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story-sources-msg - 11/21/14


Sources for period stories.


NOTE: See also the files: storytelling-art, storytelling2-art, song-sources-msg, Hornbook-art, fairy-tales-msg, p-stories-msg, bardic-msg, Bardic-Guide-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: UDSD007 at DSIBM.OKLADOT.STATE.OK.US (Mike.Andrews)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Good Stories

Date: Mon, 28 Mar 1994 09:16

Organization: The University of Oklahoma (USA)


cclaus at willamette.EDU (Conrad Claus) writes:

>I am wondering if there is anyone out there who may know of, or, have

>access to, stories suitable for reading aloud at an SCA event.

>I am looking for something to read at the next event.  I wrote one

>recently and it worked for me but I dont intend on going to the time to

>construct another story for the next event....



The _Decameron_ comes to mind immediately. There are several

other books of Renaissance and Medieval stories, including one

I saw last night at a friend's house, just titled

_A Renaissance Storybook_, compiled by Morris Bishop,

out of the Cornell U. Press (1971). LC: PZ1 .B543 Re;

Dewey: 808.83/031. Nice book.


Michael Fenwick of Fotheringhay, O.L. (Mike Andrews)

   udsd007 at ok3005.okladot.state.ok.us (

or udsd007 at ibm.okladot.state.ok.us   (


Barony of Namron, Kingdom of Ansteorra



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: mittle at watson.ibm.com (Arval d'Espas Nord)

Subject: Re: Good Stories

Date: Mon, 28 Mar 1994 19:23:37 GMT

Organization: IBM T.J. Watson Research


> I am wondering if there is anyone out there who may know of, or, have

> access to, stories suitable for reading aloud at an SCA event.


Try the Canterbury Tales, the Decameron, Shakespeare, Gawain and the Green

Knight, the Arthurian tales of Chretien de Troyes, Mallory, etc., the Norse

sagas and eddas.  All of these are easily available in translation.  Or

just browse the Penguin Classics shelf in your favorite bookstore.


Arval d'Espas Nord                                  mittle at watson.ibm.com



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: kjh at statsci.com (Kjrsten Henriksen)

Subject: Re: Good Stories

Organization: Statistical Sciences, Inc., Seattle, WA USA

Date: Tue, 29 Mar 1994 17:20:58 GMT


I just got a copy of

Kalila and Dimna; selected fables of Bidpai

retold by Ramsay Wood

Inner Traditions intl ltd

Rochester VT



The original stories were from India, but the Persians got a hold of

it and made their own version.  R. Wood is not very carefull about

telling us exactly where his version came from, and his style is very

modern, but the tales themselves bear the stamp of what is either

great antiquity or complete universality (there's a fine pompous

sentance for you).


The first English translation (i'm qoting the introduction here) was

done in the sixteenth century by Sir Thomas North...

Anyway I would *not* recommend reading this aloud at an event, but if

you are a story-teller with a good grasp of period style you will find

it an excellent source for short tales or (using the tale-within-a-tale-

within-a-tale-within-a-tale-within-a-tale format used by this book and

the 1001 nights)  tales of any lenght you need


And if anyone comes across the North translation, it's definitely

worth a look-see.




kjh at statsci.com



From: corliss at hal.PHysics.wayne.EDU (David J. Corliss)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Good Stories

Date: 28 Mar 1994 13:43:37 -0500


From wsu-cs!usenet.ins.cwru.edu!eff!news.kei.com!bloom-beacon.mit.edu!INTERNET!news-mail-gateway Mon Mar 28 13:19:19 EST 1994

Conrad wrote:


> I am wondering if there is anyone out there who may know of, or, have

> access to, stories suitable for reading aloud at an SCA event.


> I am looking for something to read at the next event.  I wrote one

> recently and it worked for me but I dont intend on going to the time to

> construct another story for the next event....


The (Poetic) Eddas and the Mabinogion are great sources for stories. They can be found in many libraries and are ever in print in paperback. If you told a

new story from one of these sources every week, it would still take a very long

time to tell them all. These are stories that are masterpieces from two of the

world's greatest oral traditions.





