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Will Somers,"the Fool" as played by David Bradley
| died June 15th, 1560 |
Character's backstory: born in Shropshire, Will came to Henry's Court as a skinny boy with a pronounced stoop.
Somers entered service in 1535, so perhaps late 1537 (the period immediately after Jane’s death), was too soon a time for Henry to be that close to his fool as shown in the series. Henry enjoyed his prattling and his ability at improvising verse. He flattered Henry, acted the clown and 'riddled' Henry out of his periods of depression. Henry loved him for it and gave him whatever he wanted. Consequently Will made plenty of enemies at court too.
Though fools could make bold jokes, they had to know their limits. Somers's predecessor, a jester called Sexton (nicknamed ‘Patch’), was physically admonished by a fuming Henry VIII when he made some scathing remarks about Anne Boleyn calling her "a ribald" and Princess Elizabeth "a bastard". Sexton promptly left court and was offered protection in Sir Nicholas Carew’s household. That was the end of his career. (Somers has sometimes been confused with this jester but Somers was his replacement).
Will remained in the King's service for the rest of Henry's life; in the King's later years, when he was troubled by a painful leg condition, it was said that only Somers could lift his spirits.
*the series shows him as a much older man but actually Will was younger and called the King, his "Uncle"
After Henry's death, Somers remained at court, through the reigns of Edward VI & during Mary I's reign, Will's role was mainly ceremonial, and as a sidekick to Mary's personal fool, Jane. Will was reputed to be the only man who made Mary laugh, apart from John Heywood. Will's last public event was the coronation of Elizabeth I.
Position: Jester of the Court. Not considered a noble profession, jesters generally came in two categories.
A 'natural' fool was born physically deformed, a dwarf or considered legally insane (in our terms).
An 'artificial' fool was somewhat deformed and had comic abilities or could do acrobatics or contortions and make derogatory jokes. Most were sold into the homes of the nobility by families who could not afford to care for them, and the noble or King considered them property to be sold off or given away at will. Will was an 'artificial" but does appear to have been physically handicapped, and that might have qualified him for being regarded as permanently dependent and maybe the reason he was included in family portraits.
Personality type: a man of integrity and discretion and Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex appreciated that he sometimes drew the King's attention to extravagance and waste within the royal household by means of a joke. Court jesters were permitted familiarities without regard for deference, and Somers possessed a shrewd wit.
"Few men were more beloved than was this fool
Whose merry prate kept with the King much rule.
When he was sad the King with him would rhyme;
Thus Will exil'd sadness many a time.
The King would ever grant what he did crave,
For well he knew Will no exacting knave,
But wish'd the King to do good deeds great store,
Which caused the Court to love him more and more. "
Poem about Will Somers
by Robert Armin, a member of
Shakespeare's acting troupe
Family members: Nothing is known of his parentage or if he had a wife or children
King Henry VIII
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UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER QUOTES
DEFINING EPISODES | MEMORABLE SCENES
From a rare portrait, dating from 1650 to 1680, was recently found in the Duke of Buccleuch's collection
at Boughton House which is a copy of an original panel painting, which is thought to date back to the early 1550s.
Will Somers In Season 3 Holding A Design
For Nonsuch Palace
Contemporary likeness of Henry with
showing his affection for him
Whitehall portrait with Will Somers in the far right.
Latest page update: made by Neta07
, Aug 29 2010, 12:11 PM EDT
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Keyword tags: anne boleyn charles brandon gabrielle anwar henry viii jeremy northam jonathan rhys meyers margaret tudor natalie dormer sam neill showtime the tudors the tudors tudors characters
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