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Mother Goose Rhymes and the Middle Ages Medieval children learned rhymes and songs from the oral repetition of adults As many as a quarter of the 550 texts in the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes are accurately dated before the 15th Century many were only oral rhymes and not written down until decades after they were first popularly recited In 1978 Helen Cooper pointed to a much larger body of potential medieval nursery rhymes which she collected and modernized in an anthology called Great Grandmother Goose The rhymes in her collection come from a large number of manuscripts and documented records that survive from the thirteenth century forward Thomas 42 There is also folklore inherited from the Middle Ages regarding the personage of the actual Mother Goose Some believe she may have been Queen Bertha who died in 783 AD She was the wife of Pepin and the mother of Charlemagne She is said to have been goose-footed Others argue that Mother Goose was the Queen of Sheba Baring-Gould 16 The most plausible reason for the personage of Mother Goose is from the Medieval English Goose Girl The goose girl tended geese for the entire community as a shepherd tended sheep Johnson 14 Possibly the goose girl sang or designed rhymes to pass the time and passed them down to other goose girls Whoever she is throughout the ages Mother Goose has acted as a storyteller passing down oral history folklore and the superstitions of the past She has helped to document some of the pagan beliefs of the Middle Ages and later Ward 3 The rhymes were commonly called Mother Goose Rhymes in approximately the late seventeenth century In 1697 a compilation of popular folk tales was published in France by Charles Perrault called Tales of Mother Goose Perrault told the fairy tales of Cinderella Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty along with nursery rhymes This is the first known time that this
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