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ACOSTA, JOAN D':

Jester at the court of Peter the Great of Russia in the first half of the eighteenth century. Originally he was a broker at Hamburg, but met with such small success that he removed to Russia, and received an appointment as jester. His appearance was droll; he is described as having been very clever and witty, and master of almost all European languages. According to Doran ("History of Court Fools"), Peter met him among the patients at the "Water Cure" at Alonaitz in 1719. Kostomarov calls him Lyacosta. It is said that Czar Peter enjoyed discussing theological questions with him, and that these discussions often led to heated arguments. As a reward for his services the czar gave him the sandy and uninhabited island of Sammer, in the Gulf of Finland. He retained his position as court jester under Empress Anne.

Bibliography:
  • Shubinski, Istoricheskie Ocherki, p. 5;
  • Sternberg, Gesch. d. Juden in Polen, p. 149;
  • Kostomarov, Russkaya Istoria, 2d ed. p. 143, St. Petersburg, 1893;
  • Doran, History of Court Fools, p. 305, London, 1858.
H. R.
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