History Jokes: Queen Elizabeth's Court Jester


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 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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Spartan army on the march - friend or foe 
Wednesday, February 6, 2008, 05:58 PM - Ancient history jokes and anecdotes, Greek and Roman, Spartan anecdotes and short funny stories
Posted by Court Jester
Agesilaus, intending to march through Macedonia,
sent to ask the king of that country whether
he intended to receive him as a friend or an
enemy. " I will consider," he replied. "Then,"
said the Spartan, "do you think about it, and
we meanwhile will commence our march." The
king very soon sent a message : "Come as a
friend." PLUTARCH, Ap. Lac., Ages. 43
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Mozart Anecdotes: the composition of Requiem, and how Mozart died 
Monday, February 4, 2008, 09:19 AM - Jokes and anecdotes of famous people, Funny Music History
Posted by Administrator
The bodily frame of Mozart was tender and exquisitely sensible ; ill health soon overtook him, and brought with it a melancholy approaching to despondency. A very short time before his death, which took place when he was only thirty-six, he composed that celebrated requiem, which, by an extraordinary presentiment of his approaching dissolution, he considered as written for his own funeral.

One day, when he was plunged in a profound reverie, he heard a carriage stop at his door. A stranger was announced, who requested to speak with him. A person was introduced, handsomely dressed, of dignified and impressive manners. " I have been commissioned, sir, by a man of considerable importance, to call upon you."—" Who is he?" interrupted Mozart. " He does not wish to be known."—" Well, what does he want?" —" He has just lost a person whom he tenderly loved, and whose memory will be eternally dear to him. He is desirous of annually commemorating this mournful event by a solemn service, for which he requests you to compose a requiem."—Mozart was forcibly struck by this discourse, by the grave manner in which it was uttered, and by the air of mystery in which the whole was involved. He engaged to write the requiem. The stranger continued, " Employ all your genius on this work; it is destined for a connoisseur."—" So much the better."—" What time do you require ?"—" A month."—" Very well; in a month's time I shall return—what price do you set on your work ?"—" A hundred ducats." The stranger counted them on the table, and disappeared.

Mozart remained lost in thought for some time: he then suddenly called for pen, ink, and paper, and, in spite of his wife's entreaties, began to write. This rage for composition continued several days; he wrote day and night, with an ardour which seemed continually to increase; but his constitution, already in a state of great debility, was unable to support this enthusiasm; one morning he fell senseless, and was obliged to suspend his work. Two or three days after, when his wife sought to divert his mind from the gloomy presages which occupied it, he said to her abruptly, " It is certain that I ain writing this requiem for myself; it will serve for my funeral service." Nothing could remove this impression from his mind.

As he went on, he felt his strength diminish from day to day, and the score advancing slowly. The month which he had fixed being expired, the stranger again made his appearance. " I have found it impossible,' said Mozart, " to keep my word." " Do not give yourself any uneasiness," replied the stranger; " what further time do you require?"—" Another month; the work has interested me more than I expected, and I have extended it much beyond what I at first designed." —" In that case, it is but just to increase the premium; here are fifty ducats more."—"Sir," said Mozart, with increasing astonishment, "who then are you ?"—"That is nothing to the purpose; in a month's time I shall return."

Mozart immediately called one of his servants, and ordered him to follow this extraordinary personage, and find out who he was ; but the man failed from want of skill, and returned without being able to trace him.

Poor Mozart was then persuaded that he was no ordinary being ; that he had a connection with the other world, and was sent to announce to him his approaching end. He applied himself with the more ardour to his requiem, which he regarded as the most durable monument of his genius. While thus employed, he was seized with the most alarming fainting fits; but the work was at length completed before the expiration of the month. At the time appointed, the stranger returned, but Mozart was no more. His career was as brilliant as it was short. He died before he had completed his thirty-sixth year; but in this short space of time he had acquired a name which will never perish, so long as feeling hearts are to be found.

From The Flowers of Literature by William Oxberry
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Mozart Anecdotes: the composition of Don Giovanni 
Monday, February 4, 2008, 09:17 AM - Jokes and anecdotes of famous people, Modern Age History
Posted by Administrator
The most celebrated of Mozart's Italian operas is
Don Juan, which has recently been performed with so
much applause in London. The overture was composed
under very remarkable circumstances. Mozart was much
addicted to trifling amusement, and was accustomed to
indulge himself in that too common attendant upon
superior talent, procrastination. The general rehearsal
of this opera had taken place, and the evening before
the first performance had arrived, but not a note of
the overture was written. At about eleven at night,
Mozart came home, and desired his wife to make him
some punch, and to stay with him to keep him awake.
Accordingly, when he began to write, she began to tell
him fairy tales and odd stories, which made him laugh,
and "by the very exertion preserved him from sleep. The
punch, however, made him so drowsy, that he could only
write while his wife was talking, and dropped asleep as
soon as she ceased. He was at last so fatigued by these
unnatural efforts, that he persuaded his wife to suffer
him to sleep for an hour. He slept, however, for two
hours, and at five o'clock in the morning she awakened
him. He had appointed his music-copiers to come at
seven, and when they arrived, the overture was finished.
It was played without a rehearsal, and was justly applauded
as a brilliant and grand composition. We ought
at the same time to say, that some very sagacious critics
have discovered the passages in the composition where
Mozart dropt asleep, and those where he was suddenly
awakened.

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Genealogy hunter: A court jester's wizdom. 
Monday, February 4, 2008, 08:49 AM - Jokes and anecdotes of famous people, Court Jesters
Posted by Court Jester
Frederick of Saxony, surnamed the Sage, rendered his claim to this title doubtful, by his attention to the descent of his family. A celebrated genealogist had told him, that a copy of his pedigree was preserved in Noah's ark. To substantiate this account, the prince neglected all affairs of state, to the great regret of his ministers, who remonstrated with him on the absurdity, but all to no purpose. At length his cook, who was his favorite buffoon, desired an audience of him, when he told the emperor, that this curiosity to know his origin was neither useful nor honorable. "At present," said the jester, " I look upon you as subordinate only to the Deity; but if you search into Noah's ark, perhaps I shall discover that you and I are cousins, as we have all had our relations there." What the serious advice of his ministers could not effect, was performed by the emperor's cook.

From: The Percy Anecdotes by Sholto Percy
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