Saturday, April 22, 2006

A slice of Finnmärscker history

In the spring of 1762 two princes of the blood meet in Lüleå to discuss the terms of the Finnmärsker Independence: The Faroe-Finnmärscker Crown-prince Gregoriusz and Prince Ludo of the Mölbö Encläve.

The irascible botanist Heinz von Kinkel is serving as Prince Gregoriusz’ aide at the time. He scribbles in his diary of March 1762: "Everybody is yelling, there is a racket beyond compare. People behave as if in a southern country. It reminds me of the port of Naples, only there’s a lot more fish."

He goes on to describe Lüleå as "... A Swiss port surrounded by Dutch mountains. Or the other way around, whatever makes sense". It is evident that he finds Lüleå infinitely more interesting than the capital Stöckfisck, or Gregoriania as it is then called.

In the evening of March 31st the two princes dine at a table placed in the middle of Törvetrilleren, the central plaza. Seated in the open, between Hubertus’ Hotel and the Masonic lodge, the two princes find on their plates a dish of fresh cod garnished with lobster and asparagus; food worthy of royalty.

The young von Kinkel, however, has no appetite: The legation has only been in Lüleå for half a day, and already he has managed to fall in love with a married woman, has had a brief affair with her, has been caught in the act by the cuckolded husband, and finally been challenged to a duel at sundown. He feels queasy.

The duelists meet at dusk by the gallows outside the city gates. Dr. Phünckelsteiner, the legation surgeon, has reluctantly agreed to act as von Hinkel’s second. By right of being the challenged party von Hinkel has chosen the saber, given that he suffers from an irrational fear of being shot.

His opponent, a lobster merchant by the name of Mariusz Mörckenheimer, is a very tall man, exceedingly thin. The sabers are drawn. It seems that Mörckenheimer’s reach gives him a noticeable advantage over the small Faroe botanist. Twice he cuts von Hinkel, the second time taking off the tip of his left ear.

Heinz von Hinkel, however, is not an inferior swordsman. This is by no means his first saber duel, and it won’t be his last. With a swift, circular parry of the foil he disarms the lobster merchant and delivers the coup-de-grace. Mörckenheimer has been run through.

The men sit with him for hours, passing the time by singing psalms and swapping recipes. Before he expires, Mörckenheimers mutters: "Add finely chopped shallots and a glass of sherry. Pour over the veal stock and reduce to half. Let simmer."

That same morning, on the 1st of April 1762, the wounded botanist and his second return to the Hubertus’ Hotel just in time to witness the two princes’ signing of the Lüleå Accord. After 343 years, Finnmärck is no longer under the Faroe yoke. As he puts down the pen, King Ludo I of Finnmärck utters the immortal words: "From prince to king by the stroke of a... What the hell happened to your ear?"

Heinz von Hinkel answers venerably: "A woman, your majesty. She may have cost me the tip of my ear, but I didn’t really need it, did I?"

5 Comments:

Blogger Lolabola said...

oh my god! you make us wait FOREVER and then I'm too drunk to read this story and remain interested. Damn damn damn!

6:30 am  
Blogger Mikkel said...

Who the hell are you? I'm going to have to 86 you.

7:33 am  
Blogger Antagonous said...

hee hee I guess I was too drunk to realize that lolabola was still logged on to my computer!

Now that I'm sober, good story! Reminds me a bit of a Flashman tale.

6:45 pm  
Blogger Mikkel said...

Every word of it is true.

10:08 pm  
Blogger MGL said...

Including "him" and "the".

5:45 pm  

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