Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

Hz]i0r_y Of 
therefore if follus is to be taken as fignifying "a fool," it only means 
that Picol was to perform that character on one occafion in the courfe 
of the year. In this cafe, he may have been fome fool whom king 
John had taken into his fpecial favour; but it certainly is no proof that 
the practice of keeping court fools then exifted. It is not improbable 
that this praetlce was iirft introduced in Germany, for Flogel fpeaks, 
though rather doubtfully, of one who was kept at the court of the 
emperor Rudolph I. (of Hapfburg), whofe reign laited from I273 to I292. 
It is more certain, however, that the kings of France poffeffed court fools 
before the middle of the fourteenth century, and from this time anecdotes 
relating to them begin to be common. One of the earliell and molt 
curious of thefe anecdotes, if it be true, relates to the celebrated victory of 
Sluys gained over the French fleet by our king Edward III. in the year 
I340. It is faid that no one dared to announce this difafter to the French 
king, Philippe V1,, until a court fool undertook the talk. Entering the 
king's chamber, he continued muttering to himfelf, but loud enough to 
be heard, "Thofe cowardly Engliihl the chicken-hearted Britons!" 
" How fo, coufin P" the king inquired. " Why," replied the fool, 
" becaufe they have not courage enough to jump into the lea, like your 
French foldiers, who Went over headlong from their fhips, leaving thofe 
to the enemy who Ihowed no inclination to follow them." Philippe thus 
became aware of the full extent of his calamity. The inftitution of the 
court fool was carried to its greateit degree of perfection during the 
fifteenth century; it only expired in the age of Louis XIV. 
It was apparently with the court fool that the coltume was introduced 
which has ever fince been confidered as the characterillic mark of folly. 
Some parts of this coflume, at leatt, appear to have been borrowed from 
an earlier date. The gclotopoei of the Greeks, and the mimi and moriones 
of the Romans, {haved their heads; but the court fools perhaps adopted 
this Falhion as a fatire upon the clergy and monks. Some writers pro- 
felied to doubt whether the fools borrowed from the monks, or the monks 
from the fools; and Cornelius Agrippa, in his treatife on the Vanity of 
Sciences, remarks that the monks had their heads " all {haven like 
fools" (rqfb toto capite ut fatui)- The cowl, alfo, was perhaps adopted


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