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Nobles rebelled against the king, and Fa’se Footrage, among them, sneaks into the royal castle to kill the king—or, in other variants, the Eastmure king kills King Honour because his suit for King Honor's queen was rejected. The queen pleads for her life until her child is born. Fa’se Footrage tells her that if the baby is a boy, he will die. He sets guards on her, but she gets them drunk and leaves out a window. She has a son in a pigsty. Wise William is sent to seek her; he sends his wife, and when she finds her, she persuades her to change her son for her daughter, saying that they will both raise the other's child fittingly. When the boy is grown, Wise William takes him by the royal castle and tells him the truth. The son kills Fa’se Footrage, rewards Wise William, and marries the daughter that his mother raised.
This ballad is closely related with a Scandinavian one, "Young William" (TSB E 96), in which a rival in love kills the successful wooer, the woman bears a child and has the rival told it was a girl, and the son, grown, kills the rival. Another Scandinavian ballad (TSB D 352) opens with the bride being carried off, and her family coming to burn down the church that the bridegroom and his people are in; she hides her son from her family and in time he avenges his father.
Despite much speculation, the kingdoms in the ballad—Eastmure and Westmure—have not been identified with any localities.
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