English: Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor in L...
English: Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor in L’art de la chace des oisiaus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1221, Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, passed a law that said in his kingdom of Sicily, no-one was ever to be charged for robbing, or beating up, buffoons and jesters. The laws passed at the time also included the punishment of gamblers who took the name of God in vain, the demand that Jews wear distinctive clothing and rules for controlling the movement of prostitutes.

Why he decided that it was worth his royal time to encourage people to beat up clowns is unclear, but according to van Cleve in his biography of Frederick II, it was a reflection of official Church policy. It was thought that the many humourous songs at the expense of the clergy demeaned the Church, and that the best way to fix this was to allow humourists to be randomly beaten up.

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One thought on “Beating up clowns – an Ars Magica note.

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