Issue #551 of Classics Illustrated Junior from 1958 includes an adaptation of "King Thrushbeard".

"King Thrushbeard" (German: "König Drosselbart"; also published in English as "King Grizzle-Beard") is a German fairy tale. It is included in Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the 1812 anthology of German folktales compiled by the Brothers Grimm.

The story concerns a proud and haughty princess who rejects all of the many men who want to marry her because she considers none of them to be good enough for her. The princess' enraged father then forces her to marry a beggar. The princess' new husband teaches her humility.

The tale has been adapted for film and television.


Rudolf Schiestl Wanderer und Prinzessin

The wandering musician and the princess. Early 20th century illustration by the German artist Rudolf Schiestl.

There is a king who has a very proud and haughty daughter. Many men ask for her hand in marriage. She does not think that any of them are good enough for her and she ridicules all of them. The king organizes a feast to which other kings, princes and all other possible suitors for his daughter are invited. The princess rejects all of them and makes fun of each them because of their looks. she singles out one particular king for ridicule. She says that his chin looks like a thrush's beak and ever afterwards calls him King Thrushbeard.[1]

The king is angry that his daughter has rejected all of the royal and noble suitors. He declares that she will marry the next beggar who comes along. A few days later, a wandering musician in ragged dirty clothes stops to sing beneath a window of the castle. The king invites him to come in. The king tells the musician that he can marry the princess as a reward for his good singing. Against the princess' wishes, the musician and the princess are married at once. The king tells the princess that, because she is now a beggar's wife, she can no longer stay in the castle. The princess ans the musician leave the castle on foot. They pass by a forest, a meadow and a large town. The musician tells the princess that all three of those places belong to King Thrushbeard. The princess regrets the fact that she did not marry King Thrushbeard when she had the chance.

The princess and the musician arrive at the miserable hovel where the musician lives. The princess is surprised to find that there are no servants and to find out that she has to do all the work herself. The princess fails to make anything for the musician's dinner that evening because she does not know how to cook. She does, however, do all the housework in the following days.

Stamps of Germany (DDR) 1967, MiNr 1326

1967 East German stamp which depicts the drunken soldier destroying the princess' pots.

The musician tells the princess that she will have to start earning money. He tries to get her to make baskets and weave cloth. Her delicate fingers, however, are not suited for such rough work. The musician then gets the princess to sell pots. She sits at the corner of a street to sell her wares. Her business goes quite well for a few days. A drunken soldier on horseback then comes along and destroys all of the princess' pots. When the princess tells her husband about this, he says that she was foolish to sit at the corner of a street with breakable objects. He adds that he has found her a new job as a kitchen-maid at the castle.

The princess has to do all of the dirtiest work in the castle's kitchen. She conceals two jars in her clothes in which she saves kitchen scraps that she is allowed to take. She and her husband live off those scraps.

One day, a wedding feast is held in the great hall of the castle. The princess stands at the door and is given some scraps of food by the other servants as they enter. King Thruushbeard then appears. He tries to force the princess to dance with him. She refuses. In the struggle, the jars that she has concealed in her clothes break and the scraps of food go all over the floor. all of the guests at the feast laugh at this. The princess is greatly ashamed and tries to flee. King Thrushbeard stops her. He tells her that he disguised himself and pretended to be the poor wandering musician whom she married. He was also the drunken soldier who destroyed her pots. King Thrushbeard says that everything he did was done out of love for the princess and in order to teach her humility. The princess says that she is not worthy of King Thrushbeard's love and apologizes for making fun of him. Another wedding ceremony is then held for King Thrushbeard and the princess.


German-language films based on "King Thrushbeard" were released in 1954, 1962, 1965, 2005 and 2008. A Czech-language film based on the tale was released in 1984.

"King Thrushbeard" was adapted for German television in 1965 and 1999.

The twentieth episode of the first season of the anime series Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics (Japanese: グリム名作劇場; Gurimu Meisaku Gekijō) is an adaptation of "King Thrushbeard". The episode was first shown on TV Asahi in Japan on march 5, 1989.

A version of "King Thrushbeard" is told by actor and comedian Rik Mayall in the seventh episode of the second season of the British children's TV series Grim Tales. The episode was first broadcast on the ITV network in the United Kingdom on February 24, 1991.

See also


  1. In the 1912 translation by Edgar Taylor and Marian Edwardes, the princess mocks the king for having a beard like an old mop and ever afterwards calls him King Grizzle-Beard.

External links