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Thread: Old Legends and Nice Tales from Your Country

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    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.

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    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

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    HAVELOK THE DANE
    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/nec...ry/havelok.asp
    Engle & Seaxe up becoman,
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    eorlas arhwate eard begeatan.

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    The Piasa Bird

    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.

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    Piasa Bird

    Found some good pictures of the Piasa Bird.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	110231   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	040605_piasa_bird_caves.jpg 
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    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.

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