The origins of the rhyme are disputed, but Cole could be Coel Hen (Coel the Old), asignificant figure of British legend. Coel Hen was supposedly a Romano-British leader, father-in-law to Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus (reigned 305-306) and maternal grandfather of Constantine the Great (306-337). He appeared in several medieval genealogies as founder of Colchester and ancestor to a great number of royal lines of the early Middle Ages.
King Cole lost his kingdom and his family to the armies of the Adversary and was forced to take refuge with a group of non-human Fables in a cave. He kept them in good spirits with his natural exuberance and he kept them alive good spirits by sacrificing his ration of the food to the group. When he became ill with starvation the non-human fables left the cave to find food for him. Under his leadership, the group finally made their way to the Mundane World where other escaped Fables were setting up a colony outside New Amsterdam (Later New York City) in the American Colonies. Word had spread of what King Cole had done and he was nearly unanimously elected the Mayor of Fable Town.
Unfortunately, years later as New York grew closer to the edges of Fable Town, King Cole was forced to send the non-human fables to The Farm, a reservation in upstate New York to keep “the “Mundanes” from discovering Fable Town’s true nature. This unpopular decision disappointed many Fables who had supported him unquestioningly prior. He continued to serve as Mayor, though most of the real work was done by his Deputy Mayor, Snow White.
Wanting to get his hands on the influx of money coming into the Fable Town coffers from the recently confiscated estate of Bluebeard, Prince Charming challenged King Cole for Mayorship in an election and won. Cole was despondent and stayed drunk for some time. However, when the Sinbad came to visit with his entourage as an emissary from the Arabian Fables, it turned out Cole was the only Fable in town who spoke their language and he became instrumental in diffusing a hostile situation and creating peace between Fable Town and the Arabian fables. He was chosen to become the official representative of Fable Town West to Fable Town East. To his surprise, he discovered the Arabian fables had not yet abandoned their homelands. He now resides in the beautiful Baghdad of legend.
Before this, Cole had been portrayed as a figurehead whose primary duty was glad-handling Fabletown's budget; his diplomatic sessions showed a shrewdness and cunning that he had not displayed before then. He has since become the ambassador to Fabletown East in Baghdad. He returned to Fabletown briefly to preside over the wedding of Snow White and Bigby Wolf. At the start of the war with the Empire Prince Charming resigned his position as mayor, returning the job to King Cole.
Cole remained mayor after the war and, as before, delegated official duties over to the Deputy Mayor, who was now Beauty. When Mister Dark escaped his imprisonment, the enchantments upon Fabletown began to fade and caused the entire building structure to crumble. Cole had a brief moment of uncertainty until Grimble gave him an impassioned speech of his responsibility as mayor. Cole led the Fable community to evacuate to The Farm so as to regroup and figure out what to do from there. In addition, he and Beauty have also taken over babysitting duties of Bigby and Snow's cubs while the parents were sent to investigate Jack Horner's claims regarding the Literals as well as Rose Red descending heavily into depression following Boy Blue's death.
In the 'Ever After' series we see that Cole is the leader of a small but thriving magical school based in what was once Fabletown. His school, such as it is, has developed a form of sentience, which causes Cole a great number of problems.