A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 16 – The King of England and His Three Sons to The Princess That Wore a Rabbit Skin Dress


In many ways, fairy tales and folk tales tend to overlap. After all, many of these fairy tales have been part of these cultures for years. And it could be centuries before any of them are written down. Though there are some fairy tales that are original literary creations like the ones by Hans Christen Andersen. Nonetheless, they certainly borrow elements from other tales like Andersen does with the Grimms. Anyway in this installment, I bring you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, is an English Romani tale about a king and his 3 sons. Second, we come to an Irish story of an Irish king hooking up with a queen of a lonesome island. Third are 2 Scottish tales about a soldier’s son and a king who wished to marry his daughter. After that are 2 American tales about princesses wearing outfits of catskin and rabbit skin. Then we find a Grimm tale about a princess who wears all kinds of fur. Next, is an Italian story about a prince and a very friendly she-bear. Finally, we get to 2 English stories about women who wear coats of moss and rags.

151. The King of England and His Three Sons


The Romani-English fairy tale, The King of England and His Three Sons is about 3 princes going to search for golden apples. Let’s just say, it mostly focuses on the youngest son.

From: Romani and England
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Francis Hindes Groome in his In Gypsy Tents.
Best Known Version: The Joseph Jacobs version in his More English Fairy Tales.
Synopsis: An old king can be cured only by golden apples from a far country. His 3 sons set out to find them and part ways at a crossroads. The youngest son finds a house in the forest where an old man greets him as a king’s son. He then tells the prince to put his horse and have something to eat. After the meal, the prince asks the old man how he knew he’s a king’s son (cause he doesn’t have shit all over him). The man replies he knows many things including what the prince is doing (creepy). He tells the prince he has to stay there for the night, though many snakes and toads would crawl over him, and if he stirs, would turn into one himself. Though the prince gets little sleep, he doesn’t stir. The next morning, the old man gives him breakfast, a horse, and a ball of yarn to throw between the horse’s ears. When the prince throws and chases it, he comes to the old man’s brother, who’s uglier than the first one. He receives the same hospitality and the same unpleasant night before the guy sends him off to a third and uglier brother.

At the third brother’s, the old man tells the prince he must go to a castle where he must tell swans to bear him over the lake to the building. Giants, lions, and dragons guard it, but they’d be asleep. So he must go in at 1 o’clock and come out again by 2. He must go through some grand rooms, go down into the kitchen, and then go out into the garden. There, he must pick the apples. He should go back the same way, and when riding off, never look back because they’d pursue him until he nearly reaches the old man’s house. The prince goes to bed and the brother assures him that nothing would disturb him and nothing does. The next morning, the old man warns him not to tarry because of a beautiful woman.

The prince reaches the castle by the swans and sees a beautiful woman there. He exchanges his garter, gold watch, and pocket-handkerchief for hers, and kisses her. He then gets the apples and has to flee at full speed since the hour’s nearly up. But he escapes. The old man brings him to a well and insists that the prince cut off his head and throw it in. This turns him into a young, handsome man, and the house into a palace. At the second brother’s, the prince receives a new bed without snakes or toads and cuts off his head off, and then the same with the first.

The prince meets up with his brothers who steal his apples, put others in their place, and go on before him. When he returns home, his apples aren’t as good as his brothers.’ His dad thinks they’re poisoned and tells his headsman to cut his head off. But the guy just takes the prince into the woods and leaves him there. A bear approaches. The prince climbs a tree until the bear persuades him to come down, brings him some tents, where they make him welcome, and changes into a handsome young man named Jubal. The prince stays with them and is happy. Though he loses the golden watch somewhere. One day, he sees it in the tree he climbed to hide from the bear. He climbs to get it again. Meanwhile, realizing that one of the princes has been there, sets out with an army. Reaching the king, she demands to see his sons. When the oldest comes, he lies about being at the castle. But when she throws down the handkerchief and he walks over it, he breaks his leg. The second prince does the same and receives the same injury. The princess demands of the king whether he has more sons. The king sends for the headsman who confesses to not killing the prince. The king says he must find him to save the king’s life. They find Jubal pointing to the tree where prince is before telling him that he must come down since a lady’s looking for him. And they bring Jubal with them. He doesn’t break his leg over the handkerchief so the princess knows he’s the prince. They marry and the prince goes back to her castle.

