Folklore and traditional history [Reprint 2018 ed.] 9783111559537, 9783111188898

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Table of contents :
Table Of Contents
Introduction: Folklore And Traditional History
Oral Evidence And The Historian: Problems And Methods
Homer, The Trojan War, And History
Old Norse Epic And Historical Tradition
The Impact Of Al-Hajj'Umar On The Historical Traditions Of The Fulbe
History In The Oral Traditions Of The Akan
The Testimony Of The Button
Sources For The Traditional History Of The Scottish Highlands And Western Islands
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Folklore and traditional history [Reprint 2018 ed.]
 9783111559537, 9783111188898

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Folklore and Traditional History





© Copyright 1973 in The Netherlands. Mouton & Co., Publishers, The Hague. No part of this book may be translated or reproduced in any form, by photoprint, microfilm, or any other means, without written permission the publishers.

print, from

The contents of this book are identical with those of Journal of the Folklore Institute, Vol. 8 (1971), No 2-3



Janet C. Gilmore Sandra K. Stahl


H. Michael Simmons

Printed in The Netherlands by Mouton & Co., Printers, The Hague.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Folklore and Traditional History, by







Oral Evidence and the Historian: Problems and

Methods ALBERT


B. LORD, Homer, The Trojan War, and History


Old Norse Epic and Historical Tradition .





History in the Oral Traditions of the Akan .

The Testimony of the Button

RICHARD M. DORSON, for theIslands Traditional Scottish HighlandsSources and Western INDEX


The Impact of Al-Hajj 'Umar on the Historical

Traditions of the Fulbe KWAME


42 55

History of the

75 113

Introduction: Folklore and Traditional History

Folk memory selects and retains what it will of the past. Collectors of folktales and ballads can easily enough acquire folk memories, or folk history, but for the most part they shy away from such formless and fuzzy meanderings. How does one identify a text of folk history, and of what value is it to folklorist or historian? A quick answer is, any statement about past events by an informant constitutes such a text, and these texts reveal to the student of man the conception of history held by a group of people in their traditions. As a folklorist trained in history, I have long been intrigued by the question of the historical validity and ethnocentric bias in oral history. In 1961 the Indian Land Claims Commission of the Department of Justice in the United States Government gave me a research contract to investigate this matter. Their interest lay in determining how much credence they should place in the arguments to land title by Indian claimants based entirely or largely on father to son oral tradition. As I pursued the widening circles of research scholarship that dealt with traditional history, I soon discovered that a host of scholarly disciplines had fought bitter intradisciplinary battles over the issue. So many scholars had a stake in the outcome: not merely folklorists and mythologists, but archaeologists, anthropologists, classicists, geologists, historians of every hue, students of religions, the Africanist, the medievalist, the Celticist — and one could keep on adding specialists. Folklore would seem to be the one field with a transcendent interest in the issue leaping the walls of specialized disciplines. The comparative



folklorist must follow the trail of his theme wherever it leads him, and benefit from the researches of all who have worked with traditions. This volume brings together papers from a variety of scholars all bearing on the topic of the historical content within oral tradition. A panel on the topic held at the 1970 meeting of the American Historical Association involved a Slavist, Albert Lord of Harvard; a specialist in old Icelandic literature, Marlene Ciklamini of Rutgers; and an African historian, David Robinson of Yale. Lord's paper dealing with the Homeric epics is a natural outcome of the relationship he and his mentor, the classicist Milman Parry, established between the contemporary south Slavic oral epics and those sung in Homer's day. David Bynum of Harvard, Slavist and folklorist and the student of Albert Lord, chaired the session. Barbro Klein's exciting essay on the scholarly controversy over the traditions surrounding the death of Charles XII of Sweden has its own history. One time in the Irish Folklore Commission I was discussing with archivist Sean O'Sullivan my obsessive interest in oral traditional history, to ascertain the extent of the holdings of the Commission in this area. He knew them well enough of course, but unexpectedly he began to speak of the assassination of Sweden's Charles XII by one of his own soldiers, an historical episode only revealed, after two centuries, through tenacious tradition. A vehement debate ensued over the accuracy of the tradition — all, alas, in Swedish. When Barbro Klein, holder of the doctorate in folklore from Indiana University, returned after a teaching stint at the University of California, Berkeley, to her native Sweden, I suggested to her that she assess the scholarship on the death of Charles XII, and this she has done brilliantly. A generation of Africans trained in oral history, who are writing the histories of their countries in good part from oral traditional sources, is now taking its place on the faculties of African universities. One of these oral historians, Kwame Y. Daaku of the University of Ghana in Legon, served as visiting professor at Indiana University in the spring of 1971, and has kindly prepared for this volume an account of his methods as a field historian who regularly encounters mythological and folkloristic episodes in the chronicles he records. My own paper attempts to examine folklore collections in Scottish archives and publications for their content of traditional history. An American historian like myself cannot as yet find such rich resources for American history, so with some temerity I turned to the Scottish high-



lands and outer islands where history and folklore are notoriously intertwined and the product well collected. Modern Africa, ancient Greece, medieval Iceland, early national Sweden, and the feudal Highlands of Scotland thus provide the backdrop for this collaborative quest into the veracity of word-of-mouth history. Is such history all, or almost all, folklore? Our authors agree in responding negatively; folklore is present, but so is historical content, and perhaps even more importantly, so are historical attitudes of the tradition bearers. RICHARD M . DORSON

N o t e : The Journal of the Folklore Institute has always shown an interest in the problem of oral historical tradition, and has published the following articles that bear on the subject: I : 3 Richard M. Dorson, "Oral Tradition and Written History: the Case for the United States" (December 1964) III: 1 Richard A. Gould, "Indian and White Versions o f ' T h e Burnt Ranch Massacre': A Study in Comparative Ethnohistory" (June 1966) III: 3 Vlajko Palavestra, "Tradition, History, and National Feeling" (December 1966) III: 3 Kiril Penusliski, "Macedonian Local Traditions of Prince M a r k o " (December 1966) I V : 1 Louis Dupree, "The Retreat of the British Army from Kabul to Jalalabad in 1842: History and Folklore" (June 1967) V : 1 Dorothy Vitaliano, "Geomythology: the Impact of Geologic Events on History and Legend with Special Reference to Atlantis" (June 1968) V : 1 Joseph Szovirffy, "History and Folk Tradition in Eastern Europe: Matthias Corvinus in the Mirror of Hungarian and Slavic Folklore" (June 1968) V : 1 David D . Buchan, "History and Harlaw" (June 1968) VI: 2/3 Philip D . Curtin, "Oral Traditions and African History" (August-December 1969)


Oral Evidence and the Historian: Problems and Methods

According to a familiar doctrine, there is no scientific history except in the scholarly, written tradition of western historiography since Herodotus and Thucydides. Writing no doubt does encourage deliberate reflection and accurate statement. A scrupulous historian striving for historical veracity must prize those qualities dearly in other men's depositions about what happened in the past. But at the very best, not every valuable eye-witness or participant in historically significant events has had time or inclination to write down what he knows, not even if he has known how to write or known what writing is, and so every historian from ancient times to the present has sometime had to admit in evidence someone's oral account of historical happenings. Nor does one necessarily need to bend the usual rules of historical evidence to accept such oral accounts as good history. Two or more mutually independent oral descriptions of an event, made by reliable persons who were themselves witnesses to it, may provide the same factual detail and objectivity which one would want in written sources. Indeed, many a prime written source has been constituted out of just such oral descriptions, and historical rationality has suffered nothing thereby. For whether his sources are written or oral, an historian has in either case to be equally alert to the possibility of perjured testimony and its motives, not to mention the natural differences of perception and viewpoint that make one man's witness different from another's regardless of whether it is rendered in written or spoken form. * Dr. Bynum chaired a panel on this topic at the 85th meeting of the American Historical Association in Boston, December 1970. His statement and the three following papers were all presented at this panel. (Ed.)



Some of the problems and methods of dealing with oral evidence are, then, not different from those familiar to western historiography since Thucydides, whose own sources of history were partly oral. If there is any greater or unique difficulty about oral sources of historical information as contrasted with written or archaeological ones, perhaps it is only that oral sources so soon become unrecursible. Properly speaking, oral sources are people; in a short time they die, and there is no dependable way of consulting them once they are dead. That is certainly an outstanding problem, both for them and for the historian dealing with them as sources of oral evidence. In fact, it may be something of a problem even before the men and women who are good oral sources of history have died, because as their plain narratives of historical events circulate among their fellows and compatriots, they can pass with astonishing speed first into hearsay, then rumor, then legend, and perchance finally into myth. It is also not unknown that the legendary or mythical stage of this process has sometimes acted even upon eyewitnesses' own understanding of what they have themselves seen, heard, or done. I do not mean to suggest by this observation that the wish to understand historical events rationally is an exclusive property of historians; on the contrary, all mankind manifestly shares it with them. The problem is only that one man's reason is another man's prejudice or superstition, and one man's history is another man's fable. In the absence of writing - and it has usually been absent - the only explicit means of preserving oral evidence is to continue it orally beyond the lives or lucidity of its original human sources. Thus, if significant amounts of oral evidence are ever preserved orally - and that is a question which we must take very seriously - then oral evidence must become oral tradition, cease to be first-hand narrative, and become instead a property of those who tell tales about other men's deeds in olden times. Are such tales ever history, or do they ever in any way perpetuate first-hand, reliable evidence about real history? Put simply: what exactly is the relationship between oral evidence and oral tradition? It is a literary scholar's proper task and not necessarily an historian's to investigate the curious process of enfablement, whereby plain narrative may be wed to or even displaced by fiction. That process too has been part of western historiography since Herodotus; like the devil, it is widely loathed but ineradicable. No wonder then that men in other



cultures than ours have throughout their histories been as much occupied with fiction as with historical truth, and tended to conflate these two logically distinct categories in a rhetorical form common to them both, namely narrative. Some say that history is only the reification of the opinions that prevailed in the past. If that be true, then men who recall events before their own time may at best easily misunderstand the opinions of earlier men, or at worst deliberately substitute their own more or less plausible reasons to account for past happenings whose true rationale they do not know. Oral traditional fiction is always a rich and ready source of reasonable explanations for past experience. Historians have deplored this fact, while literary people have reveled in it, but whether they like it or not, it is a fact, and a fact of central importance to both the humanities and the social sciences. So the panel whose papers are presented here was constituted partly of historians and partly of literary scholars to explore the relationship between history and oral narrative. They do this from several different regional and ethnic points of vantage, and for the several ages of scientific history: ancient, medieval, and modern. Albert Lord tells us something of our problem in Balkan tradition, in Homeric poetry and after. Marlene Ciklamini takes us then into the medieval Germanic world and the survival of its traditions in Scandinavian saga. Finally, the issues we face here are nowhere felt more acutely than in David Robinson's field of native African history. He brings to this discussion the particular value of first-hand experience with modern peoples of the West African savanna, especially the Fulani. Let us begin, then, at the beginning - not in this case with Hestia, but with Homer, "the great thunder-clap at the beginning of European literature." Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts


Homer, the Trojan War, and History

The literary critic as well as the historian would both like to know what is historical in the epic song. The former wants to know what is historical so that he may determine what the singer has done with historical facts, whereas the latter wants to know what is historical so that he may use the song as a source of history or as supporting evidence. I must confess that the historian has more at stake here than the literary critic or even the literary historian. Homer's songs do not depend on their historical actualities for their greatness. They would be equally great if Troy and the Trojan War and Agamemnon and Achilles and Helen never existed. History and Homer means essentially History and the Iliad. Eminent scholars such as Denys Page, M. I. Finley, G. S. Kirk, and Sterling Dow have written on this topic, but for this paper the basic text is Page's History and the Homeric Iliad.1 The other works to which I shall refer are indeed comments on that book. While Page indicates, of course, that there are historical references to Mycenaean artifacts and weapons and that history lurks in the formulas, his main concern is with the historicity of the Trojan War itself. As evidence for the war he leans heavily on the catalogues of both the Achaeans and the Trojans. These Page sees as unrelated to the rest of the Iliad, and he believes that they represent a description of Greece in Mycenaean times in the form of an Order or Orders of Battle for some great joint enterprise. Since it was about that time, roughly 1250 B.C., that Troy Vila was destroyed by fire, it seems to Page sensible to hypothesize that the two were connected. Both the 1 Denys L. Page, History and the Homeric Iliad (Berkeley, Cal.: University of California Press, 1959).



narrative and the catalogues, Page feels, must be assumed to have developed in oral transmission separately and then to have been put together by someone, presumably Homer, or possibly an editor. Therefore, according to Page, at least the catalogues are historical and useful as history, and they prove the Trojan War to have been an historical event. M. I. Finley, on the other hand, says that there is no proof that the catalogues are in any way connected with Troy Vila and its destruction. 2 He believes it is more plausible to see the Sea Peoples, marauders from the north, as the destroyers of Troy Vila; perhaps the Achaeans, if they have to be brought into it at all, and Finley does not see why they do, were allies of these marauders. Caskey thinks there is no evidence that Troy Vila was destroyed by marauders at all.3 It was destroyed by fire; that is all that the evidence shows. Someone might have started it, even by accident, from inside. M. I. Finley also added to the argument the suggestion that one should look at other oral epic traditions to see what could be learned from them about the relationship of Homeric epic to history. He chose for this the Chanson de Roland, the Nibelungenlied, and the South Slavic songs connected with the battle of Kosovo in 1389. He indicated that, especially, in the first two cases, one could not learn much more about history, i.e., about the battle of Roncesvalles or the battles with the Huns, from the epic poems than that the battles had taken place, that the general event was historical. It is true that there is more fact in the songs about Kosovo. In fact, G. S. Kirk rightly pointed out that the Kosovo songs are not good examples, for the reason that Homeric oral poetry is pure and uncontaminated in its orality, whereas that is not the case with the Kosovo songs.4 He suggested rather that the Moslem epic tradition in the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature might provide better materials for investigation. I shall return shortly to that suggestion. Page retorted to Finley's hypothesis about the Sea Peoples that it was more sensible to believe in something for which there was some sort of evidence, however unsatisfactory, than in something for which there was none at all.5 If he were to make a guess in that category, Page said, he 2

M. I. Finley, J. L. Caskey, G. S. Kirk, and D. L. Page, "The Trojan War," Journal of Hellenic Studies 84 (1964): 1-9 » Ibid., pp. 9-11. 4 Ibid., pp. 12-17. 6 Ibid., pp. 17-20.



would look to the Hittites rather than to the Sea People. I must say that Page comes off rather well in the encounter, although on the strictest evidence Finley (and Caskey, too) seem to have a point. Their cautions are salutary. So opinion runs the gamut from no proof of the Trojan War ever having taken place to the catalogues as giving the order of battle of the Achaean and Trojan coalitions. Let me now turn to what we know about history and oral epic in other areas, specifically, as suggested by Kirk, to the Moslem oral epic tradition in the Balkans as it touches on history. I might add in parenthesis that the parallel with the Chanson de Roland with its magnificent catalogues is an intriguing one, from which there might also be much to be learned. But it would be useful even in regard to that song to look at the Balkan tradition first. At the outset it is necessary to remember that we are dealing in the case of a purely oral traditional poetry not with oral transmission of a more or less fixed text but with a process of constant reworking or recreating of flexible prefabricated units. The fact that one finds a particular configuration and size of a unit (or theme) in a given performance by a given singer does not mean that all his performances of that unit (or theme) will be the same, nor, of course, that the performances of any other singer will be the same in size and configuration (or content). On the other hand, it does not follow that each performance will be entirely new. Clearly the singer has a general idea of the configuration, with certain specific features that recur most of the time, and obviously any given theme will have certain normal dimensions for him. In short the process is not one entailing a unit formed in the past and more or less imperfectly transmitted from the time of its formation. The process is one rather of a unit constantly being formed and reformed, around a flexible core. Each singer develops his own catalogue, which is more flexible in the formative period than after it has once become comparatively set. The more he uses it, the more it becomes fixed from force of habit, and if there are long periods when he does not use it, then he has to reform it from what he remembers or from what he has heard recently. This too is a factor, namely the other catalogues he has heard from other singers, which is more important in the formative period or in a period of drastic reformation after disuse, than it is during a period when the singer is frequently using his catalogue. The processes of composition and transmission are



of importance in judging elements of history in oral traditional epic. These processes should be distinguished from the oral transmission of a (more or less) fixed text. Page conceives of the catalogues in the Iliad as being battle orders formed in the Mycenaean period and kept in oral tradition until they were incorporated into the Iliad. I suspect that he means transmitted orally, but I find this idea hard to accept because I know of no proof that a more or less fixed catalogue existed in Mycenaean times. It would be hard to say when Homer formed his catalogue, and what catalogues Homer had himself heard. The fact that it is inconsistent in many details with the Iliad and even has its own introduction does not mean necessarily that it is not Homer's catalogue, or that it is not Homer's description of his heroic, epic world. It is not necessarily more historical because it is inconsistent with the Iliad. Yet, while there is, I believe, no evidence to justify our treating the catalogue, or catalogues, as historical documents preserved by oral transmission from Mycenaean times, close to that of the Trojan War, or more specifically to the destruction by fire of Troy Vila, it may still be that the catalogues are Homer's own and that they reflect to some extent, at least, the Mycenaean world, even as Page has indicated. There is some amazingly helpful material for this study in the Milman Parry Collection. In a version of the song of the Wedding of Smailagic Meho sung in 1935 by Avdo Mededovic, the singer tells of Smailaga writing letters to thirty-four leaders of the Bosnian Border summoning them as wedding guests to the wedding of his son Meho. The singer goes on then to describe the arrival of the guests at Smailaga's court in Kajnidza. He lists thirty-six arrivals. In this song, therefore, we have two catalogues. We have in addition one more catalogue, or version of this same catalogue, in another song, Osmanbeg Delibegovic and PaviCevic Luka, recorded in August, 1935. In it thirty-seven leaders are summoned by letter. The catalogue is substantially the same as the one in Smailagic Meho. It is Avdo's catalogue of leaders when Bosnia is gathered together for wedding and war. Its size is variable but within easy limits. How about its content? How about the order of the elements? In the 1935 Smailagic Meho, six of the thirty-four leaders summoned did not arrive, and eight of the thirty-six who arrived were not summoned. Yet twenty-eight contingents figure on both lists. Of those twenty-eight the order of arrival follows that of summons fairly well; indeed, only four



are out of order. The next text chronologically is the 1935 text of Osmanbeg Delibegovic and PaviSevic Luka, sung only a few weeks later. In it, all but six of the thirty-seven leaders listed are on the Smailagic Meho lists (and one of them, Jahja pa§a, could not have been on the Smailagic Meho lists because he was not appointed pa§a in Buda until the end of the song!). The order too is similar to that in Smailagid Meho, although not exactly the same. Without belaboring the point any longer, one can say that in the summer of 1935 Avdo had a catalogue of some thirty contingents in a roughly ordered sequence. Where did he get this catalogue? I believe that it is completely provable that he did not get it from any one source, from any one singer or song. He heard short catalogues, short lists of heroes or leaders from Bosnia, and he formed the catalogue himself for his own songs. While he did not form it entirely for the collector's benefit, its length was very probably influenced by the collection. Could it be that Homer did the same? I believe so. In the light of Page's discussion of the Homeric catalogues, it is worth noting too that in Avdo's catalogues many of the leaders and contingents in the catalogues play no role in the songs in which they are imbedded. They are found in the catalogues for the sake of a lengthy catalogue, usable in a number of songs. This is much like the situation in the Iliad, as Page indicates so clearly. So, Avdo has a catalogue, that he has very probably formed himself from shorter catalogues he heard from other singers. His catalogue is useful in several songs, and frequently there are discrepancies between the catalogue and the rest of the song. How about history in the catalogue? I can report on work in progress on that question. The place names seem more reliable than the names of leaders. First the meeting itself takes place in Kajnidia and the dignitary at the head of the meeting is Hasan pa5a Tiro. I have not been able to identify Hasan pasa Tiro, but Kajnidza became a pasaluk in 1600. The first leader summoned in the catalogue is Ibrahim pasa from Travnik. Travnik does not seem to have become the residence of the sandzakbeg who was pasa of Bosnia, i.e., it did not become the residence of the pasaluk of Bosnia until sometime after 1697. I cannot identify as yet an Ibrahim pa§a as sandiakbeg in Travnik, but the last sandiakbeg of the sandiak of Poiega was named Ibrahim pasa, and the sandiak of Po2ega was included in the pasaluk of Bosnia in 1580. If the identification is correct (and I am not at all sure, because Ibrahim



