Short summary - The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak - Charles De Coster

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak
Charles De Coster

The legend about Ulenspiegel and Lamma Gudzak, their adventures of the brave, funny and glorious in Flanders and other countries.
The book is preceded by the "Owl's Foreword", which gives a double interpretation of the name "Ulenspiegel". According to one version, it means "I am your mirror," according to the other, "an owl and a mirror." The legend takes place in Flanders in the 16th century. In the city of Damme, a son is born to the family of the coal miner Claes - Till Ulenspiegel. He grows up to be a cheerful and mischievous guy, and often his pranks are far from harmless. Once, in the company of Ulenspiegel, declares that prayers for the dead are beneficial only to priests, and one of those present denounces him and accuses him of heresy. Ulenspiegel is expelled from Flanders for three years, during which he must make a pilgrimage to Rome and receive absolution from the pope. Sad parents, Klaas and Soetkin, remain in Damme. But most of all, Til's girlfriend, Nele, the daughter of the good sorceress Katlina, is saddened. Born at the same time as Ulenspiegel, King Philip II grows up sickly, pampered and cruel. Seeing that Philip had burned his pet monkey at the stake, the emperor Charles wants to punish his son, but the archbishop stands up for him: "His Highness will one day become a great burner of heretics." And indeed, on the flourishing land of Flanders, one after another bonfires are lit up, with the help of which the church protects its purity from heretics. Catlina is accused of causing damage to a neighbor's cow (in fact, Catlina simply did not manage to cure her). She is tortured, from which she is damaged in the mind. Ulenspiegel, having spent the prescribed time in exile, having tried a lot of activities, cunning and cheating, receives absolution and returns to Damme. On the eve of his return, Claes was imprisoned on charges of heresy. He was reported by a neighbor, the foreman of the fishermen, Jost Grapestiuver, who coveted the money sent to Claes by his brother. Claes is burned at the stake. After his death, Soetkin and Ulenspiegel come to the place of execution and take some ash from there, where the flame burned out a deep hole in the place of the heart. Soetkin sews a bag of red and black silk, and Ulenspiegel has since worn it around his neck, repeating from time to time: "The ashes of Claes are beating against my chest." The widow and son of the executed man are tortured to find out where the money is hidden, but they are silent.
Catlina, anointed with a miraculous ointment, a vision opens: the coal miner Claes and the emperor Karl appear before Christ, seated on the starry throne. The mother of God lifts the soul of the toiler Claes to the highest of the mountain dwellings, and there, washed by the angels, he becomes young and beautiful. And the soul of Emperor Charles, a cruel despot and tyrant, the destroyer of his country, goes to hell.
Catlina is visited at night by her lover, the "black devil," as she calls him. He announces his arrival with the cry of an eagle. The demon extorts money from Katlina, and one day she tells him that Soetkin and Ulenspiegel's money is hidden by the well. On the same night, after giving Catlina a sleeping pill, the lover kills the dog and steals the money. From grief Soetkin falls ill and dies. Ulenspiegel wants to take revenge on the fishmonger, but, meeting him, seeing how vile and pitiful he is, throws him into the canal. Ulenspiegel comes to Kathleen for advice. “Claes's ashes hitting my chest, I want to save the land of Flanders,” says Thiel. "I asked the Creator of heaven and earth, but he did not answer me." Kathlina promises to help him, but on condition that the girl who loves him will take him with her to the Sabbath of the spring spirits, "on Easter of the juices of the earth." After drinking the miraculous liquid, Nele and Ulenspiegel attend the spring festival of spirits. The spirits discover mortals and toss them to one another until they appear in front of the soaring throne. Ulenspiegel finds composure and courage to tell what brought him here to save his torn land. In response, the steam and the queen of spirits, and behind them all the others begin to sing, and from their song it follows that Ulenspiegel "in death, in blood, in ruin, in tears" should look for the Seven. Ulenspiegel and Nele are unable to understand the meaning of the song, and the merciless hand of one of the spirits throws them into the abyss. Till wakes up and sees Nele lying next to him.
Ulenspiegel leaves in search of the Seven. His fellow traveler becomes a good-natured fat man, a lover of tasty food and drink, Lamme Gudzak, who is looking for his wife who left him. Nele sees off Ulenspiegel and cannot part with him in any way.
King Philip establishes the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands. All over the country, the fire of popular anger is engulfed. The rebels for independence call themselves "gueuzes", that is, beggars. Ulenspiegel and Lamme join the Gueuze. Ulenspiegel, wherever he can, sows a storm and raises the people against the executioners who are tormenting his native land. The Duke of Alba is fierce with his troops. Earl of Egmont and Earl of Horn have already been executed. The Prince of Orange, nicknamed the Silent One, is gathering an army. Ulenspiegel recruits soldiers for him. Walking past the ruins, seeing blood and tears everywhere, he wonders who will save his homeland. And Philip does not find a place for himself from melancholy and anger. He is not even comforted by the thought of those times when he will concentrate power over all of Europe in his hands. He deals with his son, with his wife, with the courtiers, feeling neither joy nor grief.
