Sep 2, 2013

Medieval Jokes


 

Medieval Jokes

While it might seem that the Middle Ages was a time of being serious, there was also mirth. There are many works that were meant to be funny and you can find stories of kings and bishops laughing at a joke. Much of the humour can be described as rude and crude: jokes about sex or bodily functions. The targets of the jokes might be foolish husbands or bad wives, the local priest, a king, or even historical figures. 

One of the best known joke books of the Middle Ages is the Facetiae by Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459), an Italian scholar who worked for the Papacy and was seen as one of the brightest minds of his time. See how medieval your humor is while reading today's jokes! 

-- A Friar, who was but moderately considerate, was preaching to the people at Tivoli, and thundering against adultery, which he depicted in colours of the deepest dye. "It is such a horrible sin," said he, "that I had rather undo ten virgins than one married woman!" Many, among the congregation, would have shared his preference. 

-- The Abbot of Septimo, a very fat and corpulent man, on his way to Florence one evening, enquired of a peasant he met, "Do you think I shall be able to enter the gate?" Of course, he thus meant to ask whether he was likely to reach the city before the closing of the gates. But the country-man, rallying his stoutness, replied, "To be sure, you will; a cartload of hay gets through, why should not you?" 
-- The father of a friend of ours had an intimacy with the wife of a downright fool, who, besides, had the advantage of stuttering. One night he went to her house, believing the husband to be away, knocked on the door, and claimed admittance, imitating the cuckold's voice. The blockhead, who was at home, had no sooner heard him, than he called to his wife, "Giovanna, open the door, Giovanna, let him in; for it does seems to be me." 

-- A man who had given his wife a valuable dress, complained that he never exercised his marital rights without it costing him more than a golden ducat each time. "It is your fault," answered the wife, "why do you not, by frequent repetition, bring down the cost to one farthing?" 
-- A Florentine I was acquainted with was under the necessity of buying a horse in Rome, and bargained with the dealer, who asked him twenty-five gold ducats, too high a price; he offered to pay fifteen ducats cash, and to owe the rest; to which the dealer agreed. On the following day, when asked for the balance, the buyer refused, saying, "We must keep our agreement: it was settled between us that I was to be your debtor; I should be so no longer if I were to pay you." 

-- In Florence, a young woman, somewhat of a simpleton, was on the point of delivering a baby. She had long been enduring acute pain, and the midwife, candle in hand, inspected her secret area, in order to ascertain if the child was coming. "Look also on the other side," said the poor creature, "my husband has sometimes taken that road." 
-- Several persons were conversing in Florence, and each was wishing for something that would make him happy; such is always the case. One would have liked to be the Pope, another a king, a third something else, when a talkative child, who happened to be there, said, "I wish I were a melon." "And for what reason?" they asked. "Because everyone would smell my bottom." It was usual for those who want to buy a melon to apply their noses underneath. 

-- An inhabitant of Perugia was going along the streets, wrapped in thought and melancholy, and, being met by someone who enquired the motive of his concern, replied that he owed money which he could not pay. The man responded, "Leave that anxiety to your creditor."