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Roland the Farter’s flatulence was seemingly so impressive that it garnered a gift of land from King Henry I. Painting of The Court Jester by John Watson Nicol, 1895	Source: Public Domain

Roland the Farter: Medieval England’s Celebrity Flatulist

A manor in Suffolk and a whopping 30 acres (12 hectares) of land was given to a person who was renowned for his ability to gas, quite literally, at the behest of King Henry II. Roland le Petour, also...
The Stoic philosopher Chrysippus is said to have died laughing. Image of man laughing taken from the Judge Magazine Cover published on February 4th, 1922. Source: Public domain

Chrysippus Died Laughing at His Own Deadly Joke

We’ve all heard the expression “to die laughing” to refer to a bout of uncontrollable laughter. But did you know that it actually happens? When looking at the Hellenistic bust of Chrysippus housed at...
Detail of an etching of Manetto, who was pranked by Filippo Brunelleschi, from The Fat Woodworker. Source: Public domain

Filippo Brunelleschi and his Remarkable Renaissance Prank

Everyone loves a good, harmless prank. This was especially true for Filippo Brunelleschi, a Florentine man who famously got back at his friend for having failed to show up at a dinner party in...
Shot of an archaeologist holding the leather prank mouse found in the Roman fort of Vindolanda.      Source: Vindolanda Trust

The Romans’ Playful Side Revealed By Prank Mouse in Vindolanda

A 2,000-year-old ‘prank mouse’ has been discovered in a bag of Roman period leather offcuts in a collection of artifacts in Northumberland’s Vindolanda Museum. The life-sized leather mouse, measuring...
Stylus with old Roman joke found in London.

Roman Pen Inscribed With Precursor to Modern Classic Joke Found in London

An expert on inscriptions has deciphered some Roman writing on a pen as a witticism left by its owner, with a sentiment remarkably similar to those found on tongue in cheek souvenirs of today...
Till Eulenspiegel fountain in Mölln

Till Eulenspiegel: The Crude Pranks and Hilarious Hi-jinks of a 14th Century German Fool

Till Eulenspiegel is a notable character from German folklore and the protagonist in a number of folktales. Most recognized for his trickery, it may surprise people to know that Till Eulenspiegel...
Democritus’ (1630) by Johannes Moreelse. There have certainly been some strange and funny events in history.

Monumentally Funny Events in History: From Napoléon’s Petit Package to Pythagoras’ Fear of Farts

History is often presented in grey, rather dry terms, but when you do a bit of digging, our past is full of remarkable people who had wicked senses of humor and died with as much vigor as they lived...
The black sarcophagus was found to contain three skeletons and lots of sewage.

Over 20,000 Have Petitioned to Drink the ‘Pharaoh Punch’ of the Black Sarcophagus

The strange story of the black sarcophagus found in Alexandria continues… In an unexpected turn of events, over 20,000 people who have signed an online petition requesting permission to drink the red...
The silver Tantalus Bowl found in Vinkovci, Croatia in 2012. Source: ©Damir Doracic, Archaeological Museum Zagreb

Practical Joke or Practicing Restraint? The Drinking Vessel That Turned Greedy Guests into Wet Blankets

A 4th century silver Roman bowl may be one of the earliest known examples of a practical joke. It looks like a regular drinking vessel at first, but the unsuspecting wine reveler who was given this...
The Fool’s Cap Map of the World.

Cartographic Comedy in the 16th century: The Fool’s Cap Map of the World

The Fool’s Cap Map of the World is an engraving of a map of the world, and is thought to have been made towards the end of the 16th century. This map is peculiar as it is framed within the hood /...
April Fools

Tracing back the ancient origins of April Fools’ Day

On 1 st April every year, people around the world celebrate April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, a day when merriment and joviality is supposed to reign and pranks, practical jokes, and...