You wouldn’t think that medieval times are the best times to look for moral inspiration. Even though it’s considered by many to be a dark unpleasant time, it also had its moments of lucidity. A good example of this are these medieval tales with morals that can help children’s early development.
Be that as it may, we can’t look at medieval tales through the eyes of our present-day thinking. As a result, we have to adapt them to our times without losing their essence and meaning. In this way, we’ll be able to use them successfully with young children up to the age of seven.
Far from observing the Middle Ages as a dark period full of pomposity and illiteracy, through its stories, you can turn it into a time of chivalry, jousting, and princesses that give meaning to a child’s imaginary world.
Of course, once the child is over six-seven years old, it’s better to gradually stop over-sweetening the stories. That way, they’ll have a better understanding of history, and how modern-day thinking has evolved from medieval and classical times.
We’re going to introduce you to two medieval tales with morals. Obviously, they’ve taken a certain license by adding fantasy situations and beings with special powers. However, this shouldn’t detract from the overall teaching of the story. It should, in fact, help the child to create and develop their imagination and fantasy world, which is so useful and necessary for children.
Medieval tales with morals
Merlin the Magician and King Arthur
If there’s one story that amazes children, it’s the one about the relationship between Merlin the wizard and the famous king who would go down in history, King Arthur of Camelot, history, also known as Arthur Pendragon.
Actually, the story of Merlin and Arthur has many sub-tales, morals, and many legends that seemed to have been used in the High Middle Ages to give the founding of the British Isles an almost mystical touch, including magic, noble knights, and powerful maidens.
Legend has it that the wizard Merlin took charge of King Uther’s son. He raised him in the bosom of a noble family without his knowing that Arthur, as he called him, was, in fact, the future King of Camelot.
Moreover, according to legend, Arthur was the only one capable of extracting the magic sword Excalibur from the infamous stone. His father had sunk the sword into the stone and no-one could extract it… except Arthur.
From the tales of Merlin and Arthur, we learn interesting lessons such as the value of humility. Thanks to this quality, Arthur became the greatest king of England. We also see the fascinating friendship that develops between Merlin and the young monarch.
We also see the negative side in the ambition of Arthur’s half-sister, Morgan le Fat, who betrays Merlin and almost ends her half-brother’s reign. She was finally defeated thanks to the courage, friendship, and strength of the Knights of the Round Table.
The Princess of Fire
Many more medieval tales also include legendary kings and warriors, as well as virtuous princesses able to adapt to the morals of the time. Their purpose was informative, didactic, and educational.
In a world where poverty and misery were widespread, humility was a highly welcome value. We can find this value in the tale of the Princess of Fire.
In this story, a very wise and rich princess, tired of empty, inane suitors, asks someone to bring her a valuable gift that’s both sincere and tender at the same time. Only to that person will she give her hand.
Her would-be suitors bring her colorful crowns, large presents, and spectacular bouquets of flowers, among other things. However, she found the answer to her request in a young man who brought her just a simple, dirty stone.
“Dear Princess, this pebble represents the most valuable thing one can give – it’s my heart. It’s also sincere, because it isn’t yet yours, and it’s as hard as a stone. Only when it fills with love will it soften and be most tender than any other.”
-Excerpt from The Princess of Fire–
That stone symbolized the young man’s heart, hard and cold. Only by throwing it into the fire did the princess discover that it was actually beautiful, as it transformed into a beautiful golden image.
This way, she discovered how to distinguish what’s really important from the superficial. As a result, she devoted her life to providing her kingdom with books and education instead of empty, meaningless riches.
Medieval tales with morals draw from the oral traditions of the time, mixing legend and fantasy with interesting values. Their fun, but at the same time didactic, stories make them really useful to adapt to our times and use with children in the first stage of their development.
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