Other Versions: Included in The Red King and the Witch: Gypsy Folk and Fairy Tales by Ruth Manning Sanders as “An Old King and His Three Sons of England.”
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

152. The King of Erin and the Queen of the Lonesome Island


The Irish fairy tale, The King of Erin and the Queen of the Lonesome Island starts with brief fling resulting in the hero. Later, the hero date rapes a queen.

From: Ireland
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Jeremiah Curtin in Myths and Folk-lore of Ireland.
Best Known Version: The Curtain version, obviously.
Synopsis: A king goes hunting but doesn’t see his first animal until it’s almost dusk, which is a black pig so he chases it. The pig swims out to sea and the king follows it. His horse drowns (obviously), but he swims and sees an island. On it, he finds a house with razors on the threshold and needles on the lintel. But he jumps between them and sits by the fire. A meal comes but the king doesn’t see anyone bring it and he eats anyway. At night, he senses a woman in the room but he can’t touch her. He tries leaving the next two days, but the woman uses her magic to keep the king from finding his way. On the third night, the woman appears and admits to being the pig. For she and her 2 sisters were captive there until their son should free them. Apparently, the king and the woman have sex (though I’m not sure whether it’s consensual on the king’s part). The next morning, she gives him a boat to get back. 9 months later, she has a son. When her son’s grown, the woman weeps. She explains that the King of Erin will die the next day due to the King of Spain bringing a great army against him. The son agrees to help if he’s there and his mom magically sends him. The young man asks the King of Spain for a day’s truce and goes to the King of Erin as a guest. The next day, he arrays himself as a champion and drives the King of Spain’s army from the field. Now the King of Erin has 2 sons who had hidden from the fight. But their mom tells the king that the champion is older than either of them. During the feast, the queen roofies the champion and pushes him from a window into the sea. But the young man swims for 4 days and nights until he comes to a rock where he lives for 3 months. Until a ship rescues him whose captain had tried to reach the Lonesome Island but failed due to fire. With the son, he succeeds. The son tell his mom what happened with the queen.

When the new King of Spain comes to avenge his dad’s death, the mom sends her son again. The queen makes the same claim about her older son. She then puts chicken blood in her mouth, claiming it as her heart’s blood and she needs water from Tubber Tintye to recover. The young man goes for it with her 2 sons. They meet a woman washing her hair in a golden basin. She calls the young man her nephew and tells him it’s too hard. They stay the night. The next morning, the queen’s older son claims illness and can’t go on. They go to the young man’s other aunt. At this house, she tells him that the people of Tubber Tintye sleep for 7 years, wake for 7 years, and learns from an eagle that they’ve gone to sleep. The queen’s younger son claims illness and can’t go on. The aunt gives her nephew a bridle, telling him to shake it before the stables and take whatever horse comes out. He takes the dirty, lean, shaggy little horse that comes and calls him the son of the King of Erin and the Queen of the Lonesome Island. This is the first time the young man hears of his dad. The horse leaps over the river of fire and the young man jumps from its back into a castle window. He finds many monsters and then a room with the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He goes on to 12 more rooms, each with a sleeping woman prettier the last, until at last he comes to a golden room where the queen sleeps with the well at her feet. He decides to stay there, which he does for 6 days and nights (where he rapes her). A table there has a bread loaf and a meat leg, and if every man in Erin eats from that table for a year, there would’ve been as much food left in the end. The young man leaves a letter to the queen, letting her know that he’s the guy who’d been there and takes the bread and meat. He springs from the window and back onto the horse’s back.

