Medieval Court Jester

A medieval court jester was a jester employed by the royal court for his performance and entertainment. A medieval court jester could perform a variety of tricks other than telling jokes. For instance, his entertainment included music, juggling, acting, and clowning etc. Medieval court jesters enjoyed certain privileges which other people did not. For instance, they could make fun of nobles and respectable personalities and get away with it!

The court Jester and Travelling Jester

There was considerable difference between a medieval court jester and a normal jester. The medieval court jester received handsome amount of money for his services and enjoyed a permanent place of residence. A normal jester, who travelled from place to place, usually lived in poverty or survived on little money. He also did not have a permanent place to live.

Medieval Court Jester Davidson

Davidson The Medieval Court Jester in Full Jester Costume

Who did a court jester entertain?

The foremost responsibility of a medieval court jester was to entertain the king and uplift his mood during sad moments. Thus we see in King Lear that the jester accompanies the king during his gloomy walk in the woods. The medieval court jester, however, also had to entertain other people in the court. But his main duty remained the entertainment of the king himself.

How was a court jester paid?

The foremost payment that a medieval court received was food and a permanent place to live. Thus safety and security, much needed during the medieval times, were guaranteed to the court jester. His payment in the form of money depended on his performance. If he managed to make the king happy, he was paid handsomely. Thus some medieval court jesters were quite well off. However, there was no set income for a court jester.

  • Medieval court jester was employed by royal court and very well looked after
  • The medieval court jester had an important role to play by keeping the king happy
  • Medieval court jesters were well-paid and had their own living quarters
  • Normal medieval jesters had a hand to mouth existence whereas court jesters were well off
  • Medieval court jesters were well were rewarded for making the king and his guests laugh
  • Court jesters could also give the King News even bad news within his performance
  • Being a court jester could be a precarious business if the king was insulted by a joke

Wealth of a court jester

Medieval court jesters were paid handsomely during the service in the royal court. Further, they could also use their influence in the court to provide financial benefits to their relatives or friends. For instance, the famous jester of Henry VIII of England, William Sommers used his influence to provide financial assistance to his uncle. Thus while successful medieval court jesters were not very rich, they lived in financial security.

Medieval Court Jester Laughing

Court Jester in Medieval Jester Outfit laughing

Daily life of a court jester

There was no set routine of the daily life of a medieval court jester. Instead it varied depending on the circumstances and the mood of the king. Sometimes, he could spend whole day entertaining an audience and other times he did not perform for days on end.

Court Jesters clothing

The clothing of a medieval court jester reflected humor and entertainment. Thus he used colorful costumes. His head was usually covered with a garment which was similar to a monk’s cowl. Perhaps the most famous part of a medieval court jester’s clothing was a hat consisting of three points which was known as the fool’s hat.

Where did a court jester live?

A medieval court jester was given residence in the castle or in a cottage. Unlike the wandering jesters, he had permanent abode and did not have to worry about residence. Not just safe residence, he was also provided food and financial security.

Summary of court jester

Medieval court jesters were common in the courts of medieval kings and sometimes exerted considerable influence on the king. Some of them enjoyed special privileges in the court and could use those privileges to help their relatives. Unlike wandering jesters, medieval court jesters enjoyed financial security and a permanent residence.

  • Court jesters were well-paid and could provide assistance for their family and friends
  • William Sommers is a famous medieval court jester who entertained Henry VIII of England
  • Medieval court jester would perform when required there were no set rules for performance times
  • Court jesters costume wore a three pointed hat which was known as the fool’s hat
  • Medieval court jesters were well looked after they had a place to live and financial security
  • Sometimes a Medieval jester would go walking with the king trying to lift his mood if he was gloomy

This article covers and provides facts and information on medieval court jesters, medieval court jesters were different to every day medieval jesters in many ways, if you’d like to learn about every day medieval jesters and other medieval entertainers please look at the links at the bottom of this Medieval court’s jester page.