In ancient times courts employed Jesters and by the Middle Ages the jester was a familiar figure. In Renaissance times, aristocratic households in Britain employed licensed jesters, who sometimes dressed as other servants were dressed, but generally wore a multi-coloured coat, hood with donkey ears or a red-flannel coxcomb and bells. <br /><br /> Regarded as pets or mascots, they served not simply to amuse but to criticise their master or mistress and their guests. Queen Elizabeth is said to have rebuked one of her jesters for being insufficiently severe with her. Excessive behaviour, however, could lead to a Jester being whipped. <br /><br />Jesters could also give bad news to the King that no-one else would dare deliver. The best example of this is in 1340, when the French fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Sluys by the English. <br /><br />Phillippe VI's jester told him the English sailors "don't even have the guts to jump into the water like our brave French.