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Book/Printed Material Ship of Fools. Das Narrenschiff

About this Item


  • Ship of Fools.

Other Title

  • Das Narrenschiff


  • Das Narrenschiff (Ship of fools) by the Basel lawyer Sebastian Brant (1458--1521) was one of the first lavishly illustrated works to be printed in the German language in the 15th century and one of the most popular. Following the first edition, which was printed in 1494 by Brant's old university friend Johann Bergmann, Brant's satire on human foolishness became a European bestseller. By 1574, more than 40 editions of the text had appeared, including translations into Latin, French, English, Dutch, and Low German. The text describes a fictitious sea voyage of 112 fools, each representing a certain type of human misconduct, to the promised land of "Narragonia." The succession of fools is led by the foolish reader: convinced of his learning, he is engaged in chasing away the flies buzzing around his desk piled with books, but he does not open the books to gain knowledge. Brant does not so much criticize foolishness as remaining foolish by failing to recognize one's own shortcomings. One of the reasons for the work's great success was undoubtedly the high-quality woodcuts that introduce and complement the text. Among the artists with whom Brant collaborated on this work was the young Albrecht Dürer, who soon after the completion of this work left Basel for Nuremberg. The book is at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany.


  • Brant, Sebastian, 1458-1521 Author.
  • Dürer, Albrecht, 1471-1528 Artist.

Created / Published

  • Basel : Johann Bergmann, 1494.


  • -  Germany
  • -  1494
  • -  Allegory
  • -  Satires (Visual works)
  • -  Woodcuts


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  "BSB shelfmark: Rar. 121"--Note extracted from World Digital Library.
  • -  Original resource extent: 159 sheets : illustrations.
  • -  Original resource at: Bavarian State Library.
  • -  Content in German and Latin.
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.


  • 1 online resource.

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021666796

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

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Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Brant, Sebastian, Author, and Albrecht Dürer. Ship of Fools. Basel: Johann Bergmann, 1494. Pdf.

APA citation style:

Brant, S. & Dürer, A. (1494) Ship of Fools. Basel: Johann Bergmann. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Brant, Sebastian, Author, and Albrecht Dürer. Ship of Fools. Basel: Johann Bergmann, 1494. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.