De Legende Van De Bokkerijders * Karst van der Meulen * 1994

When I got these TV-series on DVD, I thought that it was one of these old Dutch series now available on DVD. This Dutch/Flemish series even look old, but they seem to be of 1994, Van de Meulen’s last work even. The series give an over-romantisized vision on the famous “Bokkerijders” (in nowadays spelling this would be “Bokkenrijders” btw.) gang. “Bokkerijders” literary means “goat riders”. Like in the famous song “Goat-riders in the sky”, this devilish gang would fly through the nightly sky on their goats. Myths were spun around the theme, giving the goat-riders many elements of the “wild hunt” in which Odin/Wodan leads his army of the dead through the sky in certain times of the year. In fact the “Bokkerijders” were a violent criminal gang (or gangs) that ravaged the Dutch province of Limburg (and Noord-Brabant and a part of Flanders according to some) in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The trials are quite well recorded and the criminal acts documented (usually violent robs of churches and farms). The “Bokkerijders” supposedly swore on “the dead hand” and they had a pact with the devil, they appeared out of nothing and disappeared into thin air. That is why ‘the devil thing’ I suppose. The “Bokkerijders” already got romantisized elements during the Romantic period and more so in more recent times. To speak with the Dutch scholar of folklore Gerard Rooijakkers, the bad elements in our folklore that we cannot get rid off, are romantisized and re-used to make them harmless. The violent gang of the “Bokkerijders”, became fighters for the weak and poor and against suppression of the Austrian leaders and the Church. This is the version that you will get in these series. Amusing, not boring, another well- produced Dutch series about the Middle Ages and in this case, adding to the mystifying or a dark element of our past.

One comment

  1. Minor detail

    Bok translates as Billie or Buck i.o.w. the male goat.
    To call them goat riders would therefore be incorrect since the english translation does not specify the gender.
    Buck riders or Billie riders is a more accurate translation.

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