Their hats were especially distinctive; made of cloth, they were floppy with three points, each of which had a jingle bell at the end. The three points of the hat represent the donkey's ears and tail worn by jesters in earlier times.
In ancient times courts employed fools and by the Middle Ages the jester was a familiar figure. In Renaissance times, aristocratic households in Britain employed licensed fools or jesters, who sometimes dressed as other servants were dressed, but generally wore a motley (i.e. parti-coloured) coat, hood with ass's (i.e. donkey) ears or a red-flannel coxcomb and bells. Regarded as pets or mascots, they served not simply to amuse but to criticise their master or mistress and their guests.