En 19a War Games

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    Ott 2024

    19. The Fourth King after Friso

    19a. War Games

    [195] Thus, I will first write about Black Adel:

    Black Adel was the fourth king after Friso. In his youth, he had studied at Texland, and later at Staveren, and then he traveled widely throughout all the states.

    When he was twenty-four, his father arranged his election as arbiter and ‘asker’.[1] From the moment he was made asker, he would always advocate for the benefit of the poor. “The rich,” he said, “commit enough injustice through their wealth. Therefore, we ought to endeavour to win the respect of the poor.”

    For this and other reasons, he was considered the friend of the poor and the scourge of the rich. It became so extreme that his father was left wondering just where this all was headed.[2]

    After his father died and he had mounted the throne, Adel desired to retain his office of asker as well, like to the kings of the East. The rich objected, but the masses threw their support behind him, and the rich were lucky to escape from the Assembly with their skins.

    From that time on, there was no more talk of equal justice. He cursed the rich and flattered the poor, with whose help he pushed through all policies that were important to him.

    King Askar, as he was called, was nearly seven feet tall, and [196] his power was as great as his stature. His mind was so bright that he understood talk about any matter. But in his deeds one could sense no wisdom. To go with his handsome face, he had a slick tongue. But his soul proved to be yet blacker than his hair.

    When he had been king for one year, he obligated all the young men in his state to attend a camp for annual war games. Initially, the people were not easily convinced. But eventually it became so ingrained in custom that young and old from every part of the land came requesting to join. At that point, he set up military schools. The rich came to protest, complaining that their children no longer learned to read and write.

    Askar ignored them but, at the next military exercise, he ascended a platform and proclaimed loudly: “The rich have come to me and complained that their sons do not learn to read and write. I gave them no answer. But here I will give my opinion and let the Assembly decide.” When all had given him their full attention, he continued:

    “As I see it, reading and writing must for now be left to the maidens [197] and the wise elders. I wish to speak no ill of our ancestors, but consider this: In the times so idealized by some, the burgmaids sowed discord in our lands. And neither the mother nor her successors were able to put an end to it. Worse still, while they chattered on and preached about useless customs, the Gola came and stole all of our beautiful southern lands.

    “Recently, with our lost brothers and their mercenaries, they crossed the Scheldt, so that we are left to choose between carrying the yoke or the sword. If we wish to be and remain free, the young men must, for now, leave behind reading and writing. And instead of playing swing and swig in the mead halls,[3] they must play with sword and spear!

    “When we are fully skilled and the young men strong enough to bear helmet and shield and handle weapons, with your help I shall fall upon the enemy. Then, about the defeats of their agents and mercenaries upon our fields, the Gola may write — with the blood that drips from their wounds!

    Once we have the enemy on the run, we must continue to drive him back until: [198] not one Gola — not one Slave — not one Tartar — is left to expel from Frya’s dominion!!”

    “That’s right!!” roared the crowd, and the rich dared not utter a sound.

    He must surely have prepared and written down this speech in advance, for, that same evening, identical copies of it were in well over twenty hands. Next, he ordered all ship owners to double their prows, so that pivot-mounted crossbows could be affixed. Anyone who failed to quickly obey this order was fined. If someone could swear to having no means to commission the work, the rich of his district had to pay for it in his stead. Now, witness the consequences of all this noise and tumult.


    1. ‘arbiter and “asker”’ (A.SEGA.ÁSKAR) — the name Asinga Ascon from the Frisian chroniclers seems to have been derived from this.
    2. 'left wondering ... headed' (HIM NÉI THA ÁGUM SACH) — lit.: 'looked to his eyes', an expression.
    3. 'swing and swig' (HWIP ÀND SWIK) — lit.: whip, waggle or seesaw and sway or swing, possibly a game or two different games. In the Westfrisian dialect, 'swikke' can also mean French kissing.

    Sandbach 1876


    [p.235] therefore I will first write about black Adel. Black Adel was the fourth king after Friso. In his youth he studied first at Texland, and then at Staveren, and afterwards travelled through all the states. When he was twenty-four years old his father had him elected Asega-Asker. As soon as be became Asker he always took the part of the poor. The rich, he said, do enough of wrong b means of their wealth, therefore we ought to take Care that the poor look up to us. By arguments of this kind he became the friend of the poor and the terror of the rich. It was carried so far that his father looked up to him. When his father died he succeeded, and then he wished to retain his office as well, as the kings of the East used to do. The rich would not suffer this, so all the people rose up, and the rich were glad to get out of the assembly with whole skins. From that time there was no more talk of equality. He oppressed the rich and flattered the poor, by whose assistance he succeeded in all his wishes. King Askar, as he was always called, was seven feet high, and his strength was as remarkable as his height. He had a clear intellect, so that he understood all that was talked about, but in his actions he did not display much wisdom. He had a handsome countenance and a smooth tongue, but his soul was blacker than his hair. When he had been king for a year, he obliged all the young men in the state to come once a year to the camp to have a sham fight. At first he had some trouble with it, but at last it became such a habit that old and young came from all sides to ask if they might take part in it. When he had brought it to this point, he established military schools. The rich complained that their [p.237] children no longer learned to read and write. Askar paid no attention to it; but shortly afterwards, when a sham fight was held, he mounted a throne and spoke aloud: The rich have come to complain to me that their boys do not learn to read and write. I answered nothing; but I will now declare my opinion, and let the general assembly decide. While they all regarded him with curiosity, he said further: According to my ides, we ought to leave reading and writing at present to the maagden and wise people. I do not wish to speak ill of our forefathers; I will only say that in the times so vaunted by some, the Burgtmaagden introduced disputes into our country, which the mothers were unable, either first or last, to put an end to. Worse still, while they talked and chattered about useless customs the Gauls came and seized all our beautiful southern country. Even at this very time our degenerate brothers and their soldiers have already come over the Scheldt. It therefore remains for us to choose whether we will carry a yoke or a sword. If we wish to be and to remain free, it behoves our young men to leave reading and writing alone for a time; and instead of playing games of swinging and wrestling, they must learn to play with sword and spear. When we are completely prepared, and the boys are big enough to carry helmet and shield and to use their weapons, then, with your help, I will attack the enemy. The Gauls may then record the defeat of their helpers and soldiers upon our fields with the blood that flows from their wounds. When we have once expelled the enemy, then we must follow it up till there are no more Gauls, Slaves, or Tartars to be driven out of Frya's inheritance. That is right, the majority shouted, and the rich did not dare to open their mouths. [p.239] He must certainly have thought over this address and had it written out, for on the evening of the same day there were copies in at least twenty different hands, and they all sounded the same. Afterwards he ordered the ship people to make double prows, upon which steel crossbows could be fixed. Those who were backward in doing this were fined, and if they swore that they had no means, the rich men of the village were obliged to pay. Now we shall see what resulted from all this bustle.

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