Emperor Aleodor, Romanian Folktale, part 2

emperor aleodor romanian folktale

Emperor Aleodor, Aleodor Imparat, is a Romanian folktale gathered by Romanian folklorist and writer Petre Ispirescu in 1875 and translated into English in 19th by historian and linguist Robert Nisbet Bain. I did very little to change Nisbet Bain’s skillful translation. I liked his choice of early modern English, I thought it gives Emperor Aleodor a charming old-fashioned patina. Read part one here.

“So Aleodor departed. He went on and on, thinking over and over again how he was to accomplish his task, and how to keep his word. When he realized that his steps had brought him to the edge of a pond, and there he saw a pike dashing its life out on the shore. 

Aleodor immediately went up to it, eager to satisfy his hunger. When the pike spoke to him: “Slay me not, Beautiful Boy! But cast me rather back into the water again, and then I will do thee good whenever thou dost think of me.”

Aleodor respected the pike’s wish and threw it back into the water. Then the pike said to him again: “Take this scale, and whenever thou dost look at it and think of me I will be with thee.”

Emperor Aleodor Romanian folktale

So the lad went on in his quest, marveling greatly at such a strange encounter.

Presently he fell in with a crow that had one wing broken. He would have killed the crow and eaten it, but the crow said to him: “Beautiful Boy, Beautiful Boy, why wilt thou burden thy soul on my account? Far better were it if thou didst bind up my wing, and much good will I requite thee with for thy kindness.”

Aleodor listened, for his heart was as kind as his hand was cunning; and he bound up the crow’s wing. When he made ready to go on again, the crow said to him: “Take this feather, thou gallant lad, and whenever thou dost look at it and think of me, I will be with thee.”

Then Aleodor took the feather and went on his way.

He hadn’t gone a hundred paces further when he stumbled upon a horse-fly. He would have trodden upon it when the horse-fly said: “Spare my life, Emperor Aleodor, and I’ll deliver thee also from death! Take this little bit of membrane from my wing, and whenever thou dost think of me, I’ll be with thee.”

When Aleodor heard these words, and how the horse-fly called him by his name, he raised his foot right away and let the horse-fly go where it would.

And he also went on his way, and after journeying for I know not how many days he came at last to the palace of the Green Emperor. There he knocked at the gate and stood waiting for someone to come out and ask him what he wanted.

Emperor Aleodor Romanian folktale

He stood there one day, he stood there two days, but as for any one coming out to ask him what he wanted, there was no sign of it. When the third day dawned, however, the Green Emperor called to his servants and gave them a talking to that they were likely to remember. 

“How comes it,” said he, “that a man should be standing at my gates three days without anyone going out to ask him what he wants? Is this what I pay you wages for?”

The servants of the Green Emperor looked up, and they looked down, but they had not one word to say for themselves. At last they went and called Aleodor and led him before the Emperor.

“What dost thou want, my son?” inquired the Emperor; “and wherefore art thou waiting at the gates of my court?”

“I have come, great Emperor, to seek thy daughter.”

“Good, my son. But, first of all, we must come to an agreement together, for such is the custom at my court. Thou are allowed to hide thyself wheresoever thou wilt three times running. If my daughter finds thee all three times, thy head shall be struck off and stuck on a stake, the only one out of a hundred that has not a suitor’s head upon it. But if she does not find thee thrice, thou shalt have her from me with all imperial courtesy.”

 “My hope, great Emperor, is in the Lord, Who will not allow me to perish. We will put something else on this stake of thine, but not the head of a man. Let us hand on it.”

 “Thou dost agree?”

 “I agree.”

So they closed the deal, and the deeds were drawn out and signed and sealed.

Then the daughter of the Emperor met him the next day, and it was arranged that he should hide himself as best he could. But now he was in an agony that tortured him worse than death, for he bethought him again and again where and how he could best hide himself, for nothing less than his head was at stake. Nothing less, nothing more. And as he kept walking about, and brooding and pondering, he remembered the pike. Then he took out the fish’s scale, looked at it, and thought of the fish’s master, and immediately, oh wonderful!—the pike stood before him and said: “What dost thou want of me, Beautiful-Boy?”

 “What do I want? Thou mayest well ask that! Look what has happened to me! Canst thou not tell me what to do?”

“That is thy business no longer. Leave it to me!”

And immediately, striking Aleodor with his tail, he turned him into a little shell-fish and hid him among the other little shell-fish at the bottom of the sea.

When the damsel rose from her sleep that morning she picked up her eye-glass and looked for him in every direction, but could see him nowhere. Her other wooers had hidden themselves in caves, or behind houses, or under haycocks and haystacks, or in some hole or corner, but Aleodor hid himself in such a way that the damsel began to fear that she would be vanquished. Then it occurred to her to turn her eye-glass towards the sea, and she saw him beneath a heap of mussels. But you must know that her eye-glass was a magic eye-glass.

