Peter the Great's fool 
Friday, February 29, 2008, 09:13 PM - Jokes and anecdotes of famous people, Modern Age History, Satire
Often by Peter's side at table, and in his cups, was to
be seen an individual addressed as the "Patriarch of
Russia," and sometimes as the "King of Siberia." He
was attired in sacerdotal robes, and covered with loosely-
hung gold and silver medals, which sounded musically as
he moved. It was a favourite trick with Peter, when he
and the Patriarch were equally drunk, to suddenly overturn
him, chair and all, and exhibit the reverend gentleman
with his heels in the air. There is record of a similar
fool in the person of the "King of the Samoieds." He
was a Pole who was boarded, and who received a rouble
monthly, for entertaining the Czar and court by the
exercise of such small wit as was reckoned at such
low worth. This title of " King of the Samoieds " was
usually conferred by Peter on what may be styled his
occasional fools. Thus, meeting among the patients at
the "Water Cure," at Alonaitz, in 1719, a Portuguese
Jew, whose singularities and comic bearing delighted the
Czar, the latter first promoted him to the equivocal distinction
of "titular count," and then conferred on him
the fool's royalty in the Kingship of the Samoieds. The
most burlesque of coronations was subsequently performed
in Peter's presence. It was to some such rank
that the Czar elevated his own old writing-master, Sotoff;
and it may be observed that when the Russian priests remonstrated
against his distinguishing his fools by the title
of "patriarchs," he changed the rank and addressed them
as "priests."

From The history of court fools by John Doran

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