The Legend of the Glorious Adventures of Tyl Ulenspiegel in the Land of Flanders and Elsewhere

by Charles de Coster
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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 367

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Characters Discussed

Tyl Ulenspiegel

Tyl Ulenspiegel, a young Fleming who seeks revenge upon the Spanish for the mistreatment of his parents. He wanders far, fighting the Spanish and looking for the Seven, who will save his land. He finds the Seven in a vision. Tyl appears dead and is buried, but he later rises from his grave to be the spirit of the new Flanders freed from the grip of the Spanish.


Katheline, a midwife who brings Tyl Ulenspiegel into the world. She is the first to see him, in a vision, as the spirit of his native Flanders. Tortured as a witch, she goes mad. A later witch’s trial by water causes her death.


Nele, Katheline’s illegitimate daughter. She is Ulenspiegel’s childhood playmate and, later, his wife. She goes in search of her wandering lover, saves him from the gallows, and marries him. She becomes the spirit of the heart of Flanders after it is freed from Spanish domination.


Claes, Tyl Ulenspiegel’s father. He is tortured and put to death by the Inquisition.


Soetkin, Tyl Ulenspiegel’s mother. She dies of grief over her husband’s death and the tortures inflicted upon her by the Inquisition.

Hans Dudzeele

Hans Dudzeele, Katheline’s lover. He steals Claes’ money from Soetkin and kills his accomplice. Denounced as a witch by mad Katheline, who did not realize what she was doing, he is tortured and put to slow death by fire.

Lamme Goedzak

Lamme Goedzak, Tyl Ulenspiegel’s companion in his wanderings. He is a fat buffoon seeking his wife, who has become a nun. He drowns in food and drink his sorrow over losing her. Eventually, they are reunited.

The Seven

The Seven, the Seven Deadly Sins, seen in a vision by Ulenspiegel. With the freeing of Flanders from the Spanish, they become seven virtues: Pride, Gluttony, Idleness, Avarice, Anger, Envy, and Lust become Noble Spirit, Appetite, Reverie, Economy, Vivacity, Emulation, and Love, respectively.


Philip, king of Spain and symbol to Tyl Ulenspiegel of the Spanish domination of Flanders.

Prince William of Orange

Prince William of Orange, with whose forces Tyl Ulenspiegel fights against King Philip and the Inquisition.