Herr Tidmann Old Danish Folk Song

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 27 January 1865


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Written: not later than January 27, 1865;
First published: in Der Social-Demokrat No. 18, February 5, 1865
Collection(s): Der Social-Demokrat

Early one morning, when it was day,
Herr Tidmann dressed beside his bed,
And he put on his shirt so fine.
That all the Süder people praise.

And he put on his shirt so fine,
His green silk coat did bravely shine,
Buckskin boots he laced on his legs.
That all the Süder people praise.

Buckskin boots he laced on his legs,
Buckled on gilded spurs so neat,
And went to the Süder district Thing.
That all the Süder people praise.

He went to the Süder district Thing,
Demanded the tax from each edeling,
Seven bushels of rye from each man’s plough.
That all the Süder people praise.

Seven bushels of rye from each man’s plough,
One pig in four from the fattening woods–
But then up stood an aged man.
That all the Süder people praise.

But then up stood an aged man:
"Pay such taxes none of us can.
Before so heavy a tax we pay–
That all the Süder people praise.

“Before so heavy a tax we pay,
None from this Thing shall go away.
You Süder peasants, stand in a ring."
That all the Süder people praise.

“You Süder peasants, stand in a ring,
Herr Tidmann alive shan’t leave the Thing."
The old man struck the very first blow.
That all the Süder people praise.

The old man struck the very first blow,
Down to the ground did Herr Tidmann go.
There lies Herr Tidmann, he streams with blood.
That all the Süder people praise.

There lies Herr Tidmann, he streams with blood,
But the plough goes free on the black soil.
The pigs go free in the fattening woods.
That all the Süder people praise.

This piece of medieval peasant war takes place in the Süder Harde (harde means judicial district) north of Aarhus in Jutland. The Thing, the assembled court of the district, handled questions of taxation and administration, as well as court matters. The song shows how the rising nobility confronted the edelings, i.e. the free peasants, and also how the peasants put an end to the nobility’s arrogance. In a country like Germany, where the propertied class includes as much feudal nobility as bourgeoisie, and the proletariat includes as many agricultural labourers as industrial workers, if not more — the zestful old peasant song will be eminently apposite.