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Elizabethan Jesters

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Elizabethan Times - Elizabethan Jesters

Elizabethan Court Jesters played a minor role in court life but certainly brightened up the entertainments. The history of court jesters dated back before the Medieval era of the Middle Ages, which they are most closely associated with. Queen Elizabeth would have enjoyed the antics of her father famous court jester - Will Somers.

Court jesters were responsible for bringing a smile to the face of a monarch who was feeling angry or who was feeling unwell. The court jesters of the renaissance period can be compared to the circus clowns of today.The first court jesters wore a hat depicting the ears of an ass - the asses tail was added to his costume. The clothes worn by the court jester moved on to gaudy, brightly colored and humerous attire. The court jesters cloth hat was most distinctive consisting of three points with a jingle bell at the end of each point. A court jester would also carry a mock sceptre called a bauble which was adorned by a carved head or the inflated bladder of an animal.

Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Jesters
The role of the fool or Elizabethan Jesters were changing. The Elizabethan jesters played a dual role as Elizabethan jesters and Elizabethan Actors. The most famous Elizabethan jesters were:

  • Richard Tarleton (or Tarlton) was a jester for Queen Elizabeth an actor and a playwright
  • William Kempe was an Elizabethan jester who was one of the principal actors in the plays of William  Shakespeare
  • Robert Armin (c.1568-1615) was an Elizabethan jester who was one of the principal actors in the plays of William  Shakespeare
  • Thomas Skelton, the "Late Fool of Muncaster Castle" also served a Court Jester in the late 1500's. According to tradition, 'Tom Fool' and 'tomfoolery' both originated with Thomas Skelton
  • There were also women who played Elizabethan jesters.
  • Lucretia the Tumbler
  • Jane the Fool

Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Jesters featured in the plays of William Shakespeare
The popularity of Elizabethan jesters is reflected in the plays of the period. William Shakespeare featured jesters in many of his plays including:

  • A Fool in Timon of Athens
  • The Clown in Othello 
  • Costard in Love's Labours Lost
  • Feste in Twelfth Night
  • Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice
  • Lavache in All's Well That Ends Well
  • Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Touchstone in As You Like It
  • The Fool in King Lear
  • Thersites in Troilus and Cressida
  • Trinculo in The Tempest
  • Two Clowns in Hamlet
  • Yorick in Hamlet

William Shakespeare also portrayed his character 'Bottom' wearing an asses head.

Elizabethan Elizabethan Jesters
Details, facts and information about the Elizabethan Entertainment during Elizabethan Times can be accessed via the Elizabethan Era Sitemap.

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