Jane Foole

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Henry the Eighth and His Family (1545); the man at the far-right background is jester Will Somers, and it has been suggested that the woman at the far left is Jane Foole.

Jane Foole, also known as Jane The Foole, and Jane, The Queen's Fool (fl. 1543-1558), was an English court jester. She was the jester of queens Catherine Parr and Mary I, and possibly also of Anne Boleyn. She has been described as the only female court jester ever depicted.

Today, entertainers sometimes perform as "Jane" in Renaissance-themed entertainments such as Renaissance faires.


Personal life[edit]

Jane's full name, birth year, and background are unknown. Beden the Fool also appears in related notes of the time, and it has been suggested that Beden was her surname. Jane is believed to have had a learning disability.[1]


In the accounts of Anne Boleyn, bills for caps supplied to her "female jester" are recorded in 1535–36.[2] The name of this female jester is not mentioned, but may have been Jane.[3]

Jane was a well-liked jester at the court of Catherine Parr, where she is mentioned by name as 'Jane Foole' in 1543.[2] She may have been depicted in the painting of Henry the Eighth and His Family (1545), in which the man on the far right is identified as her colleague, court jester William Sommers. Jane is among several women suggested as the figure on the left, in the matching end panel to his. It also has been suggested that Jane was married to Will Sommers, but this has not been confirmed.

Jane was the jester of Mary I before she became queen and continued as her court jester until Mary's death. She apparently had a favoured position with Mary and was given a valuable wardrobe and an unusually large number of shoes. Her head was shaved, just as the heads of male jesters. As well as Jane, Mary also employed Lucretia the Tumbler and Will Sommers as jesters. It is not known what happened to her after Mary's death in 1558.


  1. ^ "The King's Fools - Disability in the Tudor Court". Historic England. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b Fraser, Antonia (1995). Henrik VIII:s sex hustrur [The six wives of Henry VIII] (in Swedish). Translated by Eklöf, Margareta. Stockholm, SE. pp. 255, 394. ISBN 978-91-37-10713-4.
  3. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford: British Academy, Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198614128. OCLC 56568095.