The satire of the sottie

The sottie was a genre of short, satirical play performed in France in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Its name comes from ‘sot’ meaning ‘fool’, as many of the characters were one or another kind of fool.  The plays could draw attention to topical issues through mockery, with stage fools targetting the powerful just as their court-based cousins might. 

A sottie by André de la Vigne, Sotise a Huit Personnaiges (c. 1507), has Sot Corrompu (‘Corrupt Fool’) alluding to the fact that the king had replaced his chancellor with the Bishop of Paris, instead of the man the Sot would have liked to see, the worthy Cardinal Guillaume Briçonnet (1445-1514):

Image credit: Portrait of Guillaume Briçonnet (1445-1514), Galerie des Illustres, Château de Beauregard, Cellettes (no. 41)

Oh how the king must have turned a deaf ear

Not to have appointed as his chancellor

The man who by great good fortune happens to collar

The saintliness and goodness of a first class scholar.

 

(O que le roy a esté sourd

Qu’il n’aye faict chancelier

Cil que faict grand chance lyer

Tant sainct, tant bon, tant sçavant homme.)   (ll. 668-71)

Source: André de la Vigne (c. 1470 – c. 1526), Sotise a Huit Personnages (c. 1507), in Receuil Générale des Sotties, ed. by Emile Picot, 3 vols (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1912), vol. 2, pp. 1-104.

Image credit: Portrait of Guillaume Briçonnet (1445-1514), Galerie des Illustres, Château de Beauregard, Cellettes (no. 41)

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