View Full Version : Old Legends and Nice Tales from Your Country

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011, 10:00 PM
I visited this castle. http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx25/theSv666/waardenburg1.jpg

The most creepy castle of the Netherlands is undoubtedly Waardenburg Castle. The castle was build in 1265, and was at that time nothing more then a wooden tower build on a socalled 'motte,' an artificial hill of sand. Soon it was replaced by buildings made of stone. The castle became bigger and bigger, till during the Eighty Years' War the house was largely demolished. In 1627 there was an attempt to make the house inhabitable again, but lack of money made it impossible to maintain it.
Baron Jacob van Pallandt restored the house in 1895, and he and his two sisters came to live there. During the Second World War the house was occupied by the Germans, who rifled everything. Bombing ruined the biggest part again, only one third of the castle is left today. The house is now property of the 'Foundation Friends of Castles of Gelre,' who wants to restore the house.

The history of Waardenburg is rather violent, and that left its remains. The house is terribly haunted by several apparitions. At night someone is walking up and down the stairs; things disappear and reappear again at another place; footsteps are heard in the attic; you can hear lots of eery sounds; there is a poltergeist and in the east wing is a haunted room. The house is world famous, but not for its ghosts. In this very house lived once the famous Dr. Johann Georg Faust, the sorcerer, alchimist, necromancer etc. This Faust sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and magic. The devil would serve him for seven years in the shape of his servant Joost.
Faust was not a very friendly master, and he let the devil do things, the latter didn't like very much. He had to pave a road for Faust, and break it up again after he had passed. Once Faust emptied a two kilogram bag of bird-seed into the thorn-bushes and the devil had to pich up all the seeds one by one till it was two kilogram again, and so more. You can image that the devil didn't like this, and when his time eventually came, his revenge was terrible.
He took him by his leg and slammed him against the walls of his study, smearing his brains, eyes and everything out over the walls. Finally he pulled his body through the barred window and took his soul to hell, leaving his mutilated body behind on the dunghill.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011, 10:47 PM
Personally I love the tale of Robin Hood!
I think a lot of people know it so I don't really know how to explain it, so I'll just be very tedious and copy it from this random website (http://www.britainexpress.com/Myths/robin-hood.htm):

The story of Robin Hood is so well known that it scarcely needs to be reviewed, but don't worry, I'll do it anyway. The "facts ", at least one romantic version of them, are these. In the time of Richard the Lionheart a minor noble of Nottinghamshire, one Robin of Loxley, was outlawed for poaching deer. Now at that time the deer in a a royal forest belonged to the king, and killing one of the king's deer was therefore treason, and punishable by death.

So Robin took to the greenwood of Sherwood Forest, making a living by stealing from rich travellers and distributing the loot among the poor of the area. In the process he gained a band of followers and a spouse, Maid Marian. Despite the best efforts of the evil Sherrif of Nottingham he avoided capture until the return of King Richard from the Crusades brought about a full pardon and the restoration of Robin's lands. In other versions he dies at the hands of a kinswoman, the abbess of Kirklees Priory. That, in a very small nutshell, is the legend, but is there truth behind it?

Well, possibly. Someone, or maybe several someones, named Robin Hood existed at different times. Court records of the York Assizes refer to a "Robert Hod", who was a fugitive in 1226. In the following year the assizes referred to the same man as "Robinhud". By 1300 at least 8 people were called Robinhood, and at least 5 of those were fugitives from the law. In 1266 the Sherrif of Nottingham, William de Grey, was in active conflict with outlaws in Sherwood Forest. It seems most likely that a number of different outlaws built upon the reputation of a fugitive in the forest, and over time, the legend grew.

One thing to note about the early legends is that Robin Hood was not an aristocrat, as he was later portrayed, but a simple yeoman driven to a life of crime by the harsh rule of the law of the rich. As such, it is easy to see how his story soon became a favourite folk tale among the poor.

There is, in the grounds of Kirklees Priory, a old grave stone, marking the final resting place of one "Robard Hude". Proof that part of the tale may be true? It would be nice to think so.


+ There's nothing like going for a horse ride through Sherwood Forest (although I've only done it 3 times) in the morning with the sun coming through the leaves, it's a very awesome (in the proper sense) and historical place.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011, 10:49 PM
Some folklore of my region:

Rübezahl Is Entertained by Musicians

http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/images/20009755_Ruebezahl%20erscheint%20einer%2 0Mutter.jpg

One summer four musicians from Bohemia were making their way across the mountains when they were approached by a cavalier with two horses. They were sitting and resting, and the latter asked them what they were doing there. They replied that they were musicians, and that they had exhausted their provisions. If he would give them something, then they would play for him. He agreed and told them to play away. They played several cheerful pieces. His horse dropped four horse biscuits. Because there were four of them, he told each of them to take one of the horse biscuits, and to be satisfied with it. Then he rode away.

The good people looked at their honorarium. Three of them left the biscuits lying there, but the fourth took his along. He had a piece of paper with him, so he wrapped it up and put it in his pocket. When they arrived at an inn, it was a Sunday, and many guests were there. They performed to earn some money. At the end of the day, after the guests had left, they counted how much they had earned. The three of them said to the fourth, that he should also add in his biscuit. The latter said: "The biscuit will not be the worst thing that we received." Then he pulled it out, and it was black and heavy. He scraped at it with his knife, and inside it was nothing but pure gold. His companions were horrified that they had not kept theirs. They went back, but found nothing.


