A long time ago there were a king and queen who were
unhappy because they were childless. But it happened that once when the queen was bathing, a frog crept out of
the water on to the land, and said to her, "Your wish shall be fulfilled,
before a year has gone by, you shall have a daughter."
What the frog had said came true, and the queen had a little girl who was so
pretty that the king could not contain himself for joy, and ordered a great
feast. He invited not only his kindred, friends and acquaintances, but also
the wise women, in order that they might be kind and well disposed towards
the child. There were thirteen of them in his kingdom, but, as he had only
twelve golden plates for them to eat out of, one of them had to be left at
The feast was held with all manner of splendor and when it came to an end
the wise women bestowed their magic gifts upon the baby - one gave virtue,
another beauty, a third riches, and so on with everything in the world that
one can wish for.
When eleven of them had made their promises, suddenly the thirteenth came
in. She wished to avenge herself for not having been invited, and without
greeting, or even looking at anyone, she cried with a loud voice, "The
king's daughter shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle,
and fall down dead." And, without saying a word more, she turned round and
left the room.
They were all shocked, but the twelfth, whose good wish still remained
unspoken, came forward, and as she could not undo the evil sentence, but
only soften it, she said, it shall not be death, but a deep sleep of a
hundred years, into which the princess shall fall.
The king, who would fain keep his dear child from the misfortune, gave
orders that every spindle in the whole kingdom should be burnt. Meanwhile
the gifts of the wise women were plenteously fulfilled on the young girl,
for she was so beautiful, modest, good-natured, and wise, that everyone who
saw her was bound to love her.
It happened that on the very day when she was fifteen years old, the king
and queen were not at home, and the maiden was left in the palace quite
alone. So she went round into all sorts of places, looked into rooms and
bed-chambers just as she liked, and at last came to an old tower. She
climbed up the narrow winding staircase, and reached a little door. A rusty
key was in the lock, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there
in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, busily spinning her flax.
"Good day, old mother," said the king's daughter, "what are you doing
"I am spinning," said the old woman, and nodded her head.
"What sort of thing is that, that rattles round so merrily," said the girl,
and she took the spindle and wanted to spin too. But scarcely had she
touched the spindle when the magic decree was fulfilled, and she pricked her
finger with it.
And, in the very moment when she felt the prick, she fell down upon the bed
that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep. And this sleep extended over the
whole palace, the king and queen who had just come home, and had entered the
great hall, began to go to sleep, and the whole of the court with them. The
horses, too, went to sleep in the stable, the dogs in the yard, the pigeons
upon the roof, the flies on the wall, even the fire that was flaming on the
hearth became quiet and slept, the roast meat left off frizzling, and the
cook, who was just going to pull the hair of the scullery boy, because he
had forgotten something, let him go, and went to sleep. And the wind fell,
and on the trees before the castle not a leaf moved again.
But round about the castle there began to grow a hedge of thorns, which
every year became higher, and at last grew close up round the castle and all
over it, so that there was nothing of it to be seen, not even the flag upon
the roof. But the story of the beautiful sleeping Briar Rose, for so the
princess was named, went about the country, so that from time to time kings'
sons came and tried to get through the thorny hedge into the castle. But
they found it impossible, for the thorns held fast together, as if they had
hands, and the youths were caught in them, could not get loose again, and
died a miserable death.
After long, long years a king's son came again to that country, and heard an
old man talking about the thorn hedge, and that a castle was said to stand
behind it in which a wonderfully beautiful princess, named Briar Rose, had
been asleep for a hundred years, and that the king and queen and the whole
court were asleep likewise. He had heard, too, from his grandfather, that
many kings, sons had already come, and had tried to get through the thorny
hedge, but they had remained sticking fast in it, and had died a pitiful
Then the youth said, "I am not afraid, I will go and see the beautiful Briar
Rose." The good old man might dissuade him as he would, he did not listen to
But by this time the hundred years had just passed, and the day had come
when Briar Rose was to awake again. When the king's son came near to the
thorn hedge, it was nothing but large and beautiful flowers, which parted
from each other of their own accord, and let him pass unhurt, then they
closed again behind him like a hedge. In the castle yard he saw the horses
and the spotted hounds lying asleep, on the roof sat the pigeons with their
heads under their wings. And when he entered the house, the flies were
asleep upon the wall, the cook in the kitchen was still holding out his hand
to seize the boy, and the maid was sitting by the black hen which she was
going to pluck.
He went on farther, and in the great hall he saw the whole of the court
lying asleep, and up by the throne lay the king and queen. Then he went on
still farther, and all was so quiet that a breath could be heard, and at
last he came to the tower, and opened the door into the little room where
Briar Rose was sleeping.
There she lay, so beautiful that he could not turn his eyes away, and he
stooped down and gave her a kiss. But as soon as he kissed her, Briar Rose
opened her eyes and awoke, and looked at him quite sweetly.
Then they went down together, and the king awoke, and the queen, and the
whole court, and looked at each other in great astonishment. And the horses
in the courtyard stood up and shook themselves, the hounds jumped up and
wagged their tails, the pigeons upon the roof pulled out their heads from
under their wings, looked round, and flew into the open country, the flies
on the wall crept again, the fire in the kitchen burned up and flickered and
cooked the meat, the joint began to turn and sizzle again, and the cook gave
the boy such a box on the ear that he screamed, and the maid finished
plucking the fowl.
And then the marriage of the king's son with Briar Rose was celebrated with
all splendor, and they lived contented to the end of their days.
Back to Fairytales Main