Katie Woodencloak

Katie Woodencloak

Katie Woodencloak or Kari Woodengown is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in "Norske Folkeeventyr". [Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, "Norske Folkeeventyr", [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/asbjornsenmoe/katiewoodencloak.html "Katie Woodencloak"] ] Andrew Lang included it in "The Red Fairy Book". [Andrew Lang, "The Red Fairy Book", [http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/103.htm "Kari Woodengown"] ]

It is Aarne-Thompson type 510A, the persecuted heroine. Others of this type include "Cinderella", "The Sharp Grey Sheep", "The Golden Slipper", "The Story of Tam and Cam", "Rushen Coatie", "The Wonderful Birch", and "Fair, Brown and Trembling". [Heidi Anne Heiner, " [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/other.html Tales Similar to Cinderella] "]


A king with a daughter married a widowed queen with a daughter. He had to go off to war, and the stepmother maltreated and starved her stepdaughter. A dun bull helped the step-daughter, telling her that she would find a cloth in his left ear. When she spread the cloth, she had all the food she needed. The queen discovered this. When the king returned, the queen feigned sickness and then bribed a doctor to say that she needed the flesh of the dun bull to be well again.

The princess told the bull, who told her they must flee.

They passed through a wood of copper. Although the bull told her not to break any branches, she broke off a leaf. The bull told her to keep the leaf and not lose it under any circumstances. A troll roared that they were touching his wood, and he and the bull fought. The bull won, but the princess had to cure him with a horn of ointment that the troll carried on his person.

The same happened in a silver wood and a golden one, so she had a silver leaf and golden apple as well.

They came to a castle. The bull gave her a wooden cloak and told her to ask for work at the castle as "Katie Woodencloak". But first she must cut off his head, flay him, and put the hide away in the rock with the leaves and apple. Then she should knock on the stone whenever she needed anything. She did not want to, but he finally persuaded her.

She got work in the scullery, and one day she carried water to the prince for bathing. He, not wanting water from such a filthy creature, threw it over her. She went to the rock and had herself magnificiently dressed in copper to go to church, and the prince fell in love with her at once. She told him she came from Bath and used a charm to keep him from following her, but he had caught one of her gloves.

A second time, she brought him a towel, to the same treatment, and went to church dressed in silver. She told the prince she came from Towelland, and she dropped her riding whip.

A third time, she brought him a comb, to the same treatment, and went to church dressed in gold. She told the prince she came from Combland, and he got her golden shoe.

The king had all women come to try on the shoe, and it fit Katie's stepsister. A bird warned the prince that the step-sister had cut her foot to fit in the shoe, and sang that it was Katie Woodencloak's shoe.

Having disposed of the false bride, the prince asked after Katie Woodencloak. Though he was warned off, he insisted, so they married and lived happily ever after.


Although this is of the type of "Cinderella" in that she is persecuted by her stepmother, most of that type do not include her being driven off, a motif more usually found in type 510B, such as "Catskin" and "Cap O' Rushes", where the heroine is persecuted by her father.

One may also note that, according to Norwegian custom, the couple meet at Church, not at a royal ball. In Norway, the church plays a prominent role in many fairy-tales, as this was a common place for meetings.

In Norway, other versions of the story bear greater resemblance to the classical Cinderella story. In these versions, it is the girl's dead mother that aids her. These versions are written down in Valdres and Telemark, and the girl is called Kirsti or Åse (the latter wearing a dirty leather dress).

ee also

*Black Bull of Norroway


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