Schild en vriend

While we’re on things Flemish, I’m afraid I have a tendency to disbelieve shibboleth stories. The big one in these parts is that of the brave Flemish-speakers identifying the craven French-speakers after a battle in 1302 by politely asking them to say “scilt ende vrient”. That’s debunked by Bill Poser here.

An alternative version has people being obliged to jump out of bed and repeat the calembour (Spanish: calambur), ‘s gildenvriend, “friend of the guilds” (the evil French and some traitorous Flemish were against), but it fails (a) for the same reason, and (b) because, according to this highly impressive dressing-up site, very few citizens were guilded at that stage either.

I think that massacres in battles like these were probably conducted along the same lines as in modern-day local league football matches on misty November mornings: “Ooh, ain’t seen him before, don’t like the look of him neither. Off with his legs!”

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