Kings, priests, and peasants were at the mercy of the medieval comics, a rare 15th-century manuscriptth century revealed.
The “crazy and insulting” comedy was recorded in the National Library of Scotland by Dr. James Wade, who said she makes fun of everyone, high and low.
It was written by a domestic chaplain copying the jokes of an unknown minstrel performing in Derbyshire around 1480 – all while the Wars of the Roses were raging.
dr Wade had a “moment of epiphany” when he realized the scribe had written, “From me, Richard Heege, for being at that festival and not drinking.”
“It was a fascinating display of humor and it is rare for medieval scribes to reveal so much of their character,” said the Cambridge University academic.
The minstrel openly encouraged his audience to get drunk, and a hilarious scene is eerily well known in Monty Python’s ‘Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog’ skit.
“Manuscripts often preserve relics of high art,” said Dr. Calf. “That’s different.” It’s crazy and insulting, but just as valuable.
“Stand-up comedy has always been about taking risks, and these lyrics are risky, they poke fun at everyone, high or low.”
dr Wade said the manuscript shows that public entertainment is thriving in an era of increasing social mobility.
“It was a lot more partying then than it is now, so minstrels had a lot of opportunities to perform,” he said.
“They were really important figures in people’s lives throughout the social hierarchy.” “These texts give us a snapshot of medieval life lived well.”
dr Wade believes the mysteries remained hidden because previous research focused on the genesis of the manuscript and overlooked its comedic significance.
He added, “Here we have a self-made entertainer with very little training creating really original, tongue-in-cheek material.”
“To get a glimpse of someone like that from that era is incredibly rare and exciting.”
It is believed that many minstrels held day jobs, including as ploughmen, but performed nights and weekends.
Some may have traveled across the country, while others have stuck to a circle of local venues, like Dr. Wade believes that was the case.
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