[[quoteright:301:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/eulenspiegel_6178.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:301:]]

''Till Eulenspiegel'' (low German: ''Dyl Ulenspegel'' or ''Till Ulenspiegel'', Dutch: ''Tijl Uilenspiegel'') is a folklore character originally from Low German oral tradition. He's a jester/fool who enjoys tricking people or driving them mad by taking things too literally. The first print version of his adventures, ''Ein kurtzweilig Lesen von Dyl Ulenspiegel, geboren uß dem Land zu Brunßwick'' ("An amusing reading of Till Eulenspiegel, born in the land of Brunswick"), appeared in Straßburg (now Strasbourg in France) ca. 1510 and became a best-seller by the standards of the age, being translated into Latin, French, Dutch, and Polish within the 16th century; under the name "Owlglass" he was also mentioned in Ben Jonson's play ''The Alchemist". Till Eulenspiegel appears to have been partly based on one "Tilo dictus Ulenspegel" (Tilo called Ulenspegel) who died in the town of Mölln in 1350. Some stories relate that for a time Till Eulenspiegel served king Kazimierz the Great of Poland.

In the 19th century the French-speaking Belgian author Charles De Coster adapted this folklore tales into the novel ''La légende et les aventures héroiques joyeuses et glorieuses d'Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak au pays des Flandres et ailleurs'' ("The legend and the heroic, joyful and glorious adventures of Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak in the land of Flanders and elsewhere", 1867) which changed Ulenspiegel into a Flemish/Belgian FolkHero who uses his intelligence and comedy to fight against the Spanish occupation during the 16th century. Ulenspiegel also got a new background story. He was born in the Flemish village Damme [[SignificantBirthDate on the same day as Phillip II]], the Spanish king who later would lead the Eighty Year's War against the Netherlands. Ulenspiegel's father is Claes, who is later burned at the stake by the Spanish occupiers, and his mother is named Soetkin. She later turns mad because of Claes' death. All these events motivate Ulenspiegel to fight against the Spanish oppressors. He is also given a girlfriend, Nele, and a gluttonous but jolly {{Sidekick}} named Lamme Goedzak. Ulenspiegel is seen as the incarnation of the spirit of Flanders, Lamme as that of the stomach of Flanders, and Nele as that of the heart of Flanders. The novel was adapted into a film with French actor Gérard Philippe playing the titular hero.

Comic strip artist Creator/WillyVandersteen (of ''ComicBook/SuskeEnWiske'' fame) also drew two well known comic books about the character.

In Germany, Richard Strauss composed a symphonic piece, ''Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche'' (Till Eulenspiegel's merry pranks, 1895) and the East German satirical magazine ''Eulenspiegel'', which continues to be published to this day, is named after him. There are museums dedicated to him in Kneitlingen (his birthplace), Mölln (the town where he died) and in Damme (the town where he was born according to De Coster).

