Busy with his jester

The 14th century Persian poet 'Obeyd Zakani complained of the favouritism the king showed his jester.  In his Biographies of the Poets (Tazkirat al-Shu`ara) (1487)...

Who is that man?

From the Ulster Cycle in Irish mythology, we are introduced to Rocmid, jester of the king of Ulster Conchobar / Conchubar. 

'I saw another...

A fool in fur-lined cloaks

European court account books yield rich details concerning the kind of clothes provided to fools and jesters. They also provide insights into the apparently generous...

The old parachutist

Russia has a long and noble tradition of holy fools, and I was struck by this spontaneous example from the Second World War recounted by...

The refuse of human nature

A rather damning reaction by Lady Montague (1689-1762) towards the dwarfs or dwarf-jesters she encountered in German courts.  Note that while dismissing them as the...

A dazzling reputation

Dongfang Shuo 東方朔 (c. 160 - c. 93 BCE), sometime jester to emperor Han Wudi 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE), appears to have been one of...

The history of the elite

This website and the book which inspired it both seek to address this complaint, attributed to the perhaps real but probably fictive 17th century Spanish...

Always more to say or add

Foolsareeverywhere.com is not a digital version of the book which informs and inspired it. Websites are 'works in progress', always evolving, never complete; it's...

Clearing out the court

An interesting example of a king who didn't want a court full of mutes and dwarfs, and so had them sent away when he ascended...

A guess and a riddle

The jester Guo Sheren 郭舍人 enjoyed great favour with Emperor Han Wudi 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE), due to what Burton Watson called his 'never-ending fund...

Ding-dong ding-dong

A common technique among Chinese jesters was to put together a skit to get a point across to the Emperor, in this resembling something of...

Displacing the virtuous

Two Italian Renaissance writers lament the fact that jesters were admitted to the courts of the nobility in preference to the virtuous and the good. ...

Take him off my hands

There are some surviving anecdotes on the informal and meritocratic way in which jesters could be recruited.  Sometimes they were 'talent spotted' by the ruler...

In real time

This short story regarding the Indian folk fool Tenali Rama illustrates perfectly the literalness of the fool, which you might have encountered in children, perhaps...

In the guise of a joke

Sima Qian 司馬遷 (c. 145-86 BC) seems to have been the first historian to speak of the jester's role, including the key characteristic of using...

Dalqak – Persian

Talhak, jester to Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (r. 998-1030), would say whatever he felt like and the Persian word for jester (dalqak) seems to have...

A cure for carousing

A common theme in the interactions between fools and kings is the need to rein in regal carousing or other forms of distraction from the...

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Book cover - Beatrice Otto - Fools Are Everywhere - University of Chicago Press

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