“I see thee, thou rascal,” cried she and then she laughed, “how thou hast bothered me, to be sure! From being a man thou hast made thyself a mussel, and hidden thyself at the bottom of the sea.”

This he couldn’t deny, so of course, he had to come up again.

But she said to the Emperor: “Methinks, dear father, this youth will vanquish me. He is nice and comely too. Even if I find him all three times let me have him, for he is not stupid like the others. Why, thou canst see from his figure even how different he is.”

“We shall see,” replied the Emperor.” 

~~~ end of part one~~~
Do return to find out if Aleodor got the Princess or not. And, of course, to discover who learned some lessons along the way.

Vonk the Horse: Spark, the Bravest Stallion of the 18th Century
Vonk the Horse: Spark, the Bravest Stallion of the 18th Century

 Vonk the Horse is a story in rhyme inspired by true historical events that took place during the 18th century in South Africa, near the Cape of Storms, Cape Town today.
It depicts the true story of utmost bravery of Wolraad Woltemade, a Cape Dutch dairy farmer who lived during the 18th century. He gave his life rescuing sailors from the wreck of the ship De Jonge Thomas anchored in Table Bay, South Africa, on 1 June 1773
Of the 191 souls on board, only 53 survived and of these 14 were saved by Woltemade.
“Vonk” (Afrikaans/Dutch for “Spark”) is the name attributed to Wolraad Woltemade’s horse in a statue created by Mitford-Barbeton to commemorate the tragic event.

“On that early morning of June the 1st,
The weather worsened, the sea yelled: revenge!
“You shouldn’t be here,” the winds howled aloud.
“You broke the maritime law,” the waves threw back.

Both sea and wind kept pushing and pulling.
Five anchored ships; which one will be losing?
It was De Jonge Thomas, its anchor gave up
And the misty air echoed with shrieks of despair.

Help us!

Louder than sea,
Stronger than wind.
A bridge of lost hopes
Between vessel and land.

Help us!

The waves, like branches,
Grabbing and pulling.
The wind, like fingers,
Tossing and turning.”

Vonk the Horse by Patricia Furstenberg

You can get Vonk the Horse from Amazon in Kindle format: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia.

Medieval Sighisoara and the House where Vlad the Impaler was Born

medieval Sighisoara, House where Vlas the Impaler was born

What turns a house into a home? Is it the light that peeks inside through its windows? The scents rising from the kitchen? Or is it the people, the mingle of generations, of shared laughter and tears?
While we visited the house where Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Tepes, was born, I asked myself: what was the light like inside? What street noises reached every morning to little Vlad’s room and woke him up? What childhood memories he kept locked in his heart that reminded him of his mother and home – while imprisoned by the Turks? Or when he was fighting them, surrounded by the sights and the stench of war?

Imagining the medieval Sighisoara fortress at the time Vlad Tepes was born

Imagine 164 houses and thirteen public buildings up on a hill, within the protective walls of a fortress. Tall or short, stone or wood, depending on the wealth of their owners, the houses have one floor, some two. But not more.

Sighisoara - narrow streets stone paved.
Sighisoara – narrow streets stone paved.

Well worth looking up, their roofs have sharp slopes to reduce the weight of the snow in winter, as well as a small window acting as a watchtower, for protection. One can see far away from the tiny, dark attic as well as keep an eye on whoever approaches the house. Friend or foe?

Sighisoara - slanted roof and a peep-window
Sighisoara – slanted roof and a peep-window

The doors are narrow and so are the windows – functionality and safety are paramount. If the house has an extra floor, then the inner stairway is narrow and most probably dark.
The homes are built close together, often sharing a wall, making for narrow, dark streets and passageways. Comfort, as we know it and understand it today, meant a shelter overhead and safe, strong walls during the Middle Ages.
Yet shiny stones pave the streets and there are gutters too, aiding to the drainage of rain-water, melted snow, and – how else – the household’s gray water.

Sighisoara - typical house

The city has only eight wells for drinking water, not enough for the increasing number of inhabitants or siege or fire hazard situations. But it is fresh, clean water, and it is almost enough for their families’ usage during peaceful days, when they can also up the supply from the river.

Let’s meet little Vlad, his family and the house where Vlad the Impaler was born.

The house where Vlad Tepes was born

As you leave the Clock Tower behind, just ahead and on your left, on the corner of Cositorilor Street (Tin-makers Street) stands a tall terracotta house with clean lines. Today it rises with two levels above the ground floor plus a dark attic. You will want to have a good look at it as, although not supported by plenty of historical documents but letters signed by Vlad II and written from Sighisoara , so not impossible, it is the house where Vlad Tepes was born, also known as House Paulinus after its 18th-century owner.

The house where Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler was born - A house like any other.
A house like any other.

But when it was just built in the vicinity of the Clock Tower, out of river stones and with only one level, this house belonged to the guards protecting the main entrance into the fortress.

Vlad’s family was well-off, his father, Vlad II, a first-class member of the Order of the Dragon and lawful prince of Wallachia but without a kingdom at this stage. They settled in Sighisoara and rented guestrooms in a house of stone, awaiting the right moment to raise an army of trusted boyars and reclaim his land.

This is the house, the oldest one in the fortress and still standing because it was built of stones thus withstanding the big fire of 1676. The round vault on the ground floor is the original one, constructed with the stones picked from the nearby rivers, Tarnava Mare especially. Its second floor rose much later, during the 18th century.

The round vault on the ground floor in the house where Vlad the Impaler was born
The round vault on the ground floor in the house where Vlad the Impaler was born