Source: J. G. Th. Grässe, Sagenbuch des Preußischen Staats (Glogau: Verlag von Carl Flemming, 1871), vol. 2, pp. 317-318.

Johann Prätorius (1630-1680) was originally named Hans Schultze. A prolific writer, he wrote on many subjects, especially popular superstitions of Silesia (a region encompassing southeast Germany, southern Poland, and the northern part of the Czech Republic). He published some 250 legends about the mountain spirit Rübezahl.

Because the Rübezahl stories by Prätorius contain many motifs that are found in other folk legends, folklorists believe that they are, for the most part, based on authentic beliefs and legends. For example, the offal turning to gold in story above is similar to a well know legend "Frau Holle and the Peasant," in which wood shavings turn to gold. (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen [Berlin, 1816/1818], no. 8.)

English Source: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/ruebezahl.html

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, 10:36 PM
The Saeftinghe Legend is an Old Dutch folk tale that explains the sunken city of Saeftinghe in eastern Zeeuws-Vlaanderen near Nieuw-Namen, The Netherlands, that existed until it was entirely flooded by sea waters in 1584. The legends says the city grew to be the most prosperous city on the fertile lands of the Scheldts but the inhabitants grew vain and proud. The farmers dressed in silk, their horses wearing silver and even the thresholds of homes were made from gold. The wealth attracted poor immigrants but the people of Saeftinghe showed no mercy and chased the migrants away with sticks and dogs. Greed corrupted the hearts of men and turned them blind for imminent threats.

On a foggy day, a fisherman caught a mermaid on the waters of the Western Scheldt. From the nets, the mermaid warned him Saeftinghe needed to change its ways or suffer the inevitable dire consequences. When the mermaid's husband surfaced and asked for his wife to be set free, the fisherman refused and yelled at him. The merman cursed the fisherman and his city, screaming "The lands of Saeftinghe will fall, only its towers will continue to stand tall!"

The people of Saeftinghe, occupied with greed, forgot to take care of their dikes. One day, when a maid went to get water from a well, she noticed cod and other fish swimming in it. The sea was nearing, the water turning salt. With the All Saints' flood (1570), a huge tidal wave washed over the lands of Saeftinghe, destroying the towns of Sint-Laureins, Namen and Casuwele, killing all inhabitants.

Saeftinghe withered and soon only its towers testified of its prosperous past until the city finally sank into the muddy swamps.

On foggy days, the tower bells call for help from what was once a wealthy place but is now a doomed world covered in mud, captured by the sea.

(source wiki)

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011, 09:48 PM
The ‘Bokkenrijders’: Ghost riders in the Limburg sky

In the 18th century, while most of Europe was shaking off centuries of superstition and beginning to prepare for the age of reason, the lands which now form the Dutch and Belgian regions of Limburg were terrorised by hordes of flying devil worshippers.


These mysterious robber bands met in caves or at isolated roadside chapels. Riding through the nightly sky on the backs of big black goats, they plundered farms and churches.

The ‘Bokkenrijders’, or ‘Goatriders’, owned the night throughout most of the 18th century, until they were finally brought to justice by brave and god-fearing officers of the law. This is a story that practically everyone in Limburg knows to this very day.

The Goatriders’ crimes
The story of the Goatriders is quite unique in the annals of crime. Not in the least because historians can’t yet agree on what exactly happened.

Hidden beneath two centuries worth of folklore and speculation some facts nevertheless emerge. The robberies and thefts attributed to the Goatriders certainly took place, as a visit to the historical archives in Maastricht easily can prove.

Also, between 1741 and 1794, a great number of locals were executed in present day Dutch and Belgian Limburg, accused of being members of these robber bands.


Transcripts of interrogations have survived in which suspects actually confessed to committing acts of sacrilege in churches and flying on the backs of goats, aided by the devil.

But the history of the Goatriders is really about the interpretation of historical events. We can’t take these simple, yet deceptive facts at face value.

As far as historians can tell, it all began with a string of small burglaries in the area around Kerkrade in 1741. When these crimes, which coincided with a surge in the number of wandering vagabonds in the area, were followed by a series of increasingly violent attacks on farms, as well as thefts from churches, local authorities came under a lot of pressure.

The hermitage between Valkenburg and Schin op Geul. It was robbed twice in the 1760s

Unable to lay hands on the vagabonds, who disappeared into neighbouring lands after committing their crimes, they focused their attention on the local unwanted elements of society: the poorest inhabitants of Limburg, who often had to steal food or firewood to survive.

Arrests were made following a burglary in 1741 and the authorities of Kerkrade tried to blame all the unsolved robberies on these prisoners.

Necessary confessions were obtained through various instruments of torture, which were first applied with a certain degree of caution, according to the laws of the time, but later with diminishing restraint.


More and more prisoners, succumbing to the pain and the relentless questioning of their accusers, started ‘confessing’. Too often they were pressed until they would call out names, most likely of innocent relatives, friends, neighbours. Prisoners would later often withdraw these ‘confessions’, but to no avail.

The number of prisoners grew rapidly, filling dungeons well over their capacity. The authorities, in the mistaken belief that they were dealing with an enormous widespread robber band, started panicking and began intensifying their persecution of the ‘godless’ criminals.

Mass executions
Most of the prisons where the Goatriders were locked up can still be visited today. Castles like the ones in Herzogenrath and Hoensbroek, the cellars in the basement of Maastrichts’s Tourist Information Centre, the prison tower next to the Saint Pancras church in Heerlen and the museum on Valkenburg’s Grotestraat (where a plaque commemorating the Goatriders’ trials can be found today)… all these places, and many more, were crammed with prisoners.


Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 11:11 PM
If you take the ferry across the Zuider Zee to the northern province of Friesland, you will land at a small town called Stavoren. Today it is little more than a ferry landing, a brief stop in the journey north. You’d never guess this was once one of the great port cities of Europe.

Yet so it was, many centuries ago. And so it might be still, if not for the choice made by a lady.

The fine harbor at Stavoren welcomed the ships of many countries, and many countries were visited by the ships of Stavoren. So rich and proud became the city’s merchants, they fitted their doors with handles and hinges of gold.

Among these merchants was a young widow, richest of the rich and proudest of the proud. They called her the Lady of Stavoren.

The Lady would stop at nothing to show herself better than her fellow merchants. She filled her palace with the most costly goods from wherever her ships made port. But her rivals always found the means to copy her.

“I must show them once and for all that I am their better,” she said to herself. “Somehow, I must get hold of the most precious thing in the world.”

One evening, the Lady attended a grand ball at the palace of another merchant. There she met a rich and handsome sea captain who had just sailed into Stavoren. He asked her for every dance.

At the end of the evening, the Captain kissed her hand. “My Lady, I was told you were the wealthiest woman in Stavoren. But no one warned me you were also the most charming.”

From then on, the Lady and the Captain were seen everywhere, her arm in his. And everywhere they went, people talked about what might come of it.

“She’ll marry him,” said one.

“She’ll send him away,” said another.

“She’ll keep him dangling,” said still another.

It was not long before the Captain knelt before her. “My Lady, will you honor me by becoming my wife?”

“Gladly, dear Captain,” said the Lady. “But there is one condition. As a wedding gift, you must bring me the most precious thing in the world.”

“The most precious thing? What is that? And where do I find it?”

“If I knew,” said the Lady gently, “I would have purchased it myself. I ask you to discover it and bring it to me.”

“I will do so, dear Lady!” declared the Captain. “Until I return, please wear this ruby ring as a token of my love.”

The next day, the Captain sailed from Stavoren in search of the most precious thing in the world.

Months passed. Everyone in Stavoren knew of the Captain’s quest. Wherever the Lady went, she heard people guessing what the most precious thing would be.

“A magnificent gown,” said one.

“A marvelous statue,” said another.

“A pearl as big as an egg,” said still another.

The Lady was delighted to be causing such a stir. “And how they will envy me,” she said to herself, “when my Captain returns with his gift!”

At long last, the Captain’s ship was sighted entering the harbor. The people of Stavoren streamed to the dock. When the Lady arrived, dressed in her finest, they made way.

The Captain’s ship was just docking. “My Lady,” he called, “I have brought what you desired! The most precious thing in the world!”

“What is it, my Captain?” called back the Lady, barely able to hold in her excitement.

“I visited many ports in many lands,” the Captain said. “I saw many wonderful things. None could I say was the most precious of all. But at last, in the city of Danzig, I came across it. Then I laughed at myself! I should have known it from the first!”

“But what is it?” said the Lady impatiently.

“Wheat!” cried the Captain. “My ship is filled with wheat!”

“Wheat?” said the Lady. Her face grew white. Behind her, she heard murmurs from the crowd, and laughing. “Did you say wheat?”

“Yes, dear Lady!” said the Captain joyously. “What could be more precious, more valuable, than wheat? Without our daily bread, what good are all the treasures of the world?”

The Lady was silent for a moment, listening to the whispers and snickers of the crowd. “And this wheat belongs to me, to do with as I like?”

“Yes, my love! It is my wedding gift to you!”

“Then,” said the Lady, “pour it into the harbor.”

“What?” Now the Captain’s own face was white.

“Pour it into the harbor! Every grain of it!”

Murmurs of horror and approval both rose behind her.

“My Lady,” said the Captain, “please consider what you say. There is wheat enough here to feed a city! If you have no use for it, then give it to the poor and hungry. After all, you too may someday be in need.”

“I?” shrieked the Lady. “In need?”

She plucked from her finger the ruby ring the Captain had given her and held it high. “This ring will return to my hand before I am ever in need.”

With all her might, she flung it far into the harbor.

The Captain watched as the ring hit the water and sank. Then he looked at the Lady on the dock, her face red with rage.

He spoke not another word to her, but turned to his men.

“Cast off!”

When the ship reached the harbor mouth, the Captain had his men pour all the wheat overboard. Then he sailed from the harbor, never to return.

The next day, the Lady held a grand feast for all the richest merchants of Stavoren. She spared no expense, to show that she still had every cause for pride.

A huge roast fish was set before her for carving. As she was about to cut into it, the Lady saw something glinting in the fish’s mouth. She pulled out the object and held it up.

The diners gasped. The Lady turned pale.

It was the ruby ring.

A few weeks later, fishermen found that a sand bar was building beneath the water at the harbor’s mouth. The discarded wheat had sprouted and grown, and was catching the sand that before had drifted freely.

Soon, the tall ships could not enter. The harbor was ruined, and with it went the fortunes of the city. Many of the merchants lost everything.

Among them was the Lady of Stavoren.