The horse carries him away and has the young man chop it into 4 quarters and strike it with a rod. This turns quarters back into 4 princes that they’d been before. He frees his 2 aunts from their spell and goes back with them and the queen’s sons. The queen’s older son steals the water and gives it to his mom. The son goes back with his aunts to the Lonesome Island. 7 years later, the Queen of Tubber Tintye wakes up and finds she has a 6-year-old son. Her sage claims only a hero could’ve made it there and would’ve left some sign. They find the letter, pleasing the queen. She brings her army to the King of Erin’s castle and demands the man who came to hers as she slept (i.e. her date rapist and baby daddy). The king summons the queen’s 2 sons in turn, each of whom claims doing it. But she demands each ride her horse, which throw and kills them. She then puts a belt on the Queen of Erin that magically tightens and forces her to admit to cheating on her husband with the gardener and the brewer. So the Tubber Tintye Queen has the King of Erin burn her. The King of Erin then marries the Queen of the Lonesome Island while his son marries the Queen of Tubber Tintye.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: This tale kicks off with a woman luring a guy into her house and keeping him prisoner just to have sex with him. Granted, she’s trying to break a curse and explained the whole deal. But I’m not sure if that’s necessarily okay. Also, the protagonist commits date rape and no one sees anything wrong with that. Not to mention, someone burns to death for cheating.
Trivia: N/A

153. The Rider of Grainaig, and Iain the Soldier’s Son
From: Scotland
Earliest Appearance: Collected by John Francis Campbell in his Popular Tales of the West Highlands.
Best Known Version: The Campbell version, naturally.
Synopsis: The knight of Grainaig has 3 daughters, but a mysterious beast carries them off. A soldier’s 3 sons are about to play a game at Christmas. The youngest son, Iain insists they do it on the knight’s lawn since it’s the smoothest. But as his brothers warn, this offends the knight because it reminded him of his daughters. Iain says he should give them a ship and they would find his daughters. The knight agrees. The brothers set out and find a place where men prepare for 3 daughters’ weddings to 3 giants. There’s a creel that could lift them to where the daughters are. Each brother tries in turn. A raven belabors the older two so they turn back. Facing the same raven, Iain calls them to hoist him faster. At the top, the raven asks him for tobacco. When Iain refuses, he tells him to go to the giant’s house, where he could find the oldest daughter. He goes. The oldest daughter tells him that rattling a chain would bring a giant, but only he, a soldier’s son could fight him. Iain rattles the chain and wrestles with the giant, wishing the raven was with him. The bird helps him win the fight and gives him a knife to cut off its head.

The raven tells Iain not to let the daughter put him off, but go on. It then asks him for tobacco and Iain offers him half. The raven tells him he has much left to do yet and shouldn’t offer him that much. It then sends Iain to anoint himself and bathe before he sleeps, so he’d be whole in the morning. He does this and goes on to rescue the second, and the youngest daughter. Then he takes the 3 daughters and the giants’ gold and silver and goes back. The raven warns to go first and have the daughters lowered after, but Iain lowers the daughters first, keeping the youngest’s cap. The creel doesn’t go back for him. So the raven tells Iain to spend the night at giant’s house. The next morning, it takes him to the stables with the constantly opening and shutting door. If he got through it, there’s a steed waiting for him. Iain asks the raven to go in first. It does and only loses a feather. Iain tries and gets killed but the raven revives him and tells him to walk and not wonder at anything he sees or touch anything. Iain comes to 3 dead men and pulls out their spears. The men sit up and make him come to the black fisherman’s cave. There, a hag turns them into stone. Iain defeats her but is sent to fetch the living water to bring back to the men. The raven sends Iain with the steed, which goes over land and sea. There, as the raven instructs, he puts the horse in the stable himself and drinks nothing but whey and water. But through the horse, the raven warns him against sleeping. Yet, the music enchants him and Iain dozes off. The horse breaks in and wakes him. They barely escape. He revives the men with the water.

