Art by StarTwo
Often stories with a devil’s pact as their theme have the ill-fated hero offer his or her soul as a prize for such deal.
That is not the case in this very old folktale we chose to translate and adapt and now have the delight to share with you!
We invite you to sit back and enjoy this folktale from the Middle Ages colleted by Teófilo Braga!
The Knight And The Pact With The Devil
(translation, adaptation and art by StarTwo)
There once was a powerful and noble knight who albeit being wealthy, spent all his riches irresponsibly, thus falling into great poverty. This knight had a wife who was very virtuous and devout of the Holy Virgin Mary.
A big celebration was occurring where they lived, one which the knight usually contributed to with plenty of gold -not to mention he spent a lot too on drink and food. But, because he had nothing to give this year, he hid in the nearby woods, embarrassed. There he rested, feeling sorry for himself and waiting for the end of the festivities. While he stayed in that place, an astonishing creature on top of an astonishing horse came to him and asked why he was so sad.
The knight explained the whole situation and the astonishing creature said to him: “If you were to do what I ask of you, in return, I would give you greater riches and honours than those you had before.”
The knight promised he would do everything he was asked to do but only if the other one indeed fulfilled all that was promised. The creature replied: “Go back to your house and wherever you may dig, you will find plenty of gold! Now promise me that in return, you will bring me your wife to this place, someday.”
The knight made his promise and went back home, where as the Devil had told him, he found great riches and he began living respectably once again. Then the day to take his wife to the Devil arrived. He got on his horse and instructed her to mount as well and said they were going away. Despite sensing great danger, the wife did not dare to oppose her husband and went with him, praying devoutly to the Holy Mary.
By the side of the road they travelled upon, the wife saw a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. She came down from the horse and went inside, while the husband remained outdoors, in wait. She prayed to the Blessed Virgin until she collapsed, asleep. And behold, the blessed Virgin came from the heavens, took the woman’s appearance, and stepped out of the church to ride in her stead with her husband the knight who didn’t suspect a thing.
They arrived at the agreed place and the Devil came at once with hastened footsteps. But he couldn’t approach the couple at all and hissing and trembling, he cried out to the knight: “False and disloyal knight! Why do you mock me and cause me so much pain when I did you so much good? You promised me your wife and brought the Holy Mary instead! I wanted to take revenge against your wife that offends me with her prayers, and you bring me the One that gravely torments me and casts me to Hell’s abyss!”
Upon hearing this, the knight became so dumbfounded and amazed that he lost his voice out of fear. And the Holy Virgin said to the Devil: “What sort of boldness and ill confidence was yours to presume you could deter my follower? You won’t escape unpunished, for I order you to descend to the abysses of Hell and from now on stop interfering with any person that devoutly calls upon me!”
When he heard this, the Devil left at once, howling miserably and the knight got off his horse and prostrated himself by the Holy Virgin’s feet.
She reprimanded him over his doings and before disappearing, told him to go back to his wife’s side, who still slept inside the church, and throw the riches given by the Devil away.
The knight returned to the church and woke his wife, then told her about everything that had happened. They went back home and got rid of everything they had gained from the Devil. From then on they persevered, served and praised the Holy Virgin fervently. In return, they got rewarded with plenty of riches for their services to her and the Lord God.
According to Teófilo Braga, this tale is also represented and collected in other countries’ literature such as Sicily, Spain, France and in Germany, also has a ballad with the theme of the knight that makes a pact with the devil and offers his wife as payment.
We hadn’t brought forward a religious theme on the stories we translated and illustrated on our blog up to now, but the theme is very common on Portuguese folktales and thank goodness this was about good overcoming evil otherwise, it could have gotten rather grim!
We hope it isn’t too nightmare inducing but then again, we don’t think this one tops our ->Envious Queen folktale!<-
Thank you for reading and as always,