In the tiny town of Stavoren today, the sand bar is still called “Lady’s Sand”—a reminder how the Lady of Stavoren scorned the most precious thing in the world

(source. http://www.aaronshep.com/stories/017.html)

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 11:19 PM
In the North-East there is the story of the "Lambton Wyrm" (Old English for Dragon) which was being a nuisance, many knights cut it to pieces but it had the ability to reform itself and no knights could kill it. One knight consulted a witch who told him to use armour with spikes attached to it, for her services she request he kill the first animal to meet him after killing the wyrm he agreed and killed the dragon. He and his dad agreed that after he signalled the dragon was dead his dad would release some greyhounds for him to kill.

But his dad go so excited he forgot to release to the dogs and ran to see his victorious son, the knight couldnt bring himself to kill his dad and refused. As a result the witch put a curse on his family which caused the deaths of many following generations.

Also under the 4000 year old Silbury Hill is reputed to be the resting place of King Sil, a knight who wore Golden armour.

Thursday, June 9th, 2011, 06:08 AM

Johnny Appleseed (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), born John Chapman, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He became an American legend while still alive, largely because of his kind and generous ways, his great leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples.

He was raised on a small farm in Massachusetts. His favorite place was his father's apple orchard, as he loved apples. Whenever settlers passed by, he heard of fertile soils, and that inspired him to plant apple seeds through the frontier.

Land records show that John Chapman was in what is today Licking County, Ohio in 1800. Congress had passed resolutions in 1798 to give land there, ranging from 160 to 2,240 acres (65-900 hectares), to Revolutionary War veterans, but soldiers did not actually receive letters of patent to their grants until 1802. By the time the veterans arrived, John's nurseries, located on the Isaac Stadden farm, had trees big enough to transplant.

Nathaniel Chapman arrived with his second family and sister in 1805. At that point, the younger Nathaniel Chapman rejoined the elder, and his sister had married. John spent the rest of his life as an itinerant planter and sometime-preacher.

By 1806, when he arrived in Jackson County, Ohio, wading down the Ohio River with a load of seeds, he was known as Johnny Appleseed.

The popular image of Johnny Appleseed had him spreading apple seeds randomly, everywhere he went. In fact, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery.

Appleseed's managers were asked to sell trees on credit, if at all possible, but he would accept corn meal, cash or used clothing in barter. The notes did not specify an exact maturity date—that date might not be convenient—and if it did not get paid on time, or even get paid at all, Johnny Appleseed did not press for payment. Appleseed was hardly alone in this pattern of doing business, but he was unusual in remaining a wanderer his entire life.


Although this tells of the true historical Johnny Appleseed, all the children's books and references to him in 'popular culture' are of his legendary side.

Thursday, June 9th, 2011, 07:28 PM
A visitor to the River decided to take a walk along it in the cool of the evening. His host warned him that the mosquitos in the area had been acting up lately, tormenting the alligators until they moved down river. But, the visitor just laughed and told his host he wasn't about to be put off from his evening constitutional by a few mosquitos.

As he promenaded beside the flowing Mississippi, he heard the whirling sound of a tornado. Looking up he saw two mosquitos descend upon him. They lifted him striaght up in the air and carried him out over the river.

"Shall we eat him here or on the bank of the swamp"? he heard one ask the other. "We'd better eat him on the bank". Said the other. "Or else the big mosquitos will take him away from us".

Frightened near to death, the man lashed out at the mosquitos until they lost their grip and dropped him into the river. He was carried two miles downstream by the current before he was fished out by a river boat crew. The man left his host's house and the Mississippi River the next day and has never gone for another walk from that day to this.


Friday, June 10th, 2011, 04:30 PM
Now everyone in the West knows that Pecos Bill could ride anything. No bronco could throw him, no sir! Fact is, I only heard of Bill getting' throwed once in his whole career as a cowboy. Yep, it was that time he was up Kansas way and decided to ride him a tornado.

Now Bill wasn't gonna ride jest any tornado, no ma'am. He waited for the biggest gol-durned tornado you ever saw. It was turning the sky black and green, and roaring so loud it woke up the farmers away over in China. Well, Bill jest grabbed that there tornado, pushed it to the ground and jumped on its back. The tornado whipped and whirled and sidewinded and generally cussed its bad luck all the way down to Texas. Tied the rivers into knots, flattened all the forests so bad they had to rename one place the Staked Plains. But Bill jest rode along all calm-like, give it an occasional jab with his spurs.

Finally, that tornado decided it wasn't getting this cowboy off its back no-how. So it headed west to California and jest rained itself out. Made so much water it washed out the Grand Canyon. That tornado was down to practically nothing when Bill finally fell off. He hit the ground so hard it sank below sea level. Folks call the spot Death Valley.

Anyway, that's how rodeo got started. Though most cowboys stick to broncos these days.

Monday, July 25th, 2011, 03:47 PM
Here are two (very) short legends from Alsace :

The legend of the stork:


In ancient Egypt the stork was sacred, and anyone who attacked it was put to death. In Greece, was formerly called "law stork" the edict which required children to support their aged parents in distress. Today, in Orient and Alsace, this traditional respect and veneration still survive. Legends say that the stork is above all a good luck charm. When a girl sees a stork on the ground walking a few steps to meet her, it is said to be a sign of marriage in the year.
A very old feudal legend in Niederelsass said that storks incarnate the survival of the dead and had the mission to go down the wells to fetch the soul for the baby who was to come on earth. Today it's the stork that brings babies ...

