Think Jon Stewart In Jester Garb with Slapstick
monarch or courtier. Jesters are depicted to have typically worn brightly coloured clothes and eccentric hats in a motley pattern. Their hats were especially distinctive; often made of cloth, they were floppy with three points, each of which had a jingle bell at the end. The three points of the hat represent donkey's ears and nose and tail worn by jesters in earlier times. Other things distinctive about the jester were his laughter and his mock sceptre, known as a "bauble" or marotte.
Scholar David Carlyon has cast doubt on the "daring political jester", calling historical tales "apocryphal", and concluding that "popular culture embraces a sentimental image of the clown; writers reproduce that sentimentality in the jester, and academics in the Trickster," but it "falters as analysis."
Jesters could also give bad news to the King that no-one else would dare deliver. The best example of this is in 1340, when the French fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Sluys by the English. Phillippe VI's jester told him the English sailors "don't even have the guts to jump into the water like our brave French."
HistoryEarly jesters were popular in Ancient Egypt, and entertained Egyptian pharaohs. Jesters were popular with the Aztec people in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries.
English royal court jestersmusic, juggling, clowning, and the telling of riddles. Henry VIII of England employed a jester named Will Sommers.
During the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I of England, William Shakespeare wrote his plays and performed with his theatre company the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later called the King's Men). Clowns and jesters were featured in Shakespeare's plays, and the company's expert on jesting was Robert Armin, author of the book Fooled upon Foole. In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Feste the jester is described as "wise enough to play the fool."
James VI of Scotland was originally very lazy about reading things before signing them. His jester, George Buchanan (1506–82) tricked him into abdicating in favour of George for fifteen days. James got the point.
King James also employed a jester called Archibald Armstrong. During his lifetime Armstrong was given great honours at court. He was eventually thrown out of the King's employment when he over-reached himself and insulted too many influential people. Even after his disgrace, books telling of his jests were sold in London streets. He held some influence at court still in the reign of Charles I and estates of land in Ireland. Charles later employed a jester called Jeffrey Hudson who was very popular and loyal. Jeffrey Hudson had the title of Royal Dwarf because he was short of stature. One of his jests was to be presented hidden in a giant pie from which he would leap out. Hudson fought on the Royalist side in the English Civil War. A third jester associated with Charles I was called Muckle John.