Henry VIII’s Fool, Will Somer

In some portraits of Henry VIII there appears another, striking figure. This is Will Somer, the king’s fool, a celebrated wit who could raise Henry’s spirits and spent many hours alone with him. But was Somer an “artificial fool” - a comedian who spoke truth to power - or a “natural fool,” someone with intellectual disabilities?

In this episode of Not Just the Tudors, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb talks to Swedish historian Peter K. Andersson, whose new biography of Somer - Fool: In Search of Henry VIII’s Closest Man - reveals a little-known world where comedy could be something cruel and unpleasant.

This episode was produced by Rob Weinberg.

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