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The Funny History of Roland the Farter

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Ravi loves writing within the cusp of relationships, history, and the bizarre where the boundaries are blurred and possibilities are immense

Roland le Fartere (also known as Roland the Farter) was a medieval celebrity flatulist or a professional farter who lived and performed in 12th century England.

Roland le Fartere (also known as Roland the Farter) was a medieval celebrity flatulist or a professional farter who lived and performed in 12th century England.

Farting Was a Profession in Medieval Europe

The oldest joke in the world, cracked by the Sumerians in 1900 BC goes something like this.

“Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.”

And as you can see, it was a fart joke.

That said, if there is a single funny vein that connects the whole world together, it is farting. Fart humor has always been in every culture, every language, and every era. So next time you cringe up your nose at a fart joke, you may want to consider that fart humor has been around for centuries and has even been considered an exquisite art form practiced and perfected by professionals.

And throughout history, playwrights, writers, and showbiz performers have used the ubiquitous fart to prop up their works.

Master Athenian playwright Aristophanes peppered his comic plays with fart jokes. Fart jokes were also extensively used by Shakespeare. Geoffrey Chaucer and even Mark Twain. Yes, Mark Twain’s fart joke titled ‘Conversation as it was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors’ was long considered unprintable in his time.

And besides jokes, there were professional farters called 'flatulists’ (yes, smelly fart was an art form!) who have existed for over a thousand years. As far as the definition goes, a flatulist, fartist, or professional farter is an entertainer (sometimes considered a comedian) whose routine consists solely or primarily of passing gas in a creative, musical, or amusing manner.

And Medieval England even had a celebrity flatulist named Roland the Farter (also known as Roland le Fartere). Roland worked as a jester for King Henry II and specialized in farting and was rewarded quite heavily for his expertise with an entire manor and 30 acres of land.

Roland transformed farting into a fine art form as he managed to jump, fart and whistle simultaneously much to the amusement of onlookers.

Farting Was a Profession in Medieval Europe

Farting Was a Profession in Medieval Europe

The Story of Roland the Farter

Medieval times were one of the best times for flatulists to ply their trade. They were called braigetoír and their ‘rare’ talent was considered at par with the musicians.

According to Valerie Allen, who wrote the book On Farting: Language and Laughter in the Middle Ages, farting was quite complex in medieval times. While much of the humor in medieval jokes were related to anxiety and the uncontrollable urge to fart, farting also had a philosophical side, as the people believed that it was a sign of poor health and subsequently death. That said, farting was also appreciated as a great form of entertainment as she writes.

“I should think that for festive occasions this kind of entertainment was central and necessary and must have involved high degrees of skills, a whole range of performing tricks. They’re like circus performers.”

Roland le Fartere (also known as Roland the Farter) was a medieval flatulist who lived in 12th century England. The historical details about him are not really much. He possibly entered into service as a court jester during the reign of King Henry I and later continued his exploits under Henry II, under whom he became extremely rich and famous due to his talent.

Apparently, he was good in his job as he was soon called for court performances throughout Europe. And one of the proprietary prized performances that Henry II, used to ask him to perform every Christmas was called ‘Unum saltum et siffletum et unum bumbulum’ that translated to one jump, one whistle, and one fart. Roland was supposedly the only farter at that time who could accomplish this unique feat with finesse.

And he was heavily rewarded for his efforts. He was given a stately manor in Suffolk and 30 acres of land. That made him a man of considerable wealth and while he did have to fart for the king, he at least lived in luxury at times when he was not ‘performing’.

Roland certainly became the most loved person of his era, with him gaining the favor of multiple kings throughout his lifetime.

Roland certainly became the most loved person of his era, with him gaining the favor of multiple kings throughout his lifetime.

Flatulism as a Profession Fades Away

While we do not know much about his health (farting excessively might be due to a health problem), Roland certainly became the most loved person of his era, with him gaining the favor of multiple kings throughout his lifetime.

His personality was so mesmerizing and funny (or shall we say smelly!) that, historians and chroniclers have enjoyed retelling the story of Roland the Farter over the last 900 years or so

Sadly, after the medieval era, flatulism declined and soon fell into nonexistence with other sources of entertainment gaining ground. Yes, while there had been some ‘amateur’ performers coming up every now and then, but it is safe to say that none reached even close to the flamboyance and gastrointestinal talent of Roland the farter. He was simply the best farter in history to date.

Sources

Comments

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on June 04, 2021:

Thanks John.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 04, 2021:

Same here, Ravi. I can’t find your pirate story on my feed, but you did a wonderful job. It was intriguing and a good representation of fate.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on June 04, 2021:

Thanks Brenda

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 04, 2021:

Ravi

I cant find your piece on fate to comment.

So I'm leaving it here.

Ravi

This is quite an interesting tale.

What a great way for fate to play a part in his life.

$20,000.00 for giving up a little black book without having to become a treasure hunter.

I love it.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on June 03, 2021:

Thanks Linda for your comments

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 03, 2021:

I’ve never heard of Roland or as farting for a career. Thank you for creating this unusual and very interesting article, Ravi.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on June 03, 2021:

Thanks Miebakagh

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on June 03, 2021:

Thanks, John for your comments.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 03, 2021:

Thank you for sharing this, Ravi. He may have been written about many times but I have to admit I had never heard of Roland Le Fartere or that farting was ever a profession. Damnit, I missed my calling in life lol.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 03, 2021:

Ravi, I hardll realise such a profession exists...

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on June 03, 2021:

Thanks Rodric for your comments

Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on June 03, 2021:

This story smells a bit! I would never have known that there was a profession of farters! I feel awkward even writing this. Thanks for sharing this bit of human history. Now I don't feel so bad about, you know... let it loose every now and then.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on June 03, 2021:

Thanks Bill for your comments

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 03, 2021:

Indeed, a very funny story!

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