In CY 549 a village of Tritherion-worshipping
peasants was attacked and disbanded by local lords in Furyondy, eager to destroy such an example of freedom and independence. This is their story, and this is their song...
The Diggers: A Tritherite Anthem
By: Kirt (email@example.com)
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)
In the late CY 540’s curious economic events were underway in southern Furyondy. The peasants of the region, like those everywhere, had long been allowed to grow crops on land that they had themselves cleared from wilderness. They were also traditionally allowed to graze their animals on the village commons, which did not belong to the Lords or to any one person, but to the village as a whole. But at this time the increasing market economy seen in Dyvers (itself influenced by events in Greyhawk City) was attracting attention. Many local lords thought that their lands would be more productive if they denied the peasants these traditional rights, forcing them instead to work for the lords for cash wages. Wool was rapidly becoming a profitable cash crop, and the lords were in need of hired labor to manage their growing flocks and to process the wool into woven goods.
The priests of Zilchus were commissioned to undertake an economic analysis. They concluded that indeed, given the current market forces, it would be more profitable for the lords to force some peasants into wage labor. Furthermore, the priests found that the common grazing lands were of poorer quality than the lords’ demesne lands because the commons were overgrazed. The priests theorized that since the lands were held in common, each peasant household had more incentive to overgraze the lands with his own beasts than to forgo such use and allow his neighbors to benefit. The priests called this tendency the “Tragedy of the Commons,” and suggested that such lands be privatized to allow for greater protection and efficiency of production.
Given the backing of the priests of Zilchus, the lords began to declare the commons up for sale. Generally the lords themselves purchased the lands, but occasionally a wealthy town merchant bought them, after a fee was paid to the lord. The money from the sales went to the peasant villages, but that did little to help the peasants whose way of life had just been sold – they no longer had lands on which to graze their animals. Aggrieved peasants began filing protests in the King’s courts, with the sponsorship of priests of Trithereon.
The King held a special Council meeting about the matter. Nobles, Knights, and merchants supported the actions of the lords, for they were all eager to try the methods themselves. The priests of Heironeous were unconcerned with the fate of the peasants, whom they saw as mere “diggers of soil,” unfit to be warriors. Even the priests of St. Cuthbert were persuaded by the reasonableness of the arguments of the priests of Zilchus. The Cuthbertians fought to make sure that the payments to the villagers were fair, but left the matter at that. Only the Tritherites opposed the plans, knowing that the peasants were losing their traditional rights and freedoms. In the face of broad support and little resistance, the King declared the Enclosure Act, which allowed the lords to sell off the commons and to put up fences and walls around the newly private lands, to keep out the beasts of the peasants.
The enclosures had their predicted effects. Peasants sold off their livestock and many were forced to become wage laborers for the lords or for merchants. Some Tritherion priests quickly organized a resistance effort. They gathered together several score unhappy peasants and led them off into the wilderness, near a place called St. Cuthbert’s Hill. The group together started a communal farming village. They announced that as they were in wilderness, in no-man’s land, they would not pay taxes or give service to any lord. Instead, they would live only for one another in the community. They called themselves “The Diggers,” claiming with pride the disparaging comments of the Heironeoun priests.
After months of hard work and sacrifice their crops were in and it looked like the village would prosper. Peasants, free men and serfs alike, began to slip away from nearby estates to join the community. The lords knew they could not allow the Diggers’ commune to persist. The danger of a good example was too great. They called for the peasants to disperse, on the pretext that they were spoiling the hunting. Nobles in Furyondy, as in most of the Flaneass, have the privilege of hunting wild game and the legal authority to defend that privilege. When the Diggers refused to disperse, the lords hired a large Perrender mercenary company to forcibly evict them. Heironeoun War Troopers were sent along to make sure no one on either side was killed. The Tritherite priests leading the community considered armed resistance, but in the end decided it would be futile. They knew the peasants were no match for trained Perrender mercenaries, and that in any battle the opposing priests would just neutralize one another. The Tritherites petitioned the King, and held out for a last minute reprieve, but none came. The Digger’s village was destroyed and its inhabitants scattered.
That obscure episode in Furyondian history prompted a Tritherite bard to compose an inspirational and bittersweet anthem. It is a favorite among the worshipers of The Summoner in Furyondy and has spread to the Shield Lands, Dyvers, Greyhawk, and the Wild Coast. Most peasants in the Marklands know the melody, though by and large only those who are Tritherites know the words. To modern ears, it may sound a bit nostalgic. The line about “we need no swords” certainly evokes the time before the Old One was released and before the invasions began. Indeed, many modern bards sing it as “we will know swords,” an allusion to the need for even peasants to train in weapons these days. The divisiveness of the song, the way it clearly sets the peasants against the lords, is not a welcome message in Furyondy these days. Indeed, many lords have forbidden the Tritherites from using the song in their meetings and services. But any reader knows the effects that such regulations have on Tritherites…the song gets performed more often where such laws are in effect.
Here then is the stirring piece itself:
“The Diggers' Anthem”
to St. Cuthbert’s Hill,
a ragged band some called the Diggers
came to show The Summoner’s will.
They defied the landlords,
they defied the laws,
they were the dispossessed reclaiming what was
“We come in peace” they said,
“To dig and sow.”
“We come to work the land in common,
and to make the waste grounds grow.”
“This earth divided,
we will make whole,
so it will be a common treasury for all”
“The sin of property,
we do disdain:
no one has any right to buy and sell the
oerth for private gain.
By theft and murder,
they took the land,
now everywhere the walls spring up at their
“They make the laws,
to chain us well,
the clergy dazzle us with heaven,
or they damn us into hell.
We will not worship
the God they serve;
the God of greed who feeds the rich
while poor folk starve.”
“We work, we eat together,
we need no swords,
we will not bow to the masters or pay rent to the
We are free folk,
though we are poor,
you Diggers all stand up for glory,
Stand up now!”
From the lords of property,
the orders came,
they sent the hired men and troopers
to wipe out the Diggers’ claim,
tear down their cottages,
destroy their corn;
they were dispersed
but still the vision lingers on.
You poor take courage;
you rich take care:
This earth was made a common treasury
for everyone to share.
All things in common,
All people one -
“We come in peace...”
The orders came to cut them down.
This song was adapted from “The World Turned Upside Down,” written by Leon Rossselson, and used without permission. I first heard the song performed by Billy Bragg on his compilation album Back to Basics. It is a great song, much more moving if you can hear it. If anyone can tell me how I can turn the CD into an electronic file, I will submit it to Cannonfire!