Scaramouche is but one incarnation of the stock character Il Capitano, one of the many stereotypes of the Commedia dell'Arte, the Italian professional traveling comedy troupes of the 14th and 15th century.

The character is generally a sailor or soldier from a nearby country (in the case of Italy, the nearby country is Spain) who brags and drinks and flirts with ladies (usually to little avail). Contrary to swashbuckling characters of the recent century, despite the character's bold and boastful deportment, when situations of real danger arise (such as a duel), his cowardice shows through.

It is believed that the character was given the name Scaramouche by the player Tiberio Fiorillo who changed the name to adapt to French audiences.

In Italian, the character is sometimes called Scaramuccia

  1. Citation: Articles on the internet which were in turn shamelessly torn from the loving pages of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.