From: johnsond at carleton.edu

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Additional Period story sources

Date: 25 Jul 94 22:47:23 CST

Organization: Carleton College -- Northfield, MN


Another excellent source for stories to tell from the SCA period is the

Decameron.  There are (I think) 80some stories that are not quite as <ahem>

pristine as the Canterbury Tales.  They are also extremely entertaining...They

are from the Italian Renaissance period, and it can be found in any moderrately

disreputable library in yourr area...

                                                                                                  Bulfinch's mythology is also quite good, especially if you like

embellishing another's tales to create your own...


JohnsonD at carleton.edu      M.K.A. Drew Johnson,  A.K.A. Robert Bartholomew of

(--Pax Christi--)          Carleton College     Baskerville of the Baronial

                                                 Colleges of Nordleigh, Canton



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Subject: Re: Additional Period story sources

Organization: University of Chicago

Date: Tue, 26 Jul 1994 16:26:02 GMT


Here is my article on sources for story-telling, from the Miscellany.

I note, incidentally, that Drew Johnson writes:


"Another excellent source for stories to tell from the SCA period is

the Decameron.  There are (I think) 80some stories that are not quite

as <ahem> pristine as the Canterbury Tales."


Either he is being sarcastic, or he has his own special edition of

the _Canterbury Tales_, courtesy of Mr. Bowdler. Or perhaps he means

that only a few of the stories in the Decameron are as pristine as

many of the stories in the _Canterbury Tales_.



Period Sources for Story Telling


One of my favorite activities at events is to wander from table to

table at a feast or from campfire to campfire at a camping event,

telling poems and stories. I know of no better way of pulling people

out of the twentieth century, if only for a few minutesPespecially if

the story is presented as a medieval story told by a medieval


Thus, for instance, a Muslim storyteller can follow a recitation of

"The Raven Banner" (written by Malkin Grey and based on an incident

in Njal Saga), which contains a reference to Odin, with the

explanation that Odin is, as he understands it, a Djinn or Demon whom

the Northmen worship as a god, thus confounding the unity of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful. In much the same way, a Christian

storyteller telling an Islamic story might make some comment

concerning the false doctrines of the Paynim. In both cases, the

point is not to start a religious argument but to make the teller's

world-view into a medieval frame for the medieval tale. This is,

incidentally, an entirely period device; both the Indian collections

described below and the Nights are structured many layers deep, with

stories inside stories inside stories.


The purpose of this article is to suggest to readers who might want

to try storytelling for themselves some of the places where period

stories are to be found. Some of the sources I cite are collections

of stories, others are histories, memoirs, or long tales, containing

incidents that can be told as separate stories. Many of the sources

are available in a variety of translations. Some can be found in

almost any bookstore, others may require a search through a good

university library.


For the convenience of story tellers who prefer to tell stories that

their personae could have known, I include information on dates and

places. It is worth noting, however, that stories travelled far and

lasted long. Stories from the Indian collections appear in the

Thousand Nights and a Night, the Gesta Romanorum, and the Decameron;

the Gesta Romanorum was, in turn, a source for both Chaucer and

Shakespeare. Similarly, Apuleius plagiarized parts of his plot from

an earlier Greek workPand contributed one story to the Decameron,

published some twelve centuries after his death.



The Golden Ass by Apuleius. A lengthy and episodic story written in

the second century A.D.


Katha Sarit Sagara (aka The Ocean of Story). A very old and very

large Indian collection, containing many of the stories found in the



Panchatantra (aka Fables of Bidpai, Kalila wa-Dimna, The Tales of

Kalila and Dimna). A very old Indian collection, possibly dating to

200 B.C. It was translated into Persian in the 6th century, into

Arabic (as the Kalila wa-Dimna) in the 8th century, from Arabic into

Greek in the 11th century and, a little later, into Hebrew, and from

Hebrew into Latin in the 13th century. The first English translation

was in the 16th century.


The Thousand and One Nights. The story of Scheherezade, which

provides the frame story for the Nights, is mentioned by al-Nadim in

the 10th century, but the surviving texts are considerably later,

possibly 15th century. The Burton translation (16 volumes!) is a

delight; Payne is also supposed to be very good. Anything under eight

hundred pages and calling itself the Arabian Nights is likely to be

an abbreviated and bowdlerized version, intended for children.