The little man of the Saint Andrew's chapel:


One day, around the year 1230, the Master Architect Erwin de Steimbach, was inspecting the construction of the Strasbourg Cathedral. He saw a little man who was looking at the angels' pillar (see photo above), chuckling and shaking his head and shoulders with disdain. Intrigued by his strange behavior, Mr.Erwin asked him why he was doing that. The little man replied with a mocking and critical voice:
"Certainly, this pillar is beautiful and the angels are finely sculpted, but I fear that it will never support the weight of the vault. It will collapse, I tell you, causing one more drama to this often unfortunate building. Crazy is the one who conceived it ! I await the day of its fall! "

The architect, while scrutinizing the great and splendid pillar, said to the little guy:
"Follow me to the lodge of the stonemasons, sir."

Entrusting the proud little man to one of these sculptors, he ordered:
"Sculpt it, nose in the air, in the position of someone waiting."

The Stonemason chose a block, told the sickly guy not to move and put the traits of him on the stone with his large hammer. Shortly after, the sculpture was fixed above the door of the St. Andrew's chapel. Master Erwin then got the little man to come who was very surprised and flattered to see himself carved in this place and said:
"You will stay there and will not move, sir! You will wait there, fixed to the balustrade forevermore !"

This little guy is still at the same place, leaning on the balustrade of the St. Andrew's chapel. It's been seven centuries now and he is still waiting for the fall of the pillar (photo below shows his bust, which is really still there).


PS: I translated it by myself, so there may be some translation errors or poorly built sentences. if you find some, please tell me, either by post of by PM, so I can rectify, thanks.

Kudis III
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011, 12:56 AM
I can't recite the whole story but I read it in a book from my part of Sweden it goes kinda like: "I was out hunting when i suddenly saw two dogs glaring at me, they did not seem afraid of me, they almost ignored me and kept going, after a moment of thought I realised that they were on Odins Hunt"
Probably something same exists in other vikinglands, and this i wrote about is a tale given in 1800 something

Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 08:43 PM
A tale from mediaeval England (particularly Lincolnshire)

There was once a Danish king who had three little children, two girls and a boy named Havelok. When he was near death, he called for his best friend Godard, the man he believed truest, and made him promise to take good care of the children until Havelok should be old enough to become a knight. Now this Godard was a very wicked man. No sooner had the king died than he took the three little children, the oldest of whom was not yet five, and shut them in a cold, damp tower. Then he seized the whole kingdom of Denmark.

After he had taken possession of all the land, he went to the tower where the children were shivering with cold and faint with hunger. He killed the little girls, but he did not kill Havelok because the child cried so pitifully. Instead, he sent for a slave of his, a fisherman named Grim. "Grim," he said, "you know that you belong to me. Do my bidding and tomorrow I will set you free and give you gold and land besides. Take this child, tie an anchor around his neck so that he will sink, and throw him into the sea tonight at high tide. Let the sin be on my head."

Grim took the little boy and bound him tight with a strong line. Then he wrapped him in an old coat, stuffed rags into his mouth to keep him from crying, and carried him off on his back in a big black bag. When the fisherman reached his hut, he told Leve, his wife, of their great good fortune, how they would be made free on the morrow and receive gold and land besides. When Leve heard the news, she was so glad that she took the bag and threw it down with a bounce. The boy's head was hurt against a stone and he started to cry, but the rag in his mouth choked him. Then Grim and Leve went to bed leaving him on the hard stone floor.

At midnight Grim bade his wife stir the fire and bring a light so that he could see to get up and get ready to throw Havelok into the sea. As Leve went out to do so, she saw a bright light in the corner where the boy lay, just as if a sunbeam were shining from the old bag.

"Get up, Grim, and look. What does this mean?" she called.

Grim got up. They unbound Havelok and found the royal cross marked on his right shoulder.

"This is the true heir of Denmark," said Grim.

"He will grow up to be a strong king. He will punish the wicked Godard and hold all England and Denmark in his power.

Then Grim fell at the boy's feet and promised to serve and care for him. He knew that Havelok was the only one who could set him free, for Havelok was the only lawful ruler of Denmark.

Havelok was indeed happy to be let out of the big black bag. "Please give me something to eat," he said. "I am almost dead from hunger and the hurt of the bands on my hands and the rag in my mouth." Leve brought him bread and cheese and butter and milk and pasties. Havelok was so hungry that he ate a whole loaf of bread. Then Grim undressed him and put him to bed on a soft couch. The next morning Grim went to Godard and told him that he really had thrown Havelok into the sea. Instead of rewarding Grim as he had promised, Godard drove him away with hard words and threats.

Now Grim knew that if Godard ever found out the truth, he would kill Havelok and Grim and his family, too. So Grim secretly sold his corn and his sheep and his cattle and his horse and his swine and his geese and his hens. Then he strengthened his boat with a new mast and sail and stout cables and oars. When there was not a nail more wanting, he went aboard ship with his wife and three sons and two daughters and young Havelok. When they were about a mile from shore, a north wind arose and drove them to England. There Grim settled by the shore and built a little earthen hut for his family. The place where he lived is called Grimsby to this very day.

Grim was a clever fisherman and could make a good living with his net and line. He made strong baskets in which to carry his fish to sell in the town and country round about. In the morning he and his sons would set out with their baskets full of fish and in the evening would always return with those same baskets full of bread and flour and corn and beans. Whenever Grim caught a great lamprey, he carried it to the town of Lincoln and came back with his bags full of meal, mutton, pork, and hemp for the making of fishlines.

In this way they lived for twelve years. They would not let Havelok work because he was a king's son. It made him very sad to have to lie idle at home while Grim and his sons worked hard to support him.

