A medieval juggler
16th Annual Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire Schedule
March 4-5 2017 Pensacola, Florida
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The Medieval Juggler
A medieval juggler was a comic performer who used humour (often bawdy) alongside his juggling skills. A juggler generally only performed in public places such as in market places, in the street and at medieval fairs.
To make a living of any kind, a juggler therefore had to rely upon his audience for tips. The equivalent today is what people refer to as a 'street entertainer' - a highly skilled juggler who can perform serious juggling feats as well as comic ones and who performs in public places such as market places in tourist resorts and cities or in special fairs and town/city celebrations. Sometimes they will be relying on tips from the public but, unlike in medieval times, they will often be professionally engaged for both public and private function performances.
Throughout the Middle Ages, most histories were written by religious clerics who frowned upon the type of performers who juggled, called gleemen, accusing them of base morals or even practicing witchcraft. Jugglers in this era would only perform in marketplaces, streets, fairs, or drinking houses.
They would perform short, humorous and bawdy acts and pass a hat or bag among the audience for tips. Some kings' and noblemen’s bards, fools, or jesters would have been able to juggle or perform acrobatics, though their main skills would have been oral (poetry, music, comedy and storytelling).
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