Ulenspiegel shares with the army of Silent victory and defeat. Once he says about himself: “I come from beautiful Flanders <...> I am both a painter and a peasant, I am a nobleman, I am a sculptor. And I wander around the world, glorifying everything good and beautiful, and laughing at stupidity until I drop. " But Ulenspiegel also intervenes in the course of events, punishing the villains and helping the offended. He brings to the surface the corrupt Spelle, who killed many people, including the girl's brother Boolkin, Mikhilkin. Ulenspiegel's thoughts often return to Nele and his hometown of Damme. At this time, a werewolf, a wolf-murderer, appears in the vicinity of the city. Once Catlina barely escaped him. Once in Damme, Ulenspiegel decides to catch a werewolf and sets a trap on him. The killer who robbed his victims turns out to be the same fishmonger, Jost Grapestuver, who once killed Klaas. He "nibbled" the necks of those whom he managed to lie in wait for, using a waffle iron with long sharp teeth on the sides. Rybnik is tried and sentenced to be burned. King Philip has fun playing the harpsichord, a box of cats. When the king hit the key, she pricked the cat, and the animal meowed and squeaked in pain. But the king did not laugh, neither did he laugh and send assassins, nor did he laugh, satisfying his voluptuousness.
Till Ulenspiegel and Lamme Gudzak begin to serve on the ship of Admiral Dolgovyazy. And in Damme, Katlina recognizes her beloved, "black demon", in the retinue of the new governor of the city. He denies her, but Nele tells publicly about the relationship between Catlina and Hans, as the poor insane calls him, and that he killed his friend Gilbert near the gate. The governor detains Joos Damman, he is Hans, he is also the beloved demon of Catlina. Catlina, thinking that she is helping Hans, finds the buried body. She, too, is imprisoned and, like Damman, tortured. Nele brings to the court the letter she found to Damman Kathleen, and another of his letters was found in the bag of the late Gilbert. Damman is found guilty of both witchcraft and murder. He is burned at the stake. Catlina is tested with water in a canal. She drowns, that is, she turns out to be not a witch, but after she is unconscious, numb, pulled out of the water, she cannot recover and dies on the third day. The orphaned Nele moves to Holland.
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Ulenspiegel becomes a skilled cannoneer and an excellent warrior. He is agile and tireless. “I don't have a body, I only have a spirit,” Till replies to questions, “and my friend Nele looks like me. Flanders Spirit, Flanders Love - we will never die. " Ulenspiegel stands up for the monks who were supposed to be released after they surrendered, but did not release. “The soldier's word is law,” he declares and stands his ground, although the intercession almost costs him his life. Nele saves Ulenspiegel from the gallows by announcing that she is taking him as her husband - according to local customs, this is possible. She becomes a flute player on the ship where Ulenspiegel serves. The Gueuzes suffer a series of setbacks. Nele, Ulenspiegel and Lamme are captured and together with others are imprisoned in a former monastery. But the prisoners are freed, and Ulenspiegel with Nele and Lamme return to the ship. Lamme is made a ship's cook. Ulenspiegel is appointed captain of the ship. Victory smiles again at the gueuze. In one of the skirmishes, the Gueuze take a fat monk prisoner. Lamme begins to feed the monk, who soon becomes fatter than himself. Lamme is wounded in the thigh. And then his wife, whom he had been looking for for so long, visits him and bandages his wound. She explains that she left Lamme after listening to the calls of a monk who encouraged women to become celibate. This is the same monk that Lamme feeds. Lamme with Kalleken, who returned to him, say goodbye to the Gueuze and leave the ship.
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The States General convened in The Hague depose King Philip. The Netherlands is becoming free. And soon the hitman thrust three bullets into the chest of the Prince of Orange. Ulenspiegel and Nele leave the fleet. They have not lost their youth, or strength, or beauty, for the love and spirit of Flanders does not grow old. Ulenspiegel becomes the watchman and head of the Veere tower. One day, Nele and Ulenspiegel again anoint themselves with a magic potion and see the transformed Seven. Pride became Noble pride, Avarice transformed into Thrift, Anger - into Aliveness, Gluttony - into Appetite, Envy - into Competition, Laziness - into the Dream of poets and sages. And Lust, riding on a goat, turned into Love. Waking up, Nele is horrified to see that Ulenspiegel is not coming to his senses. The burgomaster and the priest appeared nearby with a joyful cry: “Glory to God! Great Gez is dead! " - Til is buried. The grave is filled up, the priest reads the funeral prayer, but suddenly the sand moves and Ulenspiegel rises from the grave.
“No one will be able to bury Ulenspiegel, the spirit of our Flanders, and Nele, her heart! Flanders can fall asleep too, but she will never die! Let's go, Nele! " - with these words Ulenspiegel, embracing Nele, leaves.