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To Clothe a Fool : A Study of the Apparel Appropriate for the European Court Fool 1300 1700

To Clothe a Fool : A Study of the Apparel Appropriate for the European Court Fool 1300 1700

By Virginia Lee Futcher

MA Thesis, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1979

Costumes of All Nations, 1882, by Albert Kretschmer, costumer to the Royal Court Theatre, Berlin

Abstract: In order to design a costume for a period show, a costumer must unify the personality of the character in the appropriate historical style with the director’s concept for the production. My study endeavors to aid the costumer in search of the historical clothes of the Medieval and Renaissance court Fool.

Lack of time to do extensive research often imposes limitations on a designer’s creativity. Through extensive research into Medieval and Renaissance art, with the aid of Robert Armin’s jest book, and descriptions of the household accounts of the period, I have compiled a document that will save a harried designer time and leg work.


There are several books available on the personality of the court Fool as presented in drama, and studies are available about the history of the court Fool. However, no one, to my knowledge, has collected and presented a study solely dedicated to the clothes of the court Fool. Costume book authors either ignore the Fool or present only one illustration. Many of the most interesting illustrations are in books printed in the 1800s; and, therefore, they are not available to most researchers. Also several of the books are written in French; and, therefore, they must be translated before the text can become valuable to most American designers. Some writers have concentrated on various special characters such as servants or royalty; other writers have specialized in costume pieces or special periods of clothing.

Click here to read this thesis from Virginia Commonwealth University

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