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Sommers, William

SOMMERS, WILLIAM (d. 1560), court fool of Henry VIII., is said to have been brought to the king at Greenwich by Richard Fermor, about 1525. He was soon in high favour with Henry, whose liberality to Sommers is attested by the accounts of the royal household. The jester possessed a shrewd wit, which he exercised even on Cardinal Wolsey. He is said to have warned his master of the wasteful methods of the exchequer and to have made himself the advocate of the poor. His portrait is shown in a painting of Henry VIII. and his family at Hampton Court, and he again appears with Henry VIII. in a psalter which belonged to the king and is now in the British Museum. He was probably the William Sommers whose death is recorded in the parish of St Leonard's, Shoreditch, on the isth of June 1560.

For his position in i6th- and 17th-century literature see T. Nash, Pleasant Comedie called Summers' last Will and Testament (pr. 1600); S. Rowlands, Good Newes and Bad Newes (1622); and a popular account, A Pleasant Historie of the Life and Death of William Sommers (reprinted 1794). See also John Doran, History of Court Fools (1858).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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