Fools

(French, fol, Latin, follis.) (1) The most celebrated court fools: (a) Dagonet, jester of King Arthur; Rayère, of Henry I.; Scogan, of Edward IV.; Thomas Killigrew, called “King Charles's jester” (1611-1682); Archie Armstrong, jester in the court of James I. (died 1672).

(b) Thomas Derrie, jester in the court of James I.

(c) James Geddes, jester to Marry Queen of Scots. His predecessor was Jenny Colquhoun.

(d) Patch, the court fool of Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII.

(e) Will Somers, Henry VIII.'s jester. He died 1560.

(f) W. F. Wallet, jester in the court of Queen Elizabeth.

(g) Triboulet, jester of Louis XII. and Francois I. (1487-1536); Brusquet, of whom Brantôme says “he never had his equal in repartee” (1512-1563); Chicot, jester of Henri III. and IV. (1553-1591); Longely, of Louis

XIII.; and Angeli, of Louis XIV., last of the titled fools of France. (h) Klaus Narr, jester of Frederick the Wise, elector of Prussia.

(i) Yorick, in the Court of Denmark, referred to by Shakespeare in Hamlet, v. 1. (2) Not attached to the court:

(a) Patrick Bonny, jester of the regent Morton; John Heywood, in the reign of Henry VII., dramatist, died 1505; Dickie Pearce, fool of the Earl of Suffolk, whose epitaph Swift wrote.

(b) Kunz von der Rosen, private jester to the Emperor Maximilian I.

(c) Gonnella the Italian (q.v.).

(d) Le Glorieux, the jester of Charles le Hardi, of Burgundy.

(e) Patche, Cardinal Wolsey's jester, whom he transferred to Henry VIII. as a most acceptable gift.

(f) Patison, licensed jester to Sir Thomas More. Introduced by Hans Holbein in his picture of the chancellor. (3) Men worthy of the motley:

(a) Andrew Borde, physician to Henry VIII., usually called Merry Andrew (1500-1549).

(b) Gen. Kyaw, a Saxon officer, famous for his blunt jests.

(c) Jacob Paul, Baron Gundling, who was laden with titles in ridicule by Frederick William I. of Prussia.

(d) Seigni Jean (Old John), so called to distinguish him from Johan “fol de Madame,” of whom Marot speaks in his epitaphs. Seigni Jean lived about a century before Caillette.

(e) Richard Tarlton, a famous clown in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He died 1588.

(f) Caillette “flourished” about 1494. In the frontispiece of the “Ship of Fools,” printed 1497, there is a picture both of Seigni Jean and also of Caillette.

Feast of Fools.
A kind of Saturnalia popular in the Middle Ages. Its chief object was to honour the ass on which our Lord made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This ridiculous mummery was held on the day of circumcision (January 1). The office of the day was first chanted in travesty; then, a procession being formed, all sorts of absurdities, both of dress, manner, and instrumentation, were indulged in. An ass formed an essential feature, and from time to time the whole procession imitated the braying of this animal, especially in the place of “Amen.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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