pa§a is a common enough name) then Ibrahim pa5a belongs to another pasaluk, not that of Travnik, and he was pa§a in Pozega more than a hundred years before Travnik became the seat of a pa§a. The second leader summoned was Mustajbeg of the Lika, who is frequently called a beglerbeg in the poetry. The Krcki or Licki sandzak was formed between 1578 and 1580 by taking away some territory from the sandiak of Klis and forming a separate sandiak of Krka or of the Lika. It is certainly interesting that the next leader in the catalogue is the Ajan, or Elder, of Vrlika, which was in the KliSki sandzak. The Nahija of Vrlika is mentioned in documents from 1528 until it was lost by the Turks in 1699. Avdo is in fact, following the sandiaks geographically. The next leader is Fetibegovid of Banjaluka, which was the residence of a sandiakbeg from 1554-80, when the Bosnian pasaluk was founded. I cannot take the time here to go further into detail for all items in the catalogue, but the places mentioned were all known seats of beys or pasas, and the catalogue is historically one of the administrative and military headquarters of the Turks in Bosnia and the northern border. It is very noticeable, however, that the chronology is far from clear. There are many discrepancies. Hasan pa§a Tiro in a pasaluk not founded until 1600 could not summon Ibrahim pa§a from a pasaluk that was discontinued in 1580, if he was in Poiega, or from a place that was not the resident of a pasa until 1697, if he was in Travnik. Yet geographically most parts of Bosnia are covered. A final detail. The catalogue is set in a song the action of which is placed in the reign of Sultan Sulejman the Magnificent, 1521-66, most specifically at the time when Jahja pasa became governor of Buda, namely 1543, fifty-seven years before the pasaluk of Kajnidza was established, whence came the hero of the story. Fact is present in the epic, but relative chronology in the catalogue is confused. Time is telescoped. The past of various times is all assembled into the present performance. What are described are the Turkish provinces in the Slavic Balkans, specifically Bosnia and the northern marches, from the reign of Sulejman the Magnificent until the late seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, perhaps even later. The chronology may be confused; the names of the leaders are not always by any means identifiable, especially with the areas, but the general picture of the longer period is reasonably accurate. It would not be possible, however, to tell what is historical in the songs or in the catalogues themselves without verification from outside sources, from docu-



mentation, for example. Oral epic may reflect the realities of an historical period, if not its details set in chronological relationship to one another. Oral epic presents a composite vision of the past. Working from that basis one could hypothesize that there had been in the past, in the northern Balkans, one or more sizeable military campaigns aimed by Moslem forces of the area at northern Christian strongholds. That was indeed the fact; such was the history of that area at that time, with the campaigns of the sultans against Hungary. By the same token, working from the catalogues in the Iliad of Homer, one could hypothesize that there had been in Mycenaean times one or more sizeable campaigns aimed by the Greeks of the mainland at Troy (or at some overseas area). Without outside documentation or archaeological confirmation I do not believe that one could say definitely that any one contingent was surely present at any given engagement at any given time. In short I believe Page is quite right when he says that the legend of The Trojan War, with its catalogue, is reasonable evidence that a war took place at some time in the past. In this concept of history and oral epic, a mythic tale, such as that of the rape of Helen, becomes attached spatially and chronologically to a great military campaign or campaigns of the past, with which the campaign to return Helen to Greece becomes fused, the fusion expressing itself in the catalogue. To put it in another way, when myth requires the gathering of forces, as in the war of the Titans, or in Ancient Near Eastern epic in the war of Marduk and his cohorts with T'iamat and her forces, a catalogue of contingents, a list of participants, comes into being forming perhaps the first pattern for a catalogue. When the epic in the course of time becomes concerned with historical or presumably historical people, its catalogues become lists of people from historical places, from real places. And these catalogues, therefore, become repositories of places and people from different times but within the same general area. The catalogue does not, I think, exist outside of the epic. It grows together with, yet inside, the epic. Like other more or less prefabricated units in oral composition it lives its own life, with its own amalgam of telescoped history, in the interior of the epic, which, in its turn, may have its own contact with history as well. We have here not a simple picture of epic as a recording of an historical event, a recording of some degree of fixity, which is changed and blurred in the course of oral transmission. That simpler picture belongs to a later



period; for with it a new concept of the role of epic as history is inextricably bound. Such a new concept of scientific history is not Homeric. Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts


Old Norse Epic and Historical Tradition

The term Old Norse epic literature refers principally to Icelandic sagas that were committed to writing starting with the second half of the twelfth century. Many accounts in the so-called historical sagas were dependent upon oral transmission for approximately two to four centuries. Consequently historians have been wary of the accuracy of the evidence. A literary historian has summarized the feelings of most modern scholars about the historical unreliability of many traditions which go back to the period of 800 to 1000 A.D. Gwyn Jones observes in a lecture on Olaf Tryggvason, a Norwegian king of the late tenth century, that "almost two hundred years were to pass" after Olaf's death before the first saga was compiled "about him, and another forty before Snorri Sturluson" (the noted historian of the thirteenth century) "did the same. This was a Yawning Gap indeed, and neither oral nor written tradition provides a bridge back to its farther shore."1 Two hundred years or more are too long a span of time to preserve accurate memories of historical events. This is particularly true of a culture which enjoyed storytelling and considered stories or fictionalized history as part of their heritage. Paradoxically historians have never rejected the sagas' testimony about the past in toto. The reason is that some facts are true and they are true because of the vigorous intellectual interests of the elite during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Two factors contributed to the historical interest and awareness of saga writers in general. The intellectual and political elite in Iceland was proud of its past, and historical consciousness and truth were part of 1

The Legendary History of Olaf Tryggvason (Glasgow, 1968), p. 11.



their cultural heritage. Simultaneously the Church supported historical interest, and ecclesiastical writings, notably Bede's The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, are credited with refining techniques of historical presentation.2 There are many statements in the sagas on the accuracy of accounts. These statements range from anecdotes and lip service to the principle of historicity to expositions on how historical truth may be and is ascertained. In oral literature, intrusions by the narrator are rare. These remarks seem, therefore, to reflect a conscious response to a public demand that serious literature be historically true or appear to be historically true. Interestingly, a learned work, Ari's The Book of the Icelanders (11221133), initiates the discussion on the reliability of oral traditions. In this work, written for two Icelandic bishops, Ari explicates how knowledge of historical events was transmitted. The men who told of past events were actors in or spectators to these events, they were long-lived, had a strong tradition of learning as well as a sense for history, and were known to be truthful in telling about the past. They transmitted their knowledge to a member of the succeeding generation who was equally disciplined in the acquisition and transmission of knowledge.3 Ari's reputation as a historian rests to some extent upon his informants. Their trustworthiness was a quality highly valued in Norse society. Even the language reflects the importance attached to the obligation to be truthful in transmitting knowledge. Not one but two adjectives were used to characterize men whose testimony was considered trustworthy. The adjectives are óljúgfródr and sannfródr, both of which mean "to be truthful in transmitting knowledge," or as the standard dictionary translates the terms, "truly informed, well informed, unlying, accurate as an 2

F o r a discussion of the influence of ecclesiatical writings on the sagas, see Hans Bekker-Nielsen, "Frode maend og tradition," Norren Fortxllekunst (Copenhagen, 1965), pp. 35-41; Björn Sigfússon, Um íslendingabók (Reykjavik, 1944), pp. 77-78. For the influence of West European annals on the chronology of the sagas, see Ólafia Einarsdóttir, Studier i kronologisk metode i tidlig islandsk historieskrivning (Stockholm, 1964). 3 For a reference to Ari's most trusted informants and for the transmission of the names of the iQgsQgumenn, 'law-speakers,' see Islendingabók, Landnámabók, ed. J a k o b Benediktsson ( = hlenzk Fornrit I, part I) (Reykjavik, 1968, chs. 1, 10, pp. 4, 22. A delineation of how historical knowledge about Norway was transmitted from one trusted informant to the next is attributed to Ari by Snorri Sturluson in his prologue to Heimkringla, ed. Bjarni Aöalbjarnarson (—- hlenzk Fornrit XXVI) (Reykjavik, 1941), I, 6-7, cited hereafter as Heimskringla I.



authority." 4 The two compound adjectives are difficult to translate, because they combine the element of credibility with fr6dr, an adjective which denotes learning and knowledgeability. Because of this attitude towards the transmission of knowledge, the sagas, as historians have conceded, contain here and there historically valid accounts or observations. Besides the testimony of reliable eyewitnesses, what other sources of information were available to the historically interested saga writer? I shall first speak about the sources for Norway, although to some extent the remarks about Norway are also valid for the sources on Iceland's socalled saga age, the period from 930-1030 A.D. For Norway these sources are few and consist mainly of genealogical and formal commemorative poems. These poems are classified as Scaldic poetry, a genre that evolved around 800 A.D. Their accuracy depended in part on the vagaries of transmission. Snorri gives the best exposition on the value of these poems. He makes a distinction between genealogical poems which dealt largely with prehistoric times, the period to approximately 800 A.D., and formal court poems which eulogized or commemorated the feats of kings and chieftains either during their life or shortly after their death. While Snorri believed the court poems indispensable for a sound knowledge of the past, he treated the genealogical poem he cited in the prehistoric part of his history with sovereign grace. He admitted that he drew upon tales to elucidate stanzas he quoted as the source of his account. These stanzas were obviously obscure to medieval listeners and oral tradition attempted to provide in story form their meaning. Snorri enjoyed recounting these tales as, for instance, the story about King Dag who was so wise that he understood the speech of birds.5 Modern historians can glean few facts from this poem and a later poem composed in the same style. Their sole function was to preserve a rudimentary knowledge of individual members of a ruling family, their sequence in the ancestral line, their manner of death, and their place of burial. Only one political factor can be inferred with some certainty. The frequency with which the place of burial is stated suggests that the burial 4

Richard Cleasby, Gudbrand Vigfusson, An Icelandic-English Dictionary (Oxford, 1957), pp. 514, 662. 6 "Prologus," Ynglinga saga, ch. 18, in Heimskringla I, 35.



place was a concrete symbol of a ruler's legitimate right to the reign.4 Snorri, conversely, placed great reliance on the trustworthiness of poems delivered in the presence of kings, chieftains, and their court. He explained that no poet would dare praise a ruler surrounded by his retainers for deeds that had not been performed. That rulers considered these poems a record of their achievements is palpable in many saga accounts. The most notable example is perhaps the tradition that Saint Olaf (1015-30) commanded his scalds to keep out of his last battle. They were to observe the course of the fighting so that, when the battle was over, they would be able to compose poems about the event.7 Are Scaldic court poems trustworthy historical sources as Snorri had thought? Snorri himself had added a caveat. In order to be meaningful these poems had to be interpreted correctly. This is the difficulty. For historians not familiar with Old Norse and not familiar with its complexity in diction, word order, and meter, translations are frequently inadequate or meaningless. Even for Snorri's contemporaries, Scaldic poetry was an intellectually demanding art, so much so that Snorri wrote a textbook with copious citations to elucidate the highly allusive diction and metrical possibilities of the genre.8 Can this poetry be relied on when the technique of interpretation has been mastered? The answer is a qualified yes. A leading scholar has pointed out that because of the Scaldic poetry composed by scalds of Saint Olaf, a considerable number of facts on Olaf's youth have been preserved in the first two sagas on his reign (Legendary Saga and the socalled First Saga). The oral records, on which the first saga narrators relied, "could scarcely survive uncorrupt unless they were cast in a rigid form." 9 Even a poetic circumlocution can be meaningful for historians, as I shall show in an example that can be corroborated by independent historical sources. A commemorative poem in praise of Harald the Hardruler (1046-66) uses an unusual circumlocution for God. God is called "the guardian of the homesteads of the Greeks." Calling God "the • Absalon Taranger, "Om kongevalg i Norge i sagatiden," Historisk Tidsskrift (Oslo), 30 (1934-36): 124-127. 7 For the esteem accorded scalds, see G. Turville-Petre, Harald the Hard - ruler and his Poets (London, 1968), pp. 4-5. • Skdldskaparmdl, Hattatal, in Edda Snorra Sturlusonar, ed. Finnur J6nsson (Copenhagen, 1931), pp. 78-252. • G. Turville-Petre, Origins of Icelandic Literature (Oxford, 1953), p. 189.



guardian of the homesteads of the Greeks" was not a poetical liberty. Two facts motivated the poet's choice. Harald had served in the Varangian guard and he had been excommunicated. By referring to the God of the Greeks the poet alluded first to Harald's feats in the Varangian guard, and secondly he invoked the pity of God in that part of the Christian world where Harald's excommunication was invalid.10 These two examples indicate why scholars have tested the historicity of saga accounts by comparing them with the facts culled from Scaldic verses quoted in these accounts. When the statements in the poetry contradict the prose accounts, the prose accounts are called faulty. The consensus is that the poetry preserves reliable facts because poetry characterized by rigid form and complex diction is less liable to corruption than is prose. The limitations of this working hypothesis have been delineated in an article comparing the Old English poem "Maldon" and a memorial Scaldic poem on OlafTryggvason. The article shows convincingly that poetry allows only a "limited presentation of historical truth." Even though the poet may not intentionally falsify events or character, Scaldic poetry like heroic poems contains stock themes. Likewise, the choice of words is partially determined by metrical rules. Geographical directions, such as "from the south" or "from the north," which in some cases might be of intrinsic interest to historians, can be utterly worthless if they happen to be convenient fill-words in a metrical line.11 Because of the nature of poetry, Scaldic poems provided saga narrators with only a limited amount of historic information. They therefore had to rely on stories to endow the few historic facts with life and color. This is recognized by the first writer of the saga of Olaf Tryggvason, who observed that "it often happens that the false is mixed with the true and we cannot better this very much ... and I ask you ... not to doubt the account more than is reasonable."12 This attitude gave the narrator great liberties. If he achieved in diction, ethos, and descriptions a historic 10

Arne Odd Johnson, "Harald Hardr&des dod i skaldediktningen," Maal og Minne (1969), pp. 47-50. The kenning referred to is found in Arnorr Jarlaskald's "ErfidrApa," stanza 19 (ca. 1067), ed. Finnur Jonsson, Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning (Copenhagen, 1912-15), A, I, 353, B, I, 326. 11 J. B. Bessinger, "Maldon and the 6l4fsdr4pa: An Historical Caveat," Studies in Old English Literature in Honor of Arthur G. Brodeur, ed. Stanley B. Greenfield, (University of Oregon, 1963), pp. 31-35. For the quote, see p. 24. 12 Saga Olafs Tryggvasonar af Oddr Snorrason Munk, ed. Finnur J6nsson (Copenhagen, 1932), p. 2.



verisimilitude, his audience would accept his saga not as fiction but as a serious historical account.13 In the Sagas of the Icelanders there is the same blend of fact and fancy as there is in the Kings' Sagas. The core of the Sagas of the Icelanders were genealogies which enumerated soberly the ancestors of farmers and chieftains. A number of these sagas drew upon the rich and usually accurate genealogies preserved in the Book of Settlements, a work that contains more than 5,000 names. The primacy given to these genealogies was motivated economically and socially. Orderly succession to inherited land depended upon correct genealogical information while social and political power was determined not only by personal achievements but by those of one's ancestors as well. The seriousness with which the accuracy of these genealogies was treated can be gauged by the correction of a genealogy as recorded in the Book of Settlements. The correction found in another saga was apparently based on local tradition unknown to the redactors of the Book of Settlements.1* Yet despite their purported historic intent, their enjoyment of antiquarian matter, and their concern for realistic detail, the Sagas of the Icelanders were works of fiction. Even genealogies could be violated in the interest of esthetic considerations. In one of the best known sagas, Njals saga, the author intentionally altered the ancestry of Nj&l and some of the relationships among his family members. He also falsely introduced Njal's dashing son-in-law as the dauntless chieftain of a fleet of ships without a country or family. In actuality this warrior came from the South of Iceland from a district that lay close to the saga's scene of action.15 Njals saga demonstrates perhaps as well as any saga the alternation of fictional matter with demonstrable facts. The saga, for instance, reports realistically a journey day by day. The farms at which the travelers 18 The author of Hrafnkels saga, for instance, has achieved the illusion of historicity by a highly realistic setting and a terse, concise style. The saga is now considered to be fictional though for many years scholars had thought the work historic. For a discussion of Hrafnkels saga as a work of fiction, see E. V. Gordon, "On Hrafnkels saga Freysgo3a," Medium JEvum 8 (1939): 1-32, and SigurSur Nordal, Hrafnkatla ( = Studia Islandica 7) (1940). 14 Porgils saga ok Haflida, ed. Ursula Brown (London, 1952), pp. xxxviii-xxxix. 16 Sigur6ur Nordal, The Historical Element in the Icelandic Family Sagas (Glasgow, 1957), pp. 21-22. See also Brennu-Njals saga, ed. Einar 6l. Sveinsson ( = Islenzk Fornrit XII) (Reykjavik, 1954), pp. xii-xvi.



stopped for the night are named correctly as are the distances between the farmsteads. The saga also contains anachronisms. There are legal descriptions that purportedly mirror legal proceedings from the tenth century, but the narrator is unfamiliar with some laws of that period and simply copied passages from contemporary lawbooks.16 In recent years distrust against the historic value of sagas has grown. Scholars have shown or merely suggested that some descriptions of highly dramatic incidents in historic sagas are inspired by events witnessed by the saga writers.17 Other critics attempted to prove that sagas borrow or copy passages and events from other sagas. In the composition of some sagas a structural pattern has been recognized, a fact that also tends to diminish the historical value of saga accounts.18 Scholars are generally agreed that principally one and possibly two processes are responsible for the fictionalizing of historical matter. These are the process of elaboration and the process of telescoping many single happenings into one notable event. The process of elaboration is particularly evident in saga accounts about the period before 1000 A.D. The Swedish scholar Weibull has demonstrated this conclusively in a number of articles. Early medieval historic sources, Weibull points out, have little to say about contemporary figures who are prominent in sagas of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.19 Less research has been done on the telescoping of events. The reason for this is that there is a scarcity of reliable contemporary sources against which saga accounts can be checked. Saga accounts of King Valdimar's " Karl Lehmann, Hans Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Die Njälssage insbesondere in ihren juristischen Bestandtheilen: Ein kritischer Beitrag zur altnordischen Rechts- und Literaturgeschichte (Berlin, 1883). 17 The burning of Njäl's farm, for instance, is thought to be modeled on the burning of Flugumyrr in 1253. For the burning of Flugumyrr, see fslendinga saga, in Sturlunga saga, ed. Guöni Jönsson (Reykjavik, 1954), 2: 434-445. See also Björn t>6röarson, "M6Öir J6ru biskupsdöttir," Saga I (1949-53), pp. 289-346; R. Heller, "Laxdoela saga und Sturlunga saga," Arkiv for Nordisk Filologi 76 (1961): 112-133; Baröi Guömundsson, Höfundur Njälu (Reykjavik, 1958). 18 See Theodore M. Andersson, The Icelandic Family Saga: An Analytic Reading (Cambridge, 1967), for an analysis of the structural elements (introduction, conflict, climax, revenge, reconciliation, aftermath) in the Sagas of the Icelanders. R. Heller, "Studien zum Aufbau und Stil der Väpnfiröinga saga," Arkiv for Nordisk Filologi 78 (1963): 170-189, does not even broach the question of oral tradition. The saga is a work of fiction in that a central idea (friendship and good will conquer evil) dominates the plot. The device of parallel scenes conveys this central idea. " Curt Weibull, Källkritik och historia: Norden under äldre medeltiden (Stockholm, 1964).



invasion of Norway provide one clear-cut instance of telescoping. According to a contemporary Danish source there were two invasions, one in 1163 and one in 1168, after which peace was concluded in 1170. The sagas speak of only one invasion and telescope events which stretched over seven years into a span of two (1163-70 versus 1165-66).20 At this point no single criterion to test the historicity has proved dependable. In each saga the proportion of fact to fiction varies as well as the devices by which historic verisimilitude is achieved. The recognition of fictional matter in the historic sagas is therefore still contingent upon the minute examination of individual sagas. Rutgers University New Brunswick, New Jersey


Halvdan Koht, "Noreg eit len av St. Olav," Historisk Tidsskrift (Oslo), 30 (193436) : 103-104. For the primary sources, see Fagrskinna, ed. P. A. Munch and C. R. Unger (Christiania, 1847), ch. 273, pp. 182-183; Magnuss saga Erlingssonar, chs. 23-29, in Heimskringla III ( = lslenzk Fornrit XXVIII) (Reykjavik, 1951), pp. 399-406; Saxonis Gesta Danorum, ed. J.Olrik and H.Rseder (Hauniae, 1931), bk. 14, xxix, 14-18; xxxviii, J-9; xli, 1-3, 448-449, 462-464, 480-481.


