Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, European Fiction Series)
Tyl Ulenspiegel was born with two marks, one the sign of a lucky star, the other the print of the devil’s finger. Katheline, the midwife, had a vision in which she saw Ulenspiegel as the incarnated spirit of his native Flanders. At the same time Philip of Spain was born. In her vision Katheline saw Philip as the butcher of Flanders. She was afraid.
As a boy Ulenspiegel roamed the fields of Flanders. His playmate was Nele, the illegitimate daughter of Katheline the midwife. As the children played, gloom gathered over the lowlands. The father of Philip fished in the pockets of the people, and each day new edicts announced torture and death for heretics. The Inquisition was beginning, and neighbor turned against neighbor in order to inherit half his possessions. Katheline was tortured as a witch on the complaint of a neighbor. As a result of this experience, the poor woman went mad.
Ulenspiegel, as a young man living by his wits, traveled into many lands. Sometimes he was hard-pressed to escape with his life, but his high spirit and great strength served him well. When he returned at last to his homeland, he had to put his youthful follies behind him, for trouble had come to his family. Claes, Tyl’s father, had been convicted of heresy on the testimony of a fishmonger who wanted to inherit part of his wealth. The good man was tortured and burned to slow death. Soetkin and Ulenspiegel wept, helpless to save him. Ulenspiegel took ashes from...
(The entire section is 1212 words.)
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