The Table-Talk of a Mesopotamian Judge, by al-Muhassin ibn Ali

al-Tanukhi, D. S. Margoliouth, tr. Al-Tanukhi was a tenth century

judge who found that the anecdotes people were telling were no longer

as good as the ones he remembered from his youth, and decided to do

something about it. The book is full of retellable stories, many of

them about people the author knew.


An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades:

Memoirs of Usamah ibn-Munkidh, Philip Hitti tr. Usamah was a Syrian

Emir; his memoirs, dictated in his old age, describe events during

the period between the first and second crusades. They are

entertaining and episodic, hence can easily be mined for stories.


The Shah-nameh of Ferdowsi, the Khamseh of Nizami, the Sikander-nama.

These are all famous works of Persian literature, and should have

bits that can be excerpted as stories. I do not know them well enough

to recommend particular translations.


Mohammad's People, by Eric Schroeder. This is a history of the early

centuries of al-Islam, made up of passages from period sources fitted

together into a reasonably continuous whole. It contains one of my

favorite stories (the death of Rabia, called Boy Longlocks).


The Bible. It was extensively used as a source of stories in the

Middle Ages.


The Koran.


The Travels of Marco Polo.


Gesta Francorum. An anonymous first-hand account of the first

Crusade, extensively plagiarized by 12th century writers.


Gesta Romanorum. A collection of stories, with morals attached,

intended to be used in sermons; the Latin version dates from about

1300 and the English from about 1400. Its connection with real Roman

history is tenuous at best.


The Mabinogion. A collection of Welsh stories written down in the

13th century, apparently based on much earlier verbal traditions.


Boccacio, The Decameron. 14th century.


Chaucer, Canterbury Tales. 14th century.


Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur. 15th century.


Marie de France, The Breton Lais. Popular 12th century poems, based

on Celtic material.


Njal Saga, Egil Saga, Jomsviking Saga, Gisli Saga, Heimskringla, etc.

The sagas are histories and historical novels, mostly written in

Iceland in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. All of those

listed, and no doubt many others with which I am less familiar,

contain incidents that can be excerpted as stories. My own favorites

include the killing of Gunnar, from Njal Saga, Egil's confrontation

with Eric Bloodaxe at York, from Egil Saga, the avenging of Vestan by

his young sons, from Gisli Saga, and the encounter between Harold

Godwinson and his brother Tostig just before the battle of Stamford

Bridge, from Harald Saga (part of Heimskringla).


The Life of Charlemagne by the Monk of St. Gall (aka Notker the

Stammerer), included in Two Lives of Charlemagne (Penguin). This is a

highly anecdotal "life" written in the ninth century, and covering

many subjects other than Charlemagne.

The Chansons de Geste. French "songs of deeds." The Song of Roland,

the earliest and best, dates from the late 11th century; the

translation by Dorothy Sayers is readily available from Penguin and

very good. Other well known Chansons de Geste include Ogier the Dane

and Huon of Bordeaux. A version of the latter by Andre Norton was

published as Huon of the Horn.


Orlando Innamorato (1495) by Boiardo and Orlando Furioso (1516) by

Ariosto. These are actually a single story, started by one poet and

completed by another. They are a Renaissance Italian reworking of the

Carolingian cyclePthe stories of Charlemagne and his Paladins. The

story (and the characters) jump from Paris to London to Tartary, with

or without intermediate stops. The tale is well supplied with magic

rings, enchanted fountains, flying steeds, maidens in distress,

valorous knights, both male and female, and wicked enchanters, also

both male and female.


Ovid's Metamorphoses. An important source of Greek and Roman myths

for Renaissance writers.


                                                                                                  [An earlier form of this appeared in Tournaments Illuminated, No.

81, Winter 1986]



From: ctallan at epas.utoronto.ca (Cheryl Tallan)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Additional Period story sources

Date: 26 Jul 1994 18:02:30 GMT

Organization: University of Toronto -- EPAS


david director friedman <ddfr at midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:

>Here is my article on sources for story-telling, from the Miscellany.




>Ovid's Metamorphoses. An important source of Greek and Roman myths

>for Renaissance writers.

>                                                                                                [An earlier form of this appeared in Tournaments Illuminated, No.

>81, Winter 1986]


Just to let people know that Ovid's Metamorphoses (last but not least

in the list) was not only read and used by Renaissance writers. A

professor I once had for Medieval (not Renaissance) Lit. listed the

Metamorphoses as one of the three most widely read books in the Middle

Ages.  I remember coming across a whole genre of lais which were

re-tellings of the tales in the Metamorphoses. Don't give them a miss

just because you are pre-Renaissance.


