History According to Monty Python


We’re all big geeks and long-time fans of Monty Python around here at Frock Flicks HQ. One of the great things about Python, both the TV series and the movies, is how often they worked in historical and literary bits into their jokes. After all, the members were quite erudite, half having met at Oxford, the other half having met at Cambridge. Many of their comedy sketches made use of the BBC costume wardrobes to good effect, and their first two feature films were surprisingly decent period efforts. But it’s the wordplay, weaving historical fact and literary allusions in with contemporary concepts that make for hilarity.

There are more well-known sketches, but I thought I’d pick some slightly obscure ones for today’s top five. Enjoy!


5. It’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Monty Python’s Flying Circus


4. Philosophers Football – Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus


3. Dennis Moore – Monty Python’s Flying Circus


2. Romans Go Home – Monty Python’s Life of Brian


1. Sir Galahad in Castle Anthrax – Monty Python and the Holy Grail


What’s your favorite Monty Python historical sketch?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

12 Responses

  1. thedementedfairy

    I have found excuses to post the ‘bad naughty Zoot’ clip several times this week. Anything Monty Python is OK by me! [Remember Wuthering Heights in semaphore?]

  2. Caroline

    Ages ago, in graduate school, (pre-internet, youtube, etc.) someone mentioned that the Python’s did a sketch in which the Arlofini Wedding Portrait came to life … yet I have never found any evidence. Those costumes would be great to see ‘interpreted’ ….

    • MoHub

      It was one of Terry Gilliam’s animations using the actual Arnolfini painting, not a live-action sketch.

  3. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    My Dad was born on the Island of Puerto Rico in 1916 and did not move to the mainland until 1931. Since he was much older then my mother and quite conservative in his views on women, when ever he would start on a harangue my mother would yell: “girls come quick, it the Spanish Inquisition!” When he would start on some topic or another my sister and I would nudge each other and say” no one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition.”
    To this day that skit makes me tear up with love and laughter.

  4. Alys Mackyntoich

    My undergrad required 4 years of philosophy to get out the door. As a result I get every single one of the references in the Philosphers’ Football sketch. Every single one.

    And who said we’d never use what we learned in college? :-)

  5. Peacoclaur

    Ooh, the “Romans go home” bit brings back memories of high school Latin… bad memories….

    But seriously, for comedy shows and movies made on small budgets, the Pythons got sooo much right about aestheics, historiography, and other things; where shows and movies with bigger budgets than get so much wrong? Why?

    all could also apply to Blackadder as well

  6. C. C.

    Idk if this counts as Monty Python or not, but since then Terry Jones has gone on to do some awesome historical series. Including ones about the Crusades, “Barbarians”, and medieval people’s everyday lives.

  7. Lina

    Almost a half a year later…

    “Well I didn’t vote for you!”
    The scen from The Holy Grail, with Dennis and his Wife (?) who lives in an anarcho-syndicalist commune.