"I am no longer a baby," he said at last. "I can eat more than Grim and all his five children. I must work for my living. It is no shame to work. I will set out tomorrow.

On the next morning Havelok set forth and in his basket he carried more fish than all the other four. He carried it well and sold it well. At night he gave over all the money to Grim and did not keep back a penny of what he had earned.

After that, he went out to sell every day. Soon there came a great famine in the land. Grim could not get enough corn and bread to feed all his family. He was especially afraid on Havelok's account, for Havelok was big and strong and could eat more fish than could be pulled from the sea.

"Havelok," he said, "I am afraid we must die, for we are hungry and have no bread. It will be better for you to go away. In the town of Lincoln lives many a good man in whose service you may earn a living. You had better go there; but, alas, you have no clothes. I must cut you a coat out of my sail or you will take cold." He took the shears down from a nail and made of the sail a new coat for Havelok. Havelok put it on, but he had no stockings or shoes and had to walk barefoot to Lincoln.

He had no friend in Lincoln and knew nowhere to go. For two whole days and nights he wandered around the streets without finding anything to eat, for no one would give him any work to do. On the third day came a call of "Porters, porters, all come here!" It was the Earl of Cornwall's cook, who wanted some one to carry home the meat he had bought at the market. Like a spark from the fire, Havelok jumped forward. He pushed down nine or ten men in his way, left them lying on the ground, and pressed forward to the cook. He took the earl's meat and carried it to the castle. For pay he received a penny loaf of bread.

The next day he watched for the cook near the market and soon saw him with many fish, which he had bought for the Earl of Cornwall. At the call for porters, Havelok knocked down in a heap sixteen stout men who stood in his way and took up a whole cartload of fish on his head.

Then he did not stop a moment until he reached the castle, where men took the load from his head. The cook, seeing what a strong man he was, said to him, "Will you work for me? I shall be glad to feed you, for the meat which you eat is well spent."

"Kind sir," Havelok answered, "I ask nothing better. Give me enough to eat, and I will serve you in any way you wish. I can fetch and carry, break sticks, kindle and blow the fire, skin eels, and wash dishes."

"That is all I wish," said the cook. "Go sit over there and eat all the bread and broth you want." So Havelok lived on at the castle and ate and worked. He carried heavy burdens gladly. He always spoke cheerfully. The little children in the meadows loved to play with him. All men of high and low degree spoke of his strength and beauty and gentleness. Still he had nothing to wear but the old coat made out of a sail. The cook was sorry for that and bought him brand new garments and stockings and shoes. When he was dressed in the new clothes, he seemed the handsomest man in all the world. At the Lincoln games, he stood taller by head and shoulders than the strongest man there.

In those days Earl Godrich of Cornwall had all England in his power, even though he was not himself king. The real king had died, leaving his little daughter, Goldburgh, in the care of Earl Godrich. He had promised to protect her and her country until she was of age and then to find her the handsomest and strongest man in England for a husband. So Earl Godrich had all the power in England in his hands until Princess Goldburgh should be twenty. He could send judges and establish courts all over the kingdom, appoint sheriffs and hangmen, and set swordsmen to rid the forests of robbers and bandits. As time went on, he could not bear to think of ever losing all his power and serving Goldburgh. He was a wicked man and cared nothing for his promises. He sent Goldburgh from the royal palace at Winchester to the seashore at Dover. There he shut her in a gloomy castle and kept her for many long, lonely years.

Now Earl Godrich had brought into Lincoln many strong men--earls, barons, champions, and bondsmen. Each year they held a contest of strength. One of the favorite games at these contests was called "Putting the Stone." Many had noticed the great strength of Havelok and at last some one asked him to try his hand at the game. He picked up the huge stone, lifted it above his head, and threw it twelve feet and more beyond the mark of the champions. Then talk of his strength spread more than ever until it even reached the ears of Earl Godrich. When Godrich heard of the strength and beauty of his cook's servant, he said to himself, "This Havelok seems to be the strongest and handsomest man in all England. I will marry Goldburgh to him. Then I can keep all the power in England myself, for, if Goldburgh is married to a man below her rank, she will lose the right to the English throne."

He brought Goldburgh to Lincoln with great ringing of bells and told her that he would give her to the fairest man alive. Goldburgh answered that she would marry no man but a king or a king's son. Then Godrich was very, very angry.

"You never will be mistress over me, my fine lady," said he. "Tomorrow you are to marry my cook's servant."

The next morning, when the bell at daybreak had rung, Earl Godrich sent for Havelok and said, "Do you want to marry, sir?"

"No," answered Havelok, "for how can I keep a wife? I can neither feed nor clothe her. I have no house nor stick nor sprout nor bread nor cloth, except a piece of an old sail. Even the clothes I wear belong to the cook, and I am his servant."

Then Godrich had him seized and beaten, and threatened to put his eyes out if he did not marry. So he forced Havelok to agree to be married. By threatening to burn Goldburgh alive, he forced her, also, to obey his commands. Soon Havelok and Goldburgh were married hard and fast. Now Havelok knew that Earl Godrich hated Goldburgh and would put her to shame if she stayed in Lincoln as the wife of a kitchen servant.

So he decided to take her back to the faithful Grim and his family. When Havelok and Goldburgh reached Grimsby, they found that Grim was dead, but his five children were still living.

They ran out joyfully to greet Havelok. Grim had left them horses and cattle and gold and silver. They offered to give all to Havelok and Goldburgh and to serve them faithfully. They built a roaring fire and spared neither goose nor hen to make a wedding feast.

