The re-interpretation of the “devil” stock character as a zanni character of the commedia dell’arte took place in the 16th century. Zan Ganassa, whose troupe is first mentioned in Mantua in the late 1560s, was one of the earliest known actors believed to have performed the part[clarification needed]. The patched costume is due to Tristano Martinelli, whose zanni wore a linen costume of colourful patches, and a hare-tail on his cap to indicate cowardice. Tristano’s Harlequin also had a black leather half-mask, a moustache and a pointed beard. The name Harlequin (Arlequin) was Tristano’s choice for his character, loaned from the name of the popular French devil character it resembled. He was very successful, performing in Italy and in France, even playing at court and becoming a favourite of Henry IV of France, to whom he addressed insolent monologues (Compositions de Rhetorique de Don Arlequin, 1601). Tristano’s great success contributed to the perpetuation of his interpretation of the zanni role, along with the name of his character, after his death in 1630, among others, by Nicolò Zecca, active c. 1630 in Bologna as well as Turin and Mantua.
Further transformations of the character occurred in France, where Arlecchino was performed at the Comédie-Italienne in Italian by Tristano Martinelli, Giovan Battista Andreini, and Angelo Costantini (c. 1654–1729). The role was played in French as Arlequin in the 1660s by Dominique Biancolelli(it) (1636–1688), who combined the zanni types, “making his Arlecchino witty, neat, and fluent in a croaking voice, which became as traditional as the squawk of Punch.” The Italians were expelled from France in 1697 for satirizingKing Louis XIV’s second wife, Madame de Maintenon, but returned in 1716 (after his death), when Tommaso Antonio Vicentini (“Thomassin”, 1682–1739) became famous in the part. The rhombus shape of the patches arose by adaptation to the Paris fashion of the 17th century by Biancolelli.