Danish King Christian II – a fairly bright personality in the history of Scandinavia. He ruled Denmark and Norway in 1513-1523. and Sweden in 1520-1523, another nine years struggled for power, allowed in 1532 to deceive luring himself into Denmark allegedly for negotiations, was captured and after that another twenty-seven years spent in custody in the castles of Sennerborg and Kalundborg. The fall of King Kristierna is the failure of his attempt to restore the great northern power that existed in the form of the so-called Kalmar Union in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The fate of the king and his country is shown by the author in a special way – by the example of the fate of Mikkel, the son of a village blacksmith, a learned student and soldier. Needless to say, the experience of the life of Mikkel and the people associated with him is unsuccessful, as the attempt of the great Danish king to revive the former power was unsuccessful. But…
A young, lanky schoolboy,
Mikkel, nicknamed Stork in Copenhagen, wanders around the night city in search of food and impressions. He stumbles upon a merry company of German landsknechts, and those who are good-naturedly making fun of the appearance and hunger of a student take him into their society. The soldiers marry, moving from one tavern to another; among them, Mikkel recognizes the Dane countryman Otto Iversen, a young barich from the closest manor to his native village Mikkel. After a brief break from the company, Mikkel peeks into one of the taverns and sees in it the goddess of beauty, Prince Christiern, who appeared to him at this moment, tearing juicy berries from the vine. The prince, like all the other new acquaintances of Mikkel, comes forward on a military campaign in the morning and hastens to enjoy the delights of earthly life. About its possible transience interprets Mikkel and caught up on Otto Street, he recognized Mikkel for a long time, although he did not show it to his mind; In Copenhagen, Otto is depressed, he does not know anyone here, tomorrow, perhaps, death awaits him. Otto went to the soldiers spite of mother: she
does not allow him to marry Anne-Mette, a simple peasant girl, and he and Anna Metta love each other; probably, Mikkel Anna-Mett met?
Mikkel does not respond to the open-mouthed barich; he knows – sometimes tactfully and profitable to remain silent. Therefore, he does not share with Otto his dreams about Susanna – a girl who lives in a house with the rich Jew Mendel Speyer. Sometimes Susanna walks into the garden adjacent to the house, and Mikkel from afar, from behind the fence, adoringly adoring her, not daring to approach. But that night, a little later, after parting with Otto, Mikkel sees a hole in the garden fence and becomes an involuntary witness to the almost accidental seduction of Susanna by the young barich. The next morning, Otto goes with the army, and Susanna, who was convicted of adultery by the night watchman, is expelled from Copenhagen along with her old father, having previously subjected the guilty to the humiliating punishment of “carrying stones out of the city walls.” Watching the girl from the crowd, Mikkel sees on her face not only suffering,
The wanderings of Mikkel in Copenhagen continue for several more days. He turns to a local theologian and influential clergyman Jens Andersen with a request to send him, Mikkel, to study abroad, but he can not stand the exam, which the theologian immediately makes him do. Mikkel also fails to deal with the devil, for which he visits the cemetery chapel in the dead of the night. Eventually, a despondent and spoiled student is expelled from the university, and he has no choice but to return home to his native village, where his father and his brothers welcome him. But in the village Mikkel again meets with Anna-Metta, who turned from a red-cheeked laughter, as he remembered her four years ago, to a beautiful woman. Mikkel falls in love with Anna-Mett, but she has not forgotten and loves her Otto. Touched by contradictory feelings, Mikkel forcefully takes her to the other side of the fjord, and the dishonored girl does not dare go back home; she is hired as a servant in a house to a rich peasant, and having returned from the campaign of Otto, having learned of the misfortune that has befallen her, she submits resignedly back to her family estate, Mokholm. He believes that nothing can help her.
It takes about twenty years. Mikkel becomes a professional soldier. Once Bishop Jene Andersen sends him to accompany the messenger to the king, besieging Stockholm at that time. The messenger, a pink-cheeked, twenty-year-old handsome man of open and friendly disposition, without thinking twice, tells Mikkel his deepest secret: Axel carries on his chest an incense donated to him at the age of eighteen by the old Jew Mendel Speyer. In the incense lies a letter in the Hebrew language indicating the place where Axel can obtain wealth for himself. One day Axel will show a letter to the learned in the tongues of the priest, but only at the moment when he will depart to another world – so the mystery will be preserved more firmly.
Mikkel and Axel carry out the assignment given to them. In Stockholm, both soldiers take part in magnificent festivities on the occasion of the Swedish coronation of King Kristiern and become eyewitnesses to the so-called “Stockholm Bloody Bath” – the mass execution of high-ranking Swedish nobility accused of heresy and wealthy citizens – in such a radical way the king intends to break their resistance and permanently resolve the issue of the unity of the Nordic countries under his hand. Mikkel personally observed the execution, standing among the soldiers guarding the frontal place; Axel also saw execution from the window of the house, where he had fun with Mikkel’s mistress, whom they had brought to their common apartment from a “merry ship” – a floating brothel from the glorious trading city of Lubeck.