That night Goldburgh lay awake grieving because she had been forced to marry the cook's servant and lose her right to the English throne. Suddenly she saw a light as bright as ten candles shining from Havelok's mouth. She was astonished. As she looked more closely, she saw a cross of red gold glowing on his shoulder. Then she heard a strange voice saying, "Goldburgh, sorrow no more, for Havelok is a king's son. He will rule over all Denmark and England and you will live to be queen of two countries."

The next morning Havelok told Goldburgh that he had dreamed a marvelous dream. It seemed that he was in Denmark on a high hill overlooking all the country. As he stretched out his arms to it, they grew so long that they surrounded the whole land, and when he went to draw them back, castles and towns clung to them, and keys fell at his feet. Then he dreamed that the same thing happened to him in England. Goldburgh told him that the dream meant that some day he would hold both England and Denmark in his power. She advised him to take Grim's three sons, Robert the Red, William Wendath, and Hugh Raven, and go at once to Denmark.

So Havelok and Goldburgh and the three brothers set forth for Denmark. They went disguised as travelling merchants. When they arrived at the province ruled by Ubbe, a great Danish earl, they asked him for permission to trade throughout the country and made sure of his friendship by giving him a gold ring. Then Ubbe asked Havelok to meet him at his castle and there feasted him and Goldburgh with the best of everything. After dinner he sent them to the house of Bernard Brun, the best man in town, to pass the night.

As they were all sitting at supper, sixty strong thieves attacked the house with long knives and swords. They broke the door through. Havelok jumped up, pulled up the door post for a weapon, and slew three at the first stroke. He gouged out the eye of the fourth and hit him on the head, struck the fifth on the shoulders, and broke the neck of the sixth. Still they all rushed on him like a pack of wolves and struck at him with stones, clubs, and swords until his blood flowed from twenty wide wounds as water from a spring. Yet he fought on and on until he had twenty men lying dead around him.

Hugh Raven heard the great clamor and, looking out, saw men beating on Havelok as blacksmiths beat upon an anvil. He called to his brothers to take up weapons and follow him. Robert the Red gripped a staff and William Wendath a club. Their host, Bernard Brun, held his ax. Then they sprang out like wild men and broke arms and knees and shanks and thighs and heads. They killed the whole sixty thieves.

In the morning Earl Ubbe heard of the fight and the strength of the stranger. He went at once to the house of Bernard Brun. There he found Havelok sorely wounded, but his leech said that Havelok's wounds could be cured. Earl Ubbe was so struck by Havelok's strength and fairness that he took him to the castle and put him in the room next to his own. That night he saw a light bright as day shining out of the room where Havelok lay.

"At this time of night only a thief has a light," he said to himself. "I must go and see what it means.

He went into the room where Havelok was sleeping. From Havelok's mouth came the bright light and on his bare shoulder glowed the cross, red as a ruby. Ubbe knew that these were signs of royalty and came closer. Then he noticed that no brothers could look more alike than this stranger and the former King of Denmark, and he knew that Havelok must be the King's son. He fell at Havelok's feet and kissed them until Havelok awoke. At first Havelok suspected some treachery, but Ubbe's promises to be faithful to him showed him that here indeed was a valuable friend.

The next morning, Ubbe made Havelok a knight. Then he called together all the people in his province and told them that Havelok was the real ruler of Denmark and that Godard was a traitor. They all swore allegiance to Havelok. Next, Ubbe sent messages far and wide throughout Denmark to summon all the barons and knights and sheriffs. When they were all at his castle, he told them that he had found their King's son.

Then Havelok was crowned King of Denmark. There was feasting for forty days. The nobles jousted, wrestled, put the stone, and hunted the wild boar. In the evening, the gleeman played upon the harp and the drum and sang ballads and read romances. King Havelok rewarded Robert the Red, William Wendath, and Hugh Raven by making them barons and giving them each broad lands and twenty knights to serve them.

As soon as the celebration was over, King Havelok and his barons set out to find the wicked Godard. Robert the Red was the first to come upon his tracks. When they all found him, he fought terribly. Even after his own knights had run away from him, he wounded and killed twelve of Havelok's men. At last he was captured and bound and cast into prison.

Then Havelok and Goldburgh and a large company of Danish knights sailed back to England and landed at Grimsby. When Earl Godrich of Cornwall heard that Havelok had become king of Denmark and that he and his queen, the true heir of England, had come to Grimsby, he commanded all his knights to join him at Lincoln.

Whoever disobeyed the command would be made a slave and held in slavery forever. When they had come together, he told them that the Danes were at Grimsby threatening to capture England. They all jumped to their horses and hurried to find the enemy at Grimsby. There a mighty battle was fought, and many brave deeds were done.

The fight lasted from sunrise until sunset. The wicked Godrich wounded Ubbe sorely and attacked the Danes and struck them to the ground on every side until Havelok came riding down upon his warhorse. Godrich cleft Havelok's shield in two. For a moment it seemed as though he would win. Then Havelok struck off Godrich's sword hand. After that he took him by the neck, bound him in chains, and sent him to Queen Goldburgh. He commanded that no man harm Godrich, for he was a knight and had the right to a fair trial by his fellow knights.

The Englishmen soon found that Havelok was a just ruler and that his wife, the fair Goldburgh, was the true heir to their kingdom. They came to Havelok and promised to serve him and they hailed Goldburgh as their own queen. They wanted to hang the traitor, Godrich, at once, but Havelok bade them wait for his trial by the knights. The knights tried him and sentenced him to death.

