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jesters

Jesters – Not Anyone’s Fools

A jester or fool was a type of entertainer and archetype in Medieval Europe, similar to a modern clown or comedian. With their colorful, eccentric outfits and repertoire of juggling, acrobatics and wit, jesters were a favorite of commoners and noblemen alike. Jesters were commonly travelling minstrels and acrobats, performing at village fairs and festivals. Those who were especially lucky or talented would be hired as court jesters, becoming a regular fixture of a noble or royal court. They would perform tricks, sing fables and satirize daily court life in front of the upper class. Court jesters were granted special privileges, and were allowed to speak in a way that other commoners were forbidden to. With this license to offend, court jesters served as a “voice of the people” in a culture with rigid social barriers. A court jester could openly mock and satirize their social betters without consequence, and were often favored by their lords as trusted advisors who could always speak their minds. Queen Elizabeth I is recorded as having scolding her court jester for not being harsh enough on her. A successful jester had to be skilled in both physical acts and possess a quick wit and knack for singing and storytelling. Jester performances were usually a mix of juggling, acrobatics and magic shows combined with fables, songs, jokes and political commentaries. There was no fixed costume for a jester, but costume usually involved loud, motley colours, bells and baubles and a ...
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