The Impact of Al-Hajj 'Umar on the Historical Traditions of the Fulbe

The lives of a vast number of people in the area of today's Mali, Guinea, and,Senegal were substantially altered in the nineteenth century by a movement of Islamic renewal and expansion led by Umar Tal, a cleric and member of the Fulbe ethnic group. In this paper I hope to suggest something of the impact that Umar made upon the Fulbe, particularly those responsible for recording and transmitting history to future generations, and to stress the interrelationship of oral and written sources and the importance of the perspective preserved in the purely oral material. The Fulbe form large minorities in all of the savanna states of West Africa from Senegal to the Cameroun. In terms of social stratification, they break down into the familiar pattern of (1) nobles and free men, (2) artisan groups, and (3) servant groups.1 The artisan groups are generally endogamous and transmit specific vocations to their descendants. In the Far Western Sudan (Mali, Guinea, Senegal) they include three kinds of oral historian or praise-singer. The awlube (sing, gawlo) and mäbube (sing. mäbo) tend to associate with the more sedentary Fulbe, to rely relatively little on musical instruments, and to specialize in the recitation of genealogies and lists for rulers. They probably used musical instruments a great deal more in earlier times, particularly before the creation of the 1

For the social structure of the sedentary Fulbe (Tokolor) of Futa Toro, see Y. Wane, Les Toucouleurs du Fouta Toro. Stratification sociale et structure familiale (Dakar, 1969), and H. Gaden, Proverbes et maximes peuls et toucouleurs traduits, expliqués et annotés (Paris, 1931). For the Fulbe of Futa Jalon (in Guinea) see Alfa Ibrahima Sow, Chroniques et récits du Fouta Djalon (Paris, 1968), especially pp. 3-13. For the Fulbe of Nigeria see C. E. Höpen, The Pastoral Fulbe Family in Gwandu (Oxford, 1958) and D. J. Stenning, Savannah Nomads (Oxford, 1959).



Islamic states of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Historically they have been rather closely linked to the states and courts created by Fulbe nobles in Futa Toro, Bundu, and Futa Jalon. The wambâbe (sing. bambâdo), on the other hand, have been attached to the pastoral Fulbe rather than to the major political formations and continue to rely heavily on musical instruments, especially a five-string guitar called the hoddu. In terms of general vocation the Fulbe can be classified into pastoral, agricultural, and clerical. The "original" and "prototypical" Fulbe vocation is the pastoral one, and the values associated with cattle and that genre de vie are rarely completely abandoned, even by Fulbe farmers. 2 The sedentary or agricultural vocation emerged in particularly favored areas such as the middle valley of the Senegal River (Futa Toro) or the mountains and hills of northwestern Guinea (Futa Jalon) and permitted the creation of a more extensive political structure. A "clerical tradition" has existed among the Fulbe for at least a thousand years but became much more important in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when groups of Muslim Fulbe consciously created states committed to government by the SharVa or Islamic law in Bundu, Futa Jalon, and Futa Toro. 3 In this new context an increasing number of primarily sedentary nobles and free men adopted the vocation of Islamic learning and teaching. Some of these clerics acquired a sufficient knowledge of Arabic to read, understand, and write the language. Some clerics and some non-clerical Fulbe also acquired an ability to write their first language (Pular or Fulfulde) in Arabic characters and developed a tradition of prose and verse writiqg in Pular. 4 Umar Tal was born just before 1800 and lived until 1864.6 He came from Futa Toro (Senegal) in the far west of the area of Fulbe habitation. 8

For an initiatory text of pastoral Fulbe from the Senegalese Ferlo see A. Hampate Ba and G. Dieterlen, Koumert, texte initiatique des pasteurs peuls (Paris, 1961). 3 A recent reformulation of this tradition is Philip D. Curtin, "Jihâd in West Africa: Early Phases and Interrelations in Mauritania and Senegal," Journal of African History 12 (1971): 11-24. * This written Pular tradition was particularly strong in Futa Jalon. See the work of Sow cited in note 2 as well as A. I. Sow, La Femme, la vâche, la foi. Ecrivains et poètes du Fouta Djalon (Paris, 1966), and C. Seydou, "Essai d'étude stylistique de poèmes peuls du Fouta-Djallon," Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN), Série B, 29 (1967): 191-233. 6 For the most accessible recent summaries on Umar's life see J. Abun-Nasr, The Tijaniyya. A Sufi Order in the Modern World (Oxford, 1965), pp. lOlff., and B. G. Martin, "Notes sur l'origine de la Tarlqa des Tiëaniyya et sur les débuts d'al-ljajj 'Umar," Revue des Etudes Islamiques 37 (1969): 267-290.



He later taught near the Futa Jalón (Guinea) and established his Islamic state in the largely Mande areas of the Middle Niger and Kaarta (Mali). He is known from his pilgrimage to Mecca around 1825-30, the dissemination of a new Islamic form or grouping called the Tijaniyya, some confrontation with the expanding French sphere of influence, the conquest and subjection of predominantly non-Fulbe people, and the creation of his Islamic state or Caliphate. Those who generally approve of his mission and efforts remember him as a great scholar, miracle worker, reformer, military leader, and statesman. Those descended from Umar's opponents claim that he discriminated against the pastoral Fulbe and against nonFulbe, that he was an invader and imperialist, and that he distorted Islam by claiming too much revelation and power for himself. They point particularly to his attack of another Muslim state, the Caliphate of Hamdullahi (Masina, in today's Mali). What is incontrovertible is that he deeply influenced the lives of his contemporaries and their descendants in the Far Western Sudan. Any adequate system for categorizing the historical sources on Umar Tal must, of course, distinguish the initial testimony or "witness" and the various informants involved in the chain of transmission down to the time of written or taped recording.® Each testimony and informant should be examined from the standpoint of social class, geographical location, sociological function, ecological situation, musical accompaniment, audience, oral or literary mode, and language. It should include non-Fulbe as well as Fulbe traditions. This has not been done for Umar and will require a long collaboration of scholars in various places and in various situations. Only then will it be possible to complete the task of literary and contextual criticism. Here I wish simply to describe four crude categories of early Fulbe sources and modes of transmission, proceeding from the more literary and Arabic to the more completely oral and Pular. The examples are taken from materials collected in Senegal.7 * As set out particularly in the pioneering work on oral tradition in Africa, Jan Vansina's De la tradition orale (Brussels, 1961; English translation published in 1965 as Oral Tradition). ' The oral materials are from my collection ("Fonds Robinson" or FR, hereafter) made in 1967-69 and deposited both at the Instituí Fondamental d'Afrique Noire in Dakar and at the African Studies Association Center for African Oral Data (at the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University) in the form of tapes of the original sessions and written French translations. Indexes to the Fonds Robinson are found in the Bulletin of IFAN, series B, 31 (1969) and 32 (1970). The manuscript example given below comes from the manuscript collection of Philip Curtin ("Fonds



The first category consists of Arabic sources written after Umar's death by Fulbe scholars attached to the "Umarian movement." It should be distinguished from a range of other Arabic materials: those written by Umarian scholars while their leader was still alive, materials by Saharan and North African Arabists, materials composed by West African opponents of Umar and the works of Umar himself. 8 In addition to general biography and treatment of military campaigns, the sources of this category emphasize Umar's pilgrimage, learning, direct ties to the founder of the Tijaniyya and to the Prophet, and ability to perform miracles. In this they parallel the emphases of the next two categories to be considered. These sources were taken from the oral tradition and extant Arabic documentation and written in Arabic sometime in the late nineteenth or twentieth centuries. Chains of transmission have not been well established. One such source is the "basic text of the divinely ordained miracles and noble talents of our Shaykh and Lord" (or Kitab Main al-'aja'ib) written by Tierno Malik Diallo of Kidira in eastern Senegal on the basis of information supplied by a certain Tierno Samba Wele.9 The last copyist(s) had little ability in Arabic as evidenced by his division of words at the end of the lines and his omission of important passages. The original composer(s) of the document (whether Diallo or someone before him) knew Arabic rather well as shown in the clear progression of narrative within the various segments of the manuscript. At this time it is impossible to determine the time of original composition or the mode of transmission. Diallo's passage on the launching of Umar's campaigns in 1852 runs as follows: ... The King of Tamba — may Allah be pleased with him — accepted [Umar's residence at Dinguiraye, near Futa Jalon] but only on condition that he [Umar] pay a fixed tribute every year. Our Shaykh [Umar] met that condition and lived in Dinguiraye. He settled his disciples there for three years and purchased the instruments of war, such as guns, swords and arrows. Now the King of Tamba, whose name was Yimba, heard of this [purchasing and teaching] and sent his messengers to al-hajj 'Umar to forbid him to agitate Curtin" or F Q of which the original copies are at IFAN and microfilms of which are found at the Cooperative African Microfilm Project (at the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago). 8 Umar's most important work was ar-Rimah [The lances], completed in 1845. See the sources cited in note five. 9 From the Fonds Curtin 7, films 1 and 2 . 1 would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Curtin for allowing me to work with this manuscript.



the people further. The messengers of Yimba stayed a while before returning. One of their number was a jarejo [Pular form of a word designating an oral historian or "griot" of Mande origin] named Jeli Musa. They expressed their king's concern and Shaykh 'Umar received them hospitably. As the messengers were preparing to return, Jeli Musa came to Umar, told him his name and swore allegiance to him. Umar responded: 'Jeli Musa, it is necessary for us and for you that you go back with the messengers until you [plural] come to the deserted area [?]. Then you [singular] will return to us.' Jeli Musa agreed and said to them [the messengers]: 'I have decided to return to al-hajj 'Umar and become a Muslim. Here are the king's horse, gun, sword and sheath. Tell him that I have chosen the side of al-hajj 'Umar in place of his own, that I have become a Muslim and joined the religion of Allah.' Thus he abandoned pagan religion and returned to al-hajj 'Umar. The messengers went to the king and told him everything that happened, including how Jeli Musa became a Muslim. From that time on the king hated ['Umar] intensely. The king then sent a messenger to al-hajj 'Umar to bring Jeli Musa back, threatening to use force if necessary. The messenger set out for Dinguiraye, came to al'hajj 'Umar and informed him of his mission for the King of Tamba. Our Shaykh 'Umar then gathered all of his disciples and consulted them about whether Jeli Musa should return to the pagans or stay with the Muslims. The opinions varied. Some said: 'We must send him back. We do not dare to fight Yimba, because of our small numbers and provisions.' Others said: 'We certainly must not send a Muslim back to pagans, even if it costs our lives, wealth and protection.' Then 'Umar said to the messengers: 'You have heard the words of the council. Go to Tamba and tell the king that we cannot return Jeli Musa.' They returned to Tamba and recounted to the king the news, from beginning to end. When he heard that he became so terribly angry that he forgot the decree of Allah and commanded the beating of the assembly drums [?]. The people gathered and asked: 'What is the report?' The king said: 'Take the army and go kill al-hajj 'Umar.' They hastily marched to Dinguiraye and the cavalry units, which formed the heart of the army, were well prepared for combat. Our Lord al-hajj 'Umar said to his people: 'You must have patience until they actually enter our village. Wait for my command.' That was the way it happened. They entered the village. Then al-hajj 'Umar said: 'Servants of Allah, seize those asses and sons of filth!' Spears and gunshots filled the air for a while. Then the sons of filth turned to flee... . 10 The significance of this version of the 1852 events will appear more clearly as we compare it with the versions found in the next two categories of sources. Other groups of materials are written Pular sources (in Arabic script) composed by noble Fulbe from the sedentary and scholarly milieux. Only 10

Taken from pp. 11-13 of my translation of the Kitab Matn.



one such source has been published and obtained wide circulation. Composed by Mohammadou Aliou Tyam, an original resident of Futa Toro who joined the religious leader about 1846, it takes the form of a Qasida, an Arabic verse form adapted in certain West African Fulbe areas, and runs almost to the prescribed length of 1200 verses.11 It was probably developed over a number of years in the late nineteenth century and represented a widely-shared, almost official account of the history of Umar. It was probably designed for frequent recitation among Umarian followers, perhaps both by noble and "artisan" (awlube and mabube) spokesmen. It places relatively greater emphasis than many Arabic sources on the events of the middle of the century, probably because this was the time when Tyam and other followers were with Umar. The themes of Umar's learning, miracle-working, and Tijaniyya connections were not neglected. Tyam's account of the events of 1852 runs as follows: Yimba was blown up with anger almost to bursting that the Shaykh [Umar] had settled nearby and would not go away. Then Yimba began to send threats and more threats and more threats to the Shaykh, the strong one who does not grow weak. Through gentle words and the gift of many things of all kinds [by Umar] the imbecile [Yimba] became increasingly arrogant towards him who does no wrong. The Shaykh arranged an agreement to confuse him until he became stronger, until he acquired the means to attack him who refused to convert. Yimba then believed himself to be above all and became even more arrogant because he did not understand the Shaykh, the knowing one who does not get confused. When Yimba heard about the guns [collecting] at the Shaykh's camp he sent his men to order the guns to be brought quickly to him: Bandiugu, homonym of Fareng, he and Jeli Musa and Mohammadu, the one from Labata, the good ones who will never be wicked. The Shaykh consulted the leaders of Futa [Jalon] and his intimate counselors about the response to the envoys of the wicked ruler. These leaders were Alfa Yusufa and Mohammadu, a Seydiyanke [ruling family of Futa Jalon] who said that Futa could not stop him [Yimba]. The counselors were Tierno Amadu Umakala, and Usman, son of Samba Dyewo who does not get confused. 11

Published with the translation and editing of Henri Gaden as La Vie d'El Hadj

Omar: Qafida en Poular (Paris, 1935).



The leaders said to return the guns, the others said not to return [them], the Shaykh said: 'Return them? That we cannot.' When they [the messengers] left and reached Kambaya Jeli Musa said: 'Return to him [Yimba], I am not going back.' They returned and told him [Yimba] that Jeli Musa was waiting to obtain [the guns] before returning. Then Yimba said: 'Return, come back at the same time as Jeli Musa, that way you'll come back more quickly.' When they had retraced their steps as far as Dinguiraye they swore allegiance to the Shaykh, allegiance unto death that they would not break. Three rainy seasons were passed at Dinguiraye, the Shaykh built [walls] while waiting for the nay-sayer who refused to convert [Yimba]. Each day and night the Shaykh put out some men to watch, some spent the day there, some spent the night. Now Yimba aroused the country in order to do evil to the men of Allah and the Prophet who commit no sin. People were recruited as far as Gangaran and Kouroukoto, as far as Galamnadyi; all were gathered to aid The army of the filthy, cursed by Allah in the Koran, the book of the Prophet who commits no sin. By contrast the group of Allah is present, prepared by Allah and the Prophet who will not be anxious [on the Day of Judgment], They are the brave, good, patient ones, who do not break their commitment; the limits defined by Allah and the Prophet they will not cross. On the Wednesday, at dawn as the eyes begin to see clearly, Yimba opened the attack of his wings [of his army] against the city which has not been forgotten. They came with courage and resolution and confidence, but when they came to the city, instantly they were put to rout. From then till dusk, there was nothing but massacre and binding [of prisoners] and weeping from the nay-sayers of Allah, the wicked who refuse to convert. No one knows the number of their dead...12 Another category of sources are the awlube and mabube historians who draw directly or indirectly upon Arabic sources. Before the Islamic movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these oral traditions were primarily attached to the ruling lineages of the sedentary Fulbe communities and states. Most of these lineages were non-Muslim or only nominally Muslim. It was not difficult for them, however, to shift their praise to the new Islamic leadership of more recent times and to adapt their traditional techniques. Amadu Ndiaye, one of my informants "

This is my translation of Gaden's French taken from pp. 29-33 of Tyam, Qafida.



who falls in this category, is the great grandson of Salif, a mabo companion of Umar who became one of the recognized historians of the Umarian regime. 13 Amadu and his ancestors have departed sufficiently from their tradition of strictly oral training to learn Arabic and use an Arabic manuscript attributed to Salif in their performances. In my sessions with Ndiaye he read aloud a paragraph of the Arabic, translated it into Pular, and then provided a Pular commentary. He then proceeded to read the next Arabic section. Ndiaye's grandfather helped Gaden immensely in the annotation of Tyam's Qasida and seemed thoroughly familiar with that source. Ndiaye's account of the 1852 events goes as follows: Shaykh Umar stayed three years at Dinguiraye where he paid a tax to the head of the region, a certain Yimba. He [Umar] and his followers used all of their possessions to purchase guns. After three years Allah forbade Umar to continue to pay the tax to an unbeliever. Given the force acquired by Umar he could not give combat and was so authorized [by Allah] on condition of being provoked. Yimba sent his men to collect the tax and Umar answered them: 'Go tell your master that I will not pay the tax this year as in the past. Allah has advised me to refuse.' The envoys communicated the message to their overlord while Umar made his preparations to crush the pagan leader. Yimba gathered his four most intimate counselors, Mbandiong [or Bandiugu?], Fareng-Tokoma, Malpasso and Jeli Musa and sent them to request once again the payment of the tax. They transmitted the message to Umar who asked for suggestions from his own counselors, believing that Yimba had indeed sent his trusted advisers. The Koran says: 'He who is curious will be rewarded, he who has the practice of seeking advice will never regret it.' Therefore Umar convoked his four counselors, taken from Futa Toro and Futa Jalon: Amadu Makal, Mohammedi Seydiyanke and two others from Futa Toro. He asked the Futa Jalon counselors for their advice and they replied: 'Given the inferior strength of your forces in relation to Yimba's and the fact that we did not come here to fight, it would be better to give him what he asks for and not compromise our situation.' On the other hand, the counselors from Futa Toro said: 'We came here to fight in the way of Allah, who has himself commanded us to wage the jihad. In addition, Allah has said that if we die in the faith [or jihad] we will go directly to Paradise. Therefore, regardless of the consequences, we urge you to refuse to pay the tax and we are ready to fight for the faith in Allah and Muhammad.' Shaykh Umar then said to Mamadu Malpasso: 'Go tell your master that we refuse.' 13 See FR, Amadou Wendou Node Ndiaye, session 2 of April 7-8,1968, and Gaden's comments in Tyam, Qafida, p. ix.



