A fool on the edge of war

​We know that fools regularly appear in illuminated manuscripts, in some cases to illustrate a theological or other serious point.  However, they appear equally as a whimsical decoration bearing no relation to the rest of the page.

In this example, a 15th century manuscript of Froissart’s Chronicles, the contrast, and even incongruity, is intriguing: a castle is being attacked and defended vigorously, with cannon, sword, bow and crossbow.  And then in the surrounding margin, our jester, sporting a handsome yellow and blue cap and bells, is blithely wielding his wit-weapon of jester-head marotte (in the same fetching yellow).  And below him, a dainty cannon is popping its cannon-ball, perhaps to reassure us that the illustrator was fully aware that the page is all about serious matters of war.

Source: Chroniques sire Jehan Froissart, Jean Froissart (1337?-1410?), Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 2643, folio 60r.

Source: Chroniques sire Jehan Froissart, Jean Froissart (1337?-1410?), Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 2643
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