The most famous jesters

In the Middle Ages, it was accepted to the master at the court to have a buffoon or buffoon. The duty of this man was to amuse the owner and his guests. In fact, this post was quite important. For the king, the fool was a symbolic twin. This ancestor of the clown was allowed much, it is not accidental that he associated with foolishness.

In Russia, the main character of fairy tales is Ivan the Fool, who often opposes the kings at the expense of his secret knowledge, from the side of seeming ordinary folly. As a result, it often happened that the main quality of the jester was not jokiness and merriment, but ridicule of the evil and deceitful traits of people. At the same time, the career of a buffoon often balanced on the edge, because it was necessary to be able and to laugh out of the guests and maintain the balance allowed with the monarch.

But through the jesters it was possible to bring to the attention of the rulers some acute problems, which it was risky to talk about in the forehead. In Europe, the tradition of hiring clowns ended with the advent of the era of the Enlightenment and the Reformation. In Russia, buffoons also played a significant role, influencing, like in Europe, the policy of monarchs.

The most famous jesters

We remember the kings and emperors, but undeservedly forget those who were not afraid of a sharp word, even if pretending to be a fool, to direct the rulers to the true path. But even the wise Khoja Nasreddin, as they say, was a jester of Tamerlane himself. Therefore, let us recall the most famous clowns in history.


This imposing person was born in 1540 in Gascony. Jean-Antoine d’Angler chose a pseudonym, which meant a fragment of a tooth, a stump. This fool made a good military and political career. He managed to take part in the St. Bartholomew’s Night. First, Shiko became a repository of a secret for Henry III, and then began to serve and Henry IV. In 1584, Shiko received the title of nobleman. He was an energetic man who went down in history as a writer-satirist. Shiko was the only court fool in his time, who had a sword. By the way, he had an excellent command of it. At the same time, Shiko did not wear variegated clothes, traditional bells. He dressed simply, but with the excellent taste of a nobleman. The favorite clown of kings knew how to speak directly to them about everything he wanted. At the same time, Shiko managed not to anger his high patrons. And the jester died not from royal anger, but at war. It happened in 1591. Brave Shiko captured the Count de Chaligny, but did not take his sword from him, wanting to demonstrate his achievements to Henry IV. The aristocrat insulted by the clown hit him on the head with a hilt, which caused death.


This court jester managed to live a rather long life – from 1480 to 1560 years. His court career he did at the courts of Lithuanian princes and Polish kings. At first this was Alexander Yagellon, then – Sigismund I old, and then Sigismund II Augustus. About the life of the legendary person there is little reliable data. It is believed that Stanchik was born in a village near Krakow. And he achieved his position thanks to wit. This allowed the status of buffoon in full blown to criticize the inept policies of the rulers. Ustam Stanchik is credited with very unreliable, almost revolutionary utterances. When in the middle of the XIX century in Galicia appeared political group, advocating for the freedom of the Poles, then she chose for herself the name of the famous Polish buffoon. At that time in Polish literature in general the image of Stanchik was very popular. It was said that he was the only one at court, who really worried about the fate of the country. Stanchik is depicted in the famous painting by Jan Matejko in 1862. During the ball it is he who mourns the defeat of the Polish army and the loss of Smolensk.

Yan Lacoste.

Among the many Russian jesters there were also foreigners. Jan Lacoste was a baptized Jew, whose ancestors fled from Portugal first to North Africa, and then to Germany. In Hamburg, Lakosta met Peter the Great in 1712, who immediately took a broker he liked with his whole family in Russia.The funny and clumsy figure of a man allowed him to become a jester at court. Lakosta received the nickname Peter Dorofeyevich and began to work diligently to serve the tsar. This clown was an intelligent and educated person who knew six languages. When communicating with the king, Lakosta skillfully entered into a theological debate, using rhetoric. As a result, the jester unexpectedly could come to very ridiculous conclusions, which was especially liked by Peter. It is believed that Lakosta helped Peter in his fight with the boyars – he cut caftans and cut his beards. In 1717, the “cuma” of the tsar, having lost the dispute, adopted Orthodoxy. And in 1723 Peter gave his favorite a deserted island of Sommers in the Gulf of Finland and the title of “King Samoyed”. Lakosta immediately began to appear on feasts in a tin crown, pushed in the ear. Shortly before the death of Peter the Great, thanks to the intrigues of another favorite of the Tsar, Alexander Menshikov, Lakost was exiled to Siberia. The joke was accused in connection with the convicted Vice-Chancellor Shafirov. However, Anna Ioannovna returned to the court of the buffoon, later he continued his career as Biron.


