Lady of Stavorena
a famous Dutch folk tale
Stavoren was one of the most wealthiest cities in the Middle Ages. Ships from everywhere crowded the harbor, and brought richness to the merchants of Stavoren. One of these wealthy merchants was Richbertha, a woman whose husband had died years before.
One day a famous captain visited the Lady of Stavoren. He stood before her and gave her a beautiful ruby ring. The stone was huge and sparkled in the bright sun. The Lady of Stavoren was impressed with its beauty and thanked the captain for his gift, but it also filled her with greed and she asked the captain to bring her the most precious thing in all the world.
The captain sailed all the seven seas to find her the most precious thing in the world and he finally succeeded.
He sailed back to Stavoren where the Lady of Stavoren already had heard of his success and was waiting for him in the harbor. He asked her to come aboard to see what he had got for her. As she saw what he had brought her she became angry. He had gotten her a full load of grains, wheat for bread. The Lady of Stavoren demanded that the wheat be thrown into the sea, into the harbor. The captain tried to stop her, but that made her even more angry. She pulled of her ruby ring, which the captain had given her, and flung it into the water whilst saying: “Sorrow will no sooner come to this city than my ruby ring will return to me”. And she commanded the men to toss the sacks of grain into the sea.
The next evening, the lady sat down at her table to enjoy a feast. When she sliced the fish on the plate before her, she gasped, for there, inside the fish, lay her ruby ring.
That very night many ships were lost at sea in a terrible storm, and within weeks, the wheat at the bottom of the harbor began to grow. As it did, sand gathered between the stalks, and soon sand filled the harbor.
What once was the liveliest and wealthiest port of Europe grew smaller and poorer, and everyone says this was the fault of the greedy Lady of Stavoren, who didn’t understand how precious is the bread, that feeds us.
a raven perches
on Lady Stavoren's head...
The Dutch folk tale is taken from
Kristjaan’s blog, Carpe Diem Haiku Kai,
Carpe Diem #469, Awareness