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I'm the king of the castle

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on March 18, 2009 at 17:53

In Reply to: I'm the king of the castle posted by Joe on March 18, 2009 at 15:04:

: : Origin of "I'm the king of the castle, and you're the dirty rascal", pls?

: English boys (childrens) game, at least back to 1850's. "King of the Hill" etc.

: Games and sports for young boysý - Page 4
: by Games - 1859 - 80 pages

: KING OF THE CASTLE. One player gets on the top of a little hillock or mound of dirt, etc.
: ... couplet : - " I'm the King of the Castle, Get down you dirty rascal

: Also known as "King O' The castle", Scotland, your version is called London version by some,
: in North America by 1870's.

It goes back much further than that. There's a near-contemporary account of the siege of Hume Castle in the English/Scottish Civil War in which the Roundhead commander Colonel Fenwick demanded the surrender of the castle, and the governor, Thomas Cockburn, replied to him thus:
"I William of the Wastle
Am now in my Castle,
And awe the Dogs in the Town
Shan't gar me gang down."
- whereupon "Col. Fenwick having placed a battery against the Castle, returns him Heroick Verse for his Resolute Rhymes".

There's no suggestion that Cockburn invented this bit of doggerel; he was obviously using a well-known children's rhyme, which indeed may already have been anything up to a millennium old. There are French and German equivalents, and in 20 BC the poet Horace wrote down the Latin verse that Roman children used for the same game:
Rex erit qui recte faciet;
Qui non faciet, non erit.