David Tallan (aka Thomas Grozier)

who reads his mail at his own account:

david at freenet.toronto.on.ca



From: clev1 at MFS02.cc.monash.edu.au (Conrad Leviston)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Additional Period story sources

Date: Fri, 29 Jul 1994 01:11:45 GMT

Organization: Monash University


johnsond at carleton.edu writes:

>Another excellent source for stories to tell from the SCA period is the

>Decameron.  There are (I think) 80some stories that are not quite as <ahem>

>pristine as the Canterbury Tales.  They are also extremely entertaining...They

>are from the Italian Renaissance period, and it can be found in any moderrately

>disreputable library in yourr area...

>        Bulfinch's mythology is also quite good, especially if you like

>embellishing another's tales to create your own...


                                                                                                  Actually, there are ten groups of ten stories (hence the title). The

originals are in verse form (and Italian), so if you really feel like a

challenge ...

                                                                                                  In spite of having made the grievous sin of getting the number of

stories right |-), you have done well to suggest this, as it has a diverse

range of stories, that are in general well set out to be able to find the

set of stories you want. Nine of the ten groups of stories follow a

particular theme, though the only one that comes to mind at the moment is

stories in which the characters save themselves with a witty response".


Yours in Service,

                                                                                                         Cormac Lenihan

Conrad Leviston | 'Quotation is the refuge of the fool'

is also found at|       --Chinese Proverb

mongoose at yoyo.cc| The thing I don't like about Dennis O'Connor is

.monash.edu.au  | that he uses the term Socialist as an insult.



Date: Wed, 10 Sep 97 23:09:38 PDT

From: ercil at astrid.upland.ca.us (E. Howard-Wroth)

To: uunet!raven.cc.ukans.edu!sca-arts at uunet.uu.net

Subject: Storytelling resources, Was:linen fairy tales


> telling resources which you have found particularly useful that you would

> care to share?    Have you discovered or created any stories that have

> really excited you?


I have used children's books as resources both

to remember and to read aloud from (depending

of course on the audience).  Children's lit nowadays

is incredibly incredibly rich and wonderful.





From: KiheBard at aol.com

Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 02:19:10 -0400 (EDT)

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG

Subject: Re: ANST - Bardic Circle material


In a message dated 97-09-30 20:26:29 EDT, Steven writes:

> I had the good fortune to attend my first bardic circle (competition) this

>  weekend at Battle of the Pines.  It was very enjoyable and made me want to

>  partake in the fun.  What kind of material is appropriate?  And where to

>  find (or how to create) that material?


Steven, you may not realize just how loaded a question you just asked.


All of the following commentary is IMNSHO (In My Not-So-Humble Opinion),

so be aware that others will probably have radically different ideas.


In SCA bardic circles, the question of "appropriate material" must hinge

upon "appropriate for what? who? when/where?".


FOR WHAT: is the circle a full competition for Titled Bard status, a one-shot


organized around an announced theme, or a gathering simply for the joy

of sharing poem, song and story? If formal, is the expectation for

"standard format" or some variation (three pieces in at least two of the

normal performance types) or something else entirely? Are you trying

to entertain, teach, or both?


FOR WHO: is this a gathering expecting to be entertained, or folk all

expecting to participate themselves, or some combination? Are there

minors present, or within earshot?


FOR WHEN: is this at an event designed for such a competition, during

the day, after a long court, interspersed with the courses of a feast,

or scattered throughout other activities? Are the performances in an

enclosed space, around a bonfire, in front of a seated crowd or in the

midst / on the edge of a circle? Before or after midnight?


Appropriate Material / Sources:

Shakespeare is a rich mine of readily available poetry, soliloquy, and

basic story -- most of which is generally well-received and can reach

an audience due to prior acquaintance. Celtic myth and legend,

particularly as found in the Tain bo Cualney (Cattle-Raid of Cooley

and associated "fore-matter") and Mabinogion, are extremely rich

sources. Other mythic or legendary material is also often used:

the various Norse / Icelandic sagas, Aesop's Fables, and -- OF

COURSE -- "The Matter of Britain" (Arthur & the Table Round).