... The envoys of Yimba reported their conversation and Umar's refusal to their master. Umar's counselors encouraged their leader to prepare for a fight with Yimba. Jeli Musa ... returned to Umar to convert, declaring that he had never seen a man who dared oppose his chief and that Umar clearly had the support of Allah. Yimba began to prepare for war. He said to his men: 'Tomorrow you will bring the foreigner [Umar] to me. If he wishes us to be kind towards him, we will be. Otherwise, if he wishes to fight, I will triumph and burn all the Futa.' Umar commanded his men to prepare for war and retired to meditate in his room, warning his men not to interrupt him on fear of death... During the three days of meditation Yimba's warriors attacked unceasingly Umar's camp. After his retreat Umar ordered the drums to be beaten to prepare for war... 14 The strong similarities in the three versions argue for close relationships among these three categories of sources and between the oral and written modes in general. They agree that Umar spent three years in Dinguiraye under Yimba's jurisdiction, offering some kind of regular tax or gift in recognition of that fact. They picture Umar as biding his time and amassing weapons towards a day of reckoning. Tension increased between Yimba and Umar until Yimba felt it necessary to send a special delegation to demand that his subject renew his ties of allegiance, whether by paying the tax, returning the guns or forcing Jeli Musa to go back to the Tamba court. Jeli Musa's conversion to Islam is important. The sources all stress Umar's consultation with his followers, and picture some as favoring capitulation (those from Futa Jalon or the more adjacent area) and some as proposing a refusal of the demands (those from Futa Toro or the more distant area). All stress the need for the Umarians to be provoked and attacked as a way of validating thejihad. The three accounts are clearly parts of traditions and transmissions that have been interrelated or "contaminated" in the period since Umar's death. Unfortunately it is not yet possible (and may never be) to unravel the chains of transmission and get back to firmer categories of sources or original "schools of interpretation" about Umar. On the other hand, much of the interrelation of oral and literary modes of transmission and of the versions of awlube, mabube, noble and clerical historians, is due to the impact of Umar himself. He brought together around himself people of diverse origin and social grouping, spread the practice of Islam and literacy in Arabic, and narrowed the gap between the cleric and the ordinary village inhabitant. Some of this impact is 14

FR, Amadou Wendou Node Ndiaye, session 1 of March 6, 1968.



implied in the 1852 story. Jeli Musa was a jarëjo or oral historian attached to the Jalonke or Mande-speaking court of Tamba; his equivalent in Pular would have been a gawlo.16 Jeli Musa had apparently acquired important diplomatic as well as historical functions at Yimba's court and his conversion to the Umarian cause was clearly understood as a blow to the traditional kingdom, perhaps because of the example it would provide to other Jalonke inhabitants. Once he became a partisan of the Umarian movement, the jarëjo probably devoted his traditional skills to the service of his new leader and may well have learned Arabic in the same way that Ndiaye's great-grandfather Salif did. He is known to have remained with Umar's son Amadu Sheku and the Umarian state until their capture by the French in 1890-93.16 All of the first three categories of sources "participate" in the Umarian past and of necessity take a favorable view of the movement launched by the Fulbe cleric. A fourth category, that of the wambàbe historians attached to noble pastoral Fulbe, is not so conditioned. The bambâdo strums a refrain on his hoddu or five-string guitar and recites his story in phrases of varying length. My impression is that the words are not fixed but that certain formulas and themes are constantly repeated. The patrons of thé wambâbe were seldom part of the core of the Umarian movement and, in some cases, felt quite hostile to the demands for a more sedentary and strictly Islamic life made by the Umarian Fulbe. Consequently, the historians themselves show little interest in the biography and hagiography of Umar, express the resentment of noble pastoral Fulbe, and mock some of the rigidity of the new regime. The story which follows points up these dimensions as well as some of the problems connected with a purely oral source. The performer is Bani Guisse, a bambâdo from Futa Toro.17 He attended Koranic school and is a practicing Muslim. For several generations his family has been attached to semi-pastoral and sedentary Fulbe, and Guisse has frequented Dakar and other centers of European influence. He does not, however, know either French or Arabic and appears to have preserved the bambâtfo tradition. He calls this sung story an njaro, which probably goes back to the same root as jarëjo and indicates the shared terms and customs of the Fulbe and Mande-speaking peoples of the West African savanna. The 15 16


See Gaden's glossary in Tyam, Qaçida, p. 226. Tyam, Qaçida, p. 30«. See FR, Bani Guisse, sessions 1 and 2 of March 2 and 3, 1968.



njaro seems to be a genre for describing the exploits of any figure of heroic proportions, perhaps especially one fighting in a losing cause. The setting is the Umarian state as it existed under U m a r ' s son, A m a d u Sheku, and the main figure is a leader of pastoral Fulbe named Bubu Ardo Galo. The narrative goes as follows: The Bambado speaks of Bubu Ardo Galo, Anta Galo, Kunta Galo, Ngurori Galo, Bubu is one of those for whom the njaro is made. One day Amadu Sheku was waging the jihad and came to Bubu's village to urge him to convert. Bubu answered that he did not know what it meant to convert. Amadu replied: 'Conversion means to believe in God and his Prophet, pray, fast, render justice, give alms and limit the number of one's wives.' Bubu had 100 wives, however, and replied: 'I will not. Neither my father, my grandfather nor my great grandfather did it and I never will either.' Amadu swore to fight Bubu if he persisted and to kill him.' Bubu said: 'The clerics of Futa Toro have nerve. They dare come to my country to force me to convert. Given what this Halwar [Umar's birth place] cleric wants me to do, I'll do it but only in private and only to abandon this religion afterwards.' Amadu Sheku prepared his army. When his jawando [counselor] asked him what he planned he answered that he was going to fight Bubu. The jawando said: 'You underestimate the force of that man. Don't fight him, especially not with guns.' Amadu then asked what he should do. The jawando replied: 'You must use the method of your father and grandfather. Take the rosary, turn to the east and ask Allah for aid against Bubu.' So, at dusk Amadu dressed in white and turned to the east. Bubu came in the middle of the night on his horse, the two armies fought and Bubu routed a part of the army of his adversary. The next day Amadu convoked his men and said: 'Yesterday Bubu killed many of our number. Let us thank Allah nonetheless, he would be satisfied even if there were only one person alive to defend religion.' The next day Bubu defeated Amadu's forces again. Amadu continued to encourage his men: 'Courage, we're fighting in the name of religion, consequently any man who dies will go to Paradise.' The battling continued and Amadu continued his khalwa [private meditation]. Each time he saw [in a vision] a victory for Bubu. After the fourth battle he meditated and again saw Bubu winning. When Bubu returned home Allah gave him a change of heart. He told his people he intended to convert. In the company of his trusted collaborators and his bambado Galo Segelle [author of this njaro] he went to Amadu's house with his hair all braided and decorated with jewels, cowries and horn. Amadu asked him why he'd come and Bubu said he wanted to convert. Amadu responded: 'Do you know what conversion means?' Bubu said no. Amadu responded: 'If I tell you will you accept it?' Bubu said yes. Amadu ordered him to remove



the horn, cowries and jewels and to shave his head. Then he ordered him to make his bambatfo come with the guitar, took the guitar, broke it and burned the pieces. He commanded Bubu to reduce to four the number of his wives, then gave him a house and said they would go together [Amadu and Bubu] to the mosque each morning, afternoon, evening and night [from then on]. Later, however, the people of Masina, who were not accustomed to praying, found Galo Segelle and asked him: 'Please go find Bubu Ardo Galo and tell him to abandon this religion that we are not accustomed to.' Galo answered: 'I can convince him, but I'll need a guitar.' They found a woodworker who made them a guitar. When he finished they cut the throat of a bull and had a mechoui [meat feast]. The bambado put the strings on the guitar and said: 'If they find out I have a guitar, it will be too bad for me.' Everyone promised to say nothing. Galo waited for nightfall and then went into Bubu's room where he was asleep with his wife. He began to play and sing: Bubu Ardo Galo, Bubu Anta Galo, Bubu Kunta Galo, Ngurori Galo, Pulo [sing, of Fulbe] who never walks alone, Pulo who never eats alone, Pulo who can mount more than one horse, Pulo who wears more than one robe, Pulo who throws himself in front of a swarm of arrows, Pulo who is better than all Hamdullahi [capital of the Masina Caliphate]. Bubu awoke, jumped up and murmured: 'That voice sounds like Galo Segelle.' Galo answered: 'It's me, Galo Segelle. Come, I'm going to repeat what your relatives have said, to lead them out of this religion that they do not know.' Bubu said: 'I'm the first to want to abandon it. I was accustomed to enjoy life but now I'm constrained to do that which I don't understand. Go tell those who sent you to come tomorrow mounted on horseback.' The next morning all the Fulbe cavalry came to Bubu's compound. At the same time a man of Amadu Sheku's entourage was saying: 'We have no more confidence in the Fulbe.' Amadu answered him: 'Hush, I've already noticed that, for a good while now I've not slept at night, I know they want to abandon. Wait and see what they'll tell us.' The Fulbe arrived and Bubu got down from his horse and went in to Amadu's house. He said: 'Have I not been here before?' Amadu said yes. Bubu replied: 'Was it not I who converted?' Amadu said: 'Yes, it was you.' Bubu continued: 'I abandon the religion.' When the Futanke ["of Futa"] tried to reply, Amadu stopped them and said: 'Leave him to me.' Then Bubu left. That evening Amadu Sheku began his khalwa again and saw Bubu. The next day they fought and Bubu won. The following day also. Then Amadu said: 'Tomorrow he'll come convert or we'll kill him.' The next day they fought all day long. At dusk Bubu reflected and almost decided to convert, then gave up the idea.



Amadu went into meditation and saw himself taking Bubu's gun, putting it in a chest and keeping Bubu's horse. He said: 'Now we'll win.' The next morning they fought strenuously again. Bubu was killing as usual many of the warriors of Umar [sic.] He wished to cross a little stream but his horse lost its balance and Bubu was drowned. And that is how Amadu Sheku defeated Bubu Ardo Galo." As in the previous illustrations, the role of the oral historian is not passive. Like Jeli Musa, Galo Segelle helps to initiate the action of the story. In this instance, the singer finally returns to his traditional mode of life as represented by the guitar and the freedom from restriction. In a situation where traditions favorable to the regime of Umar and Amadu Sheku tend to dominate, accounts such as Guisse's assume great importance. The reliability of this version for historical insight is, however, open to severe question. The sections of the narrative are probably not in the right order, and two historical and geographical contexts have been mixed. This becomes evident when the references to Hamdullahi and the Masina Caliphate are linked with the history of the Middle Niger in the early nineteenth century. There one finds a pastoral Fulbe leader named Bubu Ardo Galo fighting against a clerical Fulbe leader named Amadu Sheku (or Amadu Lobbo). 19 It seems evident that Guisse and his predecessors have taken an earlier Masina tradition and linked it with the late nineteenth century traditions surrounding the son of Umar and the imposition of the rule of immigrants from Futa Toro over the indigenous Fulbe and other inhabitants of today's Western Mali. The transposition may have initially been made consciously as a way of saying the resentment of pastoral Fulbe under the Umarian state was analagous to that of Bubu Ardo Galo. If this is true, then the account remains useful as a commentary on relations between the Umarian clerics and statebuilders and the pastoral Fulbe. Yale University New Haven, Connecticut

" FR, Bani Guisse, session 2 of March 3, 1968. " William A. Brown, "The Caliphate of Hamdullahi, ca. 1818-64. A study in African History and Tradition," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1969, pp. 128, 194-195.


History in the Oral Traditions of the Akan

An area of nearly a mile in circumference was crowded with magnificence and novelty. The king, his tributaries and captains were resplendent in the distance surrounded by attendants of every description fronted by a mass of warriors.... The sun was reflected with a glare scarcely more supportable than the heat from the massy gold ornaments which glistened in every direction. More than a hundred bands burst out at once on our arrival with the peculiar airs of their several chiefs. The horns flourished their defiance and the beating of the innumerable drums and metal instruments and then yielding for a while to the soft breathings of their long flutes, which were truly harmonious, and a pleasing instrument like the bagpipe without the drone was happily blended. At least a hundred large umbrellas or canopies which could shelter thirty persons were sprung up and down by bearers with brilliant effect, being made of scarlet, yellow and most showy cloths and silks, and crowned on the top with crescents, pelicans, elephants, barrels, arms and swords of gold.1 The above description may apply to a durbar of chiefs, especially Akan chiefs, in any part of modern Ghana. The umbrella tops, the drums, horns, gold plated linguist staffs and all that Bowdich saw in 1817 were telling stories and eloquently depicting the heroic deeds of the departed ancestors. Before him a visiting Dutch delegation under Huydecoper had also been accorded a similar impressive welcome. Nor was this only a feature of Asante court. In the earlier centuries European delegations to African rulers had also been fittingly welcomed. John Konny of Ahanta received a Dutch delegation in the 1710s with several soldiers forming a guard of honor, and amidst drumming and dancing.2 The kings of 1 T. E. Bowdich, Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee (London, 1819), pp. 34-35. Huydecoper, Journal of the Visit to Kumasi (Mimeographed, Legon, 1962). J. Dupuis, Journal of a Residence in Ashantee (London, 1924), pp. 70-72. » K.Y. Daaku, Trade and Politics on the Gold Coast, 1600-1714(Oxford, 1970), p. 142.



Akwamu and Denkyira had also been known to have fittingly welcomed their guests. On the coast, one of the occasions that the Europeans looked forward to was the annual dance festival of the Fetu, to which they were usually invited. And as far back as 1482, the ruler of Elmina had treated the Portuguese governor, Don Diego de Azambuja, to a similar welcome when he arrived to negotiate for land on which to build their castle.3 During such orderly and impressive ceremonies or durbars, history is literally and figuratively outdoored. At such times E. H. Carr's definition of history as "that undying dialogue between the present and the past" truly finds expression among the Akans. This periodic reliving or reenactment of the past enables people to learn the general outlines of the history of the whole state. It must, however, be pointed out that such festivals are not only a feature of the Akan states; many African peoples such as the Yoruba, the Bakuba, the Baganda, to mention but a few, hold festivals in one form or the other in which the past is vividly brought into the minds of the living. The Masai and the Embu of East Africa also have elaborate ceremonies in initiating age sets and generation groups.4 From all accounts these periodic festivals have had a long history going back to the very foundations of the states. For the past to be scrupulously reenacted, these societies have devised many methods to aid them in the transmission of their traditions. In all the preliterate African societies these traditions were handed down by word of mouth with a number of mnemonic devices. Let me define what I mean by oral tradition. By this I mean any stories designed to teach the history of a people, which are passed on by word of mouth. Oral traditions have been the main method of teaching the history of many African peoples, and it is by studying them that the Africans' view of themselves and their relations with their neighbors may be understood and appreciated. It must be admitted that in the past two decades African history has traveled an appreciably long way. It has progressed from the period when one eminent British historian could describe Africa as sleeping for several centuries "forgotten of the world and by the world forgotten." Since 1964, when Professor Trevor Roper expressed surprise that undergraduates • J. W. Blake, Europeans in West Africa, vol. 1 ( = Hakluyt Society Service, no. 86) (London, 1941), p. 64. K. Y. Daaku, p. 64, footnote 1. 4 Muller Fetu, see David Birmingham, "A Note on the Kingdom of Fetu," Ghana Notes and Queries 9(1966): 31 -33; Satish Saberval, "Oral Traditions, Periodization and Political Systems," Canadian Journal of African Studies 2 (November, 1967): 158.



should ask to be taught African history, which to him is nothing but "darkness" or, at best, "the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes in picturesque but irrelevant corners of the globe,"6 research in African history has been advanced in several areas. What is surprising about Trevor Roper's "surprise" is not the fact that the eminent professor was ignorant of African history as such but his dangerous assumption that there could ever be any group of people anywhere in the world without any sense of their history. It is not unlikely that Trevor Roper's dismay over students' demands to be taught African history stems from his uncomfortable realization that his pet idea, held by many of his kind, that history is "primarily a concern with the tracing and development of Western Civilization," is no longer tenable.6 It is the object of this paper to show how the Akan of Ghana preserved and still preserve their history. Although the Akan model cannot be directly applied to other African groups, a knowledge of the devices they have adopted to record and to recall their past can help to determine where to look for the history of other preliterate groups. The Akan form about half of the total population of modern Ghana. They are essentially matrilineal. The basic social organization is the family. They are organized in eight principal exogamous clans. Politically they are monarchical, each town or village having its own chief. The various chiefs owe allegiance to a superior chief who is the head of the Oman, or state. This is the Omanhene or Paramount chief. The most important symbol of authority of the Akan is the stool, and certainly the best known of these stools and the most revered is the Golden stool of Asante.7 Most, if not all, of the Akan states have a tradition of having developed their institutions of chieftancy and their culture in Adanse. In Akan mythology it is where God started creation. This fact is well enshrined in their drum music. Thus on festive days the talking drums of the chiefs beat the refrain:


H. Trevor-Roper, "The Rise of Christian Europe," The Listener 28 (November 1963): 871. For replies to Trevor-Roper's assertion see Roland Oliver, African History for the Outside World (London, 1964); J. D. Fage, On the Nature of African History (Birmingham, 1965). " J. D. Fage, ed., Africa Discovers her Past (Oxford, 1970), pp. 1-6. ' K. A. Busia, The Position of the Chiefs in the Modern Political Systems of Ashanti (London, 1951), pp. 96-99, R. S. Rattray, Ashanti (Oxford, 1923), p. 290. K, Y. Daaku, p. 163.



Noble Ruler, you hail from Adanse Where the creator created things.8 Among the several devices adopted to preserve their history and tradition may be mentioned the pouring of libations, the music of the drums and horns, the creation of special linguist staffs, oaths, songs, proverbs, and funeral dirges. To a people who settle most disputes by having recourse to history it is of supreme importance that members of the various families and clans tell their stories to their young for, as they aptly put it, "Tete ka asom ene Kakyere," that is, ancient things remain in the ears, which means traditions survive only by telling them. Again their respect for history is made explicit in the frequent assertion that "Tete are ne nne," i.e., the very same ancient things are today, or history repeats itself.9 One of the devices for preserving traditions, especially those of rulers, is by making stools for departed chiefs. On the death of a chief his favorite stool is blackened and kept in a special stool room. The room is usually in charge of a court official, the Nkondwasoafohene, head of the stool bearers. He is expected to know the chronological order in which the stools are arranged in the room. On each fortieth Sunday, the Akwasidae, libation is poured by the chief and his elders on the stools. On such occasions the names of all the ancestor chiefs who died in office are mentioned with their special attributes and bynames. This among other things enables the chief to remember all the departed ancestors. It is from these stools that one can have an accurate list of kings who had reigned previously. It is interesting to note that libation is poured on all important occasions when the chief and his councilors feel the need to invoke the guidance and blessings of the ancestors. Stools are also created for all the important councilors of state and heads of clans. When pouring libations, chiefs attempt to summarize the history of the people. Not only the departed ancestors, but all the principal tutelar deities are also called upon and the beliefs and norms of the people reiterated and reaffirmed. A chief may call upon his ancestors and gods in the following manner: " J. H. Nketia, Drumming in the Akan Communities of Ghana (London, 1963), p. 154. See also K. Y. Daaku, Oral Traditions of Assin-Twifo (Legon, 1969), traditions of the Assin-Nyankumasi and idem, Oral Traditions of Adanse (Legon, 1970), traditions of the Akorokyere. • R. S. Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs (Oxford, 1914), p. 189.



