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THE TILL EULENSPIEGEL SERIES : TALE 24
The 24th story tells of how Eulenspiegel overcame the jester of the King of Poland with an amazing act of foolishness.
Entertainment in the middle ages wasn't quite as readily available as it is today. When there was no travelling show or minstrel to be had (and their arrival was not a daily occurrence), the people had but themselves and their neighbours for entertainment. Permanent entertaining staff was a luxury reserved for the wealthy and powerful who, depending on their taste and budget, employed a variety of artists and funny folk the best known of whom is the court jester. Eulenspiegel almost meets his match as a jester but far from easily. Scatology reappears in this story so it's really not for the easily disgusted. Seriously. As a note regarding said scatology, it was a common theme in European pre-renaissance art and literature and you'll be seeing more of it.
The king in this story is likely to be Kazimierz III (or Casimir) the Great, king of Poland from 1333 to 1370, one of the greatest leaders of the time. His sense of humour may be questioned after reading this tale... Eulenspiegel would have had to be no younger than thirty here, so it's either one of his mid-life exploits or the author has taken a bit of historical licence.
At the court of the highborn lord Casimir, King of Poland, there lived an adventurer who was full of strange tricks and pranks and also played the fiddle well. Now Eulenspiegel also came to Poland, to the king who had already heard much about Eulenspiegel and was pleased to have him as a guest. The king had long wanted to see him and hear of his adventures but he was also quite fond of his own jester. Now Eulenspiegel and the king's jester were brought together. Of course it happened as the saying goes: No good comes from having two fools under one roof.
The king's jester could not stand Eulenspiegel and Eulenspiegel was not prepared to let himself be driven off. The king noticed this and had them both brought to his hall. "Very well then," he said, "new clothes and twenty guilders to whichever one of you will perform the most daring act that the other won't copy. And he shall do it now, in my presence."
So they both prepared to show their best and fooled around with twisted faces and strange speech and anything either of them could think of to outdo the other. But anything the king's jester did was promptly copied by Eulenspiegel and anything that Eulenspiegel did was copied by the jester. The king and his courtiers laughed mightily and saw many adventurous things. They were keenly waiting to see which one of them would win the new dress and the twenty gold coins.
So Eulenspiegel was thinking: "Twenty guilders and new clothes, that's a pretty good prize. I will, therefore, do something that I don't like doing." It was clear to him that the king did not care which one of them won the prize. So Eulenspiegel went out into the centre of the hall, squatted down and shat a turd right in the middle of the hall. Then he took a spoon, parted the shit in the middle, called the other man to him and said: "Come here, jester, and copy the trick I'll do now." And he took the spoon, and used it to eat half the turd. Then he offered the jester the spoon, saying: "Come on, you eat the other half! Then you shit as well, divide it in the middle and I'll eat after you." But the king's jester said "No, may the devil copy that from you! I'd rather go naked for the rest of my life than eat either yours or mine."
So Eulenspiegel proved himself to be a champion of tomfoolery. The king gave him the new clothes and the twenty guilders. Eulenspiegel then rode off, carrying with him the prize promised by the king.
English translation created for E2 from text in the public domain.