It appears that in the basement of this house there was a coin mint at that time – when the coinage was only the monopoly of the Hungarian Kings ruling the Kingdom of Hungary. This is another proof of Sigismund’s trust and respect towards Vlad Dracul II as Vlad II minted his own silver ducats, the “new ducat”. He did this in preparation for his expected ruling. These coins were first used in Transylvania, then in Wallachia too (yay!). They had the eagle on the head side and a winged dragon on the coin’s tail.

Vlad II Dracul ('the Dragon') coin, struck circa 1445-1446. Eagle standing, head right; cross above / Dragon advancing to the left, its wings spread
Vlad II Dracul (‘the Dragon’) coin, struck circa 1445-1446. Eagle standing left, head towards the right; cross above / Dragon advancing to the left, its wings are spread. Source

It was now, during the time Vlad Dracul II spent in exile in Sighisoara preparing for his rule over Wallachia, that the Romanian name of the fortress appears in writing for the first time. Double yay!

Vlad Tepes was born in 1431 (or some sources state 1429), the middle son of Vlad Dracul II, Prince of Wallachia and son of Mircea cel Batran (Mircea the Eldest) from the Basarab Dynasty. King Sigismund of Luxembourg held Vlad Dracul II in high regard, awarding him, as mentioned before, the Order of the Dragon on the 8th of February 1431 in Nuremberg, for ultimate services in the gruesome fight against the Ottoman Empire.

Dragon order insignia
Dragon order insignia

The Order of the Dragon (Societas Draconistarum, Society of the Dragonists) was a monarchical chivalry order awarded only to selected members of the nobility. Founded in 1408 by the Hungarian King Sigismund von Luxembourg (later Holy Roman Emperor), it was similar to the military orders of the Crusades. Its members were expected to defend Christianity against all enemies, especially the Ottoman Empire.

The Order of the Dragon on a medieval sleigh
The Order of the Dragon on a sleigh

I liked the dragon featured on the sign above the door, I thought it is a great reference to the Order of the Dragon.

a dragon on the house where Vlad Tepes, Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Impaler was born

The symbol of the Order was a dragon with the tip of its tail coiled around his neck and a red cross on his back, the Red Cross of Saint George.

Calling him Vlad Dracul, correct or not?

Before 1475 Vlad III signed his name simply Vlad. But from 1475, before his third ruling as Prince of Wallachia, he signs as Ladislaus Dragwlya (or Dragkwlya, Drakulya) which appears on his seal too.

Hence Vlad the Impaler’s nickname Dracul (and identical with the Romanian word for devil) or Draculea, his ancestors named Draculesti, from dragon, or Drachen in German.

Vlad’s mother was also of Romanian royal blood, Chiajna Musatin, a Moldavian Princess and the eldest daughter of Alexandru cel Bun as well as aunt of Stefan cel Mare (Stefan the Great), of the Musatin Dynasty.

So, Vlad Tepes and his parents hopefully lived in Sighisoara until 1436. Just imagine, young Vlad might have used one of these cups to drink fresh milk.

medieval ceramics found in the house of Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Dracul
Medieval ceramics found in the house of Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Dracul

Vlad would have been five or seven years old when his parents moved to Targoviste when his father took over Wallachia (the principality located south of Transylvania) and was – finally – crowned the rightful Prince of Wallachia.

In the middle of the 20th century, a hidden mural was discovered in the house where Vlad the Impaler was born, that of a man resembling his father, Vlad II.

Comparing Vlad II with Vlad III, Tepes, the Impaler. Notice similarities.

A Sad Reality

Without saying too much, here are some pictures from the upper level of Vlad’s house as it looked when we visited. No skulls here, just misunderstood advertisement.

inside house Vlad Impaler born
inside house Vlad Impaler born
inside house Vlad Impaler born
inside the house where Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Dracul, Dracula was born

A Secret Entrance into Vlad the Impaler’s House

Most tourists are familiar with the front entrance of the house where Vlad the Impaler was born.

house Vlad Impaler born

Yet if you play “what if” and follow the narrow street on the left, walking underneath the arch connecting the two buildings and feeling tiny compared to their height…

house Vlad Impaler born

You will soon discover the back entrance, through a small, walled yard:

house Vlad Impaler born

We took this way in.

The back entrance in the house where Vlad the Impaler Vlad Dracul, was born
The back entrance in the house where Vlad the Impaler Vlad Dracul, was born

Sighisoara City: Coat of Arms and blazon symbology

Sighisoara’s coat of arms is so fitting for its rich medieval ancestry. It depicts a rampant golden lion and a silver fortress with three towers on a red shield topped with a silver crown with five crenelated towers.
The lion, facing right, dexter (with respect to the person carrying the shield), wears a gold crown, his tongue sticks out and holds a gold sword.

Sighisoara's coat of arms today
Sighisoara’s coat of arms today

The fortress on the shield symbolizes the medieval Sighisoara and its crucial economical and military strengths as well as the cultural and religious roles it played. The lion, through the way it is depicted on the shield, symbolizes the judicial autonomy Sighisoara held, having the right to decree the death penalty, the right of the sword, jus gladii. The lion also symbolizes strength, generosity, and beauty.
The crown shows that today, Sighisoara is a municipality.
It is worth noticing that the lion’s hind legs are apart, symbolizing stability.

Medieval Sighisoara has much more to reveal besides the house where Vlad the Impaler was born, with its history and secrets.

Moving on from it, our eyes fell upon a beautiful building with clean lines and… a pair of horns.

We’ll open the door to this story next time.

Sighisoara, a medieval door

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Haiku-San, Ocean, #Haiku #Sunday #HaikuSan via @PatFurstenberg

Ocean, a Sunday Haiku: Haiku-San

Crashing solemn waves

Seagull’s woeful cry above.

Ocean’s lonely tune.