Lord God ominipotent, drink, Mother Earth, whose day of rest is Thursday, drink, Great Deity Bonsam, drink, Nana Agya Ananse Obooman (destroyer of towns) Nana Yeboa Asuama, etc., drink.10 From such a short libation one will be able to learn much. Let us take the name Agya Ananse Obooman. Agya Ananse was the most famous of the captains of the king of Denkyira. Because of his many successful wars he earned for himself the appellation Obooman, destroyer of towns. From the words of a libation the historian may have a good start with his informants. Explanations of phrases used always lead to the unfolding of the history of the town or state. Libations tend to underline the important landmarks in the traditional history. Names and events that people want to hide from the researcher are freely mentioned on such occasions. Another important and certainly one of the most sacrosanct devices in recording history and aiding memory is through the institution and the use of oaths. Oaths are normally instituted to commemorate calamities or national disasters, events such as defeats in war, sudden and unexpected deaths, epidemics and other events. Oaths may, therefore, be defined as the public repetition of such disasters. It is believed that unless the spirits of the ancestors are properly atoned, the dead would take revenge when such disasters are mentioned. One may therefore invoke a public oath only to show the seriousness of a cause. This is often done when people are disputing over something. The complainant may invoke a chief's oath and on the strength of it will force their dispute to be heard in public. All important chiefs have their own oath in addition to state or national oaths. When citizens do not get satisfaction from a lower court they may invoke the oath of a higher chief and thereby remove their case to a superior court. From the historian's point of view the importance of the oaths lies in the fact that the people know precisely the events which these oaths commemorate and how and when they came about. Some of the popular oaths are the Ntam Kese Mmiensa and the Koromante Memenada of Asante. The former commemorates the deaths of Opoku Ware's father and his two brothers while the latter was instituted when Osei Tutu, the founder of Asante, was killed on a Saturday in the Asante War against Akyem in 1717.11 The Denkyira have the oath Benada ne Denkyira 10

K. Y. Daaku, Oral Traditions of Denkyira, p. 128. Priestley and Wilks, "Ashanti Kings in the Eighteenth Century: a Revised Chronology," Journal of African History 1 (1960): 90; Dupuis, p. 232. 11



- Tuesday and Denkyira - which commemorates the day they were defeated by the Asantes. Closely related with the oaths may be mentioned the music of the short horns and drums. Both usually are played to sound the motto of a chief. In most cases these mottoes are adopted either after victory or defeat in wars. Examples from Assin may well illustrate the importance of these mottoes. The early settlers in Assin are known as the Eti. In the course of the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, the Etis were overrun by the Fanti who later were followed by some Asante immigrants. The Eti are now subjects of the Fanti and Asante immigrants who are presently known as the Assins. Although the immigrants and the aborigines are now mixed, and speak the same Twi dialect, they still observe different festivals and try to show their political, social, and economic differences in various ways, as is exemplified in the following messages. The horns and short drums of the Eti usually sound the flourish Firi tete, firi tete; yenka nkyere mo! Borebore Fanti betoo Eti, Eti koronkoron. 'Tis of old, 'tis of old, let it be known Bobore Fanti came to meet the Eti, the true and holy Eti.12 And one will not have to seek far for the truth of this, to which the political and social organization bear eloquent testimony. The Assins in particular still look back nostalgically on the gold-rich land from which they were ousted by the Asantes. Their feeling still runs through the short message of the Omamhene of Assin Attandansu when these words are sounded Assin gyamenanpon Ahia yen, ahia henyinaa, "Assin, gyamenampon we are reduced to utter poverty," or Dee oyee me, dee oyee me, dabi meye no bi, "He who brought this on me must know I shall take my revenge one day." With this music of short drum and horn pieces it is easier for the historian to ask fruitful questions to learn the causes of migrations, and the political set-up in such a society. For although the Assin wield the political power, economically many of them depend on their Eti subjects who own most of the land. Perhaps no written document could well illustrate this plight better than the beautifully made goldplated linguist staff of one of the important Assin chiefs, Assin Nyankomasi, which depicts the spider that has taken refuge on a ceiling. According to the chief this symbol shows how the once powerful and wise king now 12

K. Y. Daaku, Oral Traditions of Assin-Twifo, Bosomadwe Traditions.



owns nothing but lives on the charity of others. 13 It is interesting to note that the traditions of Adanse, the former home of the Assins, bear testimony to the latter's former glory. In Denkyira the short drum of the paramount chiefs beats the tattoo "Kotoko Som Amponsem," that is, the Porcupine (Asante) is subject to Boa Amponsem, the King of Denkyira, 14 to show that Asante was once a tributary to Denkyira. In addition to all these devices must be mentioned the all too important drum, the Talking Drum. In the Akan set-up the one who plays the drum is among the most privileged, and is certainly the most knowledgeable person with regard to the traditional history. Popularly known as the Odomankoma Kyerema, the Divine or Creator's drummer, the drummer was believed to be one of the earliest functionaries at the court of the king, and this he himself proclaims on his drum in this way. Odomankoma boo adee, Borebore boo adee, Oboo deeben? Oboo Esen, oboo Kyerema, Oboo Kwawuo, Kwabrafo titire. When the creator created things, When the manifold creator created things; What did he create? He created the court crier, He created the Drummer, He created the Principal State Executioner.15 The court crier maintains order and is sent on several errands, and in addition he also recites praise poems at court to show the power and reputation of the king. The drummer of the Talking Drums is expected to be able to call on the names of all the ancestor chiefs in their chronological order, calling on their bynames, telling of the noble deeds and of the places of origin. In addition he must know the appellations of the elders of the chiefs, and be able to call their proper names and use the appropriate words which go with them whenever thay take the floor to dance on important occasions. In short, the principal drummer may be very well described as the chief historian of the state. Among other things 13

Ibid., Traditions of Assin-Nyankumasi. J. K. Kumah, "The Rise and Fall of the Kingdom of Denkyira," Ghana Notes and Queries 9 (1966): 35. K. Y. Daaku, Oral Traditions of Denkyira, p. 13. 15 J. H. Nketia, p. 154. 14



the drummer of Denkyira may give messages such as these on any Akwasidae festival. Very early in the morning he calls the names of the first drummer of the state to bid good morning to the chief and the people in the following words: Amponsa Saamoa se oma wo Akye, aku, oma wo akye abraw amu.

Amponsa Saamoa bids all of you good morning. After going through the bynames of the chief, the drummer may recite the attributes and the symbolisms of the state, to show the power of the ruler and his position in the whole state. Here I will give only a few examples: Moma yenkoma Odikoro, akye, Moma yenkoma Obirempon akye, Odikoro mawo adwa a tena so Obirempon ma wo adwa a tena so Na Obirempon na oman wo no koronkoron, koronkoron.

Let's go say good morning to the chief, When the noble one gives you a seat take it, For it is to the noble one that the state belongs.

A second example: Adawu, Adawu Denkyira menesono, Yesore a yefre menesono, Yekoto a yefre menesono, Obi ntutu mmirika nkohwe Denkyira Meneson, Menesono da ye a, Wanyane, Wanyane koronkoron, koronkoron.

Let everyone hasten to cast a glimpse on mighty Denkyira, Denkyira which swallows up whole elephants. When we kneel down it is to the mighty Denkyira, When we rise up we look up to Denkyira, If Denkyira went to sleep it is now awake, The Swallower of elephants is truly awake.16

In these words the drummer brings to mind the once all-important Akan state, which was brought to its knees in 1701 by the rising Asante. In spite of the defeat, the drummer still calls on these bynames and symbolisms to show and honor the state. Interestingly it is not only the drummer of the states who gives these attributes to Denkyira; in some of the songs of the hunter's association the name of Denkyira as an all-powerful and allconquering state is frequently mentioned. Today, as of old, it is not un19

K. Y. Daaku, Oral Traditions of Denkyira, p. 285.



common for a successful elephant hunter after he has shot an elephant in his moments of elation to burst out into the following strain: Duedu Akwa, Father Duedu Duben, Oben and Denkyira, trier-of-Death The Hunter has done well! The Hunter deserves to be congratulated.17 In killing the elephant, then, one can well compare himself to the once powerful Denkyira. It will be a mistake to assume that all historical traditions of the Akans are court-centered. Admittedly the chief as the principal political agent who is also at the very center of the social organization is expected to know and to preserve all the important traditions of the state. At the same time it is expected of every citizen to be able to recount the history of his clan and family. Whoever is unable to quote history and traditions to support his claim to particular property, especially to land, may soon see his patrimony taken away by one who can make a better historical claim. And in social situations such as funeral celebrations, history is also constantly invoked. It is in the funeral dirges of the Akan that every citizen's knowledge of history is very much put to the test. A good mourner must know of the dead ancestors of the departed friend or relation and, like the drummer at court, be able to tell from where one first originated, and what he was able to achieve in life. Dirges, then, may be defined as "traditional expressions stored up in the minds of individuals and recreated by them in appropriate contexts."18 Among the Akans each clan has its own dirge forms which are sung in times of death, and these invariably trace the deeds of the dead person to those of the founding ancestor. On the death of a member of the Bretuo clan, especially a royal of the Bretuo of Gyamase in Asante, the dirges usually end with the following words: Noble Adu Gyamfi said, He was going to vanquish the thousand and the mighty The results of his exploits would be Displayed in the capital (Kumasi) during the Akwasidae Noble Adu Gyamfi, who made Kumasi wear gold nuggets Adu Gyamfi's grandchild hails from Wonoo.19 " " "

3. H. Nketia, p. 81. J. H. Nketia, Funeral Dirges of the Akan People (Achimota, 1955), p. 3. Ibid., p. 156.



This dirge sums up the exploits of Adu Gyamfi, who played a significant role in the conquest of the gold-rich state of Bono-Takyiman in the 1720s. For a member of the Dwamuana lineage the following dirge may be heard at his funeral. Grandchild of Minta that hails from Dunkesease. Grandchild of Obeeko Asamoa that hails from Bonkaben. Grandchild of Obiyaa that hails from Aborodesu, Grandchild of Otu that drinks water trickling down the rock Grandchild of Yeboa Oko, the offspring of a Tia man, ... Grandchild of Ohene Kwabena that hails from the cave in the rock If he is going back to the cave, we should not prevent him, For it is his place of origin.20 The above dirge not only mentions the last habitat of the deceased, but takes it to the cave where his ancestors were supposed to have lived. In 1701 Denkyira was defeated at Feyiase by Osei Tutu of Asante. This defeat led to the dispersal of the members of the Agona to many parts of Ghana. Feyiase then marked a new era for the Agona. It marked the nadir of their political fortunes, and is therefore an event always remembered with sorrow. The following dirge sums up what Denkyira was like, when and where it fell. Ntim Gyakari, the wealthy noble Who led his Nation to its doom at Feyiase, Ntim Gyakari's grandchild hails from Feyiase the field of battle.21 In this short dirge, the mourner not only mourns the departed relative b u t also the tragic ending of the once powerful state of his ancestors, and compares the tragedy which befell Denkyira at Feyiase where Ntim Gyakari lost his life with the death of the friend, viewed as a similar event for the family of the deceased. In spite of all these devices, it must be pointed out that the Akan historian is always faced with a number of problems. The most obvious is one of dating. Although the stools and king list may tell of the number of kings, the Akan, like other African peoples, is primarily interested in events. His concept of time, like that of the Bakuba, is not mathematical but based on ecological facts or structural recurrences, such as droughts, 20 21

Ibid., p. 182. Ibid., p. 143.



periods of epidemics, wars, and reigns.22 Also the traditions tend to attribute events to a few successful rulers. Warrior kings are always said to have fought all kinds of wars, whilst all laws may emanate from a particular ruler. The Asantes attribute most events to Osei Tutu and Opoku Ware, Denkyira to Boa Amponsem and Kwodwo Otibo, and Akwamu to Ansa Sasraku. Although the Akans have an interesting device to record events and count weeks, this is not accurate enough to make any absolute dating possible. In several Akan areas, the priests of the traditional deities perform the work of time keepers. At Gomua Mando, for instance, there is a state timekeeper who records weeks and months by the use of raffia threads. On every Friday a piece of raffia is tied to the priest's wrist, and the old one removed and hung up in a special room. The Sunday of every sixth week is the Akwasidae, when libations are poured to the departed ancestors. These pieces are tied up in groups of six. Eight such bundles make the Akan year. By such means the priest is able to determine the proper time for sowing and harvesting and when annual festivals may be celebrated. It must be admitted that such a device can only show relative but not absolute time. An equally interesting method of counting the length of reign is found in Takyiman. Each year a gold nugget is dropped in a special receptacle to indicate the successful reign of a chief.23 To supplement these methods of dating and try to arrive at some time near any absolute the traditional historian tries where possible to correlate his recordings with accounts of European traders who had been on the coast since the fifteenth century. When available, Arabic records may be used. And where possible, attempts are made to relate the stories to some well-known events, like the battle of Feyiase, Mankattasa (Macarthy War), Sagranti War, and Sir Genent Wolsey's War, locally remembered as Too too, the strange sound of the Snider rifle. People also remember such occurrences as epidemics, earthquakes and eclipses, which enable the historian to fix an exact time. It is also in the field of dating that the works of other related disciplines such as linguistics, botany, and archaeology come in handy. Although oral traditions are strong in reconstructing political and 22

J. Vansina, Oral Tradition (Chicago, 1965), p. 100; "Recording the Oral History of the Bakuba," Journal of African History 1 (1960): 43-51. 23 E. Meyerowitz, The Akan Traditions of Origin (London, 1952); C. Flight, "The Chronology of the Kings and Queenmothers of Bono-Manso: A Revaluation of the Evidence," Journal of African History 11 (1970): 259.



social histories, they are not altogether unhelpful in economic history. Depending on the type of questions the researcher asks, and the type of people he approaches, one is always able to reconstruct any aspect of a traditional history. There are still people who know something about the organization of trade in the precolonial times, what items and currencies were involved and how these were obtained. Indeed some of the proverbs and witty sayings of the people and their popular songs are full of references to social, economic, and political events. There are popular songs about firearms, gunpowder, beads, and blankets of all types, showing where they were made and what values were placed on them. There are also traditions of associations and craftsmen. All these together enable the social and economic historian to attempt a reconstruction of the traditional economic patterns. But like documentary evidence, oral traditions must be treated with care, since they are mainly political and legal testimonies to present what data the narrators want their listeners to hear. Despite shortcomings, the Akan oral traditions, like similar traditions of other African people, are the best evidence the historian of Africa can employ to understand the Africans and their history. They enable us to understand their ideas and relations with other people. How for instance did the Akan view his relations with the European traders? For an answer one may look into Akan proverbs about foreigners. The Akan realized that the white man was not there for his love of Africans or for any altruistic reasons other than to improve his fortunes. Hence the assertion, "Se ohia nni Abrokyire a anka oburoni ammeketa ne ntoma wo Abihirem(Had there been no poverty in Europe the white man would not have come to spread his clothes in Africa.) There are several such sayings that may help the historian to understand the people he deals with. In work and at play, means were devised to disseminate knowledge of history. The Akan used methods not very dissimilar from the Bakuba of the Congo who make the study of history a joy for the young. History is passed on through play and songs and thus unconsciously children learn what the society considers must be known by all. Bakuba children "sitting in circles usually around one or more adults, play games enlivened by songs. The children reel off the names of ten animals, birds, plants, chiefs and national heroes of the region." Whenever one is able to give the correct names the people sing a chorus in approval. The slightest misquotation sends one out of the "

S. R. Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, p. 158.



game. Here the most humiliating penalty for one who cannot recite his group's traditions faultlessly is to be made the laughing-stock of the members of the community.26 It can be seen that history plays an essential role in the lives of African peoples. Among the Akans it is brought up vividly on special occasions for the citizens to be inspired by the glorious past of their ancestors. On typical festive occasions people rededicate themselves to the ideals of their founding fathers when songs and objects depicting the various phases of their history are shown in public. The umbrella tops tell stories of bravery in wars, the horns defiantly flourish the mottoes of chiefs, and the music of the drums that Bosman described in the seventeenth century as "the most charming Asses Musick that can be imagined"28 contains phrases which bring the past to the consciousness of the present to serve as inspiration for the future. To the Akan and to many Africans, history must be scrupulously relived in festivals and on many social occasions. And for life to have meaning the traditions that form the basis of the history are always passed on from generation to generation. To understand the history of the people the historian must be versed in the oral traditions which in many places still remain the vehicle for the transmission of history and all that Africans hold dear. University of Ghana Legon, Ghana

" T. Kanyinda-Lusanga, "The Utilization of Oral Tradition in the Study of PreColonial Political Institutions in the Congo." Paper read at the East African Social Science Conference, Dar es Salaam, 1970. " J. Barbot, A Description of the Coasts of North and South Guinea (London, 1732), p. 264; W. Bosman, A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea (London, 1721), p. 118.


