Jessica Yasemin Elizabeth Secmezsoy-Urquhart

Jessica Yasemin Elizabeth Secmezsoy-Urquhart


Personal profile

Research overview

My work focuses on the vital role of disabled entertainers and courtiers at the English and Scottish Royal Courts of the Renaissance, specifically those neurodiverse individuals who were court fools or jesters and bodilydiverse people with dwarfism, gigantism and similar who were known as wonders. Disabled people have always existed but how societies have viewed and treated this group has varied dramatically over time and place. During the Renaissance certain circumstances created a positive approach to these groups giving them agency and opportunities. The Early Modern Period would produce a perspective based on ideas of reason being an important human trait and the existence of an abnormal and normal binary. The marginalisation of disabled people caused by such approaches to them is still being overcome today. Through this work, it is hoped that a more complex and inclusive view of human neuro and bodily diversity can be reached thus positively impacting how we view disability today. 

Research interests

My main research interest is Pre-Modern disabled history in all its forms, although the Renaissance is my main focus. Also of interest are animal studies/history which challenges what stories history can tell and opens up how we understand the past. Histories of gender, sexuality, class, society and culture to Royal and Court, Ottoman to Tudor or 18thc France histories are some of the other areas I'm fascinated by.

Academic/Professional Qualification

I received a 1st and the JAF Thompson Prize for best Medieval Undergraduate dissertation at the University of Glasgow in 2016. My thesis was titled "Did Disabled People Have a Place at Renaissance Courts?" and was a far-reaching work looking at the whole of Europe. I did a Research MSc at the University of Edinburgh between 2018-2019 and for my thesis I have been awarded a Distinction, although my graduation will not be until 2020. "Off Evere Full that in this Regeone Duellis: The Neurodiverse Natural Court Fool’s Vital Relationship with Scottish Stewart and British Stuart Rulers, 1488-1649" considers the overlooked Renaissance Scottish relationship with these disabled individuals and how different conceptions of this group influenced how they were viewed and treated. 

Profile Keywords

Disability, Disabled History, Neurodiversity, Bodilydiversity, Renaissance, Court, Court Studies, Royal, Royalty, Scotland, England, Tudors, Stewarts, Medieval, Early Modern, History of Medicine, History of Madness, History of Disability, the Other, Liminality, Agency, Hidden History.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, "Did Disabled People Have a Place at Renaissance Royal Courts?"


Award Date: 1 Jun 2017

Master in Science, Off Evere Full that in this Regeone Duellis: The Neurodiverse Natural Court Fool’s Vital Relationship with Scottish Stewart and British Stuart Rulers, 1488- 1649, Edinburgh University


External positions

Video Contributor, BBC The Social

2018 → …


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