Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #110, A Tale on 4 Levels, 4

Danyo; image modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Bearded Peasant by Michalowski, in the public domain.
Danyo; image modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Bearded Peasant by Michalowski, in the public domain.

In this episode… What? A riot?

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Sixteenth Era, Part 7, 1320 C.E., Chelm
II. The Remez
3. The Court Clerk’s Tale

That nun, that Jew, that bride of Christ; that border walkin’ woman of night; most of the records she give to us have little value to prove the grant of Danyo’s estate, it seems to me. But maybe that exchange served other ends.

We still had hopes the court would reveal evidence to nail down our case, like a deed or decree signed by the king, or some prince or hetman, or anyone. That’s what our hands were hopin’ to grasp.

So, down to the market where court is held, to find the record-keepin’ clerk.
“The market’s surpassin’ busy,”
I says as we spies a crowd from atop a hill.
“Ain’t business but troubles,”
Batkol surmises, as a gravelly rumble, like the ocean’s surf, sloshes up the hill onto us.

From our vantage we sees a line of horses gallopin’ into town from the east, drivin’ into the thick of the crowd, which splits and swallows the horsemen up. And now, not a rumble but a deadly roar, and a full-out riot engulfs the square.

I starts runnin’ down the hill to see what this mayhem is all about, and Batkol, she’s runnin’ after me, screamin’ and cursin’ and pullin’ my coat,
“Don’t you dare wade into that fray, you jackass man. Soon enough, when the fire is spent and the furies quelled you’ll be needed to bandage heads and care for hysterical mothers and kids.”

Soon, indeed, a bloody young man, a well-born lad by the cut of his cloak, come half swoonin’ from a narrow way, mumble and whimper as he staggers and sways.
“Help me. It’s murder, treason, revolt.”

But for a bloodied nose, our lad be fine, tho tender and much dismayed. Soon as he know he were safe with us he lets forth this flood in a single gush (of course, I’ve cleaned it up a bit):

“I don’t understand. What did I do? Why are them peasants so angry at me? Why do they hate their lord, the prince? He’s Catholic and Polish. Why do they want to rebel? Why did they riot today? Why are them Orthodox blasphemers chargin’ him with crimes against God? They’re the blasphemers, not him. It’s holy works, not some kind of crime, to demand the peasants serve the church, and reject their Orthodox heresies. They come here today with seditious intent, to riot and loot and burn down Chelm, to kill the judge and me and the clerks, to cut the throats of inquisitors, and overthrow the Catholic Church. I heard them say the manor’s prince — who’s Polish as pirogis and pickled beets — is plottin’ treason against our king, in league with them Germans who want to invade. Pitchforks and pikes, pokers and clubs they brung to attack the prince’s men. I seen a man cut the shank of a horse as it reared in fright. Down it sank, soldier and horse, and another man then cut the soldier’s neck. Who would hurt a helpless horse? Mercy of God! They come after me, curses and screams — ‘A man of the court! Don’t let him escape!’ Pounded in the face as I ran away. I never hurt no one. I’m only a clerk.”
And on like that with whimper and moan, till we urge him to hurry back to his mum.

We hustle back to Danyo’s estate. This be news that weighs on his case — German attempts to displace Poles, and the inquisition expandin’ its grip.

We learn the next day the office of the court been burnt to the ground, records and all.

Blood been spilt on every side, peasant and noble, German and Pole, Catholic and Orthodox, even some Jews. Anger, distrust, revenge, and fear mix in a flammable potion of spleen. People a-feared to set up carts in the market place, or to travel abroad. Sermons at churches are hot to declaim them who are different as heretics. Peasants resistin’ payin’ their tithes. Heads on poles, both nobles and serfs. Terrified migrants from German lands mostly hole up in nobles’ barns, them nobles that sympathize with Wenceslaus, to expand the grip of the Teutonic Knights.

“There’s meat in this to feed our case.”
Danyo concurs. He calls on his men — retainers, timbermen, millers, and smiths — to open their ears for grumble and gripe. Who be stokin’ the fire and coals, and who be lookin’ to benefit. This be some notes of what they heard…


In the next episode, the Protocols.

About the Author
I am a writer, educator, artist, and artisan. My poetry is devoted to composing long narrative poems that explore the clash between the real and the ideal, in the lives of historical figures and people I have known. Some of the titles of my books are: The Song uv Elmallahz Kumming A Pilgimmage tu Jerusalem The Pardaes Dokkumen The Atternen Juez Talen You can listen to podcasts of my Eternal Jew posts on my personal blog, Textures and Shadows, which can be found on my website, or directly, at: I live just outside Washington, DC with my bashert, and we have two remarkable sons. Those three light my life.
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