King Charles II (1649-1685)
The Price of Treachery : A Danish soldier in the seventeenth century imposes the severest sentence he can think of.
The Price of Treachery

Based on ‘A Book of Golden Deeds’ by Charlotte Yonge (1823-1901).

Flensburg is now in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, but until 1864 it was Flensborg, an important harbour town in the Kingdom of Denmark. At one time, brewing was a major industry, and if this story is to be believed, to be deprived of a drop of Flensborg beer was as much as man could bear.

THE Swedish Deluge was an overwhelming invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 1650s, pitching Sweden, Holland, Russia and Denmark into a rolling conflict of many battles and changes of side.

It seems that after one engagement, a Danish soldier from Flensburg was awaiting medical attention in the company of a bottle of beer when he heard a groan, and turned to see a wounded Swede lying near him. Putting aside enmity, he cradled the man’s head and plied his bottle.

At that moment, there was a sharp crack! and a searing pain in his shoulder. The Swede had shot him. ‘Rascal!’ cried our kindly Dane, ‘for that you must be punished.’ He drank off half the beer with terrible severity. ‘There’ he said. ‘Now you shall have only half.’

The Danish King, Frederick III, heard about this, and sent for the Flensburg man. ‘Why did you not slay the renegade?’ he asked.

‘Sire,’ came the shocked reply, ‘I could never kill a wounded enemy.’

* For a similar tale about Elizabethan courtier and poet Sir Philip Sidney, see ‘Thy Necessity is Yet Greater than Mine’.

Based on ‘A Book of Golden Deeds’ by Charlotte Yonge (1823-1901).

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Picture: © Wolfgang Pehlemann, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0. View original
Flensburg in northern Germany, formerly the Danish town of Flensborg, showing the harbour and the neat squares around it. The town is twinned with the City of Carlisle in Cumbria.
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