Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Bishop of Borglum and his Warriors

The Bishop of Borglum and his WarriorsThe Bishop of Borglum and his Warriors

Up north in Jutland there is a place known as the wild moor. There is a convent there. Many years ago there was a ship stranded not too far off shore. Instead of helping, the bishop’s men went and stole and plundered and murdered. Those poor people were all left dead and bloody.

The bishop desires to have all but the widow of Olaf Glob is in his way. He will have to get rid of her before he can take her husband’s lands. The bishop had her called before a court of law, but they found nothing wrong with her. He then sent a letter to the Pope asking that the widow be excommunicated and banned from the church.

The widow did not know what to do, but she knew that God was with her, so she yoked her oxen and went with her maid into distant lands. They were in Franconia when they met a group of soldiers, among them was the widow’s son. The widow’s son returns with her to her home. He calls the bishop out for his wrong deeds, but the bishop cannot be touched because he is under the authority of the Pope.

Jens Glob, the widow’s son, writes a letter to a relative Olaf Hase and they plan an attack for Christmas. It’s very cold and the ground is frozen. Jens Glob is to come from one side and Olaf Hase is to come from across the bay. It’s extremely cold, but Olaf Hase rides on with a few brave men. When he gets to the church he finds Jens Glob already there. He says he has made an arrangement with the bishop. Olaf is about to become angry when Jens tells him the agreement. The bishop and all his warriors are dead.

There is a funeral for all who were killed. Everything seems to sing the condemnation of the Bishop and his men. Some are afraid of his ghost.

The place is peaceful now though. If someone ship wrecks on the shore, they are not murdered, but saved. They are brought ashore and fed.

Observations

I looked into Borglum, but I cannot find any record of one of the bishops being a murderous jerk. As far a the area itself, a see of the Catholic Church was created there and existed there for a while, but it ultimately died out with the coming of reformation. There were convents and nunneries there for a while afterward.

Even though I cannot find evidence of a nasty bishop, there was actually a church there.

dcf43ac81e2bfe99c61f25d529977accThemes

Just because you’re religious doesn’t mean you can’t become corrupt. This bishop was a bad man and he even had the Pope on his side, but the Pope hasn’t always been good, in fact, a lot of popes haven’t been good. People do terrible things under the name of God. God didn’t command them to do these terrible things, these people just said, “You know what, I want to murder all those people over there and take their stuff, in the name of God.”

It’s been repeated over and over in history.

The Crusades: Let’s go kill people in the name of God.

The Spanish Inquisition: Let’s torture and kill people in the name of God.

Salem Witch Trials: Let’s kill women in the name of God.

Bloody Mary: Let’s kill people in the name of God.

…really, I could go on.

This bishop was bad so people took it upon themselves to get rid of him. Did that make them better than him? They killed this guy and all his men. Were all of them guilty? We don’t know. They did change the way things were done. People no longer had to worry about being terrorized by this bishop, and in the end, that’s a good thing. The violence that got them there isn’t necessarily good.

Looking at this another way, Hans could have been using this entire story as a metaphor. Maybe Hans was not saying that this bishop was actually murdered, maybe the reformation came through and essentially down-sized the Catholic church in the area, which is what actually happened. The Catholic Church had long been seen as greedy and wealth consuming. They took things. They forced people out. The protestants got tired of this and came in and deposed the Catholic Church where they could.

The people got tired of men, just men, not gods, of the Catholic Church taking and murdering in the name of God, that’s why these men went in and murdered this bishop and his men.

Overall

If you’re of the God-fearing variety, don’t do things in the name of God that are awful.

Weigh In

Do you think a lot of people felt a weight lifted off their shoulders when the reformation happened?

What would you have done if you were being terrorized by this bishop?

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