Francois the Fool

Francois the Fool

The fool’s job was to bring humour into the royal court.

You can get an idea of what people laughed about from one of the Stirling Heads which shows a jester clutching one of his buttocks and sticking out his tongue.

The work was well-rewarded and James V’s jester John Bute – ‘gentil John ye Inglise fule’ – could even afford assistants.

When Curry, a jester for 11 years in James IV’s court, fell ill, the king paid for his care and later looked after his widow “Daft Anne”.

But there were risks if a joke went wrong.

Archy Armstrong, jester to James VI, was sacked for daring to mock Archbishop William Laud.