Material to Gonella, jester in Ferrara
Gonella is said to have been the jester of Niccolo III. d'Este. Jean Fouquet, called the greatest French painter of his time, is said to have
painted him - likely on a journey to Italy, which is commonly said to have taken place 1443 - 1447.
Contrasting this article of artresearch.se by an author with the name Knut Andersson
in a complex argumentation suggests, that the journey took place from 1439 - 1442; in consideration with another theory, which says, that Jean Fouquet was identical to a so-called Jean de Maisoncelles, which worked till 1439 in Dijon - the city, in which Rene d'Anjou was prisoned.
Jacob Burckhardt mentions Gonella
from "The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy" (source)
What stores of wit were concentrated in Florence during this century is most characteristically shown in the novels of Franco Sacchetti. These are, for the most part, not stories but answers, given under certain circumstances-- shocking pieces of naivete, with which silly folks, court jesters, rogues, and profligate women make their retort. The comedy of the tale lies in the startling contrast of this real or assumed naivete with conventional morality and the ordinary relations of the world--things are made to stand on their heads. All means of picturesque representation are made use of, including the introduction of certain North Italian dialects. Often the place of wit is taken by mere insolence, clumsy trickery, blasphemy, and obscenity; one or two jokes told of Condottieri are among the most brutal and malicious which are recorded. Many of the 'burle' are thoroughly comic, but many are only real or supposed evidence of personal superiority, of triumph over another. How much people were willing to put up with, how often the victim was satisfied with getting the laugh on his side by a retaliatory trick, cannot be said; there was much heartless and pointless malice mixed up with it all, and life in Florence was no doubt often made unpleasant enough from this cause. The inventors and retailers of jokes soon became inevitable figures, and among them there must have been some who were classical-- far superior to all the mere court-jesters, to whom competition, a changing public, and the quick apprehension of the audience, all advantages of life in Florence, were wanting. Some Florentine wits went starring among the despotic courts of Lombardy and Romagna, and found themselves much better rewarded than at home, where their talent was cheap and plentiful. The better type of these people is the amusing man (l'uomo piacevole), the worse is the buffoon and the vulgar parasite who presents himself at weddings and banquets with the argument, 'If I am not invited, the fault is not mine.' Now and then the latter combine to pluck a young spendthrift, but in general they are treated and despised as parasites, while wits of higher position bear themselves like princes, and consider their talent as something sovereign. Dolcibene, whom Charles IV had pronounced to be the 'king of Italian jesters,' said to him at Ferrara: 'You will conquer the world, since you are my friend and the Pope's; you fight with the sword, the Pope with his bulls, and I with my tongue.' This is no mere jest, but the foreshadowing of Pietro Aretino.
The two most famous jesters about the middle of the fifteenth century were a priest near Florence, Arlotto (1483), for more refined wit ('facezie'), and the court-fool of Ferrara, Gonnella, for buffoonery. We can hardly compare their stories with those of the Parson of Kalenberg and Till Eulenspiegel, since the latter arose in a different and half-mythical manner, as fruits of the imagination of a whole people, and touch rather on what is general and intelligible to all, while Arlotto and Gonnella were historical beings, colored and shaped by local influences. But if the comparison be allowed, and extended to the jests of the non-Italian nations, we shall find in general that the joke in the French fabliaux, as among the Germans, is chiefly directed to the attainment of some advantage or enjoyment; while the wit of Arlotto and the practical jokes of Gonnella are an end in themselves, and exist simply for the sake of the triumph of production. (Till Eulenspiegel again forms a class by himself, as the personified quiz, mostly pointless enough, of particular classes and professions.) The court-fool of the Este retaliated more than once by his keen satire and refined modes of vengeance.
Poggio on Gonella
extracted from the
of Poggio Fiorentino
with eleven woodcuts
and an unclear source
Of the Numerous Doctors in Ferrara by Poggio (source)
Gonella, a charming and modest jester, on one occasion was asked by the Marchese Nicolò di Ferrara what art or profession had most representatives in Ferrara. Gonella immediately replied:
"Who does not know that the doctors here are the most numerous?"
Then said the Marchese: "It is easy to see that you know little about the arts and crafts of this city, for between citizens and foreigners Ferrara has at the most two or three doctors."
To which Gonella replied:
"One easily perceives that Your Excellency’s mind is much occupied in matters of State and great importance, and that therefore you have no knowledge of your city or its citizens."
"I can prove that what I say is true", said the Marchese.
"And I can prove that what I affirm is true", said Gonella.
So there was arranged between them a bet or 122 penalty to be paid by the one who was found to have spoken falsely.
The next morning Gonella placed himself betimes at the door of the cathedral, with his face and throat all plastered, and to all who passed by or entered the church and asked him what ill he had, he replied that he was suffering from the toothache, whereon each of them suggested some remedy, and he wrote down the name of each one, and the recipe he had given.
In this manner, and by going about the city and asking all he met for a remedy for toothache, he made a list of three hundred persons who had told of cures and medicines to ease the pain.
When he had done this, he went in the morning to the palace at the hour when he was sure to find the Marchese, and, presenting himself with his face and throat all bandaged, he pretended to be in great suffering.
The Marchese, not perceiving the artfulness of Gonella, and supposing him to be suffering from the toothache, said at once:
"Gonella, you must use the remedy I am 123 going to give you, and you will be grateful to me, because you will be cured at once."
Gonella, when he had received the recipe, returned to his house, and made a complete list of all the remedies and the names of those who had furnished them in the order of their rank, and at the top of the list he wrote the name and recipe of the Marchese.
Then the following day, he went whole and sound to find the Marchese and show him all the recipes for the toothache, and to ask him for the money which he had won; and, if he would not pay it, he would show him the proofs.
Now when Marchese, seeing himself at the top of the list of doctors, followed by the names of many other gentlemen, was unable to keep from laughing, and, confessing that he had lost the bet, ordered that Gonella should be paid.
In Which Gonella, the Jester, Wins a Wager
(by Poggio ?) (source)
It is told of Gonella, the clever jester, that he wagered with a man from Ferrara that he would make a soothsayer of him.
He took his companion to bed with him and, breaking wind softly, instructed him to stick his head under the covers. The other obeyed, but immediately withdrew, offended by the foul odor.
“It appears to me that you have farted,” he said. Upon which Gonella cried: “Correct! I win the bet, for you are already a soothsayer!”