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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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The Feast of the Ass

The Feast of the Ass

(p.74) Chapter 7 The Feast of the Ass
Sacred Folly

Max Harris

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the “feast of the Ass” as part of the Feast of Fools during the mid-twelfth century. According to Pierre Louvet's account, the feast of the Circumcision was celebrated with an increasingly elaborate liturgy in the third quarter of the twelfth century in a few cities of northern France. In Beauvais, however, a further liturgical innovation was introduced. Before the beginning of first vespers on the eve of the feast, in front of the cathedral's west doors, the choir sang. An ass was then led into the church to the processional chanting of “Orientis partibus,” now known as the song (or prose) of the ass. This chapter considers the processional song of the ass in Beauvais and how the drunken prologue to vespers (or mass) has been associated with the liturgy of the Feast of Fools.

Keywords:   feast of the Ass, Feast of Fools, Pierre Louvet, feast of the Circumcision, liturgy, France, Beauvais, vespers, song of the ass

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