Skip to main content

A-Z Blogging Challenge: B is for 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'

Baa baa black sheep
'Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?  
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full,
One for the master, one for the dame,
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.'

Although this rhyme was first published in 1744 it is believed to have been around for much longer. In fact, it is thought that it was written in the Middle Ages during the reign of King Edward II (1307 - 1327). This seemingly innocent children's nursery rhyme about a black sheep yielding three bags of wool actually has political undertones like many of the nursery rhymes from that era.

During the Middle Ages the wool industry in England was huge and wool was a very valuable commodity. England produced the best wool in Europe and peasants were required to pay their taxes in the form of sacks of wool. They gave a third to the King (the master), a third to the nobility (the dame) and they were allowed to keep the final third for themselves (the little boy who lived down the lane). To be honest, taxes nowadays don't seem quite so bad when you think about it!

I find it amazing that this rhyme has survived for 700 years and that we are still teaching it to our children in the 21st Century.

Comments

nita said…
I love your theme! Definitely following your blog's RSS feed :)
Denise said…
Hi Nita and thanks for following. I'm really enjoying this challenge. Hope you are too!
Laura Clipson said…
I never knew that either! I'm loving your theme, I'm learning a lot, thanks! :)
It's so interesting how many of these nursery rhymes have rather dark themes. I love these posts - fascinating!
Denise said…
Loopyloo - thanks :-) Lots more interesting stuff to come too.

Jaye - it is fascinating and yes, many of the stories behind them are 'dark'. Much more to come! :-)
Maryannwrites said…
So interesting. Thanks for this bit of trivia. Thinking about story developes, one can see how so many nursery rhymes and fairy tales did come out of real life.
laughing abi said…
Even way back then there was no escape from politics & taxes! So does the expression "black sheep of the family" have any connection to this nursery rhyme?
Spanj said…
How absolutely fascinating. I love finding out the roots of sayings, but never thought about nursery rhymes before.

Just visiting from the A to Z challenge.
Marian Allen said…
Good stuff! I love learning the stories behind things I take for granted. :)

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes
Denise said…
Maryann - thanks. Absolutely! They were also often a way of indirectly poking fun at authority although many nursery rhymes were simply plays on words to amuse children.

Abi - 'black sheep of the family' does have a connection with the rhyme. The peasants' sheep mainly had black wool as it was deemed to be of a lower grade than white wool. That's where 'black sheep of the family' comes from. A person who is worth less than the rest of the family.

Hi Angeline. Thanks for dropping by. I also love the origins of sayings and that's what got me on to the nursery rhymes.

Good luck with challenge!
MOV said…
love this! never knew the rhyme was so old.

found you on A to Z, will be back to read more of your letters.

best,
MOV
Anonymous said…
Love the theme, Denise. :)
Denise said…
Hi MOV and thanks for dropping by.

When you start to look into nursery rhymes it's quite fascinating.

Good luck with the challenge!

Linda - thanks!

Sorry to see you're not doing the challenge but you're clearly incredibly busy!

Happy blogging :-)
Linda said…
I love your take on A-Z - can't wait to see what rhyme comes next.
Denise said…
Hi Linda and thanks. Even I'm not quite sure what's coming next :-)
krissyranae said…
Very interesting! I was just teaching this nursery rhyme to my kids a couple of days ago. I love knowing the history behind things like this. Thanks for sharing!
Denise said…
Krissyranae - glad you enjoyed it.
I think nursery rhymes are a great way for children to learn language skills, rhyme and rhythm and have fun at the same time regardless of the meaning behind some of the rhymes.
Very interesting! Amazing the things we learn and don't know how they came to be. Thanks!

Anna@ Herding Cats & Burning Soup
Denise said…
Herding Cats - thanks. I don't think anyone ever wonders about what they mean and they usually just take them at face value but it is interesting to find out the history too.
Jotje said…
You know that we also have this nursery rhyme here in Holland? It's actually a children' s song. Funny to discover it's origin!!!
Denise said…
Hi Jotje and thanks for dropping by.
It's funny when you start to look into these rhymes. They all seem so innocent at first but when you look a bit deeper many of them have quite 'dark' undertones.

Popular posts from this blog

Stop! It's Going Too Fast and I Want to Get Off!

Carousel Okay - I don't actually mean that I want things to stop so that I can get off because I'm having too much fun but, over the last few months, my life has become a daily whirlwind of new businesses, taking on new projects, building websites and building a brand and it's not showing any sign of slowing down. I have loved every minute of it so far but it has meant that so many other things in my life have had to be put on the back burner whilst all this has been going on, including Cupcakes and Cadenzas. It will all have been worth it in the long run but I just want to say thanks to everyone who has stuck around and not abandoned this blog and to say that I haven't forgotten about it or you. Why I love Cupcakes and Cadenzas so much and refuse to give up on it it is that it was the very first blog that I set up and is therefore my 'baby' as far as blogs go. I have several other blogs set up for various business ventures but Cupcakes and Cadenzas is

10 Things About Me You Would Never Know Unless I Told You

10! I often read blog posts which list a number of facts about the blogger and, I have to confess, I love reading them. I'm often surprised at things people do or have done, places they have lived etc. It's funny how you build up a picture of someone you don't actually know and then they give you a few facts about themselves and that picture can be completely changed. So here are my 10 facts. I was going to title the post '10 Facts About Me You Would Never Know Unless I Told You and Probably Wished You Didn't Know Once You Read Them' but that was just a bit too long. Anyway... I studied Wing Chun Kung Fu for several years My ultimate comfort food is a white roll with tuna mayo and Branston pickle. Don't ask I have a tattoo and for anyone who is wondering - yes - it was painful and no - I don't regret getting it. I like love adore Pingu When I was at school I fenced for Scotland (the sport of fencing as opposed to handling stolen goods of

10 Things I Love About Autumn

Well, summer is over and it's now autumn. The seasons are very easy to work out as far as I'm concerned. March, April, May -  Spring June, July, August   Summer Sept, Oct, November Autumn Dec, Jan, February - Winter I love autumn. It's my favourite season of the year and here are 10 reasons why I love it so much. The beautiful autumnal colours of the leaves on the trees. I love the varying shades of greens, yellows, browns, oranges, bronzes, reds and pinks Thick homemade soups and fresh crusty bread. In particular Scotch Broth - there's nothing to beat it Frosty mornings Lighting the fire and the smell of the logs drying out in the log basket beside it Jumpers, knitted dresses and woolly tights Huge mugs of proper hot chocolate made with fresh vanilla, chilli flakes, whipped cream, marshmallows and a dash of brandy. (recipe to follow) Walking through carpets of fallen leaves in the woods with the dogs Curling up on the sofa on a grey afternoon to