The raven tells Iain to leave the cap with him and sends him off on the steed to interrupt the wedding. Because his 2 older brothers are to marry the older 2 daughters. While the men’s foremen preparing for the wedding, is set to wed the youngest. He rides off. When Iain arrives, the horse asks him to cut off its head. The horse explains she’s a young maiden and the raven a young man who dated her. But the giants changed them. Iain cuts off her head. At the castle, Iain hears that the youngest demands a cap such as her sisters. Iain wishes for the raven who brings him the cap, and Iain cuts off his head, turning him into a young man. They go to the dead horse where there’s a young woman and they go off together. Iain gives the cap to the smith. The youngest princess demands where he got it and the smith tells her. The youngest daughter marries Iain while the false bridegrooms are driven off.

Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Orange Fairy Book as “Iain the Soldier’s Son.”
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

154. Little Cat Skin
From: United States
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Marie Campbell in her Tales from the Cloud Walking Country.
Best Known Version: The Campbell version, naturally.
Synopsis: A man puts away his dead wife’s wedding gown, saying he won’t remarry a less pretty woman. His 2 older daughters mistreat the youngest until she has to patch her gowns with catskin. One day, she puts on her mom’s gown. Her dad begs her to tell him who she is. She demands and gets a dress the color of all the clouds going by and another of all the flowers blooming. She then tells him that she’s his daughter, Little Cat Skin. Her dad drives the girl away. She takes the dresses and works in the queen’s kitchen. The queen has a party and tells Little Cat Skin to come and even gives her an old dress. But Little Cat Skin wears a dress of clouds. She goes to another party in that dress and another in her dress of flowers. The prince gives her ring and falls sick in love with her. Little Cat Skin offers to cook something for him and she puts the ring in a dish. He sees her and thinks she looks like the girl. When he finds the ring, he knows who she is. They marry.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

155. Allerleirauh


Allerleirauh is a Grimm tale about a princess who flees her creepy dad and hides in a forest wearing furs. She later gets a job at another castle.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers. It’s basically Cinderella meets Game of Thrones.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version of course.
Synopsis: A king promises his dying wife that he won’t marry unless it’s to a woman as beautiful as she is. When he looks for a new wife, he realizes that the only woman who could match his dead wife’s beauty is his daughter. The princess tries making the wedding impossible by asking for 3 dresses: one as golden as the sun, one as silver as the moon, and one as dazzling as the stars along with a mantle made of fur of every kind of bird and animal in the kingdom. When her dad provides them, she takes them, with a gold ring, a spindle, and a gold reel. She runs from the castle the night before the wedding. She runs faraway to another kingdom and sleeps in a great forest there. But the young king and his dogs find her while on a hunting trip. She asks him to have pity on her and receives a place in the kitchen where she works. Because she gives no name, they call her, “All-Kinds-of-Fur.”


Here the princess dances with the prince at the ball in one of her dresses. She will put an item in his soup.

When the king holds a ball, the princess sneaks out and goes in her golden dress. The next morning, a cook sets her to make soup for the king and she puts a golden ring in it. The king finds it and asks the cook and then All-Kinds-of-Fur, but she reveals nothing. The next ball, the princess dresses in her silver dress and puts the golden spindle in his soup, and again, the king couldn’t discover anything. The third ball, the princess goes in her star dress and the king slips a golden ring on her finger without her notice. He then orders the last dance go longer than usual. So the princess can’t get away in time to change. So she can only throw on her fur mantle before she has to cook the soup. When the king asks her, he catches her hand and sees the ring. When she tries pulling it away, her mantle slips, revealing her starry dress. The king pulls off the mantle, revealing her, and they marry.

Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Green Fairy Book.
Adaptations: Adapted into a novel by Robin McKinley called Deerskin. Retold by Janet Yolen and Chantal Godury.
Why Forgotten: Incest, obviously.
Trivia: Also, known as “All Kinds of Furs.”

156. The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter
From: Scotland
Earliest Appearance: Collected by John Francis Campbell in his Popular Tales of the West Highlands.
Best Known Version: The Campbell version, obviously.
Synopsis: A king loses his wife a long time ago and declares he won’t marry anyone who doesn’t fit her clothes. One day, his daughter tries on her mom’s dress and finds it fits. Her creepy dad declares he’d marry her. At her foster-mom’s advice, the princess puts him off with clothing demands: a swan’s down dress, a moorland canach dress, a silk dress with gold and silver that could stand on its own, a gold shoe, a silver shoe, and a chest that could lock inside and out, and travel over land and sea. When she gets the chest, the princess puts her clothing in it and gets in herself. She then asks her dad to put it to sea, so she could see how well it works. It carries her off to another shore.