~~~~~

Read more poems inspired by the force of sea and the bravery of animals in my latest books:

Vonk the Horse: Spark, the Bravest Stallion of the 18th Century
Vonk the Horse: Spark, the Bravest Stallion of the 18th Century

Vonk the Horse: Spark, the Bravest Stallion of the 18th Century.
Sail the high seas to the end of the 18th century, the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere. When a ship hits a bank of sand near the Cape of Storms (Cape Town), all spectators on land fear for the lives of those on board for the waters are frigid and currents strong.

eBook, 99c/99p/0.99EUR or read free on Kindle Unlimited: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Deutschland.

Jock of the Bushveld: Africa's Best Loved Dog Hero by Patricia Furstenberg
Jock of the Bushveld: Africa’s Best Loved Dog Hero

Jock of the Bushveld, Africa’s Best Loved Dog Hero. Jock, the runt of the littler, the smallest of puppies, lived to enjoy a full and adventurous life at the side of his master. Even those overlooked and picked on can grow to become brave and reliable dogs, deeply loved by their owners. Jock and his master shared a life of adventures in the African bush, transporting goods for a living, hunting their food together and sharing the warmth of the fire under a blanket of stars at night. Happy to have each other.
eBook, 99c/99p/0.99EUR or read free on Kindle Unlimited: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany.

Huberta the Hippo: Amazing Adventures of a Happy River Horse
Huberta the Hippo: Amazing Adventures of a Happy River Horse

Huberta the Hippo, Amazing Adventures of a Happy River Horse. Read about the adventures and misadventures of a real African hippopotamus that, one day, at noon, decided to migrate south: “The moon sees all from way up high, I wish to also see the world go by.” It took Hubert many years to travel 1 600km south, along the South African coast. Along the way Hubert made many friends and enemies as he was a friendly hippo but with a rather large appetite and he didn’t quite followed the human rules. Nobody knows why Hubert migrated, but we do know that he was happy when he reached his final destination and that only after his death was discovered that he was, actually, a girl.
eBook, 99c/99p/0.99EUR or read free on Kindle Unlimited: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Deutschland.

You can find more Haiku in my new book of poetry, As Good AS Gold:

It is uplifting, positive and a pleasure to read and as a dog lover it warmed my heart, some made me laugh, some made me think, some made me smile inside.” (Donna’s Book Blog)

A beautiful, uplifting and endearing read – I loved it!” (5* Amazon Review)

As Good As Gold is also available in Large Print, colorful pictures, a dyslexia friendly edition: get it on Amazon UK, Amazon US 

I chose the name Haiku-San as it derives from Haiku, meaning unusual verse in Japanese (hai=unusual, ku=verse, strophe) and San, the honorific Japanese title when speaking about people. San is also the phonetic transcription of the first syllable of the English word Sunday, Sun-day hence Haiku-San, a Sunday feature on Alluring Creations involving Haiku I write.

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

(Image courtesy Jakob Owenss, Unsplash)

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.