History Jokes: The Oxford Dragon


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!

The Oxford Dragon 
Jacob Bobart the younger, and son of a German
horticulturist of the same name, who superintended
the Physic Garden in Oxford, in the
seventeenth century, once played an ingenious
hoax on the learned of that university. He
found a large dead rat in the garden, and transformed
it by art into the shape of a dragon, as
represented in old and curious books of natural
history, particularly in Aldrovandus. This was
shown to various learned men, all of whom believed
it to be a genuine and invaluable specimen
of the dragon. Many fine copies of verses were
written by the literati, in honor of Bobart and
his matchless discovery, and persons flocked
from all parts to see it. Bobart owned the cheat
some years after, but it was for a long time preserved
as a masterpiece of art.

From The Percy Anecdotes
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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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Coronation of George I 
Nothing of special interest marks the Coronation of George I., except that, as he was unable to speak English, and scarcely anyone round him could speak German, recourse had to be had to Latin. As all the various ceremonies had to be laboriously explained to him in this language, the Coronation was consequently a long and tedious affair with many interruptions. In connection with this a common joke among the people at the time was that much bad language had passed between the King and his ministers on the day of the Coronation. The wife of George I., like the wife of his descendant, George IV., was not permitted to take any part in the great celebration, but was left a prisoner in Germany, where she remained in captivity for thirty years.

From The Windsor Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly for Men and Women
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"King Arthur" Merry-making at sea 
Sunday, March 2, 2008, 11:33 PM - British humor, history of England
Posted by Court Jester
This is another gameused at sea,
when near the line, or in a hot latitude.
It is performed as follows.

A man, who is to represent King Arthur,
ridiculously dressed, having a large wig
made out of oakum, or of some old
swabs, is seated on the side, or over a
large vessel of water. Every person in
his turn is to be ceremoniously introduced
to him, and to pour a bucket of water over
him, crying, "Hail, King Arthur!" If
during this ceremony the person introduced
laugh- or smiles, (to which his majesty
endeavours to excite him, by all sorts
of ridiculous gesticulations), he
changes place with, and then becomes,
King Arthur, till relieved by some
brother tar, who has as little command
over his muscles as himself.

From The Olio, Or, Museum of Entertainment
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Peter the Great's fool 
Friday, February 29, 2008, 09:13 PM - Jokes and anecdotes of famous people, Modern Age History, Satire
Posted by Administrator
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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