Subject: Narr jester
Culture:German, central European
Setting: Reformation, Europe 16thc
Context (Event Photos, Period Sources)
* Oppenheimer tr. 2001 p lx
"Vagabonds and wayfarers were well known in Europe since at least the eighth century, when Charlemagne issued an edict against 'magones et cogciones qui sine omni lege vagabundi vadunt' [peddlers and hucksters who wander about lawlessly as vagabonds], tricking and deceiving people right and left. Undeterred by Charlemagne's attitude, vagabondage increased hugely. By 1250, it was an organized way of life. By 1400, it had become an established, if risky, profession of sorts, especially east of the Rhine, with masses of itinerants, many of them rogues, knaves, thieves, and mendicant friars, as well as quack doctors and idle mercenary soldiers, flooding the roads. They benefitted from obligatory religious alms-giving and also ... from rustic innocence" ....
* Oppenheimer tr. 2001 p lxiv-lxv
"Enid Welsford distinguishes neatly betwen the professional buffoon, the court fool, and the mythical buffoon as definite types. The professional buffoon, whose origins she locates in ancient Greece, is the parasitical entertainer willing to heap any absurdity on himself for a meal. He is 'neither the unconscious fool, nor the conscious artist who portrays him; he is the conscious fool who shows himself up, chiefly for gain, but occasionally at least for the mere love of folly.' ... The court fool, on the other hand, is either a clever and nasty rogue, entertainer, and sometimes politician; or the sort of pitiful cripple whose physical and mental deformities would, in modern times, require medical attention; or he is the court dwarf. All three were kept as pets in a sense, though the first of these types enjoyed a freedom proportionate to his cleverness .... The mythical buffoon, by contrast, is a fictional character often comprised of the materials of legend. His humorous, vicious, and sometimes charming behavior results from his attitude: a palatial, chilly skepticism."
* Lee 1995 p140
"The artificials were they who for whatever perverse reason chose the career of clowning. These are the fellows we all recognize as jesters and their unofficial uniform is an amalgam of all the symbols of folly of which we have spoken.
"The cap o' bells is topped with the ears of an ass and quite often the randy rooster's comb as well. The clown's motley garment is not only a stylized patchwork of rags but leaves and other natural substances."
* Lee 1995 p140
"The bauble he weapons in his hand, constructed of his own misplaced head on a shaft affixed with an air-filled bladder, is none other than a king's sceptre and portable phallus."