The Testimony of the Button

About nine o'clock on the evening of Sunday, November 30, 1718, King Charles XII of Sweden was shot through the head and killed while besieging a Norwegian fortress near Fredrikshald (today's Halden), not far from the Swedish border. At the moment of death he had been supervising soldiers digging trenches, and was officially presumed the victim of a chance shot from the Norwegian fortress. The bullet that killed the thirty-six-year old monarch ended eighteen years of foreign wars that had drained and divided the country. It also put an end to Sweden's territorial ambitions and to her cherished role as a great European power. The king's sister Ulrika Eleonora and her husband Fredrik of Hessen succeeded to a throne that would never regain the power and prestige lost to it through the spectacular career and early death of Charles XII. Two centuries later, on May 25,1932, master smith Carl Hj. Andersson of Horred paid a visit to folklorist Albert Sandklef, director of Yarberg's Museum in the province of Halland in southwestern Sweden;1 in his hand he was holding what Sandklef later termed a "curious object": two half-spheres of brass filled with lead and soldered together into a ball, with a protruding broken loop that testified to its former use as a button. One side was flattened, the result of a forceful collision with a hard surface (C, 239). Andersson said he had found the object in 1924 among gravel stones from a pit near DeragSrd, a farm four kilometers from his home, 1

Some of Sandklef's many works are of interest to students of oral history. See, for instance, "The Bocksten Find", Acta Ethnologica no. 1 (1937): 1-64, an article subsequently enlarged into a book called Bockstensmannen (Stockholm, 1943). Sandklef discusses ancient and modern legends about revenants laid with a pole, connecting the narratives with a bog find of a thirteenth century man.



and handed it over to Sandklef with the words: "It's supposed to be this button that was used to shoot Charles XII" (K, 11). Andersson was referring to folk traditions that Charles XII had fallen not to a Norwegian bullet but to a button from his own clothes, fired by an assassin in his own army. Sandklef, an avid collector who over the years had personally recorded several versions of such traditions, claimed later that the interview made a great impression on him; nevertheless he waited eight years to publish his reaction to Andersson's discovery. Then in 1940 Sandklef and three co-authors contended in a profusely illustrated, best-selling book called Carl XII.s dod ("The Death of Charles XII") that the king had indeed been shot with the very button found in Deragird's gravel.2 The authors' reconstruction of the events surrounding the death of Charles XII is based on the testimony of folk narrative and folk belief, supplemented by evidence from written historical records, from coronary, ballistic, logistic, metallurgical, and costume-historical research. Carl XII. s dod and Sandklef's follow-up study a year later, Kulknappen och Carl XII.s dod ("The Bullet-Button and the Death of Charles XII"),3 made a case for the historical accuracy of folk tradition that was in all senses provocative. Despite a rambling exposition, frequent ungrounded assumptions and careless handling of texts, these studies represented a multi-front attack on official history that could not be and was not ignored. On the contrary, both the popular appeal of the controversy of 1940/1941 and the animosity with which it was waged provide a special insight into the importance of historical legendry for a nation's image of itself. More folk traditions were collected during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries about Charles XII than about any other figure in Swedish history. According to one of the most widespread beliefs, one that is central to the legends concerning the king's death and to Sandklef's argument based on these legends, Charles XII was "hard" (hard), i.e., invulnerable to ordinary bullets, which in many tales just drop into his boots like blueberries. According to many tellers, he could be slain only * By Albert Sandklef, Carl-Fredrik Palmstierna, Nils Strdmbom and Sam. Clason (Stockholm, 1940). Here referred to with "C" and page number. 3 (Lund, 1941). Here referred to with "K" and page number. — Sandklef's two works on Charles XII are as little known outside of Sweden as they are well known inside the country. One discussion of them in English is in Michael Srigley's "The Death of Charles XII of Sweden," History Today 13 (1963): 863-871, but there are no clear references and the folk traditions are misunderstood.



with a silver bullet, sometimes only with a bullet made from inherited silver; others maintain that the lethal object had to be, and was, a coat button which the king had worn as an amulet. Most commonly the assassin is a Frenchman, Siquert or Sike when he is given a name, sometimes aided by a compatriot named Migert; occasionally we hear that the murderer was a Swedish soldier called Sivert. Many narrators trace the origin of the deed to the king's sister, and state or imply that the assassin was in her employ. In several versions the messenger who rode directly to Stockholm to inform the princess of her brother's death received an extravagant reward for his news; he arrived just as the princess was washing herself, "and she gave to the messenger the wash basin of silver which she had been using" (C, 222). When a button is used to kill the king, often it is the king's sister who is said to have cut it off his coat; in one case we are told she did this "because she felt sorry for the people who had to be at war for so long" (C, 225). But in other versions a soldier or the king's valet is the thief; sometimes the king even asks his valet to kill him with the button. All these motifs are widely distributed; they can be found all over Sweden, in Swedish Finland, and occasionally in other parts of Scandinavia. Nevertheless Sandklef feels that he has identified two small districts in western Sweden in which oral legendry about the king's death almost always cites the button as the murder instrument. The first such "accumulation district," in the northern part of the Swedish province of Bohuslan, is close to the battlefield of Fredrikshald across the border. Sandklef argues that since the soldiers returning from Charles XII's Norwegian campaign reached this region first on their march home, the stories they told here about the death of the king had not yet been distorted by frequent retellings and new rumors.4 Further, the personal familiarity of the people of the district with the scene of the actual events has helped to preserve these original narratives fairly intact through two hundred years. The predominant belief here that the king was shot with one of his own buttons must therefore reflect the earliest reports; the silver bullet must have entered the tradition of other districts at a later date. 4

Gunnar Gran berg has further discussed soldiers as tradition carriers and holds that they have been important disseminators not only of traditions about the death of Charles XII, but of folklore about kings in general. See his "Sagnernas svenska kungar" [The Swedish Kings in the Legends], Fataburen, 1946, pp. 133-146.



The second "accumulation district" is further south; it includes among others the parishes of Oxnevalla, Horred (Andersson's home), and Frillesás (where Sandklef grew up). Here legend narrators add the detail that a soldier from Oxnevalla found the button that had killed the king and brought it home. Sandklef published fifteen local versions that contain this additional incident, and stressed that he had never been able to find a comparable tradition anywhere else in Sweden. It exists only in this one small district: the same district in which Andersson discovered the striking lead-filled brass button in 1924. Sandklef does not always report when his texts were collected, and unfortunately for his case only three of the fifteen "Oxnevalla" versions were clearly recorded before 1924. One was collected in 1921 from a man born in 1832: Charles XII was so strong that he could straighten out a horseshoe. Once he fought ten Russians and killed them all. Bullets had no effect on him. That's the reason why he could go on with the war for so long. But finally everyone except the king grew tired of the war. And they were going to shoot him in order to end the war. But it was impossible to kill him until they cut a button off his coat. That's what they used to shoot him. But there was a soldier from Oxnevalla who noticed when they shot him, and he looked for and found the button and brought it home with him. (C, 235-236)

Another was told to Sandklef in 1922 by an informant born in Frillesás in 1840: There was an itinerant salesman from Mark's district during my childhood who was called Skia-Johan, and he said that they killed Charles XII with a Polish button that he had. And it's supposed to have been a soldier from Oxnevalla who brought that button home from the war. (K, 160)

Sandklef collected the third in Frillesás in 1923: There was a soldier named Sivert who killed Charles XII. But he shot him with a button from the king's own coat. It was impossible before. But then there was a soldier from Oxnevalla who found that button. He later handed it over to the minister at the church; the minister probably wanted to find out what it was all about. (C, 235; K, 149)

Except for the reference to the minister in the last narrative, none of these three brief texts says much about the fate of the soldier and his button. By contrast Andersson himself told a story that does not suffer from lack of details; unfortunately the text is undated, and Sandklef does



not quote Andersson directly, supplying only a rather circumstantial third-person account: At one occasion during 1922, when master smith Andersson was doing a job for August Carlsson in Tolleback in Istorp, Carlsson related that one of his forefathers once had repaired the ministry. At that occasion Carlsson's ancestor had gotten hold of a report written down by a sexton in Oxnevalla, and in it could be read that a soldier from Oxnevalla had been present in the trenches when Charles XII was shot. And the soldier heard the shot and saw that the bullet hit against a rock and then he walked up and found the bullet at the rock and brought it with him home. And it was one of the king's own buttons which had passed through his head. Then the soldier walked around at home in Oxnevalla bragging about possessing that bullet. But then there was somebody in Stockholm who had confessed and had been banished from the country. And so the minister went to the soldier telling him to get rid of the button, and the minister and the soldier went together to the bog myrtle at Deragird and threw away the button there. But people didn't think it was right to throw the button away, so they forced the soldier to pay a visit to the sexton, and he wrote up a report about the whole thing. But the minister found this out, and so the sexton gave him the report. The minister hid the report at home, and it was there that they [Carlsson's ancestor] found it. (C, 241-242) This version, then, explains how the button found its way to Deragird. Carlsson was dead at the time of the recording, but Sandklef takes pains to prove that he could have said what Andersson said he did. But even Sandklef was sceptical of the authenticity of some of the details in Andersson's story, and concedes that these may be the result of "literary influence." Nevertheless, Andersson's account checks well in essentials with several other longer versions, such as the following, which Sandklef feels is superior to the others in its "natural freshness" and "simple and psychologically satisfactory explanations" (C, 224): It is told that a soldier lived here on the land owned by Deragard, and he was with Charles XII in Norway. He stood watching when they shot the king, and he saw where the bullet fell and he took it with him home. But afterwards he was walking around thinking about this, so he couldn't sleep at night. Therefore he brought the bullet which was a button from the king's coat and went to the minister at church one Sunday. And he told it all to the minister, and the minister said to the soldier that he ought to get rid of the button so that he could sleep nights. As he said this they were walking on the little road just opposite to where the gravel pit is now, and the soldier threw away the button there and it was in gravel which came from that place where the smith in Horred found it. (C, 243)



According to Sandklef, his informant claimed to have learned this story right before 1916; however, one sure thing about this undated recording is that it was made after "the smith in Horred" turned up the button. Most impressive for Sandklef's argument was not this "superior" version but rather a diffuse account collected in the summer of 1939 by Sandklef and Nils Strombom from Karl Pettersson, who had been born in Oxnevalla in 1841 and died in 1940. Pettersson's version supplies a surprising and apparently authentic detail: a name for the soldier who brought the button home. About Charles XII? Well, it was a really nasty sister that he had, Charles XII. So, it wasn't possible to shoot him, he had bullets in his boots every evening when he undressed — yes, I sure know what they did in Frederikshald. It was the government that got the idea to shoot him; they wanted to take over the country. The Prince to whom the sister was married — most of it was his fault. They aimed at his head, because otherwise there would be no effect. Yes, and they shot him with a button which they took from his clothes — it was not a neck button, because that's not what they took. There was always talk that the sister of Charles XII had taken part in killing him. There were many soldiers at Fredrikshall, and one of them came from Stjarnhult's rote.6 His name was Nordstierna — isn't that a fine name? It's like the name of a really important man. — A high sounding name — yes, and he took the bullet and it was a button, and he brought it along in a leather pouch. Well, he threw it away at Derag&rd. — I never thought it was a neck button — but it was pretty bad of the sister to make this come to pass — he was really a fine king, for he was good at whipping up all the others. — Well, there was much more talk, and I think it's true — they spoke a lot about this during my childhood. Nordstierna had the button in his money pouch — that didn't matter, it didn't rot. (C, 253) And the name Nordstierna is historically verifiable: the muster rolls reveal that until 1762 the soldiers maintained by Stjarnhult's rote were called Nordstierna, and that M&rten Nilsson Nordstierna had been present at Fredrikshald. After 1762 the name dropped out of use and Sandklef argues that there must have been some good reason why local tradition preserved the name of a seemingly unimportant soldier for 175 years. Other written records provide some limited and equivocal support for ' Until the end of the nineteenth century the Swedish system of conscription was organized so that ten to twenty neighboring farms together constituted one rote. This group had the duty to support with a cottage, grains, and a small salary one professional soldier. A standing soldier name came with each rote, and a new soldier assumed this upon entering service.



Sandklef's thesis that öxnevalla legendry preserved historical fact. The most important eyewitness reports tend to contradict each other, especially on such important details as the direction of the bullet and its size, and it is difficult to obtain from them a clear impression of the circumstances attendant on the king's death. But about some facts one can be relatively sure. The king had been standing in an exposed position with his head above a trench wall. He was leaning his left cheek in his left hand. That morning he had changed his clothes, providing opportunity for a button thief. After Charles XII was found dead and before his body was placed on a bier, an officer removed the king's well-known threecornered hat and replaced it with his own wig, ostensibly to conceal from common soldiers that their leader lay dead. The officer who made this exchange was André Sicre, a Frenchman who had joined the king in Turkey and in whom we recognize Siquert, Sike and Sivert, the murderer in folk legendry. Sicre immediately rode off to Stockholm to report the news to Ulrika Eleonora and the cabinet, an incident reflected in legends which at times imply that the messenger and the assassin were one and the same. Further, in Siquert's co-conspirator Migert we can recognize Philippe Maigret, a French officer in charge of the trench operations at Fredrikshald and whose report of the events surrounding the king's death was important for Voltaire's biography, Histoire de Charles XII (1731). In more general terms, the political climate of 1718 seemed to invite regicide. Eighteen years of the king's grand campaigns had not been able to prevent the loss of Sweden's foreign possessions, and war fatigue, crop failure and disease had taken their toll on the people. The aristocracy was torn apart by the awareness that the heirless king might die in battle any day. In the fall of 1718 the specter of peace loomed briefly in negotiations with Russia conducted by the king's chancellor, Baron von Görtz: what if the king were to return safely to Stockholm, marry and produce an heir? After the convenient death of the king, Ulrika Eleonora and Prince Fredrik outmaneuvered their rivals with alacrity. Von Görtz was executed in 1718 and Fredrik officially crowned king in 1720. At the time Sweden, especially Stockholm, teemed with rumors that the king had been assassinated by a henchman of Fredrik and Ulrika Eleonora: and what likelier suspect could there be than the ubiquitous foreigner, André Sicre? The exchange of his wig for the king's bulletriddled hat smacked of hanky-panky, and rumor rode a new wave in 1723



when Sicre was said to have confessed to the murder during a fit of madness. Sandklef does not fail to point out the relevance of Sicre's alleged confession to a detail in the Oxnevalla texts: the role of the minister, who in several versions persuades the soldier to throw away the button he had found. Sandklef suggests that the minister in question was a certain Johan Aurelius, who became rector in the Oxnevalla district in 1722 but at the same time maintained governmental duties in Stockholm. This Aurelius was a member of the secret committee which in 1724 investigated the reports of Sicre's confession to the murder of Charles XII. It was of course in the interest of the royal couple to suppress any talk of murder, and Sicre was summarily cleared of suspicion; it was therefore presumably on behalf of the crown that Aurelius urged Nordstierna to dispose of his potentially dangerous evidence. In Aurelius, then, Sandklef found a link between the events of the capital and those of little Oxnevalla. Andersson's statement that "there was somebody in Stockholm who had confessed" to the murder of Charles XII need not refer to Sicre: eighteenth century Sweden overflowed with such reports. As well-known as Sicre's "confession," for example, was that of Major General Carl Cronstedt, of whose actual guilt some of the authors of Carl XII.s dod appear quite convinced. But it is the forensic evidence that gives Sandklef his most striking support. Sam. Clason, M.D., points out that on the last two occasions that the king's body was exhumed, in 1859 and 1917, the examining committees concluded that the bullet had entered the king's head from the left with great power and speed and had passed through almost horizontally.6 For such conditions to occur, the marksman would have had to have been standing close to the king (10 to 20 meters) and below him, since several eyewitnesses agree that the king had been inclining his head to the left when he was shot; the Norwegian fortifications were far away and above him. The committee of 1917 had further concluded that the bullet must have had a diameter of 18-20 mm.; the original diameter of the button found by Andersson must have been 19.6-19.7 mm. More: the bullet could not have been an ordinary unjacketed lead bullet, because these invariably splinter and there is no trace of fragmentation in • Clason presents his findings in a preliminary form in Carl XII.s dod and elaborates them further in a much acclaimed study, Gatan fran Fredrikshald [The Riddle from Fredrikshald] (Stockholm, 1941).



the king's skull. Jacketed bullets had not yet been invented, so the committee concluded that Charles XII had been killed with an iron bullet. Impossible, says Clason, who discovered that Swedes did not use iron bullets that small at Fredrikshald; Norwegians did, he admits, but falls back on the first argument that they were too far away (K, 200). The king could have been shot only with a silver bullet, he argues, or with a "special projectile" such as the button found by Andersson. The button would then have to be considered "an inspired anachronism,"7 in effect a splinter-proof jacketed lead bullet used 150 years before its time. Did Charles XII actually wear spherical buttons filled with lead? Sandklef could not locate any counterparts for the button in Sweden. In portraits Charles XII seems to wear only flat buttons, and flat indeed are the buttons on the perfectly preserved clear blue outfit worn by the king on his last day.8 It was first a specialist at the Louvre who suggested that the button might come from southeastern Europe or the Near East, an idea confirmed by an official of the Topkapiserail Museum in Istanbul. He said the button was probably Turkish, but could not investigate further, as the holdings of the museum had been evacuated (1940). A Swedish metallurgical expert concluded that the alloys had not been produced by modern methods but could give no closer dating; he added that it seemed "likely that the raw materials for the brass and lead core of the bullet-button can be found within the ore region of SaxonyBohemia-Moravia-Siebenburgen, possibly further south" (K, 170-171). It is certainly not impossible that Charles XII could have worn Turkish buttons, since he had spent 1709-14 as a prisoner in Turkey. On a little-known portrait done in Turkey he wears buttons that look rounder and fuller than the buttons on other portraits. Further, the conjectural "eastern" origin of the button is confirmed by oral traditions that can be proven to have circulated before Andersson's find. Sandklef happily points to the short Oxnevalla text he collected in 1922 (see above) and to other narratives according to which Charles XII wore buttons of Polish or other "southeastern" origin.9 ' The essayist-novelist Frans G. Bengtsson used the expression in his review "Skottet vid Fredrikshall" [The Shot at Fredrikshall] Svenska Dagbladet, November 15, 1940. • The costume is exhibited in the Livrustkammaren, a division of the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm. • At this point one feels invited to even further speculation by the fact that André Sicre had joined the king in Turkey. If Sicre is the assassin, is it not possible that already



Sandklef's reconstruction of the events leading up to and away from the death of Charles XII is finally as simple as it is ingenious in its use of folk belief; he summarizes his case as follows: 1. The following traditions must have been current in 1718: a. Charles XII is "hard." b. Charles XII can be killed only by a button which belongs to him. c. Charles XII owns buttons of eastern (southeastern) origin. 2. Somebody decides to murder Charles XII with such a button. 3. This person manages to steal such a button. 4. This button is used as a projectile and kills the king. 5. Nordstierna finds the button and brings it home. 6. Nordstierna throws the button away at Deragárd (K, 199). Carl XII:s död caused a sensation; by fall 1940 radio and newspaper publicity had made the bullet-button into a Swedish household word. But for all its popularity, Sandklef's thesis met with fierce opposition, particularly from historians; the longest and most articulate rebuttal came from Nils Ahnlund (1890-1957), professor of history at Stockholm University and member of the Swedish Academy, a master source critic with an elegant style and a large academic following. Already in 1926 he had expressed general scepticism toward the acceptance of orally transmitted legends as historical sources, and proposed stringent conditions for their evaluation as such.10 Further, Ahnlund was president of the Karolinska Förbundet, a society dedicated to the propagation of knowledge about Charles XII and his era. It was as an advocate of the interests of that society that Ahnlund undertook to defend orthodox historical scholarship from the onslaughts of heretical dilettantes. Like Sandklef before him, Ahnlund became the guiding spirit of a collaborative work, Sanning och Sägen om Karl XII.s död ("Truth and Legend about the Death of Charles XII");11 here four co-authors reject essentially all the conclusions of Carl XII.s död. While granting that the bullet which killed the king must have come from the left, they neverin Turkey he could have carried the intention of murdering the king? He could certainly have stolen a button from a costume that had been made for the king with Turkish materials, and saved the button until he finally used it. 10 "Folktraditionen som historisk källa" [Folk Tradition as an Historical Source], Historisk Tidskrift 26 (1926): 342-363. 11 By Stig Jägerskiöld, Nils Ahnlund, Gustaf Hultkvist and Barbro Göthberg-Edlund (Stockholm, 1941). Here referred to with "S" and page number.



theless insisted that it had been fired by one of the besieged Norwegians. Historian Stig Jágerskióld re-examined the political scene of 1718 and denied that it provided any good ground for the suspicion of murder or of murder conspiracy. Gustaf Hultkvist, M.D., member of the 1917 exhumation committee, discredited the findings of Sandklef's medical expert; Clason, he pointed out, was an obstetrician/gynecologist and not an expert coroner. Barbro Gothberg-Edlund discussed the still undated Oxnevalla button and reported finding a Swedish twin, thereby making questionable its derivation from the mysterious east. These three contributions are finally of little independent value in the debate; none of the results can unequivocally invalidate the reasoning of Sandklef and his collaborators. The essential arguments were Ahnlund's own in his discussion of the folk traditions and rumors as historical sources. He approaches the subject of folklore reluctantly, and even apologizes for taking away "too much space" from more serious considerations (S, 232). But despite this unhidden prejudice, much of Ahnlund's criticism does hit Sandklef where he is most vulnerable: in his fieldwork and handling of sources. Ahnlund refuses to accept Sandklef's basic premise: the identification of two "accumulation districts" in western Sweden. The predominance of material from that area reflects only the concentrated collecting drives made there but nowhere else in Sweden with comparable intensity; the lack of reliable control materials disqualifies Sandklef's results. Further, with the help of a collaborator in the field, Ahnlund uncovered many legends in the Oxnevalla region that Sandklef had overlooked: stories that Charles XII was shot with a silver bullet, and not by a button from his own clothes. Even more telling is an inventory made by Ahnlund's field collaborator: "Out of 28 men and women in Oxnevalla aged from 51 to 87 years, 26 have declared that before the smith's find they had never heard about the soldier from Oxnevalla" (S 209). And the two remaining testimonies are not reliable, insists Ahnlund. In fact, Ahnlund sought to demonstrate that all of Sandklef's key recordings from Oxnevalla can directly or indirectly be connected with C. Hj. Andersson, who was well-known in the area "for his extraordinarily playful imagination."12 Far from contenting himself to point 1S

The expression was used in a popular article by a geologist well familiar with the Oxnevalla region and its people. See Lennart von Post, "Kulan frán Oxnevalla" [The Bullet from Oxnevalla], Svenska Turistforeningens Tidning 8 (1940): 254.



out obvious inadequacies in Sandklef's reportage, Ahnlund goes to quite some length to establish the blacksmith as a demonic artificer of folk narrative. Using evidence from Sandklef and from his own field collaborator, Ahnlund traces the development in Andersson's mind of an increasingly elaborate narrative about the death of Charles XII. In his youth Andersson had been familiar only with the common tradition that the king had been killed by one of his own men; then in 1904 an old soldier told him a family legend that one of his forefathers had been with Charles XII at Fredrikshald and had brought home to Oxnevalla the button which was said to have killed the king. Ahnlund shows how Andersson kept adding new touches to the story until sometime after the find he could spread around a full-fledged composition about the death of the king. And so, says Ahnlund, all of Sandklef's important texts, including the "best" one, ultimately emanate from Andersson. Ahnlund, who does not hesitate to argue ad hominem when he gets the chance, accuses Sandklef of deliberately suppressing references that tie his texts to Andersson. Ahnlund further discovered that Sandklef was not the first to recognize in print the significance of Andersson's find. In 1934 Andersson told his story to Thorsten Friedlander, a journalist who four years later published a long and imaginative account of Andersson's discovery in the Sunday edition of a major Gothenburg paper, relating the button to theories that Charles XII had been murdered by a Swede.13 The article contains in germinal form almost all of the key arguments later elaborated by Sandklef and collaborators. Furthermore, Friedlander's article was reprinted in country papers, thereby contributing nicely to the oral circulation of Andersson's tale. Ahnlund also casts suspicion on Sandklef's pièce de résistance: the 1939 recording in which ninety-nine year old Karl Pettersson reports the name of the Oxnevalla soldier to have been Nordstierna. Ahnlund found out that in 1935 Pettersson had related to a local folklore collector (who later became Ahnlund's field collaborator) traditions about the death of " "Var det en svensk som skôt Karl XII?" [Did a Swede kill Charles XII?], GôteborgsTidningen, November 27, 1938. Another Gothenburg newspaper article of the time discusses western Swedish folk traditions about the death of Charles XII and briefly refers to Andersson's story and find. See Carl-Martin Bergstrand, "Folktraditioner om Karl XII :s dòd" [Folk Traditions About the Death of Charles XII], Gôteborgs Handelsoch Sjôfartstidning, February 15, 1936.



