to suppress the Feast of Fools and its perceived assaults on “archiepiscopal dignity” in Troyes. This chapter analyzes the three-stage argument advanced by the Paris theologians in their letter. First, they condemn the “diabolical” and “idolatrous” character of classical Roman festivals in general. Second, they invoke the authoritative condemnation of such festivals by the New Testament writers and early church fathers, calling Saints Paul and Augustine as witnesses. Third, they identify the Kalends masquerades of January in particular as the source of the Feast of Fools.

Keywords:   letter, faculty of theology, University of Paris, Feast of Fools, Jean Gerson, Council of Basel, Pragmatic Sanction, Jean Leguise, festivals, Kalends masquerades

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