In an article to I had written here about the importance of Medieval Jesters, there was one famous jester that was, at that time, left out.
Reasons were that this particular jester exists in myths, and may not have ever existed in any reality.
I speak of a jester turned knight in the Arthurian legend. I stay away from Arthurian legend for the most part because of the fact that there are laundry lists of sources that contradict each other on who Arthur was or if he existed at all. So to write about Arthur in a factual way is to open all sorts of doors to critics to bash.
But, propose that this is factual about the importance of the literature written, as we can learn a lot about a society based off of the literature that is romanticized about a certain place and time.
This one time jester turned knight is none other than Sir Dagonet.
Portrayed in the 2004 Clive Owen and Kiera Knightley King Arthur movie by Ray Stevenson as a quiet, very large, very powerful but compassionate Goliath; sacrificing himself in order to save the rest of the knights.
Dagonet in the myths was quite the different person.
In every other tale of Dagonet that I have found, Dagonet was a jester that had been knighted by Arthur more as a jest in and of itself than anything, or as a general buffoon.
Shakespeare himself wrote of Dagonet as a buffoon. In Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, Dagonet is portrayed as a jester who had been knighted as a joke.
Some of the stories go so far as to say that Dagonet was cowardly, but would feign bravery; going to the extreme of bashing his own shield to make it look like he had been in a terrible battle that he won. Another story has Sir Kay, who was Arthur’s brother while being parented by Sir Ector, set up a joust between Sir Breunor and Sir Dagonet in an effort to deprive Breunor the prestige of defeating a true knight in a tournament.
As much as he was the wrong of a joke, however, it was he in Tennyson’s Idyllis of the King Dagonet is the only one in the court that can see the impending doom cast upon Camelot. He openly mocks all of the knights; thus making him a vital importance to the myths of King Arthur. It also makes him yet another tragic personal story in the myths of Arthur; “a knight who was thought of as a buffoon though his last days in service to his king; and the only one to foresee the doom that would come upon them all.”
As with all Arthurian legends, it is to be taken as more fiction than fact, but the fiction tells a story of how a jester can, with knowledge that no one may have, provide insight that none other would have; and shows how vital a role jesters played. It also shows that kings knew their jesters and obviously had some degree of respect for the man to have knighted him, whether it be in jest or not. This shows that jesters were not all street performing beggars and peasants.