The fabliau (plural fabliaux) appears to be a parody of the fable. They were popular in France around the 13th Century. They are generally bawdy in nature, and several of them were reworked by Geoffrey Chaucer for his Canterbury Tales. All but one of the fabliaux are in octosyllabic rhyming couplets. Some 150 fabilaux survive to this day, though the exact number depends on how narrowly fabliau is defined.
Typical topics for fabliaux are cuckolded husbands, rapacious clergy and foolish peasants. The status of peasants appears to vary based on the audience that the fabliau was being written for. Poems that were presumably written for the nobility portray peasants (vilains in French) as stupid and vile, whereas those written for the lower classes often tell of peasants getting the better of the clergy.
- The Fabliaux (part of a Geoffrey Chaucer page)