The Life of Fools

Called a jester, folly, fool, or wit; court entertainers have existed throughout history and throughout the world. The fools of medieval and renaissance England were musicians, story-tellers, comedians, jugglers, and acrobats.

These men and women occupied a special place in the royal court as evidenced by a 1545 painting entitled “The Family of Henry VIII,” featuring Henry VIII’s famous fool, Will Sommers. Evidence suggests that Sommers may have been a “natural fool,” the phrase at the time that referred to an individual with a learning or mental disability. At the time, these individuals held a different place in society and were often considered to be more innocent and closer to God. In addition to entertainment, Henry VIII even relied on Sommer for counsel.

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Information sources:

Photo Credits / Sources:

William Merritt Chase [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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