There, a herder boy would’ve broken it open, but she gets him to get his dad instead. She stays with his dad for a time and goes into service at the king’s house, in the kitchen. The princess refuses to go to the sermon since she has to bake bread and sneaks off to go dressed in her swan down dress and the prince falls in love with her. She goes again in a moorland canach dress, and then in a gold and silver dress with the shoe. But the third time, the prince sets the guard. The princess escapes, leaving a shoe behind. When the prince tries it on the women, a bird sings that it’s not that one but the kitchen maid. Every woman fails, and the prince falls ill. His mom goes into the kitchen to talk and asks the princess to try it. She persuades her son and it fits. They marry and live happily ever after.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I think the title should make this story flagrantly obvious.
Trivia: N/A

157. The She-Bear
From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Giambattista Basile in the Pentamerone. Think of it as a reverse Beauty and the Beast meets Game of Thrones. Except the girl turns into a beast on her own volition.
Best Known Version: The Basile version, naturally.
Synopsis: A dying queen requires her husband only if his new bride is as beautiful as she is. Because the king only has a daughter (which isn’t an ideal situation), soon after her death, he decides to remarry. After inspecting many women, the king realizes that his daughter Preziosa could only match her mom’s beauty. Like any young woman would do in her situation, Preziosa goes to her bedroom in despair. An old woman gives her a wood chip which would change her into a bear if she puts it in her mouth. When her dad summons councilors to ask if he could marry his daughter (answer: Hell, no, your royal creepestry!), she uses it. While in the woods, she meets a prince and approaches him. Her gentleness astounds him and he takes her home as a pet. One day, wishing to comb her hair, she pulls out the wood. The prince sees her and falls sick from love. In his raving, he speaks of the bear and his mom thinks she had hurt him. So she orders her killed. But taken with her gentleness, the servants take her back in the woods instead. Discovering this, the prince gets up long enough to catch the bear once more. But when his pleas to her don’t make her human again, he takes ill again. His mom asks what he needs and he has the bear brought to his room to act as a servant. She does all that’s necessary, only making the prince love her more and become sicker. He begs for a kiss and she does. The wood comes out of her mouth and he catches her. She begs him not to hurt her honor. He then marries her with his mom’s blessing.

Other Versions: Included in Ruth Manning-Sanders’ A Book of Princes and Princesses. But her version has the heroine flee a threatened marriage with a suitor who’s too old for her, not her dad.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Contains instances of incest and bestiality.
Trivia: N/A

158. Mossycoat


The English fairy tale, Mossycoat is about a girl fleeing an unwanted suitor with her magic moss coat. She gets a job at a great house where she has to deal with a hostile work environment.

From: England
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Katherine M. Briggs and Ruth I. Tongue in Folktales of England.
Best Known Version: The Briggs and Tongue version, I suppose.
Synopsis: A hawker wants to marry a widow’s daughter, but she doesn’t want him. Spinning a coat for her, the widow tells her daughter to ask for a white satin with gold sprigs, which must fit her perfectly. The girl does so. 3 days later, the hawker brought it. At her mom’s instructions, the girl asks for a dress the color of all the birds in the air, that also must fit her perfectly. When he buys that, the girl asks for a pair of silver slippers that again, must perfectly fit her. Her mom then tells the suitor to come at ten the next day for her daughter’s answer. That morning, the girl’s mom gives her a coat she made out of moss and gold thread, and which would let her move somewhere else by wishing and also change herself into any form she’d like. She then sends her to the great hall to work. She tries getting a job as a cook. But since they have one. So the lady offers to hire her to help the cook as an undercook. The girl takes it but the servants can’t stand her. Since she’s so pretty and her getting such a position when she leaves the road. Instead, they make her clean dishes and hit her on the head with the skimmer.

