How Till Eulenspiegel brought it about that the Watch of Nurenberg fell into the Water
|After leaving Erfurt, Owlglass dressed himself as a priest, and, travelling about different parts, levied contributions wherever he found ignorance and credulity, of which there was no lack. He carried a death's head about with him, which he pretended was the skull of Saint Brandonis, possessing miraculous virtue for the cure of all manner of illnesses. He also pretended that he was collecting subscriptions for building a church in honour of Saint Brandonis, and that all who brought an offering would, by the intercession of the Saint, find it restored to them a hundredfold before the year was over. When he arrived at any town or village he sought to find out any prevailing vice or sin, and would then give out that, from persons addicted to this particular vice or sin, he could not accept any offering for the Saint. By these means the offerings flowed in more abundantly than had ever been collected, for those who felt themselves most guilty were most eager, by their offerings, to prove their innocence. Thus Owlglass got his pockets well filled and went to Nurenberg, where he determined to rest for a time from his labours, and enjoy himself as long as his money would last. After being there some time, and knowing all the in's and out's of the place, he grew tired of idleness, and nothing could satisfy him but a piece of mischief. During his wanderings he had noticed that, in the evening, the town watchmen assembled together in a cellar under the town-hall, and that to get from the town-hall to the pig-market a small wooden bridge had to be passed, which crossed the river called the Pegnitz. Bearing all this in mind, he waited one night till the whole town was quiet, then, after breaking three planks of the bridge, he went up to the town-hall and set up a furious bellowing and shouting, at the same time striking the paved road with an iron spiked stick till the sparks flew on all sides. This roused the watch, and as he ran away, they chased him towards the pig-market. Owlglass jumped over that part of the bridge where he had broken the planks, and stopped on the other side, shouting to his pursuers, O! O! you pig-headed timber-toed rogues, is that the way you run? I see I must needs wait for you!? This enraged the men, and all together they rushed on the bridge, which giving way where he had broken the planks, they fell one over the other into the Pegnitz. There he left them, and turned his back upon the town of Nurenberg.|
|Till Eulenspiegel (Owlglass), Low German
Dylulenspegel, German peasant trickster whose merry pranks were
the source of numerous folk and literary tales.
The historical Till Eulenspiegel is said to have been born at Kneitlingen, Brunswick, and to have died in 1350 at Mölln, Schleswig-Holstein, where his gravestone has been known since the 16th century. Anecdotes associated with his name were printed about 1500 in one or more Low German language versions. The earliest extant text is Ein kurtzweilig Lesen von Dyl Vlenspiegel (Antwerp, 1515; “An Amusing Book About Till Eulenspiegel”); the sole surviving copy is in the British Library, London. The jests and practical jokes, which generally depend on a pun, are broadly farcical, often brutal, sometimes obscene; but they have a serious theme. In the figure of Eulenspiegel, the individual gets back at society; the stupid yet cunning peasant demonstrates his superiority to the narrow, dishonest, condescending townsman, as well as to the clergy and nobility.
The Low German text, or parts of it, was translated into Dutch and English (c. 1520), French (1532), and Latin (1558). A later English version, Here beginneth a merye Jest of a man that was called Howleglas, appeared c. 1560. Eulenspiegel has been the subject of musical and literary works, notably Charles de Coster’s The Glorious Adventures of Tyl Eulenspiegl (in French; 1867), Richard Strauss’s symphonic poem Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (1894–95; Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks), and Gerhart Hauptmann’s epic poem Till Eulenspiegel (1928). (Encyclopaedia Britannica)