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Perkeo: The Italian Court Jester of Heidelberg Castle

Greetings Age Community,

In honor of the announcement of the Red Bull Wololo: Legacy tournament held in Heidelberg, Germany, I have returned once again with a lighthearted story about an Italian court jester who guarded (and indulged in) thousands of gallons of wine in Heidelberg Castle. If you think that sounds bizarre, wait until I finish this tale from quite some time ago.

Clemens Pankert, most notably known as Perkeo of Heidelberg, was born in Salorno, a municipality of South Tyrol located in northern Italy. He was born with dwarfism, standing at about three feet, eight inches tall, and served as a button maker in his village up until the entry of Prince Charles III Phillip. Charles found Pankert intriguing and entertaining, he was a humorous man filled with witty pranks and jokes, so when the prince took over as the Elector Palatine, he invited the curious button maker to Germany to serve as a cupbearer and personal entertainment.

One of the perks of serving the king was the constant offering and refill of wine. When offered a cup, he would respond “perche no?”, meaning “why not?” in Italian. Pankert’s catchphrase, “perche no?” soon became a part of his new name in Germany. Clemens Pankert became Perkeo of Heidelberg. The peculiar man’s typical duties were to entertain the king and his guests on demand, perform at large parties or events and keep a lighthearted mood in the castle. He was known for telling hilarious tales of his adventures back in Italy, his travel experiences, and his misfortunes. His charisma and charm made him a true crowd pleaser. In addition, he was the brave soul to break bad news to the king when no one else had the courage to do so, always making sure the king had a moment of joy even in the darkest of times.

Perkeo’s jester duties did not stop there. His love and expansive knowledge of wine and wine making were reason enough for the king to appoint him as the main guard of Heidelberg Castle’s wine cellar. This cellar was a massive room filled with thousands of gallons of wine, giving Perkeo an unlimited access to his favorite drink and another excuse to once again say “perche no?”. Accounts from the castle claim he would drink five to eight gallons of wine a DAY, an incredibly impressive amount for a man of his stature, all while successfully guarding the giant round door.

Perkeo lived to his early 80’s and the tale of his demise would ultimately be determined to be as bizarre as his life. At the age of 82, Perkeo fell ill, the local doctor told him he must stop drinking wine and hydrate his body with water. He reluctantly followed his doctor’s advise and had a glass of water, but passed a few hours later. The town was convinced a single glass of water was the culprit of his death. Was the glass of water the actual cause of Perkeo’s death? Probably not. It’s more likely that the rapid change in his sugar levels from the lack of wine led to his passing, but there is no way to confirm the true cause of death.

Inside the Heidelberg Castle wine cellar

Heidelberg, Germany still remembers and recognizes Perkeo and his larger-than-life personality. His influence is seen in hotels, private companies, festivals, fairs, and other celebrations across Germany and Italy. Most notably, Hotel Perkeo in Heidelberg keeps the memory of the jester alive for thousands of guests to remember.

Personally, I am thrilled I was able to share this story with you all today, as it is slightly different than my previous tales, but since the opportunity presented itself, I pondered… Perche no? Perhaps you might capitalize on this opportunity yourself, and sign up to compete in the Red Bull Wololo: Legacy Open Qualifiers starting this week for Age of Empires IV.

Farewell and until next week,


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