Clown with slapstick. Artist unknown. Victoria and Albert Museum.


"Motley's the only wear." Jacques in As You Like It (2.7.34) craves the freedom of speech traditionally granted the court jester, whose costume--multicoloured and patched--proclaimed his eccentricity. Female fools were rare, though there was one "Jane the Fool" mentioned in Queen Elizabeth's accounts.

The fool or jester was a familiar sight in the courts of Renaissance princes and nobles, and some achieved considerable fame. Will Somers used to have rhyming contests with his master, Henry VIII, and after his death had several works written about him. As late as 1676, a book was published on Somers: A Pleasant History of the Life and Death of Will Summers. In Shakespeare's lifetime, Thomas Nashe wrote a play (punning on the season and the name), Summer's Last Will and Testament; and Robert Armin wrote about him.

By Elizabeth's time, the professional, stage fool had become better known. Tarleton*, Kempe and Armin had special parts written for them, the latter two in Shakespeare's plays.

"Natural" and "artificial" fools

The "natural" fool was someone who was by nature--by birth--foolish; we would say menatally disabled. Poor nutrition and inadequate medical care produced a much larger number of such people than we are accustomed to today, and some of them were lucky, or clever, enough to make a living from their simplicity. It was after all a society that found madness (mental illness) entertaining.

The "artificial*" fool was altogether different. He deliberately acted simplicity, oddity, or eccentricity, in order to entertain, and sometimes indirectly to give advice*: "This is not altogether fool, my Lord," says the disguised Kent to Lear, after the Fool has indirectly pointed out Lear's own foolishness (1.4.153). As Lear's Fool knows, the fool was traditionally given licence to speak out where others had to be silent.

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.

 

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.

 

Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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