Till Eulenspeigel

Till Eulenspiegel was a famous jester who  supposedly was born in Saxony in the late 13th or early 14th century, and died of the Black Plague in Molln in 1350. A gravestone in town commemorates his death.

His name means "owl glass" or "owl mirror" in modern German, or metaphorically, "wise reflection." In Low German the name Eulenspiegel (Ulenspegel) seems to also convey the suggestion to "wipe one's behind." Till Eulenspiegel was a mischief-make, thief, liar, and prankster.  He was an adventurer and vagabond, well known for his exploits throughout Germany, Flanders, and Holland. Some of his tales are set in other places, such as Rome, Prague, Poland, and Denmark, so he was a well traveled rascal.

The first known book of his collected tales was published by Johannes Gruninger in 1515, and he became a wildly popular figure in the Schwank-literatur (fool's literature") of the 16th century.  His tales are intended to mock and satirize the pretentiousness of mankind and its institutions. Till has a special flair for tormenting his victims through the literal interpretation of their idiomatic statements and figures of speech. The original tales are often vulgar and scatological in both language and story devices, but they don't contain any sexual themes. Over the centuries most publications of Eulenspiegel's tales have dumbed the stories down to adapt to make them more acceptable to modern audiences. Unfortunately, since this is an official SCA event website, you won't find any of the original versions of the tales here either, but we hope that you enjoy the tales we have included in this website and will enjoy joining in the merriment and pranks of our Festival of Fools!

In closing, we wanted to share this last tidbit about Till Eulenspiegel:

The last two tales about his life concern his burial in 1350. According to ancient custom, his body was placed inside the hollowed out trunk of a tree. As the tree trunk was being lowered into the grave, the rope supporting his feet broke. The trunk fell vertically into the grave, leaving Eulenspiegel standing upright.  It was quickly agreed, "Let him stand. As he was very odd while he lived, he ought to be odd in death too." So the grave was closed with Till Eulenspiegel standing upright.  His gravestone was carved with an owl clutching a mirror and the epitaph: "Don't move this stone, let that be clear - Eulenspiegel's buried here."