The most famous court jester of Peter the Great was Ivan Balakirev. He himself came from an ancient princely family. Balakirev was introduced to the tsar in 1715, at the age of 16. Peter identified the youth in the Preobrazhensky regiment, and then became the driver of Catherine Alekseevna and her messenger. Helped Balakirev and Peter, becoming his companion. But the witty courier was unrestrained in language. He blabbed about Catherine’s letters to the chamberlain Mons. As a result, Balakirev was awaiting punishment and exile. But with the accession to the throne of Catherine, her servant was returned to the court. Balakirev was promoted to the rank of ensign of the Preobrazhensky regiment, but at the court he had no other position than to fulfill the assignments of the empress. According to the documents of that time he was not a jester. In the staff of the court “fools” Balakirev enrolled already Anna Ioannovna. But even with her, the fool chatted so much that even he was summoned to the Secret Order. And after the death of Balakirev, his personality began to rapidly acquire legends, anecdotes and witty stories. It is believed that the jester is credited with the acts of some of his other colleagues. Today Ivan Balakirev became not only a historical, but also a literary character, based on stories about him, put on plays and shoot cartoons.


This French jester lived at the court of the kings of Louis XII, and then of Francis I. In history the mocker came in thanks to his wit and intellect. But truly immortal, he became thanks to writers. In his “Gargantua and Patagruel” Rabelais described the jester as an excellent madman. And Hugo made Tribula one of the main characters in the drama “The King is amused.” Based on her motives, Verdi wrote his famous opera Rigoletto. It was the image of the jester that became the basis for the protagonist of the work, the mocker Rigoletto. It is evident that in the European cultural tradition Tribula is a rather popular way. Taking advantage of the king’s favor, the fool even allowed himself to offend noble nobles with impunity. To offend Tribula meant to incur the wrath of the monarch. Jokes favorites of the king were sometimes scandalous – a nobleman cheerful cut off the trousers. As a result, the nobleman, bowing to the queen, showed the whole court his buttocks.


It turns out that you can serve as a jester even today, not at the mercy of it. This amazing story took place in the state of Tonga, where King Taufaahau Topou IV ruled. The absolute monarch wisely managed cash flows from the sale of a few agricultural products to Japan and Korea. But suddenly the monarch discovered a new source of income. Suddenly it was remembered that Tonga is part of the British Commonwealth, so why not start trading in citizenship? And San Francisco at that time worked as a regular investment consultant Jesse Dean Bogdonoff. Suddenly he stumbled upon a forgotten account of 20 million dollars.It turned out that this money belongs to the state of Tonga, and why do they have a coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean? Bogdonoff turned out to be an enterprising person, this amount only fueled his excitement. He immediately went to Tonga, where he discovered poverty. But the paradise conditions and friendly inhabitants conquered it. Bogdonoff had a meeting with the king of the country. The American spoke with the monarch for a couple of hours in the library. The overseas analyst liked the king so much that he immediately entrusted him with the right to manage all the country’s investments. As a result, for several years, Bogdanoff, by investing in various funds, managed to earn another 11 million dollars for a distant country. When in 1999 Jesse decided to open his own investment firm, it turned out that his own bank would not allow him to take away such a valuable client. Bogdonoff decided to become a hired employee of such an exotic country. And since he was born on the Day of Laughter, April 1, why should he not become a court clown of Tonga? The king at first laughed when he heard of such a proposal. But Bogdonoff assured that his duty would be to advertise the state to tourists. So there was a royal decree that appointed the American “king of buffoons and a buffoon king, to bring people good wisdom and be a messenger of goodwill throughout the world.” The official position allowed the jester to gain access to the serious millions. He invested 20 million in the company “Millennium Asset Management.” At the same time, the money evaporated, and Bogdanoff himself, as it turned out, received a huge commission for attracting Tonga investments. As a result, the state even put forward a lawsuit to its fool and its investment partners. The process lasted three years. The enterprising jester agreed to pay 100 thousand dollars to the empty fund of the country, promising to make deductions from his profits for his stories, TV shows and books about Tonga for the next ten years.

Osip Nail.

And this Russian jester had a princely origin. Osip Fyodorovich Gvozdev-Rostovsky was head in 1567 during a campaign against the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. And in 1570 Gvozdev became a royal jester due to his wit. He began to wear a cap with donkey ears and silver bells. And when Tsar Ivan the Terrible with three hundred archers went to Moscow from his country estate, then ahead of the whole cavalcade in a huge bull in gold robes rode Osip Nail. According to the legends, the king was angry with his pet because he doubted the kinship of the ruler with the Roman emperors. Then Ivan the Terrible poured boiling cabbage soup on a clown. Moaning with pain, Osip tried to escape, but the king also struck him with a knife. Soon Ivan the Terrible repented of the deed and called the doctor. When it turned out that it was impossible to save the jester, the tsar sent him to the devil, waved his hand and continued his merriment.

