The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book V Chapter 2

The Belgian country was ravaged by the Walloons who were dissatisfied by the peace of Ghent, which, men said, was to quench all hatreds. And these Walloons, Pater-noster knechter, wearing upon their necks big black rosaries, of which there were found two thousand at Spienne in Hainaut, stealing oxen and horses by twelve hundred, two thousand at a time, choosing out the best, carrying off women and girls by field and by marsh; eating and never paying, these Walloons used to burn within their farmsteads the armed peasants that tried to prevent the fruit of their hard toil from being carried away.
And the common folk would say to one another: “Don Juan is soon to come with his Spaniards, and his Great Highness will come with his Frenchmen, not Huguenots but Papists: and the Silent, desiring to rule in peace over Holland, Zealand, Gueldre, Utrecht, Overyssel, cedes in a secret treaty the lands of Belgium, for Monsieur d’Anjou to make himself a king therein.”
Some of the commonalty were still confident. “The States,” said they, “have twenty thousand well-armed men, with plenty of cannon and good cavalry. They will repel all foreign soldiery.”
But the thoughtful ones said: “The States have twenty thousand men on paper, but not in the field; they lack cavalry and let their horses be stolen within a league of their camps by the Pater-noster knechten. They have no artillery, for while needing it at home, they decided to send one hundred cannon with powder and shot to Don Sebastian of Portugal; and no man knoweth whither has gone the two million crowns we have paid on four occasions by way of taxes and contributions; the citizens of Ghent and Brussels are arming, Ghent for the Reformation, and Brussels even as Ghent; at Brussels the women play the tambourine while their men toil at the ramparts. And Ghent the Bold is sending to Brussels the Gay powder and cannon, the which she lacketh for her defence against the Malcontents and the Spaniards.”
And man by man in the towns and the flat country, in ’t plat landt, sees that trust cannot be placed either in the lords or in many another. “And we citizens and common folk are sore at heart for that giving our money and ready to give our blood, we see that nothing goes forward for the good of the country of our sires. And the Belgian land is cowed and angered, having no trusty chiefs to give it the chance of battle and to give it victory, through great effort of arms all ready against the foes of liberty.”
And the thoughtful folk said among themselves:
“In the Peace of Ghent, the lords of Holland and of Belgium swore the abolishment of hate, mutual help between the Belgian Estates and the Estates of the Netherlands; declared the edicts null and void, the confiscations cancelled, peace between the two religions; promised to raze each and every column, trophy, inscription, and effigy set up by the Duke of Alba to our dishonour. But in the hearts of the chiefs the hatreds are still afoot; the nobles and the clergy foment division between the States of the Union; they receive money to pay soldiers, they keep it for their own gluttony; fifteen thousand law suits for the recovery of confiscated property are suspended; the Lutherans and Romans unite against the Calvinists; lawful heirs cannot succeed in driving the despoilers from out their inheritance; the duke’s statue is on the ground, but the image of the Inquisition is enshrined within their hearts.”
And the poor commonalty and the woeful burgesses waited ever for the valiant and trusty chief that would lead them to battle for freedom.
And they said among themselves: “Where are the illustrious signatories to the Compromise, all united, so they said, for the good of the country? Why did these two-faced men make such a ‘holy alliance,’ if they were to break it at once? Why meet together with so much commotion, rouse the king’s wrath, to dissolve like cowards and traitors after? Five hundred as they were, great lords and low lords banded like brothers, they saved us from the fury of Spain; but they sacrificed the welfare of the land of Belgium to their own profit, even as did d’Egmont and de Hoorn.
“Alas!” said they, “see Don Juan come now, handsome and ambitious, the enemy of Philip, but more the enemy of his country. He is coming for the Pope and for himself. Nobles and clergy are traitors.”
And they began a semblance of war. Upon the walls along the main streets and the little streets of Ghent and Brussels, nay even upon the masts of the Beggars’ ships, were then to be seen posted up the names of traitors, army chiefs, and commanders of fortresses: the names of the Count of Liederkerke, who did not defend his castle against Don Juan; of the provost of Liége, who would have sold the city to Don Juan; of Messieurs d’Aerschot, de Mansfeldt, de Berlaymont, de Rassenghien; the name, of the Council of State, of Georges de Lalaing, governor of Frisia, that of the army leader the seigneur de Rossignol, an emissary of Don Juan, the go-between for murder between Philip and Jaureguy, the clumsy assassin of the Prince of Orange; the name of the Archbishop of Cambrai, who would have given the Spaniards entry into the town; the names of the Jesuits of Antwerp, offering three casks of gold to the States – that was two million florins – not to demolish the castle and to hold it for Don Juan; of the Bishop of Liége; of Roman preachers defaming and abusing the patriots; of the Bishop of Utrecht, whom the citizens sent elsewhere to pasture on the grass of treachery; the orders of begging friars, which intrigued and plotted at Ghent in favour of Don Juan. The folk of Bois-le-Duc nailed on the pillory the name of Peter the Carmelite, who helped by their bishop and his clergy, undertook to hand over the town to Don Juan.
