Image: Stańczyk by Jan Matejko: The jester is depicted as the only person at a royal ball who is troubled by the news that the Russians have captured Smolensk. This event happened in 1514.
Stańczyk (c. 1480–1560) was the most famous court jester in Polish history. He was employed by three Polish kings: Alexander, Sigismund the Old and Sigismund Augustus. Scarcity of sources gave rise to four distinct hypotheses in 19th century: that he was entirely invented by Jan Kochanowski and his colleagues, or that he was “perhaps a typical jester dressed by his contemporaries in an Aesopian attire, perhaps a Shakespearean vision of 19th century writers, or perhaps indeed a grey eminence of the societatis ioculatorum”. In any measure, common consensus among modern scholars is that such a person indeed existed and even if it did not, it had a tremendous importance to Polish culture of later centuries.