King Thrushbeard is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 52.

A beautiful, but spoiled, rude, and shallow princess criticizes all her suitors because she is too proud. She is impressed with the last of her suitors, but her pride will not let her accept him. He is a young king with such a thick beard that she dubs him King Thrushbeard. The young king leaves in anger. Her father, exasperated and angry that she has scorned all her suitors, vows that the first man who comes to the palace the next day will become her husband. Meanwhile, an unknown stranger overhears the conversation.

When a young minstrel with a clean shaven face appears in the palace the next day, the king offers his daughter’s hand in marriage. The minstrel disapproves of marrying the princess immediately as she does not look strong nor does she appear to be capable of any practical work. However, he notes the poor cannot be choosy and agrees to marry her. The princess opposes vehemently because he is a commoner, but the king has given his word. She marries the minstrel, who takes her away from the palace to his home.

As they travel to the minstrel’s home, they pass by the fine lands and properties that belong to King Thrushbeard, and the princess begins to regret scorning him. They arrive at the minstrel’s home, a house fit only for swine. The minstrel treats her as though she was a commoner and the princess is upset that she must now work for a living. The minstrel has her doing practical chores and selling pottery, at which she is completely inept. Thoroughly annoyed at his new wife, he tells her the only job left her is to work as a servant at the nearby castle of a young king: King Thrushbeard.

The princess is initially ashamed that she must work in the palace of a suitor she so harshly scorned and deeply regrets doing so, but puts her pride aside when she realizes that her husband is depending on her to help out with the household. Eventually, she swallows the last of her pride and becomes so compassionate that she will throw scraps of food to the mice who live in their home because she realizes they are hungry too.

Just as her life is going smoothly, the princess discovers one day King Thrushbeard is getting married. She is forced into the great hall for a dance. The dance bursts her pockets open, in which she kept table scraps the servants gave her. They spill all over the floor and everybody laughs. She is so embarrassed she flees the hall and begins to cry.

However, much to the princess’ surprise, someone helps her up. Dressed in finery is the minstrel, who smiles and asks why she is crying on her wedding day. The princess is shocked to discover the minstrel is really King Thrushbeard. He fell in love with her despite her scorn and secretly married her through her father’s vow. Her ordeals were meant to cure her of her proud, spoiled ways. She thanks him for teaching her to be compassionate to others and asks before the whole court that he grow his beard once again. Her husband, from then on, is known by no other name but King Thrushbeard.

Mercury Records.


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