Klaus Narr.

The German went down in history as “Klaus fool from Rashtdt”. He lived in 1486-1530. This clown is one of the most famous in the history of Germany, and he lived at the Saxon court. This post Narr was already at the age of 9 because of his ugly appearance and strange behavior. And from birth, Klaus was a classic fool. At first, the jester served as Kurfüst Frederick II, then for his heir Ernst, Friedrich III, Archbishop Erdest II of Magdeburg, Johann Tver. A portrait of the buffoon has survived. A man with a defective birth had a bull’s neck and severe physical and mental disabilities. However, the clown became so famous that he became even a literary hero. In the farce of Hans Sachs, it is Klaus Narr who ridiculously criticizes the Catholic Church. Although, according to the recollections of contemporaries, the people clown kept away and often raved. But the theologian Wolfgang Buttner created even a whole book of anecdotes about the ugly jester. Those funny stories were very popular in Germany in the 16th and 17th centuries.

William Sommers.

At the court of Henry VIII, this clown was a very important court person. In 1525, William met the king, quickly attracted to him because of his meaningful sense of humor.Soon, Sommers got a seat at the court, remaining in the service until the death of his patron. When Henry VIII suffered from leg disease, only his favorite jester could cheer him up. Sommers was allowed to familiarize himself with the monarch with the monarch, calling him “Uncle” or “Harry.” The buffoon got the right to get to the royal bedchamber at any time, which was not allowed even to the close monarch. When Henry was angry, and no one dared to ask what was the matter, only the fool could find out the cause of anger and then cool it. Sommers retired in the reign of Elizabeth I, the last time appearing publicly at her coronation. But even after his death in 1560, the fool continued to live a literary life. He became a popular character in anecdotes, funny stories, taking a lot from fictional characters.

Brothers Prozorovsky.

These clowns came to the place of the unfortunate Osip Nail. The brothers cheered the stern king by making comical wrestling matches with the bear. At the same time, the jesters managed to train the predator quite well, because he seemed to have defended one of the brothers. The bear stood on its hind legs and bitten the enemy lightly, but the clothes tore to shreds. Under the laughter of the royal guests, the boyar court awarded the bear a victory.

Yakim Volkov.

This dwarf became the property of Peter the Great when he was still a boy. For his outstanding growth, the buffoon got the nickname Komar. Peter the Great in general loved all freaks and funnies, but among all of them Volkov he singled out especially. Several dozen dwarfs and dwarfs lived in the palace of the Russian ruler. The king even dressed them all in the European manner, creating himself a bizarre retinue. With her help, in an unhappy moment, Peter somehow tried to amuse himself. And Yakim Volkov deserved special recognition of the tsar also by the fact that during the Streltsy rebellion he managed in time to report on the upcoming uprising. The clown turned out to be clever, often giving his high-ranking protector some practical advice. The mosquito was an observant and intelligent man. Modern psychiatrist believe that with the help of his clowns Peter took off his hard stress. Also these dwarfs performed another function – they did not allow some courtiers to be conceited, putting them in place with jokes.


This is not an offensive jesting nickname, but his real name. Pietro Mira was the son of a Neapolitan sculptor. In Russia, Pedrillo got involved as a violinist and a singer. However, the performances at the court did not have any success, but the musical Italian was invited to be a jester. Pedriello was able to become a favorite of the Empress Anna Ioannovna and even constantly played cards with her. And in folk folklore, the fool entered the image of all the famous Petrushka. After the lean Italian in Russia made a fortune, and his patron died, Pedriello returned to his homeland.


Mikhail Alekseevich Golitsyn studied under the auspices of Peter the Great at the Sorbonne, served in the army, becoming a major. But under Anna Ivanovna Golitsyn fell out of favor because of a foreign wife. The poor majors were ordered to take their place among the court fools. In a joke Golitsyn stayed from 1732 to 1740, and in 1737 received the nickname Kvasnik. After all, the duties of the buffooner included a refreshment of the Empress and her guests with Russian kvass. In history, the buffoon entered through a curious story. Anna Ioannovna for fun decided to play a wedding in the Ice House. The capital was taken by a representative from the most diverse nations of an immense empire. On February 6, 1740, a wedding train set off for the celebration. The groom was Kvassnik, and his fiancée was Kalmyk Yevdokia Buzheninov. Young sat in a special cage set on an elephant. Other guests were traveling on dogs, on pigs, and on deer. All this wedding celebration was singing and playing. After the feast the young ones were brought to the Ice House and put there on the icy bed. The Empress at the same time ordered to protect the house so that her jesters did not leave the marriage bed until the morning.

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