9 Outlandish Stories Of Court Jesters Throughout History, From The Medieval Flatulist To Lord Minimus

Published November 9, 2023
Updated November 10, 2023

Triboulet, The Court Jester Whose Wit Spared Him His Life

Triboulet

Walker Art Library/Alamy Stock PhotoTriboulet was one of the most beloved court jesters of all time — until he slapped the King of France on the rear.

Triboulet was a jester known for his wit. Unfortunately, he may have been too witty for his own good.

Triboulet worked primarily for King Francis I of France during the early 16th century, and he sought to find humor in almost any situation. As a result, he had a tendency to take his jokes too far.

One tale about Triboulet’s time at court details his encounter with an aggressive nobleman. The jester was allegedly pestering the man so much that he threatened to beat Triboulet to death. The fool frantically told the king, who reassured him that the nobleman would be hanged within 15 minutes if he tried to harm him.

“Ah, Sir!” Triboulet replied. “Couldn’t you contrive to hang him a quarter of an hour previously?”

Triboulet’s sharp wit, however, nearly cost him his head when he slapped the king on his backside in front of a room full of courtiers. Francis offered him an out, however, if he could come up with an apology more offensive than the spanking.

“I’m so sorry, Your Majesty, that I didn’t recognize you!” Triboulet reportedly said. “I mistook you for the Queen!”

And on yet another occasion, after Triboulet had once again offended the king, Francis decided to mercifully allow the jester to choose the manner of his death. “Good sire,” Triboulet responded, “I choose to die from old age.”

The king found Triboulet’s answer so humorous that, in the end, he decided not to have him executed after all. He did still banish the jester, however, and Triboulet indeed died of old age in the French countryside.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Cara Johnson
A writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina and an assistant editor at All That's Interesting, Cara Johnson holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in English from College of Charleston and has written for various publications in her six-year career.