As mentioned in my previous blog entry…
“Some people believe Berthe de Laon (726 to 783), the Mother of Charlemagne, was Mother Goose. She became queen of the Francs when she married Pépin le Bref . One of her feet was bigger than the other, and so she was known by her subjects as ‘Berthe au grand pied’ (in English ‘big-footed Bertha’). Berthe may also be the original model for la ‘Reine Pédauque’ (in English ‘Queen Goosefoot’), a figure of French legend, whose statue is found in front of some churches in France.”
As I read more, I have found that some people believe Mother Goose was another Berthe. This Berthe married King Robert II of France (Robert the Pious 970-1013), despite the fact that they were cousins. Pope Gregory V excommunicated Robert II for this. I keep coming across references in French about the couple giving birth to a goose. Perhaps they gave birth to a deformed child that people thought looked a little like a goose?
Meanwhile, if we switch to mythology, we find other instances of Bertha, often associated with children. Bertha is the Norse goddess of spinning. In German mythology, Bertha, is also known as Berchta. I found different references to Berchta as being: the goddess of growing things, the guardian of the souls of unborn babies, a fertility goddess. Sometimes she has a goosefoot and other times she has a golden spindle. At times she’s called Berta, dressed in white, who soothes babies while their caretakers sleep.
To confuse matters ever further, the goddess Bertha is also sometimes called Fru Gode and, it’s possible that she’s connected with Fru Gosen, which might be the German name for Mother Goose. *
Could the truth be that Mother Goose is a combination of one of the Queen Bertha’s of France, combined with the borrowed mythology of the goddess Bertha?
This could explain the origin of the legendary French figure, Goose-footed Bertha, who is usually portrayed as having children surrounding her, listening to her stories while she’s at the spinning wheel. Her foot got flattened from working the treadle for years.
*I originally read this in several places. Since then I’ve read that “Fru Gosen” may have been a mistranslation into English. Or it’s possible that it’s an old figure who didn’t make into into current folklore. If any knows more about Fru Gosen, please write me. Thanks! Lisa – UPDATE: Since then I’ve checked with several people from Germany, none of them were familiar with a German Mother Goose figure.
Many thanks to Monique for helping with the French connections. Monique is my partner in Mother Goosedom at Mama Lisa’s World en français.
This article was posted on Saturday, October 1st, 2005 at 7:47 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, English, English Nursery Rhymes, France, Germany, History of Nursery Rhymes, History of Nursery Rhymes, Languages, Mother Goose, Nursery Rhymes, The History of Mother Goose, United Kingdom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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