History jokes, famous anecdotes and short funny stories.


Funny anecdotes and short stories are a great source of examples in public speeches. This website contains short funny stories, clean jokes and humorous legends of kings and queens, politicians, famous literary figures and artists from many books and sources. The styles of writers from different time periods was preserved - they often enhance the stories in an amusing way. Enjoy and have fun!

Queen Elizabeth's ring 
Queen Elizabeth ... drawing from her finger the coronation ring, showed it to the Commons, and told them that when she received that ring she had solemnly bound herself in marriage to the realm, and it would be quite sufficient for the memorial of her name, and for her glory, if, when she died, an inscription were engraved on her marble tomb : 'Here lyeth Elizabeth, which (sic) reigned a virgin, and died a woman.' This coronation ring was filed off her finger shortly before her death, on account of the flesh having grown over it.

From Finger-ring Lore: Historical, Legendary, Anecdotal by William Jones

Queen Elizabeth's ring actually represents a very unique catrgory of promise rings. Learn more about promise rings.


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Henry VIII and a sundial maker 
It was in the year 1517 that Nicholas Kratzer, or Kratcher, a Bavarian, was admitted at the age of thirty to the new college of Corpus Christi at Oxford, founded by Bishop Fox. His name is on the list of lecturers appointed by Cardinal Wolsey, and he lectured on astronomy and mathematics. Tunstall, writing in 1520, calls Kratzer the "deviser of the King's horologies." He became a fellow of Corpus, and while at Oxford he constructed two sun-dials, one for St. Mary's Church, which stood on the churchyard wall till 1744, and another for the college garden. In a MS. work, " De Horologiis," now in the college library, Kratzer says that many of the directions for making dials were taken from an old book in the Carthusian monastery at Auerbach, near Vienna. Kratzer was a man of a merry spirit, and much beloved. When Henry VIII. asked him how it was that after so many years in England he had not learned to speak the language, he is said to have replied frankly : "Pardon, your highness, but how can a man learn English in only thirty years?"

From The Book of Sun-dials by Alfred Gatty, Eleanor Lloyd
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Scogan - a Jester to Edward VI (Edward Tudor) 
Among the practical jokes of this court fool I recognize
many that really belong to a much earlier period, and
which must have been current as " stories" at the time
they are narrated as having been performed by Scogan
himself. The following, however, is said to be properly
assigned to him. He had borrowed a large sum of money of
tho King. Some stories say the Queen, and Flogel even
names Quern Elizabeth as the patroness of this jester ! The
sum is sot down at 500, which is extremely doubtful. Be
this as it may, a day for payment had been named; and
when that day had arrived, Scogan was not prepared to pay
the debt. After much thought upon the matter, he fell sick
and died, and requested his friends to bury him in such a
way that the Sovereign should encounter the funeral. They
entered into the joke with great alacrity, put on the trappings
of mitigated affliction, and in due time carried Scogan
forth on a comfortably-arranged bier, when they contrived, as
directed, to encounter Edward. When Louis XV. saw the
funeral of his old favourite, Madame de Pompadour, he had
the bad taste to cut a sorry joke. When Edward met the
funeral procession of Scogan, he regretted the loss of his
merry follower; and among other kind things to which he
gave utterance, remarked, that he freely forgave Scogan and
his representatives the sum for which the jester was indebted
to him. The buffoon, who had expected this act of
release, immediately jumped up, thanked his illustrious creditor,
and prudently called all present to bear witness to
the Royal act of grace : "It is so revivifying," said Scogan,
"that it has called me to life again." If this incident be
true, we may also believe, as we are requested to do, that
great mirth followed thereupon.


From The history of court fools by John Doran
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Queen Elizabeth's Court Jester 
In 1583 Sir Francis Walsingham introduced the celebrated Dick Tarleton to the Queen, and he soon became one of the most popular comedians in London and was appointed to the "high and honourable" office of Court jester to her Highness. Several robes were purchased for him in Paris, to appear before the Queen at dinner, dressed as a buffoon or jester. His duty on those occasions was to make the Queen " merrie." Fuller styles him a master of his faculty who, " when Elizabeth was serious and out of good humour, could undumpish her at his pleasure." When persons about Court had "small compliments" to seek, Tarleton acted as their usher to pave the way, and lined his pockets with silver and gold by this means. Notwithstanding, however, the liberal gratification of his rapacity, Dick was ever needy and always in debt. Fuller relates that "laughing Dick Tarleton " told the Queen " more of her faults than most of her chaplains ; and cured her melancholy better than all her physicians." " If the Queen admired Dick," observes the author of " Court Fools," " the latter felt great reverence for his mistress. He could compare her, he said, to nothing more fitly than a sculler ; for, he added, neither the Queen nor the sculler hath a fellow." Disraeli states that Tarleton possessed considerable power of extemporising satirical rhymes on the events of the day. Lord Burleigh and other courtiers, who secretly hated Leicester, instructed Tarleton to allude to that nobleman's Court favour, when making his satirical sallies upon the Queen. She, however, took it in good part, although sometimes mortified at the pertness of his observations.

Once, when the Queen dined at Lord Burleigh's, in the Strand. Tarleton accompanied her, and, when the noble host besought her Highness to remain for the night, she positively refused. An application was then made to Tarleton, with the promise of a large reward if he could induce the Queen to remain. " Procure me," said Tarleton, " the parsonage of Sherd." They immediately caused the patent to be drawn up. He then put on a parson's cap and gown, and loudly repeated these words as the Queen descended the stairs: "A parson or no parson? A parson or no parson?" When Elizabeth understood what he meant, she not only stayed all night, but remained a fortnight, and actually confirmed him in his possession of the benefice. "Never," says a writer upon those times, " was there a madder parson." He eventually turned the bell-metal, parsonage, and all into ready money.

On one occasion Lord Leicester met Tarleton at Greenwich Palace, upon which the former, with a vicious sneer, exclaimed:" Good morrow, my merry fool and knave." Tarleton replied:"Well, I can't bear both titles together. I will, however, take the first, and you are heartily welcome to the second." The anecdotes respecting Tarleton and the Queen are numerous ; but the majority are more traditional than authentic. Tarleton died in Shoreditch, of the plague, to the greatregret of the Queen and the citizens of London, who were wont to consider him as having stood for the world-renowned portrait of " Yorick." A genuine collection of Tarleton's jests were published in 1611, on which occasion the citizens of London proved that their old favourite was not forgotten, for they eagerly sought after the volume which contained his " merrie sayings."

From Domestic Life of Queen Elizabeth by S. Hubert

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Queen Elizabeth: Tudor humor 
Queen Elizabeth seeing a disappointed courtier walking with a melancholy face in one of her gardens, asked him, "What does a man think of when he thinks of nothing? " " Of a woman's promises!" was the reply ; to which the Queen returned,''I must notconfute you, Sir Edward," and she left him.

From: The Jest Book: The Choicest Anecdotes and Sayings by Mark Lemon
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