A dance comes up, and the servants jeer the idea that the girl might go. Seeing how beautiful she is, the young master asks if she wants to go. But she says she’s too dirty, even when the master and mistress press her as well. That night, the girl magically puts all the servants asleep, washes, puts on her white satin dress, and uses the mossycoat to attend the ball. The young master falls in love with her, but she remarks how she comes from a place where people hit her over the head with a skimmer. When the ball’s over, she uses her mossycoat to go back. She next wakes up all the servants and hints she might have to tell her mistress about her sleeping, so they treat her better. When the story of the grand lady at the ball comes around, they go back to abusing her. Another ball comes, and the girl wears her other dress. The young master tries catching her, and perhaps touching her shoe. At any rate, it comes off. He makes every woman try putting on the shoe. When he learns that Mossycoat hasn’t yet, he sends for her, too. The shoe fits. The master and mistress turn off the servants for hitting her with a skimmer. While the young master and Mossycoat marry.

Other Versions: Also appears in Alan Garner’s A Book of British Fairy Tales.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Doesn’t portray poor people in a positive light at all.
Trivia: N/A

159. Tattercoats


Tattercoats is an English fairy tale of a noble girl who dresses in rags and hangs out with a gooseherd. When they go to a ball, the geese go with them.

From: England
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Joseph Jacobs in his More English Fairy Tales.
Best Known Version: The Jacobs version, naturally.
Synopsis: A great lord has no living relatives except a little granddaughter. Because her mom died in childbirth, he swears he’ll never look at her. As a result, the granddaughter grows up quite neglected and is called, “Tattercoats” for her ragged clothing. She spends her days in the fields with only a gooseherd as her companion. One day, her grandpa is invited to a royal ball. He has his hair sheared off since it bounded him to a chair and prepares to go. Tattercoats’ old nurse begs him to take her, but he refuses. Her gooseherd friend proposes they go and watch. He plays the pipe and they merrily dance along the way. A richly dressed young man asks them for directions to the city. Hearing they were going there, he walks along with them and asks Tattercoats to marry him. She tells him to choose a bride at the king’s ball. He tells her to come as she is around midnight so he can dance with her.


Tattercoats presents herself to the king as the prince’s bride. Obviously, the king is not pleased.

Tattercoats goes while the gooseherd goes with all his geese. Everyone stares but the finely dressed young prince rises up and tells his dad that this is the woman he wants to marry. The gooseherd plays his pipe and transforms all of Tattercoats’ rags into shining robes, and the geese into pages holding her train. Everyone approves and the prince marries her. The gooseherd disappears and is never seen again. Tattercoats’ grandfather, because he vowed never to look at her, goes back to his castle and is still mourning there.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not exactly sure why.
Trivia: N/A

160. The Princess That Wore a Rabbit Skin Dress
From: United States
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Marie Campbell in her Tales in the Cloud Walking Country. Informant was Uncle Tom Dixon from Kentucky.
Best Known Version: The Campbell version, naturally.
Synopsis: The king dies after his wife gives birth to a baby girl. The queen remarries, but the guy also dies. She marries a third time. But this husband is so cruel that she gets sick and dies. The last husband wants to marry her daughter, which she obviously doesn’t. The girl’s mare tells her to ask her stepdad for a silver dress, with some help from fairies. This takes a year and a half. She then asks for a golden dress, which takes 2 ½ years and a diamond and pearl dress, which takes 3 ½ years. The mare then gives her a rabbit skin dress and the princess rides off on her. Some hunters, including a prince, find her and take her to the castle, giving her a kitchen job. Her co-workers are rude, saying she only needs only the ears to be a rabbit. One day, the mare tells the princess that the prince’s going to a party. The mare carries her there and gives her a nut holding the silver dress. The next day, the princess goes in the gold dress. The third day, she dons the diamond and pearl dress, and the prince gives her a golden ring. The princess wears the ring after taking off the dress. The prince recognizes and marries her.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: A creepy and abusive stepdad wants to marry his stepdaughter.
Trivia: N/A


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