The spectacle of execution makes such a heavy impression on the hero that he falls ill and turns to God for help. Axel nurses the patient: on Mikkel’s suggestion to read his cherished letter, Axel refuses, he is sure: Mikkel will survive. Such a noble gesture from the side of the lucky rival and the son of his enemy rouses hatred in Mikkel… and he recovers. Axel also successfully marries the daughter of a member of the city magistrate who favors him. However, a serene family life is not for him, and soon he goes back to Denmark, but gets lost and almost dies in the winter “primeval” forest, where he is picked up by the forest man Kesa, who lives with his daughter in a lonely hut. And in their house, too, simple-hearted and friendly Axel was accepted as the best guest, and Kesa gives him the most precious daughter, without hesitation.
A little later in the same year, when Mikkel found himself in his native place, he heard a rumor about a rich wedding nearby. Inger, the illegitimate daughter of Anna-Metta and Mikkel, is married to the wealthy and prigozhego Knight of Axel. Axel finds and invites his elder friend to the wedding, but Mikkel refuses, he fears the past. Then Axel escorts him on his way to the other side of the fjord, and here in a fit of inexplicable hatred of fate Mikkel attacks Axel and injures him in the knee, he does not want Otto’s son and his rival to be happy. A few days later all the abandoned Axel dies from the Antonov fire – gangrene.
In the meantime, things are not going well for King Christiern. He twice conquered Sweden, and twice she fell away from him. In addition, he at the rear, in Denmark, grumbles to know. In the end, the king is forced to flee from Jutland to the fyn, where he is promised to help. For the king is also Norway. Kristiern is ashamed of his flight and, almost reaching the island, orders to turn back, but when he again comes to the shores of Jutland, he understands that his return is unreasonable, and orders again to rule the fyn. So in the throwing through Little Belt there passes the night and back. The king lost his former confidence, which means that the king fell.
Many years pass. Mikkel, a seasoned participant of almost all European wars of that time, makes a pilgrimage to holy places in Jerusalem and Italy, and then returns to his native village. His elder brother, Nils and three adult nephews, he finds behind military preparations: all over Jutland they burn and rob noblemen’s estates, peasants gather the people’s militia to help the captured nobility Kristiern. Mikkel already in years, he has seen enough of wars, and he does not want to go along with the peasants: he will serve the king in a different way. On the ruins of the burnt estate, Mokholm, Mikkel discovers the bodies of the aged Otto Iversen and the rich peasant Steffen, the ex-husband of Anna-Metta, who died long ago. That’s met all her men, sums up Mikkel.
First victorious, the peasants were defeated by the German Landsknechts Johann Rantzau. Mikkel is served in the service of the prisoner in the castle of Sennerborg king. In the last episode of the novel, he travels from the castle to the healer and warlock of Zacharias in Lubeck to resolve the king’s tormenting question: Does the earth revolve around the Sun, as claimed by the obedient new-fangled theories in Italy Mikkel, or does the Sun walk around the Earth, as it was thought? After experiencing a series of comic adventures associated with senile infirmity, warlike habits and addiction to drinking, Mikkel gets to the goal, but only in order to compromise Zachary, who, as it turned out, put on cunning experiments on a living person. Astonished by the cruelty of his experiments, Mikkel shots about them in a drunken intoxication, and Zacharias, as well as his guinea-pig creature – conceived in the castle of Sennerborg by King Kristierny himself! – publicly burned. Mikkel is brought to the castle half-paralyzed, and he indifferently hears the news he has been told: in the castle lives, waiting for Mikkel’s arrival, his granddaughter – a young deaf-mute Ida, illegitimate daughter Inger and Axel, and her wandering musician Jacob, who once regretted the abandoned child. And without getting out of bed, Mikkel dies in six months with a firm conviction that he did not know in life of happiness. and her wandering musician, Jacob, who once regretted the abandoned child. And without getting out of bed, Mikkel dies in six months with a firm conviction that he did not know in life of happiness. and her wandering musician, Jacob, who once regretted the abandoned child. And without getting out of bed, Mikkel dies in six months with a firm conviction that he did not know in life of happiness.
Equally embarrassing is the result of the life of the decrepit in prison, but not completely lost the spirit of King Christiern. After his reign, the author sums up, Denmark as an independent state “fell out of history.” Time, as Jensen proclaims in the pages of the novel, is “all-destroying,” and it is incommensurable with the throws, thoughts or hopes of an individual or entire nations.