Will Somers

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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.

Signature look:

Endearing trait(s):

Annoying trait(s):

Will Somers In The Tudors Season 3

"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

Robert Armin (writer of Foole upon Foole, 1600) tells how Somers humiliated Thomas, the King's juggler. He interrupted one of Thomas' performances carrying milk and a breadroll. Will asked the King for a spoon, the King replied he had none and Thomas told him to use his hands.

Will then sang:
'This bit Harry I give to thee
and this next bit must serve for me,
Both which I'll eat apace.
This bit Madam unto you,
And this bit I my selfe eate now,
And the rest upon thy face.'

He then threw the milk in his face, ran out, and Thomas was never at court again. Sommers also used his influence to compensate an uncle who had been ruined by an enclosure of common land, though it took a very subtle appeal by Sommers to Henry.

In Thomas Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique (1553-60), Will is quoted telling the financially hard-up King:

"You have so many Frauditors [Auditors], so many Conveighers [Surveyers], and so many Deceivers [Receivers] that they get all to themselves."


Family members: Nothing is known of his parentage or if he had a wife or children

King Henry VIII


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  • "I don't think - are you mad - thinking is dangerous. But I'll wink."
  • "You find the perfect wife. She's sweet, pliable, she even has good ****. On top of that she gives you the son you've always wanted and you let her die...And she's not the only one, poor abandoned Catherine." - Will Somers "Careful" - Henry

  • "And that other one, who's name escapes me...As her head escaped her. All lost! All lost!" - Will Somers

  • "Go to Hell" - Henry "What? Go there? I thought I'd already arrived." - Will Somers, the King's fool


Will Somers as played by David Bradley
Will Somers
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 as played by David BradleyWill Somers in Season 3
Will Somers In Season 3 Holding A Design
For Nonsuch Palace
Will Somers as played by David Bradley Will Somers

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Will Somers
Will Somers

Contemporary likeness of Henry with
his Jester, Will Somers from Henry's Psalter
showing his affection for him

Will Somers with Mary I
with Princess Mary Tudor in whose reign he also held the position of Court Jester
Whitehall Portrait featuring Will Somers
Whitehall portrait with Will Somers in the far right.