Linking your favorite traveling artists across the globe
period of civilization. Rome, China, India, even Africa and pre-Columbus America had varying roles for a jester.
It was in Europe where jesters had some of their greatest influence. Often called a fool, joker, clown or even less honorable names, the jester's position was actually one of entertainment and political advice. The jester often walked a fine line between the acceptable and the profane. This, however, was because the jester could speak of things no one else in a king's court dare.
Since the jester did outrageous things all the time, he could speak the grave truth and get away with it as something said in "jest". The jester could dispense advice to a king that no one else dare. Undoubtedly, many who wished to influence the king did so through the jester.
The fine line between entertainer and advisor did not give the jester immunity, however. Advice that was too critical could lead to the same fate as any other who opposed the king. Many jesters lost their jobs and lives by overstepping their verbal license.
A jester did not have to be of noble birth. He could be a commoner. He could be learned as a monk or a scholar. He could also be an apprentice of a trade or even a peasant. Jesters were often employed by nobles and could move up to the royal court, as their antics became known. As such, the jester was one of the few upwardly mobile positions in medieval times.
Jesters were entertainers foremost. Even their clothes were to make them look like a clown. With dangling bells, colorful and mismatching patterns, the jester was amusing to look at. The jester's cap or cockscomb had three points for the ears and tail of the ass.