Charles XII that differed from those he told Sandklef four years afterwards: The smith is supposed to have found down at Horred the bullet with which they shot Charles XII. It's supposed to have been a person from Stjarnhult in Oxnevalla who killed him. Well, Charles XII sure was more powerful than other people. He had one of those helmets, so no bullets had any effect on him there.14 When he came home in the evenings, he stamped his feet and the bullets fell off him. But I have also heard that his sister arranged it so that it would be possible to shoot him with a silver button. I suppose she did that because she wanted to govern. (S, 199) Ahnlund accounts for the discrepancy between the two texts with a charge of collusion: the 1935 version is "basically untendentious" whereas Pettersson must have been manipulated into making the 1939 statement. Ahnlund, who is not above arguing by insinuation, notes that the smith Andersson visited Pettersson just a few days before Sandklef and Strombom came to interview him. Further, it is very possible that the name Nordstierna had been passed on to Pettersson at some time just prior to the 1939 recording: according to one source, Sandklef and Strombom had checked into the muster rolls some months before the interview with Pettersson, and not afterwards, as Sandklef recalled.16 Sandklef defended himself energetically in Kulknappen och Carl XII:s dod, counter-charging, for example, that the amateur collector who interviewed Pettersson in 1935 may have interpreted laxly the basic rule to write down exactly what one hears, no more, no less. He points out that no one could have prepared Pettersson in 1939 with information he did not have earlier: by then he was so deaf that he could barely comprehend that his visitors wanted to hear about the death of Charles XII. Sandklef feels in any case that old people remember better what they learned in their childhood than what they learned yesterday. In Kulknappen he also published duly attested affidavits from his informants that they had been quoted correctly in Carl XII. s dod. Personal animosities and axes to grind misled both parties into believing that Sandklef's integrity as such was a central issue. It is, after all, 11

It is possible that "helmet" refers to the Swedish word for "caul," segerhuva (lit. "victory hood"). 16 Carl-Fredrik Palmstierna, "Detektivarbetet kring Carl XII" [The Detective Work Around Charles XII], Vecko-Journalen, November 10, 1940.



possible to explain the discrepancy between Pettersson's two versions without reference to willful deception: the informant simply carried two somewhat conflicting ideas of how Charles XII died. The silver button seems to belong to the tradition that he learned first, while Andersson's story was added later; by 1939 he had better integrated the two traditions than in 1935. In any case, neither text presents undiluted childhood memory. Sandklef is finally undone by the vagueness of his dating of materials. Even Ahnlund accepts that there probably existed before Andersson's find a limited tradition that a soldier from Oxnevalla brought home the button, but Sandklef cannot document the pre-find existence of the detail that the button was thrown away in Derag&rd's gravel pit. Once again we are made aware that the conclusions of most folkloristic work stand or fall with the quality of thefieldinvestigations on which they are based and on the careful reporting of text and total context. But lucid text criticism may mask a superficial understanding of the larger and deeper issues under discussion. Ahnlund is too aristocratic to consider traditional legends anything but follies of the uneducated masses, and Sandklef was quick to notice this; he insisted that Ahnlund the armchair scholar, who read Sandklef's books "the way the devil reads the Bible" (K, 159), could understand neither "the laws of folk tradition" nor "the thinking and emotions of the folk" the way he himself could (K, 117). It is as if Ahnlund and Sandklef were acting out the very conflict between aristocrat and folk that characterizes many of the legends themselves. For example, Ahnlund refuses to accept that any of the officers around Charles XII could have shared the belief of the simple folk that the king was "hard," and that he could be killed only by a silver bullet or by a button from his own clothes. Since the king had almost died from a wound in his left foot received at the battle of Vorskla (1709), Ahnlund feels that his doctor and general staff must have been aware of his mortal vulnerability. Although Sandklef calls attention to the witch trials of late seventeenth century Sweden and to the fact that the feet of Charles XII's corpse were tied together to prevent his return from the grave, he does not refer to much of the plentiful evidence that even learned men of the time held beliefs that the twentieth century would call superstitious. It is even more surprising that Ahnlund should overlook such instances of the acceptance of superstitious beliefs as the medical writings of Olof



Broman, a contemporary of Charles XII.1* Sandklef may finally display a greater historical sense than the historian when he suggests that in the eighteenth century "it was logical and sensible" to choose a magic object to kill a king (K, 69). Many attempts at the reconstruction of historical reality from oral legends fail when confronted with the existence of parallel traditions elsewhere. Since Sandklef's reconstruction of the murder of Charles XII presupposes a belief in the king's invulnerability, it does not suffer from the discovery of further contemporary instances of such beliefs; on the contrary, documentation of the popularity and wide distribution of parallels actually strengthens Sandklef's case. One such parallel — noted neither by Sandklef nor Ahnlund — is the case of the famous Scottish Viscount Dundee, John Graham of Claverhouse, who fell in battle in 1689 and was said to have been shot by his own servant "with a silver button he had before taken off his own coat."17 We seem here to be faced with a migratory legend, for Charles XII is also reported in some narratives to have asked his own servant to kill him with a button from the royal costume. But migratory legend or not, it is still possible that magic belief preceded and caused either hero's fall to a button. Few Swedish folklorists expressed in print any interest in Sandklef's work. Carl-Martin Bergstrand and Waldemar Liungman took public stands against Sandklef, but neither contributed anything substantial to the debate.18 The only folklorist to discuss Sandklef's ideas sympathetically and at some length was Carl Wilhelm von Sydow, who praised Sandklef for not dismissing the button as a mere curiosity and for " Glysisvallur och ofriga skrifter rorande Helsingland [Glysisvallur and Other Works on Helsingland], ed. Gestrike Nation, 3 vols. (Uppsala, 1911-54). See also CarlHerman Tillhagen, "Olof Broman som lakare och medicinsk forfattare" [Olof Broman as a Doctor and Medical Author] in Kulturspeglingar. Studier tillagnade Sam Owen Jansson (Stockholm, 1966), pp. 304-324; English summary. 17 Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 22 (London, 1890), p. 349. 18 See Bergstrand's article "Intendent Sandklef och vastsvenska folkminnesarkivet" [Director Sandklef and the Western Swedish Folk Memory Archive], Folkminnen och Folktankar 29 (1942): 30-34. There is also an answer from Sandklef and a final rebuttal from Bergstrand on pp. 166-168 in the same year's issue of the journal. Liungman's late-coming contribution is "Karl XII och kulknappen eller vad folkdikten icke kan bevisa" [Charles XII and the Bullet-Button or what Folk Poetry Cannot Prove], Backahiisten 1 (1945): 55-69. Liungman notes the paucity of folkloristic discussions of Sandklef's works and then proceeds to refute Sandklef on the basis of what he regards as the true origin and spread of the legend types.



"having dared to involve himself with matters which no historian" would have had the courage to touch.19 Von Sydow not only defended Sandklef's competence against those who sneered at his lack of academic degrees, but also declared himself convinced that the object Andersson found is the very button that ended "the era of great Swedish power politics." Unlike Ahnlund, von Sydow felt that the controversial Oxnevalla legends were based on old, inherited tradition; they did not have the characteristics of "fictional" material.20 But von Sydow's support for Sandklef's thesis seems finally to have rested on scant foundations, more on a willingness to believe than on any compelling argument. In fact, except for Ahnlund's telling but purely negative criticism, Sandklef's ideas were never discussed on a sophisticated level. For example, none of the scholars who took part in the controversy investigated with any thoroughness the complex but striking relationship between the folk traditions, the eighteenth century rumors, and nineteenth century printed popular literature.21 Further, all the interested scholars 19

Von Sydow first contributed a review "Boken om Karl XII :s dod" [The Book About the Death of Charles XII], Stockholms-Tidningen, October 30, 1940. Later appeared "Nigra tillagg rorande folkminnesmaterialets behandling" [Some Additions Regarding the Treatment of the Folk Memory Material], Folkkultur 1 (1941): 194. There is some indication that von Sydow tried to use the fame of Sandklef's work to raise money for the cause of folklore. Two days after his review, the StockholmsTidningen printed an interview with von Sydow in which he expressed the need for folklore collecting to continue also during "hard times." As an example of the Important work to which collecting can lead, he pointed to Sandklef's studies of the death of Charles XII. 20 In Kulknappen Sandklef proposes a distinction between "productive" and "improductive" motifs. The productive motifs are the widespread ones, the elements of migratory legends; they are the motifs "with whose help new events and experiences create new legends and narratives" (K, 184). The improductive motifs, by contrast, cannot generate new stories. Von Sydow accepts Sandklef's distinction as "inescapable" and emphasizes along with Sandklef that the presence in legends of improductive motifs increases the likelihood of historical accuracy. Thus, because the Oxnevalla legends contain several improductive motifs, they are historically quite accurate. Neither Sandklef nor von Sydow made any real attempts to think over the implications of the distinction and to clarify its hopelessly unclear aspects. 81 Palmstierna's long chapter in Carl Xll:s dod concerning the rumors shows little concern with the intricate relationship between the three literary forms. On the one hand, there are materials which appear well developed in rumor and popular literature, but play a minor role in folk legendry. This appears to be the case with the confessions of regicide. Such stories were printed in country newspapers such as the Calmar-Bladet (April 23, 1836) and in a widely popular work by E. J. Ekman, Den inre missionens historia [The History of the Inner Mission], vol. 1 (Stockholm, 1896), pp. 40 and 49-51, but confessions seem to be relatively rare in folklore; Andersson's story is among the fairly unusual exceptions. On the other hand, there are materials which occasionally



and journalists viewed the oral traditions from the single aspect of their potential value as documentation of historical fact; exclusively concerned with "accuracy" and "inaccuracy," none of them gave much thought to the expressive content of the legends, to the judgments and attitudes they embody. Ahnlund touches this aspect when he characterizes the legends as "nonhistorical tradition sources," the sole "historical gist" of which "seems to be the fact that they offer a testimony of profound fatigue with the war, a testimony which meets us in a multitude of voices from the depths of the past" (S, 192). But Ahnlund never seems to have realized that since the legends were collected in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they are actually the voices of a more recent past than he had in mind. Some of the content of the legends undoubtedly derives from the time immediately following the king's death, but no one has tried to determine which features and motifs can be traced back that far. Also, Ahnlund oversimplifies the feelings and judgments actually expressed in the legends. Even the few examples quoted above reveal more than war fatigue. The hundreds of legends about Charles XII in Swedish archives display a wide range of emotions; frequently a single informant expresses contradictory or ambivalent attitudes in one statement. A narrative may express relief at the end of war in the death of the king and at the same time admiration for a leader who "was good at whipping up all the others," as Karl Pettersson put it. The Finnish-Swedish narrator of a long and remarkable tale about the murder feels that the resulting peace was a good thing; but at the same time he warns that "the peace will not last long," prophesying that in 1917 "King Charles from the North will stand up and gather all Christians to battle with non-Christians."22 This appear in print, but still seem to have their firmest basis in folklore. The latter seems to be the case with the motif of the silver basin with which Ulrika Eleonora rewards the messenger. The spread of this motif could only partially have been aided by printing in the second edition of Jacob Ekelund's popular history book, Anteckningar i fader neslandets hafder for unga och gamla i synrterhet bland allmogen [Notes to the Annals of the Fatherland for Young and Old, in Particular the Country Folk] (Stockholm, 1836), p. 303. 82 Cited in V. E. V. Wessman, ed., Finlands svenska folkdiktning [The Swedish Folk Poetry of Finland], part 2, vol. 2 (Helsingfors, 1924), pp. 301-302. Folk tradition connected Charles XII with millenneal expectations at an early date. See Carl XII:s dod, pp. 110-115, and Gustav Ald£n, Karl XII i nyare forskningens ljus och i folkmirmet [Charles XII in the Light of Recent Scholarship and in Folk Memory] (Stockholm, 1918), pp. 93-96.



narrator's attitude seems to be that regicide was necessary but appalling: we had to kill the king but he will return and lead us to glory. Narrators of historical legends may attempt consciously to judge or explain the events they describe.28 But there are even more essential ways in which legends, by concentrating on certain characters, actions, and motifs, implicitly and symbolically express the values of their tellers and their groups. In a sense, the entire Sandklef-Ahnlund controversy distracted attention from the way in which all historical legendry is "true": as a condensed representation of the image a group has of its own past and of the meaning of this image for its present and future. A legend does not seek to report facts in chronological order, but rather to interpret events and to crystallize one's experience of them.24 Sandklef's reconstruction remains attractive, even when we realize he cannot prove his case; not only do murder and intrigue make a better story than the official version of the king's death, but also the striking manner of the execution fixes our attention on a detail which it is difficult not to consider symbolic: the button. We are drawn to some psychological truth in the notion that Charles XII was murdered with one of his own buttons: witness von Sydow's willingness to accept Sandklef's research at face value. In the legends the exotic button is explicitly and implicitly identified as the king's amulet: as such it was the seat of his hero's invulnerability, and the sign of his power and destiny. The legends know that it was the king's own heroic career, symbolically contained in the button, that turned against him and killed him, after he had drained his own and his country's resources into personally-waged, at first successful and finally disastrous campaigns.26 In the folklore of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Charles XII came to embody the unfulfilled national destiny of Sweden as an aggressive ruler of peoples. This image was, however, continually qualified by an ambivalent attitude toward his death. Folk stories as well as scholarly theories of murder brought with them an awareness of " See Brynjulf Alver, "Historiske segner og historisk sanning" [Historical Legends and Historical Truth], Norveg 9 (1962): 89-116; English summary. 14 Hildegunde Prütting provides a lucid discussion of the symbolic aspects of historical folk legendry in "Zur geschichtlichen Volkssage," Bayerisches Jahrbuch für Volkskunde, 1953, pp. 16-26. 25 Another detail in the legendry which has striking symbolic implications is Ulrika Eleonora's wash basin. It seems unavoidable to associate it with the washing off of guilt for the crime; perhaps she gives the silver basin to the messenger so that he can use it for the same purpose.



the destructive side of the king's career; the suggestion that there might have been legitimate reasons to assassinate the great hero had to throw a harsh light on the national self-image he represented. For this reason a military scholar in 1912 saw the necessity of categorically denying the notion that a Swede or a Swedish agent had shot the king: "Indeed, we would not be Swedes, 'of Aryan blood, the purest and the oldest,' if we could have betrayed Charles XII, the foremost incarnation of the Swedish folk soul." 28 It is against this background of Charles XII as a national symbol, from which Swedes often found it difficult to preserve any historical distance, that the controversy which flared up in 1940 must be viewed: it was no profound interest in the problems of oral history which made Sandklef's thesis into "a gigantic sensation and an historical question of national proportions" (S, 219). Participants in the debate frequently referred to the world situation, and at times the arguments were considered very relevant indeed to Sweden's larger concerns at the onset of World War II. One writer calling himself "Academicus" attacked both Sandklef and the Royal Dramatic Theater, which had just presented the Strindberg play in which Charles XII appears disillusioned in the end; unpatriotic and defeatist forces have conspired, says "Academicus," to destroy the lofty memory of that Swedish figure who "personifies precisely the qualities our nation needs during the present situation." 27 But no one at the time analyzed closely the relationship between the outbreak of World War II and that of the button debate, and a spontaneous, unreflected quality is evident in juxtaposed headlines in Swedish newspapers. The lead story on the front page of Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm's major daily, for December 1, 1940, was: "Memory of the Hero King Celebrated. Murder Theories Sharply Criticized." On the same page left the headlines are: "Rome's Fleet to Sardinia. Mass Raid Against Southampton. The British Bomb Brindisi." Or in the cultural section of the Nya Dagligt Allehanda of November 29, 1940, a review article on "The Death of Charles XII" overshadows another article's unclear answer to the question of how America views Swedish neutrality. The nation of Charles XII was sitting out the war, fearful of attack and aware of its helplessness should war come. But the very people they feared also considered the Aryan Charles XII as a hero 28

Oswald Kuylenstierna, Karl XII:s dod [The Death of Charles XII] (Stockholm 1912), p. 3. " "Karl XII ar 1940" [Charles XII in 1940], Svensk Tidskrift 27 (1940): 707-710.



of their own, a state of affairs that symbolized some of the conflicts and guilts they felt themselves embroiled in.28 The bitterness of the SandklefAhnlund controversy was one result of the national identity crisis of 1940. In Kulknappen Sandklef promised to turn his attention to further investigations of the bullet-button "when calmer times return" (K, 205). But calm times have not been propitious for the study of the projectile that ended the career of the soldier-king and no investigations have materialized. The button remains on exhibit in Varberg's Museum, and Sandklef still maintains that "the king could have been shot with that button." 29 Nordiska Museet Stockholm

" Elisabeth Frenzel surveys briefly German literature of the 1930s in which Charles XII is treated as a great Germanic hero. See her Stoffe der Weltliteratur (Stuttgart, 1963), p. 356. " As stated in a letter of May 13,1971,1 am indebted to Dr. Sandklef for his graceful answers to my questions.