Then Havelok received an oath of allegiance from the English and was crowned King of England. He rewarded all his old friends generously, even the cook, whom he made Earl of Cornwall in Godrich's place. He sent all his Danish subjects home with many rich presents and appointed Ubbe to rule in Denmark in his name. After this King Havelok and Queen Goldburgh ruled happily in England for sixty years and had fifteen children, of whom every son became a king and every daughter a queen.

source: http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/story/havelok.asp

Van Wellenkamp
Friday, January 27th, 2012, 12:59 AM
I know this is not a European tale. But it is an old tale from near were I grew up in Illinois. I remember seeing it painted on the cliffs over the Mississippi river. It is very interesting.

The Piasa Bird (pronounced Pie-a-saw), is a local legend in the Alton area. Its foundings go back to 1673 when Father Jacques Marquette, in recording his famous journey down the Mississippi River with Louis Joliet, described the "Piasa" as a birdlike monster painted high on the bluffs along the Mississippi River, where the city of Alton, Illinois now stands.
According to the diary, the Piasa "was as large as a calf with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger's, a face like a man, the body covered with green, red and black scales and a tail so long it passed around the body, over the head and between the legs."

The creature was given its name by the Illini Indians, "The Piasa", meaning a bird that devours men.

There are many legends regarding its origin.
One of the more popular accounts goes like this ...

Many moons ago, there existed a birdlike creature of such great size, he could easily carry off a full grown deer in his talons. His taste, however, was for human flesh. Hundreds of warriors attempted to destroy the Piasa, but failed. Whole villages were destroyed and fear spread throughout the Illini tribe. Ouatoga, a chief whose fame extended even beyond the Great Lakes, separated himself from his tribe, fasted in solitude for the space of a whole moon, and prayed to the Great Spirit to protect his people from the Piasa.
On the last night of his fast, the Great Spirit appeared to Ouatoga in a dream and directed him to select 20 warriors, arm them each with a bow and poisoned arrow, and conceal them in a designated spot. Another warrior was to stand in an open view, as a victim for the Piasa.
When the chief awoke in the morning, he told the tribe of his dream. The warriors were quickly selected and placed in ambush. Ouatoga offered himself as the victim. Placing himself in open view, he soon saw the Piasa perched on the bluff eyeing his prey. Ouatoga began to chant the death song of a warrior. The Piasa took to the air and swooped down upon the chief. The Piasa had just reached his victim when every bow was sprung and every arrow sent sailing into the body of the beast. The Piasa uttered a fearful scream that echoed down the river, and died. Ouatoga was safe, and the tribe saved.

The re-creation of the original painting (one version is depicted in the image at the top of this page), has been a local landmark and, until just recently, could be seen on the bluff just north of Alton on the Great River Road. Due to weather damage and an increase in local traffic, the painting had been removed for restoration and relocation.
UPDATE! -The Piasa Bird now rules over the River Bend once again. Through the efforts of local citizens , government and business advocates, the painting on the bluff has been restored.

Van Wellenkamp
Friday, January 27th, 2012, 01:05 AM
Found some good pictures of the Piasa Bird.

Friday, January 27th, 2012, 02:01 AM
The Tale of Beth Gelert


In Wales, long ago, when the trees were still young, in a palace of stone on the banks of the Conwy, lived Llywelyn ap Iorwerth - Llywelyn Fawr - Llywelyn the Great - Lord of Snowdon, and his wife - Joan - daughter of the King of all England.

When Princess Joan first came from England she brought Prince Llywelyn a royal gift from King John as part of her dowry - a magnificent
wolf-hound - with legs long and limber, back sturdy yet supple, and the strength of all Ireland in its large Irish paws. A dog which terrorised the wild wolves for miles around and gently teased the stately palace cat. Llywelyn and the hound Gelert became inseparable companions.

Prince Llywelyn, his retinue and his pack of wolf-hounds often stayed at a hunting lodge in the mountains, and in the autumn they would hunt deer amongst the steep wooded valleys. One day when Llywelyn was out hunting his faithful hound Gelert went missing, and Llywelyn returned to the lodge alone.

He found Gelert there: limping, panting; his jaws dripping, drooling; his black coat clotted and matted with blood. And in the far corner of the room the cradle of Llywelyn's baby son was overturned and empty; the baby's fur coverings shredded and torn; the worn flagstones smeared with fresh blood.

Prince Llywelyn stood tall and grim. He withdrew his sword from its scabbard and held the sword high and his eyes tightly closed. The blade flashed down, plunging deeply into the treacherous hound who had killed his small boy.

But Gelert's dying cry was answered by the cry of a child. Llywelyn searched and found his son, alive and unharmed, hidden by the cradle. At the side, slain by Gelert in a fierce struggle to protect the baby, slumped the body of a mighty wolf, its shaggy throat ripped and yawning with the blackest of blood.

The sad prince buried Gelert with honour in a meadow by the River Glaslyn not far from the lodge. He erected two large stones, one at the dog's head and one at its feet, to mark the grave. Then Llywelyn built a church close by, dedicated to St Mary, as an offering to god for the saving of his son.

But the village which grew up around the church took its name from the grave of Gelert - Bedd Gelert in Welsh - and in the long years after Gelert's death Prince Llywelyn, it is said, never smiled again.

I always found this quite a sad story.:~(