The material created by the troubadour and trouvere, Meistersingern

and Minnesingern, the songs of the Goliards, and most other

pre-1600 poetry can all be used. As can songs, although you

will find that there is much dissension as to how accurate our

modern understanding of the tunes and performance techniques

may be. It is a matter of pride for some to perform material from

these sources in the original language; my personal preference is

to use translations except where the original is going to be understood

by at least SOME of my audience *or* to present both the

original _and_ a translation.


Other sources include collections of fairy tales, "The Thousand and

One Nights", and even accounts of the caravan trade or ship voyages.

Russian folk tales can be tricky if you are trying for authentic

pre-1600 material, but there are appropriate stories out there

(look for the stories of the Bogatyr in particular, and don't

shy away from Baba Yaga automatically because her story

was "mined" for modern role-playing game material).


Don't be afraid to use tales from "cultures in contact", either.

Particularly and especially Arabic and New World "tales of wonder"!

(consider that traveler's tales, and the tales they brought back

from distant ports/destinations, fuelled much of the Age of Exploration)


You can also create your own, new, works in the styles and

using the techniques of the period / cultures. Or borrow the

compositions of other travelers in these Current Middle Ages

as well.


These words are only the briefest of summaries, the slimmest of

introductions. Seek out other circles, and listen, and learn from

those who would entertain -- and those who would teach. Be

prepared to do some of each in your own turn.


I'm currently planning on attending Three King's (at the First Monday

site, right?). Based upon your mention of Battle of the Pines, I would

hope to make your acquaintance there, and perhaps answer other

questions that might arise. I'm easy to find during the day:

just look for the merchant with the knives, and the attitude.


Amr ibn Majid al-Bakri al-Amra, accorded the recognition of al-Sayyid

in the Society we share;

known also as Kihe Blackeagle, the DreamSinger Bard;

and to the tax authorities I am

Mike C. Baker, computer programmer and modern wordsmith



Date sent:      Wed, 03 Nov 1999 10:58:13 -0500

From: Finnvarr de Taahe <finnvarr at ealdormere.sca.org>

To: Tourney Companies <TourneyCompanies at topica.com>,

       Calontir <Calontir at unl.edu>,

       Ealdormere list <E_List at ealdormere.sca.org>,

       Middlebridge <sca-middle at midrealm.org>,

       Northshield <northshield at minstrel.com>

Subject:        [Mid] More Froissart


I've been adding some major excerpts from Froissart to my Tales from Froissart site.

In the past three weeks five new major passages have been posted there,

one of which is not complete.


For those who are interested in more stories of the 14th century, and

haven't been there before, the site is:






Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2012 21:46:34 +1030

From: "Anwyn Davies" <anwyn at internode.on.net>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Period Writing Styles/Examples/Advice

To: "'The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list'"

                                                                                                  <lochac at lochac.sca.org>

Gutenberg press is a wonderful resource for this -



Some names to look for: Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

The Song of Roland

Travels of John Mandeville

Travels of Marco Polo

Lays of Marie of France

Tirant Lo Blanc


http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/index.htm has a lot of out-of-copyright

English translations of period texts, including some recent additions of

middle eastern and northern African poetry and tales. Includes period

literature, poetry and histories from Russia,


For Welsh tales,

The Book of Taliesin - http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/llyfrtaliesin.html

(from the Celtic Literature Collective -



The Mabinogion - (in English)


(in Welsh)



Lay of El Cid - http://www.laits.utexas.edu/cid/main/?v=eng


That should be enough to get you started! I found that once you get a feel

for what you are looking for, it's remarkably easy to find transcriptions of

period documents on-line. Don't forget to check Wikipedia, too, both for

historical and period fictional characters and works - go to the end of the

articles and look for the links to external websites; you will find a wealth

of stuff.


I can also highly recommend Penguin Classics - they have published an

enormous amount of medieval and renaissance literature, and generally have

good notes for better understanding what you are reading.


Good luck and don't drown,





Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2012 12:05:55 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] The original fairy tales


Stefan,  give this site a try: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html .

D.L. Ashliman is a retired professor who still does research into folktales.




<<< Anyone have any more details or references on these earlier fairy tales. I

had heard some of this before, and even had some of the commentary in the

Florilegium until the author asked that her messages be removed. :-(


Stefan >>>


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org