From Academic Kids

Missing image
Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Land of Cockaigne, painted in 1567. Oil on panel. Currently in the collection of the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.

Cockaigne was a medieval land, a mythical land of plenty, where all the harshness of medieval peasant life did not exist.


Etymology of Cockaigne

The word Cockaigne traces to Middle English cokaygne, tracing to Middle French (pas de) cocaigne "(land of) plenty," ultimately adapted or derived from a word for cake. The Dutch equivalent is Luilekkerland ("lazy luscious land") and the German equivalent is Schlaraffenland ("land of milk and honey"). In Spain, an equivalent place of Cockaigne is named Jauja, after a rich mining region of the Andes.


Like Atlantis and El Dorado, the land of Cockaigne was a fictional utopia, a place where idleness and gluttony were the principal occupations. In Specimens of Early English Poets (1790), George Ellis printed a 13th century French poem called "The Land of Cockaign" where

"the houses were made of barley sugar and cakes, the streets were paved with pastry, and the shops supplied goods for nothing."

According to one a Columbia University Press reference,

... roasted pigs wander about with knives in their backs to make carving easy, where grilled geese fly directly into one's mouth, where cooked fish jump out of the water and land at one's feet. The weather is always mild, the wine flows freely, sex is readily available, and all people enjoy eternal youth.

According to the New York Public Library, Cockaigne was a

medieval peasant’s dream, offering relief from backbreaking labor and the daily struggle for meager food.


A Neapolitan tradition, extended to other Latin-culture countries, is the Cockaigne pole, a horizontal or vertical pole with a prize (like a ham) on one extreme. The pole is covered with grease or soap and planted during a festival. Then, men try to climb the pole to get the prize. The crowd laughs at the often failed attempts to hold to the pole.

Cockaigne in the arts

  • Cockaigne was depicted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in The Land of Cockaigne (1567, above).
  • There is a 1901 overture by Edward Elgar titled Cockaigne.
  • The book, Dreaming of Cockaigne, by Herman Pleij (Columbia University Press, 2001) offers the most complete modern collection of information on the topic.
  • The musical play, The Golden Dream, by Joe Syiek [1] ( tells the story of oppressed peasants who yearn for, attain and ultimately lose their ideal of Cockaigne.
  • The album Land of Cockayne by Soft Machine, 1981.

See also

External links and references

eo:Kuklando nl:Luilekkerland sv:Schlaraffenland


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