‘Some have it from birth, some by disposition’
Foolishness in medieval German literature
in Intellectual disability
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This chapter examines depictions of fools in Middle High German literature to demonstrate that the medieval idea of folly is more complex than a simple opposition to reason, and to ascertain if there are notions of intellectual disability in the German Middle Ages. To understand medieval ideas of foolishness, this chapter explores the difference between ‘will fool’ and ‘natural fool’ as depicted by Konrad von Megenberg in the 14th century. This medieval differentiation is then tracked through several different Middle High German texts, including the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and the Middle High German stories Die halbe Birne and Des Mönches Not.

Intellectual disability

A conceptual history 1200–1900




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