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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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King of the Breeches

King of the Breeches

(p.258) Chapter 23 King of the Breeches
Sacred Folly

Max Harris

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores the relationship (or supposed relationship) between the clerical Feast of Fools and Laon's festival of theater. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the people of Laon elected three midwinter dignitaries. The choirboys chose a bishop of innocents, the vicars and chaplains elected a “patriarch of fools,” and the bourgeois chose a festive King of the Breeches to rule over a three-day festival of theater beginning on January 12. This chapter first considers the reappearance of the Feast of Fools and the feast of the Innocents in Laon's chapter records in 1454 and goes on to discuss the plays staged by the patriarch of fools and his company. It then examines the cathedral chapter's restrictions on its innocents and fools and asks whether lay festive societies in Laon or elsewhere were an outgrowth of the clerical Feast of Fools.

Keywords:   festival of theater, Laon, bishop of innocents, patriarch of fools, King of the Breeches, feast of the Innocents, plays, festive societies, Feast of Fools

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