The Lord of Misrule and the Feast of Fools

In medieval England, the Lord of Misrule was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools - a riotous banquet where the central idea seems always to have been a brief social revolution in which power, dignity and impunity is briefly conferred on those in a subordinate position. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant appointed to oversee these Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness, wild partying and general licentiousness.

The appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. 

In the medieval version young people chose from among their own number a mock pope, archbishop, bishop, abbot to reign as Lord of Misrule. Participants would then “consecrate” him with many ridiculous ceremonies in the chief church of the place, and give themselves such names as Archbishop of Dolts, Abbot of Unreason, Boy Bishop, or Pope of Fools.

The parody often tipped dangerously towards the profane, the ceremonies mocking the performance of the highest offices of the church, while other persons, dressed in different kinds of masks and disguises, engaged in songs and dances and practised all manner of revelry within the church building. As a result, the Feast and the almost blasphemous extravagances were constantly the object of condemnations of the medieval Church, until it was finally forbidden under the very severest penalties by the Council of Basel in 1431.

[Image Source: Pieter Bruegel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559)]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 22nd

What the three men [Strauss-Kahn, Newt Gingrich, Schwarzenegger] have in common, aside from wielding more influence than they can handle or deserve, is that their serial misbehavior went unchecked for years. In fact, it was rationalized as mere exuberance, frequently excused in “exceptional” people, when it actually demonstrated something else – ruling class impunity.

In honor of the new Thor movie (hey, what the fuck… I felt like giving it some kind of “special occasion” and “the holiday season” just doesn’t quite cut it with me), this may be a good time to repost this collection of essays on everyone’s favorite trickster. No, not me, you dipshits. I mean Loki. Here’s what you’ll find in this must-have compilation:

  • Loki: The God of Mischief – Thor & Audrey Sheil
  • Loki: Chapter XI of Our Troth – Kveldulf Gundarsson 
  • Loki: A Rökkr Perspective – Abby Helasdottir
  • Loki: Evil or Just Misunderstood? – Kevin Filan
  • Loki: Father of Strife  – Alice Karlsdottir
  • What is a Lokean? – Alice Karlsdottir 
  • The Lokian Path – Wayland Skallagrimsson

I don’t know about you, but I’m horrified by the inclusion of two essays that aren’t named “Loki” followed by colonic subtitles (or should that be “high colonic” to cleanse out the taint of Marvel Comics?). The anonymous editor fucked up. What the Hel was he thinking?!

Click through to download the pdf.

Gangs and youth groups have existed since at least the Middle Ages. Accounts from England in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries describe criminal gangs that robbed, extorted, and raped.

In France, England, and Germany, medieval juvenile groups known as abbeys of misrule participated in violent sports and fights against rival groups in honor of the abbeys from which they were recruited. Other youth groups rioted and intimidated deviant villagers, and were sanctioned by adults for enforcing the social order.

Youth Gangs

image: Bosch’s Ship of Fools


"Well," Morgana said, looking pleased, "Maybe Arthur won’t actually throw the tourney this year.

Canon Era

Rating: NC-17
Author: thehoyden
Word count: 4293

There’s a feast where Merlin is named the Maiden, Gwen is named the Queen, a woman is named the King, and a stable boy is named the Prince. Fun and lighthearted with Merlin in a dress that the entire court finds attractive. A sort of role reversal that’s adorably fluffy and hilarious.  Gwen and Morgana love dressing Merlin.  Merlin is confused and petulant.  And Arthur shows he cares about Merlin in his own unspoken way.  Plus some porn to top it all off at the end.  Great quick cheerful, fluffy read.

Rated: A


Read it here