The Feast of the Ass: Medieval Faith, Fun, and Fear
The breadth of medieval mentalities is explored with reference to popular culture, ritual, religious beliefs, and practices, against a backdrop of fear and anxiety, with reference to the official church in the medieval Latin west. The Feast of the Ass, for example, exemplifies the uncomfortable boundaries which existed between the church and popular culture. Popular religious practices and ecclesiastical liturgy, orthodox doctrines, and popular beliefs coalesce to form the medieval underworld wherein heretics and dissenters were consigned. The various conflicts and challenges which medieval society faced are noted as a basis for understanding the roots of religious belief and practice in the Middle Ages. The chapter creates a context wherein religion and its anxieties are evaluated by means of a broad perspective.