At Douai they did not indeed hang the rector of the university in effigy, a man no less Spaniardized; but upon the ships of the Beggars were seen on the breast of mannikins hanging by their necks the names of monks, abbots, and prelates, of eighteen hundred rich women and girls of the nunnery of Malines who with their money sustained, gilded, and beplumed the country’s butchers.
And on these mannikins, the pillories of traitors, were to be read the names of the Marquis d’Harrault, the commander of the fortress of Philippeville, wasting and squandering munitions of war and food uselessly in order to give up the place to the enemy under pretence of a lack of provisions; the name of Belver, who surrendered Lembourg, when the town might have held out another eight months; that of the President of the Council of Flanders; of the magistrate of Bruges, of the magistrate of Malines, holding their towns for Don Juan, of the members of the Exchequer Council of Guelderland, closed by reason of treachery; of those of the Council of Brabant, of the Chancellery of the Duchy; of the Privy Council and the Council of Finance; of the Grand Bailiff and the Burgomaster of Menin; and of the ill neighbours of Artois, who gave passage without let to two thousand Frenchmen bent upon pillage.
“Alas!” said the city folk among themselves, “here is the Duke of Anjou with a footing in our country: he would fain be king among us; did ye behold him entering into Mons, a little man, with fat hips, big nose, a yellow phiz, a fleering mouth? ’Tis a great prince, loving loves out of the common; he is called, that he may have in his name woman’s grace and man’s force, Monseigneur monsieur Sa Grande Altesse d’Anjou.”
Ulenspiegel was pensive. And he sang:
“Blue are the skies, the clear bright skies;Cover the banners all in crêpe,With crêpe the handle of the sword;Hide every gem;Turn the mirrors over;I sing the song of Death,The traitors’ song.“They have set foot upon the bellyAnd on the bosom of the proud landsOf Brabant, Flanders, Hainault,Antwerp, Artois, Luxembourg.Nobles and clergy are traitors;The bait of reward allures them.I sing the traitors’ song.“When the foe sacks everywhere,When the Spaniard enters Antwerp,Abbés, prelates, and army chiefsGo through the streets of the town,Clad in silk, bedecked with gold,Their faces shining with good wine,Displaying thus their infamy.“And through them, the InquisitionWill wake again in high triumph,And new TitelmansWill arrest the deaf and dumbFor heresy.I sing the traitors’ song.“Signatories to the Compromise.Coward signatories,Be your names all accursed!Where are ye in the hour of war?Ye march like corbiesIn the Spaniards’ train.Beat upon the drum of woe.“Land of Belgium, future yearsWill condemn thee for that thou,All in arms, didst let thyself be pillaged.Future, hasten not;See the traitors labouring:There are twenty, a thousand,Filling every post,The great give them to the little.“They have plotted and agreedThat they might fetter all defence,With discord and sloth,Their treacherous devices.Cover the mirrors with crêpeAnd the hilts of the swords.’Tis the traitors’ song.“They declare rebelsAll Spaniards and malcontents;Forbid to help themWith bread or shelter,With lead or powder.If any are taken to be hanged,To be hanged,They release them at once.“‘Up!’ say the men of Brussels,‘Up!’ say the men of GhentAnd the Belgian commons,Poor men, they mean to crush youBetween the kingAnd the Pope who launchesThe crusade against Flanders.“They come, the hirelings,At the smell of blood;Bands of dogs,Of serpents and hyænas.They hunger, they are athirst.Poor land of our sires,Ripe for ruin and death.“’Tis not Don JuanThat makes ready the taskFor Farnèse, the Pope’s minion.But those thou didst loadWith gold and distinctions,Who confessed thy womenThy girls and thy children!“They have flung thee to groundAnd the Spaniard holdsThe knife at thy throat;They jeer at thee,Feasting at BrusselsThe coming of Orange.“When on the canal were seenSo many fireworksExploding their joy,So many triumphing boats,Paintings, tapestries,They were playing, O Belgium,The old tale of JosephSold by his brothers.”