Compare similar characters: Nasreddin from the Middle East, Herschel of Ostropol in Jewish folklore, Anansi the spider in Carribean folklore, Brother Rabbit in Afro-American folklore and even Alfred E. Neuman of Magazine/MadMagazine and WesternAnimation/BugsBunny seem to be made from the same mold.
----
!!Examples:
* AntiHero: Eulenspiegel is a trickster who enjoys fooling people.
* BackFromTheDead: The novel ends with Eulenspiegel's miraculous reappearance. He claims that his spirit cannot be killed.
* BigEater: Lamme Goedzak
* BlackComedy: In one story, he "cured" all the patients in a hospital. How? He stated that he wanted to make some medicine for them... with a powder made out of the sickest one of them. After which they all wanted to prove that they were not that sick.
* BookEnds: Just as his funeral was uncommon, the same applied to the start of his life. As the story goes, Eulenspiegel [[ItMakesSenseInContext was baptized three times.]]
* TheCameo: He has a cameo in the ''ComicBook/SuskeEnWiske'' album "De Krimson Crisis".
* ComicBookAdaptation: Two albums were drawn by Creator/WillyVandersteen.
* CorruptChurch: Eulenspiegel often tricks morally fallible priests.
* DarkerAndEdgier: The Charles De Coster novel and especially the opera based on it take the character in a decidedly different direction than the original tales. De Coster makes him a jolly Robin-Hood-esque freedom fighter. The opera takes this even further and makes him a grim, determined badass in the end after all his loved ones are dead.
* ExactWords: Eulenspiegel enjoys driving people crazy by taking things too literally. Only one of many examples: when the Duke of Lüneburg forbade Eulenspiegel to set foot in his country, Eulenspiegel bought a cart and filled it with soil that didn't belong to the duke.
* FolkHero: In Germany and Flanders Eulenspiegel is considered to be a folk hero. The Flemish see him as the spirit of Flanders and in 2003 the Germans even voted Eulenspiegel in 160th place in the election for "The Greatest German" ("Unsere Besten"). He is the only (arguably) fictional character to make the list!
* TheFunInFuneral: The guys who carried his coffin goofed up, and the coffin fell into the grave, standing upright instead of lying down. The priest decided this was OK: "He lived in a weird way, so he shall be buried in a weird way."
* GermanHumor
* HappyHarlequinHat: Originally didn't have one, going hatless or having a different jester hat. However, later adaptations and monuments have him wearing it.
* HighAltitudeInterrogation: In a classic Eulenspiegel story Till is tightroping for money, when suddenly some spectators cut the rope, causing him to fall in the river across which he had tied the rope. He climbs ashore, tells the audience he enjoyed the joke and informs them that he will make his rope trick more complicated the next day. Out of curiosity the spectators return again the following day to see what he will do. Till then explains to them that he will climb the rope while holding two bags full of shoes. But since he hasn't got that many shoes he asks the spectators to give them one of their shoes for the act. Everyone does so, but once he is on the rope Till threatens to throw the shoes in the water if the audience doesn't pay him double what they paid him the day before. The frightened spectators pay up and Till disappears, after throwing the shoes randomly in the crowd, causing the spectators to fight for their possessions.
* IconicOutfit: Usually depicted as a medieval harlequin.
* TheJester: Eulenspiegel served as one at the court of the Danish king.
* KarmicTrickster
* LighterAndSofter: Many early stories of him are quite crass (see: ToiletHumor, {{Mooning}}, {{Squick}}). In many stories many long after his death, he is more like a KarmicTrickster who fools [[AcceptableTargets stingy merchants or bad rulers]].
* LiteralMinded: Or acts like it, anyway. Never use SarcasmMode if you are his employer, he will do it.
* LoveInterest: Nele.
* ManipulativeBastard: Till is able to convince people to do things that they wouldn't do in other situations.
** He once made a waitress pay ''him'' for having worked so hard to eat and drink everything on his plate.
** He once placed a bet with a priest, daring him to defecate in the middle of his own church. The priest takes the bet, but being a bit ashamed he does it at the back where nobody is able to see him. Till still wins, because the priest didn't do it in the middle of the church, as he had dared him to.
* MeaningfulName: Literally, it means "owl-mirror". There are other interpretations.
** In Medieval Low German, "eulen" meant basically "to clean", while "spiegel" was a slang euphemism for "buttocks". Subtle.
* MistakenIdentity: One night, when Till slept inside a bee hive, two thieves who wanted to steal honey stole the hive, unaware that Till was still inside. So Till started to pull the hair of the thief in front of him and the beard of the one behind him. Both of them thought the other was bullying him and they started fighting, while Till managed to escape.
* {{Mooning}}
* NotQuiteDead: Eulenspiegel is hanged near the end of Charles De Coster's novel, but miraculously revives, claiming that his spirit cannot be killed.
* ObfuscatingStupidity
* ThePope: In one story, Eulenspiegel bets a rich woman four hundred ducats he can arrange that the Pope will talk with her.
* {{Sidekick}}: Lamme Goedzak
* SignificantBirthDate: In Charles De Coster's novel Eulenspiegel is born on the same day as Phillip II of Spain (21 May 1527). As fate will have it Philip II of Spain will terrorize the Low Countries as an adult and Eulenspiegel will lead the resistance against the Spanish king.
* ToiletHumor
* TheTrickster: Eulenspiegel claims that mankind wants to be tricked, thus justifying his actions.
* TheUnfettered
* WalkingTheEarth: Till just goes from town to town.
* WhyDoYouKeepChangingJobs: As well as working as a jester, Eulenspiegel took up many different apprenticeships during his life. Usually he was fired after only a few days later for playing a prank on his master.
** According to one story he worked for at least a year as head herdsman to Kazimierz the Great of Poland. He worked without wages, but grew rich on the bribes townspeople would pay him to move on whenever he arrived with a huge herd of livestock to graze on the fields and pastures surrounding their town.
----