Created By: MasterGhandalf on April 7, 2010
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Court Mage

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In fantasy series it's fairly common for a king or other high-ranking ruler to keep a magic-user on staff, primarily to provide mystical advice and services, and possibly general wisdom as well. Can also show up in historical fiction or even Real Life, as during time periods when sorcery was widely believed in having a mage or alchemist on hand was generally seen as a smart idea. The character can be a Good Chancellor, Evil Chancellor, or anything in-between. Contrast The Magocracy and Sorcerous Overlord for instances where the mage(s) is actually the ruler, rather than an advisor. If the character has high standing among other mages as well as the king, they're also The Archmage.

Examples:

  • Both Gandalf and Saruman from The Lord of the Rings have done stints as advisors to various monarchs.
  • Merlin, of course.
  • Jafar in Aladdin is an example of the Evil Chancellor variety.
  • Waterbending Master Pakku could be seen as Avatar: The Last Airbender's version of this in the Northern Water Tribe, while the Earth Kingdom's Long Feng is a more malevolent version.
  • Binnesman and Raj Ahten's flameweavers from The Runelords.
  • The Magus to Princess Katherine in Gargoyles. The Archmage previously held this position to her father, but was banished for attempting to usurp the throne with his powers.
  • Hotep and Huy from The Prince of Egypt, though it's unclear if they really have powers beyond clever sleight-of-hand.
  • Marwort the Illustrious was this to the Kingpriest in Dragonlance, despite the latter's well-documented Fantastic Racism towards wizards (it only worked out because Marwort swore never to use magic without the Kingpriest's permission, and then never in his presence). Other wizards, of course, considered him a traitor. Later on Fistandantilus took the job for his own ends.
  • Tayschrenn in the Malazan Book of the Fallen.
  • Skeeve becomes one early in the Myth Adventures series, replacing one that had even less magic than he did at the time.
  • The Bible ascribes court magicians to Pharaoh (Exodus 7 and 8) and to the King of Babylon (Daniel 1, 2, 4, and 5)
  • Thrasyllus, Sr. and Jr. -- court astrologers of Tiberius and Nero
  • Angelo Catto -- court astrologer of Louis XI of France
  • Guido Bonatti -- official astrologer of the city of Florence
  • Michel de Notredame (Nostradamus) -- court astrologer of Catherine de Medicis
  • Lucas Gauricus -- court astrologer of Popes Leo X and Clement VII
  • Dr Faustus is often associated with the court of Charles V
  • Dr. John Dee -- magician associated with the courts of Elizabeth I of England, Stephen of Poland, and Ruldolph II of the Holy Roman Empire (also associated with Rabbi Loew, the creator of the Golem)
  • I seem to recall reading that Donald holds this position in Kingdom Hearts.
  • In Chronicles Of The Black Moon, Ghorgor Bey's sworn enemy keeps a mage by his side. Quite hilariously, when Ghorgor slaughters the entire castle guard and advances on the two, the lord orders the mage to kill him, at which point he says "I'd love to, your lordship, but I've got a teleport on the boil!" and teleports away.
  • Many Qirsi have this as a profession in The Winds of the Forelands.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • April 6, 2010
    Keybreak
    Hotep and Huy for Ramses in the movie The Prince Of Egypt.
  • April 6, 2010
    randomsurfer
    Skeeve becomes one early in the Myth Adventures series, replacing one that had even less magic than he did at the time.
  • April 7, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    • The Bible ascribes court magicians to Pharaoh (Exodus 7 and 8) and to the King of Babylon (Daniel 1, 2, 4, and 5)
    • Thrasyllus, Sr. and Jr. -- court astrologers of Tiberius and Nero
    • Angelo Catto -- court astrologer of Louis XI of France
    • Guido Bonatti -- official astrologer of the city of Florence
    • Michel de Notredame (Nostradamus) -- court astrologer of Catherine de Medicis
    • Lucas Gauricus -- court astrologer of Popes Leo X and Clement VII
    • Dr Faustus is often associated with the court of Charles V
    • Dr. John Dee -- magician associated with the courts of Elizabeth I of England, Stephen of Poland, and Rudolph II of the Holy Roman Empire (also associated with Rabbi Loew, the creator of the Golem)

  • April 7, 2010
    Chabal2
    • I seem to recall reading that Donald holds this position in Kingdom Hearts.
    • In Chronicles Of The Black Moon, Ghorgor Bey's sworn enemy keeps a mage by his side. Quite hilariously, when Ghorgor slaughters the entire castle guard and advances on the two, the lord orders the mage to kill him, at which point he says "I'd love to, your lordship, but I've got a teleport on the boil!" and teleports away.
  • April 7, 2010
    Generality
    Belgarath of The Belgariad is occasionally called on by monarchs for advice. Belgarath hates serving in this capacity, but they keep calling on him in particular because he's the only sorcerer they can contact with any semblance of reliability.
  • April 7, 2010
    callsignecho
    The Chick in The Scorpion King acts as Court Mage until--oopsie--turns out her second sight was Powered By Virginity.
  • April 7, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    Joan Quigley, the astrologer-adviser to the Reagan White House during the 1980s.
  • April 7, 2010
    callsignecho
    IIRC, Mrs. Lincoln had a psychic advisor as well, or perhaps just a medium that helped her communicate with her dead children.
  • April 7, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Word Of Dante says that Kefka of Final Fantasy VI was this before he became a general.
  • April 7, 2010
    Chabal2
    Aganihm in Legend Of Zelda.
  • April 8, 2010
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Earthdawn supplement Throal: The Dwarf Kingdom. Ajmar the Admirable is the Court Spellcaster for Varulus III.
    • Basic Dungeons And Dragons supplement GAZ 12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar. A hakomon (magic user) can seek service with a khan. One such court hakomon is Bakalgu the Destroyer, who serves the Golden Khan.
  • April 8, 2010
    Andyzero
  • April 8, 2010
    Superior
    Merlin?
  • April 8, 2010
    jfpbookworm
    Questor Thews in Terry Brooks' Landover series.
  • April 8, 2010
    Karalora
    In The Last Unicorn, Schmendrick replaces Mabruk in this role to King Haggard.
  • April 8, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    • Prince of Persia (and most other Middle-Eastern tales) involves a Sultan's vizier who is also a sorceror.
    • The Wizard of Id.
    • In The Silmarillion, Sauron played court-mage to King Ar-Pharazon of Numenor.
      • in Lot R, Grima Wormtongue was something of a court-mage to King Theoden, and he wielded a form of magic (or other influence) over the King-- which Gandalf could break, evidently, only when he became the White Wizard.

  • April 8, 2010
    Wulfram
    • Kulgan served as thos to Duke Borric in Magician, the first book of The Riftwar Cycle. Quite a few others in the rest of the series too
  • April 9, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    • Oh, and Jaffar (Jafar's analogue) in The Thief of Baghdad.
  • April 9, 2010
    dotchan
    The Magi (i.e. Three Wise Men) of the New Testament may also be court magi (or at least court astrologers).

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