The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book III Chapter 5

At this time the Silent One gathered an army and invaded the Low Countries from three sides.

And Ulenspiegel said at a meeting of Wild Beggars at Marenhout:

“Upon the advice of the Inquisitors, Philip, the king, has declared each and every inhabitant of the Low Countries guilty of treason through heresy, both for adherence to it and for not having opposed it, and in consideration of this execrable crime, condemns them all, without respect to sex or age, excepting those that are expressly noted by name, to the penalties attached to such misdemeanours; and that without hope of grace. The king inherits. Death is reaping throughout the wide rich lands that border on the Northern Sea, the country of Emden, the river Amise, the countries of Westphalia, of Cl?ves, of Juliers and of Li?ge, the bishoprics of Cologne and of Tr?ves, the countries of Lorraine and of France. Death is reaping over a land of three hundred and forty leagues, in two hundred walled cities, in a hundred and fifty villages holding city rights, in the countryside in bourgs and plains. The king inherits.

“It is nowise too much,” he went on, “eleven thousand butchers to do the work. Alba calls them soldiers. And the land of our fathers has become a charnel house whence the arts are taking flight, which the trades abandon, whence industries are departing to go and enrich foreigners, who allow them in their land to worship the God of the free conscience. Death and Ruin are reaping. The king inherits.

“The countries had acquired their privileges by dint of money given to needy princes; these privileges are confiscated. They had hoped, in accordance with the contracts entered upon and passed between them and the sovereigns, to enjoy riches as the fruit of their labours. They are deceived: the mason builds for the fire, the worker toils for the thief. The king inherits.

“Blood and tears! death reaps at the stake; upon the trees that serve as gallows all along the highways; in the open graves wherein poor girls are thrown alive; in the judicial drownings of the prisons, in the circles of blazing faggots within which the victims burn by slow fire, in the wrappings of burning straw in which the victims die in flame and smoke. The king inherits.

“So has willed the Pope in Rome.

“The cities are bursting with spies waiting for their share of the victims’ goods. The richer a man is, the guiltier he is. The king inherits.

“But the valiant men of the countries will not suffer themselves to be slain like lambs. Among those that flee there are armed men that take shelter in the woods. The monks had denounced them that they might be slain and their goods seized. And so by night, by day, by bands, like wild beasts they rush upon the cloisters, and take back from thence the money stolen from the poor people, in the shape of candelabra, gold and silver shrines, pyxes, patens, precious vases. Is not that so, good fellows? They drink from them the wine the monks were keeping for themselves. The vases melted down or pledged will serve for the holy war. Long live the Beggars!”

“They harass the king’s soldiers, slay them and strip them, and then they flee into their dens. Day and night fires are seen lighted and extinguished, changing place incessantly. They are the fires of our feastings. For us the game, both fur and feather. We are lords. The peasants give us bread and bacon when we want it. Lamme, look at them. Raggedy, fierce, resolute, and proud eyed, they wander about the woods with their hatchets, halberds, long swords, daggers, pikes, lances, crossbows, arquebuses, for all weapons are good to them, and they will never march under ensigns. Long live the Beggars!

And Ulenspiegel sang:

“Slaet op den trommele van dirre dom deyne
Slaet op den trommele van dirre doum, doum.
Beat upon the drum! van dirre dom deyne,
Beat upon the drum of war.

“Let them tear out his bowels from the Duke!
Let them lash his face with them!
Slaet op den trommele, beat upon the drum
Cursed be the Duke! Death to the murderer.

“Let him be thrown to dogs! Death to the
Butcher! Long live the Beggars!
Let him be hanged by the tongue
And by the arm, by the tongue that orders,
And by the arm that signs the sentence of death.

Slaet op den trommele.
Beat upon the war drum. Long live the Beggar!

“Let the Duke be shut up alive with his victims’ bodies!
In the noisome stench
Let him die of the corpse plague!
Beat upon the war drum. Long live the Beggar!

“Christ from on high look on thy soldiers,
Risking the fire, the rope,
The sword for thy word’s sake.
They will deliverance for the land of their fathers.
Slaet op den trommele, van dirre dom deyne.
Beat upon the war drum. Long live the Beggar!”

And all set to drinking and shouting:

“Long live the Beggar!”

And Ulenspiegel, drinking from the gilt tankard of a monk, looked proudly round on the valiant faces of the Wild Beggars.

“Wild men,” said he, “ye are wolves, lions, and tigers. Eat the dogs of the bloody king.”

“Long live the Beggar!” said they, singing:

“Slaet op den trommele van dirre dom deyne;
Slaet op den trommele van dirre dom dom:
Beat upon the war drum. Long live the Beggar!”