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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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A Letter from Paris

(p.1) Prologue
Sacred Folly

Max Harris

Cornell University Press

This book reexamines the history of the Feast of Fools and locates it in its liturgical context. It first discusses a range of activities that have been mistakenly identified as precursors to or early examples of the Feast of Fools, the most important of which are the Kalends masquerades. It then considers the way in which the Feast of Fools took shape and received local ecclesiastical support in northern France from the mid-thirteenth to the end of the fourteenth century. It also chronicles attempts to suppress the Feast of Fools, from Jean Gerson in 1400 to the university theologians of Paris in 1445. Finally, the book documents the proliferation of lay festive societies in France between about 1450 and 1560. As an introduction, this prologue analyzes the letter issued by the faculty of theology at the University of Paris in March 1445 denouncing the Feast of Fools.

Keywords:   festive societies, Feast of Fools, Kalends masquerades, France, Jean Gerson, letter, University of Paris, faculty of theology

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