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In 1616, when Flanders is under Spanish occupation, the town of Boom, in the midst of preparations for its carnival, learns that a Spanish duke with his army is on the way to spend the night there.
Fearing that this will inevitably result in rape and pillage, the mayor — supported by his town council — has the idea of pretending to be newly dead, in order to avoid receiving the soldiers. But his redoubtable wife Cornelia despises this strategem and organises the other women to prepare hospitality and to adapt their carnival entertainments for the Spaniards (who insist on entering the town anyway).
Such is the warmth of the women’s welcome that not only do the Spaniards refrain from misbehaviour, but on their departure the Duke announces a year’s remission of taxes for the town.
Cornelia allows her husband to take the credit for their good fortune, but she has in the meantime thwarted his plans for their daughter to marry the town butcher instead of the young painter Brueghel whom she loves.
Source : Wikipedia