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Creator / Franz Xaver von Schönwerth

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"Nowhere in the whole of Germany has anyone collected more circumspectly, more completely, or leaving so few traces."
Jacob Grimm

Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (16 July 1810 - 24 May 1886) was a German civil servant and collector of legends and Fairy Tales. Although he fell into obscurity after his death, he is one of the most important German folklorists.

Born in Amberg and inspired by the Brothers Grimm, Schönwerth travelled throughout the Upper Palatinate collecting all kind of folk tales, from legends to simple nursery rhymes narrated by ordinary country folk. In 1857-59 he published his three-volume collection Aus der Oberpfalz-Sitten und Sagen (From the Upper Palatinate- Customs and Legends). Unlike the Grimms, who became gradually less concerned with preserving the tales exactly as told after Children's and Household Tales's 1812 first edition, Schönwertz did his best to stick to the original, unchanged tales. He also collected different versions of classic tales like "Cinderella" and "The Bremen Town Musicians".

Most of tales collected by Schönwerth remained unpublished at his death, and they became forgotten until they were rediscovered in 2009 by German scholar Erika Eichenseer. Since then, many of his tales have been finally published in collections like The Turnip Princess or White As Milk, Red As Blood.

Some one of his collections (Märchen aus der Oberpfalz) can be read in the original language here in the German Project Gutenberg (here).

Tales collected by Schönwerth with their own tropes page:

Tropes common to his tales:

  • Abusive Parents: In "The Howling of the Wind" (summarized here), the main character's wife was turned into a dragon by her mother.
  • Accidental Incantation: A folk legend from the Schönwerth collection concerns a man paying a visit to his friend, the sorcerer Zwergl. While the guest waits alone in the sorcerer's room, he picks up a strange book lying atop a cupboard and starts reading. Soldiers come in by the door, with ever more of them entering so long as the guest keeps reading. Eventually the man panics and jumps out of the window; Zwergl comes by and speaks a few words to the soldiers upon which they disappear, then warns his friend "not to touch things which aren't his business". It is implied the soldiers were demons summoned by the magic book.
  • Beary Friendly: In The Turnip Princess (Die Rübenprinzessin) (English translation here and here, a talking bear helps the prince find his bride.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In "Flour for Snow" (Mehl statt Schnee), (summarized here), a woodcutter asks God to turn all snow into flour. His wish is granted, but immediate access to free and limitless food means everybody stop working, and human civilization gradually collapses.
  • Being Good Sucks: In The Raven with the Silver Beak (Der Rabe mit dem silbernem Schnabel), seven young men take part in a witch's coven. Most of them want to become filthy rich to fulfill selfish wishes, but the seventh boy only wants some money to request a Mass for his deceased mother, and he is reluctant to dabble in witchcraft. At the end, he gets nothing except being frightened and harassed by supernatural creatures and berated by his now-rich partners, who divide up his share of the loot.
  • Fingore: In "King Goldenlocks", a shepherd is offered expensive clothes in exchange for his little finger. He promptly bites his finger off.
  • Forced Transformation: In The Turnip Princess, the prince's father and the princess have been transformed into a bear and a witch by a curse.
  • Garden Garment: Wood sprites in "The Three Flowers" and other stories wear clothing made from "spun moss that hangs in ropelike strands from trees".
  • Gypsy Curse: "Gypsies" ("Zigeuner") in Sitten und Sagen are, as a rule, skilled in magic, and are feared for their curses. For this reason, people take care not to insult Gypsies or to deny a Gypsy's request. It is believed someone cursed by a Gypsy won't ever prosper again. Gypsies can wish lice or fleas on someone or (just like witches) curse cows so they don't give milk anymore. A farmer's wife refused lodging to a band of Gypsies and because of that was cursed by an old Gypsy woman; all the children the women gave birth to from that time on were sickly, crippled, or insane, and the women's descendants suffer from the curse to this day.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: "The Glass Mountain (Der gläserne Berg) starts off with a goldsmith reneging on his pledge to marry his son to a farmer's daughter, and the farmer sending his son after the goldsmith and his would-be daughter-in-law. Then he runs into a witch who promises to help him meet the princess of the Glass Mountain, and the whole family feud is forgotten.
  • "Just So" Story: In "The Color of the Snow" (Die Farbe des Schnees), the Snow have to choose its color, but neither the grass nor the flowers will let it wear theirs. Finally, the snowdrop takes pity on the snow and lets it wear its color. Since then, the snow is white, and enemy to the grass and all flowers but the snowdrop.
  • Magical Romani: "Gypsies" ("Zigeuner") in Sitten und Sagen are, as a rule, skilled in magic. This may be explained by them being in league with the Devil or them being in possession of certain ancient magic books. Their considerable magical abilities are manifested in many areas:
    • Gypsies have many magic skills that help them to trick people. They can make themselves invisible and pacify watchdogs. They pay with magic money which later dissolves into thin air, or which magically returns to them (possibly taking some of your own money with it). Most magically, they can "conjure chickens out of their scoop".
    • Gypsies have supernatural ways of knowing things, even the future. Once they enter a house, they know everything which is in the house. Gypsy women especially can see the future. A farmer who has begun a big building project is told by a Gypsy that he won't finish what he started; the man dies before the building is completed.
    • Gypsies are especially good at magically banishing and controlling fire. A recurring tale is that a Gypsy band lodging in a barn makes a fire so big the flames touch the hay on the hayloft or the rafters of the roof, and yet nothing ever catches fire. Another is that Gypsies can clean old barns or buildings from cobwebs by simply burning the webs with a candle or torch; whenever the building itself is about to catch fire, they command the fire to stop by calling "hoy, hoy!" As a demonstration of their skill, they can set fire to a single stem of straw of a whole bundle of straw; the stem burns completely, but the bundle does not catch fire. They can also hold fire to a sheaf of ripe corn so that the stems burn but the grain falls out unburnt.
    • Though Gypsy are feared for their power to curse, they also have the power to bless and will frequently cast spells that protect people who have treated them well from fire, disease, or animal pests. A certain farmer was promised by a Gypsy that his farm would never be damaged by fire for twenty generations. On another farm there are no sparrows, because Gypsies banished them as a thank-you to the farmer. Buildings where Gypsies have lodged often become permanently immune to fire; when a certain village burnt to the ground, the only building left standing was a barn where Gypsies had lodged. Another house that had been immunized against fire by Gypsies suffered no damage when the neighbouring house burnt down, even though the houses were directly connected to each other. Gypsies may also gift magical artifact. One man received a magical rifle; whenever the man shot at a tree or a bush, he would hit a bird or a hare.
    • Gypsies are also good at banishing and exorcising ghosts. A legend concerns a house haunted by a ghost so much that nobody dares to stay in it alone. A Gypsy woman offers to get rid of the ghost and stays in the house alone. The ghost appears and leads her to a pot full of money hidden in the kitchen stove. The ghost never comes back and the Gypsy keeps the money as her reward.
  • Nameless Narrative: Often played straight, but the main character is named in several tales.
  • Noble Fugitive: The titular "King Goldenlocks" runs away from his kingdom when he is sentenced to death.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Wood sprites of Bavarian folktales are described thusly: "Wood sprites, or forest sprites, are tiny creatures that make their homes near hearths. Their clothing is made of spun moss that hangs in ropelike strands from trees. We think of them as enchanted beings hounded by phantom hunters. They live together as married couples and bear children. Their enemies are the phantom hunters, who rage through the lands like wild beasts during autumnal storms. The wood sprites' only protection against them is to take refuge on a tree stump that has three crosses carved into it."
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent:
    • In The Raven with the Silver Beak, the main characters meet up with a talking toad with witch powers.
    • In many tales, the main character must endure to be tortured by dragons, giant snakes or fire-breathing turtles in order to pass a test.
  • Riches to Rags: In "King Goldenlocks/Golden Hair" (König Goldhaar) -summarized here-, after running away from his home, the prince finds work as a gardener's assistant.
  • Rule of Three:
    • In The Raven with the Silver Beak, the main characters wear nine wooden logs and nine pieces of bread.
    • In "King Goldenlocks", the prince's father-in-law has three daughters.
    • In "Learning How to Steal", (Stehlen lernen) -summarized here-, the judge challenges Klaus to steal three different things.
  • Rule of Seven:
    • In The Raven with the Silver Beak, seven men take part in a witch's coven.
    • In "The Howling of the Wind" (summarized here), the main character and his wife have seven children.
  • Talking Animal:
    • In The Turnip Princess , a bear tells the prince how to break a curse.
    • In The Raven with the Silver Beak, the seven young men talk to a toad and several birds during the coven.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In The Turnip Princess, the prince bumps into a witch, a bear and a dog. After the initial meeting, the dog disappears from the tale entirely. Likewise, the monster who chases the prince out of a turnip field will not be mentioned again.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In "King Goldenlocks", a shepherd lets the king's soldiers kill and maim his dog in exchange for fancy clothes without a second thought.
  • Wicked Witch: In "The Deceived Witch" (Die geprellte Hexe), the titular character is an evil witch who kidnaps and imprisons three princesses.
  • Youngest Child Wins: In "King Goldenlocks" (König Goldhaar), the youngest and most beautiful princess ends up married to King Goldenlocks.