R I C H A R D M. D O R S O N

Sources for the Traditional History of the Scottish Highlands and Western Islands

History as written by historians usually has little relation to the historical traditions orally preserved by a people. Such traditions have a value for revealing what episodes of the past endure and what forms they take in popular memory unaided by the crutch of print and the catechism of the schoolmaster. They may also fill in gaps in the historical records, although of course historical fact needs to be sifted from folklore tradition. As an illustration of traditional history, we can look at the Gaelicspeaking Highlands and western islands of Scotland. Folklore and history visibly meet in this romanticized, lonely, and defeated country lying at the westernmost edge of Europe. From this area the great Campbell of Islay collected and published in 1860 his Popular Tales of the West Highlands, to be followed by another classic in Alexander Carmichael's Carmina Gadelica, a harvest of folk hymns, blessings, charms, and invocations. Historians have never known quite what to do with the feuding warrior culture of the Highlanders that reached its spirited climax in the seventeenth century, only to be crushed by the Hanoverian army at Culloden in 1746 and stamped out by the heartless clearances of the following century. If the history of Scotland is itself a problem, lumped in as it is with its glamorous southern neighbor, what can nationalist historians do with the Highland half of Scotland, set apart from the Lowlands by its clans and Gaelic tongue and tribal feudalism? The Highlands appeal to the folklorist as a land of traditional culture. Active collectors at the University of Edinburgh's School of Scottish Studies have since 1951 been searching the Highlands and islands for every sort of tradition. They record their interviews on tape, chiefly in



Gaelic, and list them in a catalogue to their folklore archives. From these entries I selected items bearing on historical events and personalities, and with the assistance of the School and a grant-in-aid from Indiana University, employed a Gaelic speaker on their staff to transcribe and translate them. This body of material amounts to some one hundred and fifty typed pages. Also at the disposal of the historically minded folklorist is the recent and handsomely published volume of nineteenth century Highland localhistory traditions, The Dewar Manuscripts, Volume One, a part of the great collection project of Campbell of Islay that he acquired after his Popular Tales of the West Highlands but never published. Campbell's sympathies lay more with magic folktales than with realistic historical stories, although he encouraged the gamekeeper John Dewar to gather such traditions faithfully and employed another associate, the schoolmaster Hector MacLean, to translate them from the Gaelic. This important publication makes possible a comparison between Highland oral history recorded in the 1860s and '70s with that recorded by the School in the 1950s and '60s. Further, there exist several twentieth century collections of traditional tales from Outer Isles that include historical narratives. Notice should also be taken of a remarkable work by Hugh Miller on the traditional history of Cromarty in the north of Scotland. In addition, three unconventional histories by John Prebble, Culloden (1961), The Highland Clearances (1963), and Glencoe, The Story of the Massacre (1966) are all written with color and dash and a desire to catch the spirit and sentiments of the Highland participants. Prebble is a novelist turned historian who has applied his literary skill to crucial chapters in Highland annals, and most recently has climaxed these special works with a general history of Scotland, Lion of the North (1971). We will look at these materials to see what they may add to conventional history. FIELD TEXTS IN THE SCHOOL OF SCOTTISH STUDIES

(i) Traditions of Bonny Prince Charlie Eight recorded traditions from the archives of the School of Scottish Studies deal with Bonny Prince Charlie and his abortive attempt to lead a Highland army against the Royalist forces. Ever since the Young



Pretender landed in the Hebrides from France in 1745 and sailed away the following year after his defeat at Culloden, the whole Highland country, from east coast to the west, has preserved memories of his visit. Here indeed was an episode of high romantic tragedy to delight a novelist or scenario-writer. The '45 brought the Highlanders momentarily into the forefront of British and even world history, and linked them with the physical presence, in glory and disaster, of the would-be monarch. The folk traditions do not offer any consecutive account of Charles Edward's involvement in the '45, and in their collected form often represent responses to interview questions by Calum MacLean, the late great collector and blithe spirit, who conducted many interviews in South Uist. In the longest interview-recital, Duncan MacDonald of Peninerine in South Uist relates a series of incidents connected with the sojourn of Bonny Prince Charlie on the islands and mainland (SA 1951/6 B3).1 The Prince landed at Eriskay, visited an old friend of his father, MacDonald of Boisdale, who attempted to dissuade the Pretender from raising an army. "But the Prince just wanted to have a go at it." He then traveled to Arisaig where MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart raised his sword for him and other chiefs followed suit. "They called him always their own Prince, and they would go anywhere for him and fight for him till the last drop of their blood." When Charles Edward landed at Eriskay he brought with him seeds of flowers that bloom there yet and are known as the Prince's Mult or Muld. (It is actually the Convolvulus.) Duncan MacDonald briefly switches from tradition to textbook patter. The Highland troops marched south halfway to London, but feeling themselves too far from home turned back, defeating the Red Army twice in the retreat but finally succumbing at Culloden Moor when the clans were at half-strength. Back on home soil, the narrator finds a personal explanation for the defeat of his compatriots, in the treachery of Lord George Murray, who deliberately commenced the battle before all the clans were ready. Murray had requested and received as a bribe from the Royalist commander, the Duke of Cumberland, a full purse of money in return for Murray's arranging to lose the battle. When the Duke read Murray's letter he said, "Well, I like the letter, but I don't like the treachery, but you will get that." And he sent the money. Murray not only 1

Numbers in parentheses refer to the catalogue entries for cited tape recordings in the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh. I am grateful to the staff of the School for their generous assistance on this project, which depended in large part on their resources.



initiated the battle the day after receiving the money, when half the clans were scattered between Inverness and their own country, but he placed the MacDonalds on the left of his army, a demoralizing act, since Clan Donald has proudly held the right ever since Robert the Bruce had given them that place of honor for their bravery in the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. In their stead Murray placed their arch-rivals, the Camerons, who held the position for only half an hour, while the MacDonalds refused to fight at all. Hence Culloden was lost and the Prince became a fugitive. Now the narrator turns to the chapter in folk history arousing most attention, the flight of the Prince through the hills and isles. From Inverness Charles Edward crossed Badenoch and Glengarry and sought refuge in the west, in Moidart and Arisaig. But when the enemy began to close in he asked his supporters to get him to the Hebrides. After a stormy passage, in which they were battered by a northeast wind, they landed him at Benbecula. From there he made his way to other islands, but not receiving the respect in Lewis that he was tendered in the MacDonalds' country he came south again to Corrodhale in South Uist, where the Prince's Cave can be seen, east of Howmore Post Office. There were actually two caves, on two sides of a river flowing into the sea, and one, unnamed, was underground; the Prince hid in both of them, being visited by various MacDonalds, including Lady MacDonald. There he was kept fairly comfortable, "until the Government's men of war began to fill up the Minch, and also the Government's army was in the country." A reward of thirty thousand pounds had been set on the Prince's head. And to show you how well those poor Highlanders was on his side, a very brave Highlander one day — he was just like the Prince himself — and he just led the Redcoats to catch him and they fired at him and now he fell, and he began to shout, "Oho ho, you have killed your Prince. You have killed your Prince." Just to make the search easy for Prince Charles. And when they heard him, at once they took off his head, and went to London with it, and there was a pause in the search, at that time, until they made out it was not the head of the Prince. Duncan MacDonald next turns to the episode especially appealing to lovers of romance, the appearance of Flora MacDonald as a comely aide to the Prince. At the behest of Lady MacDonald, Flora, a young girl living at Milton, obtained a passport from her stepfather, the commander of the government forces on Uist, ostensibly to enable her to visit her mother at Skye, but actually to effect the Prince's escape. Flora took



Charles Edward with her dressed as a maidservant, crossed the ford at Benbecula, showed her stepfather the passport, procured a boat at Roisnis, and made for Skye. After landing she took the Prince to Kingsburgh House where he was sheltered for a time. (Flora eventually married Allan of Kingsburgh.) From Skye the Prince reached the mainland and in "September or October" was able to embark for France. (He sailed on September 20.) Duncan MacDonald's fairly lengthy account can be amplified at certain points by other recorded traditions. John Campbell of South Uist enlarges on the stay of the Prince at Eriskay (SA 1960/7 A5). Charles Edward landed at Eriskay in a small two-oared boat. Although Eriskay was then completely uninhabited, somehow unassisted he erected a "large and beautiful stone building," obtaining stones which he dressed as beautifully as though the finest mason had worked on them. On the slope of the hill on which he built the house he planted many flowers that still grow; people took away the earth but the flowers would never grow anywhere else. After some time the Prince began to move about, using the small boat he had carefully preserved. He sailed to Uist, finding it empty of people or highways, and went on to the north until he chanced on a cave in Ben More. To make a fire he struck flint against tall, stout, dry heather, and whatever he could catch he roasted on the fire. A woman called Flora of Airigh Mhuilinn who lived at Gearrabhailteas heard of "a man on the mountain and she pitied him greatly - who was he, and how did he live there?" She walked to Ben More and saw smoke coming from the cave. Inside she found Prince Charles, clothed in rags, singeing a lamb. She spoke to him for a while, then returned home and, saying nothing to anyone, returned to the cave with a dress of her own which she made him wear. Then they wandered "hither and thither on the shore" until they spied a small boat with two oars. "Well," said she, "we have had a good chance of running away from here with this boat, wherever we shall land." Eventually they landed at Uig in Skye, also at that time a very bare place. They wandered on until they encountered some natives, who proved very kind and friendly. The outcome was that they began to hold parties there and these two ladies always went to the ball. But one man was slightly bolder than the rest and he began to say, "That's not a woman," said he, "it's a man, and there was never a woman as good-looking as that man."



"O no!" "No!" "No!" "But I tell you it is. But the plan will be that we'll have a ball, and all will be gathered there. They'll be there in any case, and we'll get apples, the plan being that we shall throw them to each other. And the lady always, when you throw her something, will spread out her skirt to catch it. The man, on the other hand, tightens his legs together." There was nothing for it, but the ball went ahead and the song progressed and the dance and at last the time came for them to take [refreshments?]. They had the apples, at least. They began to pitch them to each other. Oh, each one of the ladies would spread out her skirt and catch hold of the apples. When it reached him, however, he put his legs together. "Well, well," said the man, "I told you so." Then they realized that they were caught. Nevertheless, the natives still treated Flora and the Prince generously. Flora died on Skye and was buried in a cemetery called Kilmaluag. Like the Prince she was a Catholic. John had himself seen the big gray stone with a cross carved on it placed at her head. When sailing past the shore in a fishery cruiser, a lad from Skye pointed it out to him saying that on a bad night the cross had broken off and the people had tried in vain to tie the pieces together with pins and ropes. In this last account "Prince Charlie" has become a kind of amorous Robinson Crusoe. The incident of a man being discovered in woman's dress when he closes his legs together to catch an object in his skirt also appears in Huckleberry Finn. (This is Motif HI578.1.4.1, "Woman throws apple to man in woman's dress.") Precise historical details, such as Flora's obtaining a passport from her father-in-law in the previous text, fade into an empty never-never land. The half dozen other transcriptions dealing with Prince Charlie are more fragmentary but supply further details. Donald MacMillan of South Glendale in South Uist (SA 1953/37 A10) had himself seen the house in which the Prince resided for three days, "a big thatched house about fifty feet in length." Donald criticized the plays that depicted Charles Edward's experiences in the middle of Scotland but did not dwell on the first six or seven months he spent in the islands. He emphasized how, on landing on Eriskay, the Prince took a seed out of his pocket and threw it on the ground, where the flower can still be plucked in July and August, but will not grow elsewhere. The people of Eriskay called the small yellow flower the Prince's Flower, and the place where it grew the Prince's Bay (Coilleag a' Phrionnsa). Around the patch of white, sandy



soil where the Prince had come ashore the people built a kind of wall as a memorial. "And though you would take a large sod of six feet with a spade, put it on a barrow and take it to any part of the island, even, never mind any other country, the flower won't grow anywhere in the world except where it grows out of the ground, by itself." Some traditions contain forebodings. A curious little episode is recounted by Hugh MacKenzie (SA 1958/81 B6). When the Prince first came ashore on Eriskay, a woman named Isabel MacKay met him with a drink of milk. As he drank the milk, he thought of a warning he had been given, that he would not succeed in his venture if he did not kill the first woman he met, "Oh, I cannot kill that woman," he said, and let her go. In another snatch, the Duke of Argyll, a supporter of the realm, offers to change his allegiance if the Prince will change his Catholic faith. According to Duncan Campbell of Oban in Argyllshire, the red-haired Duke said to Charles Edward, "If you walk through the Established Church, with our Bible in your hand, I shall crown you king of Scotland without a blow [being struck] or a shot [being fired]." When the Prince answered "No," the Duke rejoined, "Well, so long as this red head stays on this pale body, you will not be King of Scotland." Legendary accretions are readily perceived in these recitals of the Prince's wanderings in the isles: the magic flower, the disguise in woman's dress, the self-sacrifice of the soldier who resembled the Prince, and the romance with Flora. These traditions form the main source of knowledge of the Prince's whereabouts after Culloden until he embarked for France never to return.

(ii) Traditions of Culloden The fateful battle of Culloden too has generated its share of traditions, dealing with lucky escapes, savage blows, and sadistic deeds on the part of the Duke of Cumberland. Even in my one day visit to Inverness and the battlefield of Culloden (August 26, 1967), I heard traditional stories from my companion and guide, Iain "Rory" MacKay, whose family on both sides participated at Culloden. In one anecdote, Willie Chisholm, standard-bearer to the Chisholm clan, went hunting the day of the battle and brought home a deer, reaching Culloden Moor the same day. The most dramatic example in the archives of the School of Scottish



Studies of a folktale becoming enmeshed with the '45 is the following account, given in full, of the escape of the Laird of Bernera from Culloden. (Translation of Gaelic story by Angus MacLellan, Benbecula, on microfilm, as transcribed by Calum I. MacLean; Irish Folklore Commission MS. 1031, pp. 426-29.) The island of Bernera can be dimly seen from the east shore of North Uist and is still inhabited by about two hundred people. As was the case with many others who rallied with the Stuarts to the Prince's cause, the Laird of Bernera was one of the stalwarts, but he managed to flee with his life from Culloden, and it is said that he was magically protected. Bullets pelted him. He threw off his topcoat to make himself lighter, and they say that the coat which he threw off— whether it was big or small — was riddled with bullets, but none of them ever penetrated to his skin. He separated from the others and was coming down — he fled, making for Lochiel [Cameron] country. Night was closing in on him when he noticed a few Hanoverian soldiers in front of him on the road. He didn't know how on earth to get near them, but the group of them left, leaving one, as if to watch. The laird got up to him and killed him. He noticed that the Englishman was wearing a fine pair of boots and tried to pull them off, but come off they would not. Eventually he said he wasn't going to be thwarted in this business, and he cut the man's legs off at the knees, taking with him the legs and the boots. Then he arrived at a farmer's house, and complained to the woman that he was a fugitive — would she be able to accommodate him? She said to him that the times were dangerous, but that she would do her best, as she did. She hid him in a bundle of straw in the byre. However, I believe the Laird of Bernera's pursuers caught up with him, and what he did was to flee before they got up in the morning. Because the troopers were around when he got up, and he forgot the boots, when the lady of the house got up in the morning and went to the byre, she saw these feet sticking out from around the lintel. She was curious about it and pulled them out. "Oh! Good gracious!" she said. "The cow must have eaten the fellow who was here." And then at last they realized what had happened. They surmised that the Laird of Bernera had left them behind. The Laird of Bernera got along, reaching Bernera in safety. His name was Donald Campbell. That man, when the Prince was in Bernera on his way to Lewis to find a boat, made him as comfortable as possible in order to save his life, and it's not all that long since a great grandson of his died in Bernera — of this Donald Campbell. The unfortunate Prince failed to get a boat in Stornoway. He wasn't allowed to get it, because there was a minister in Benbecula who found out that the Prince had left Benbecula with a crew to procure a vessel in Lewis. That minister, a MacAulay, sent word to his father that the Prince had left, and to catch him, because of his faith. But they did not catch him. Anyway, they were MacAulays, ancestors of Lord MacAulay, a great writer of ours some time ago.



In spite of the factual detail of personal and place names, this incident is an example of Type 1281 A, "Getting Rid of the Man-eating Calf," known in northern and eastern Europe. A Maine lobsterman and a FrenchCanadian widow in upper Michigan told me variants, the latter joining this type to Type 1739, "The Parson and the Calf," in which a sick man thinks he is going to have a calf because a servant substitutes cow's urine for his own in taking his specimen to the doctor. When the man finds a calf with him in the barn he thinks he has given birth.2 (iii) Traditions of the Glencoe Massacre Another event burned deeply in Highland folk memory is the Glencoe massacre of February 13, 1692. In the words of Donald MacEachan of Arisaig (SA 1954/39.3), "it was said of the Campbells that they came feasting and fasting [sic] and being entertained with the MacDonalds, and that they allowed the MacDonalds to go to sleep, while they themselves stayed up for the massacre. That was how the story went. These people still exist and they keep up their spite for each other ... They say that Campbell of Glenlyon ... was the king's agent." The bitter memories that still set off MacDonalds and Campbells come to view in a boisterous recording session Calum MacLean conducted with Angus MacKay, who strongly criticized the MacDonalds. ... I'll say, according to my knowledge of history and to what I heard they used to abuse the Campbells, but I think the Campbells were better than themselves ... because the MacDonalds were just thieves and murderers. And how much land do they hold today that Clanranald got? What does the Duke of Atholl have today that he got apart from by theft? And all you dukes in Scotland today? Isn't the Duke of Argyll one of them? He wouldn't fight, on any account, on the side of the precious Prince we were to have in Scotland, Prince Charlie. He refused, and opposed him. There now, another of the bad varlets, and plenty of them .... Calum MacLean: But they said about the massacre of Glencoe, that the Campbells they did that, didn't they?" Angus MacKay: Yes. And they well deserved it! They well deserved it! Didn't the MacDonalds do the same to themselves? Did they not catch them there, out 2 See Richard M. Dorson, Buying the Wind (Chicago, 1964), pp. 87-88; idem, "AuntJane Goudreau, Roup-Garou Storyteller," Western Folklore 6 (1947): 27. Aili Johnson has given me an unpublished text of types 1281A+ 1739 collected from a Finnish informant in Ohio.



there in some port or other, on the shore! And they killed every single Campbell there on the shore — no, every single MacDonald. [In his ire the speaker confuses the clans.] Oh, the Campbells are always being abused. I won't abuse them. Female voice {Mrs. MacKay?): But I won't have the MacDonalds abused at all. My mother was one, and I don't care. But 'while there's a twig in the forest, there'll be treachery in a Campbell' [shouting], Angus MacKay: [interrupting] I don't care what your mother was, or your father, but I'm just telling you the truth. I don't care what you were, or what you are. This family shouting match bears noisy witness to the vitality of traditional history. A circumstantial account of the Glencoe massacre is given by John Alexander Stewart Wilson (SA 1959/59 A2,3), as he recalls hearing it when a small lad from Mrs. Donald Vancy, the former Christine Cameron. As he retells her version, the Campbell regiment of the 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers came from the "Black Fort of Inverlochy" (Fort William), from Blair MacFaoileach, in by Mamore and down the Gairbhleas into Glencoe. Captain Campbell of Glenlyon was sent to command them, since his brother's daughter was married to a MacDonald (John) of Glencoe, and his presence would disarm any suspicions of the MacDonalds. The soldiers were received with hospitality and given the best of food and drink inside the house. Each soldier had been put on oath that he would tell nothing of the plot to any man or woman in the glen. But one soldier, a Campbell, felt a twinge of conscience and asked a young MacDonald to go for a walk with him, on the night of February 13, 1692. The two went down the glen, past the Oir-Fhiodhain, and stood before the big stone, since known as the Soldier's Stone in the Glen. Turning to the stone, the soldier said: "Great stone in the Glen, though you have every right to be there, if you knew what was to happen tonight you would not stay there on any account." The soldier's companion immediately understood the message, and ran back to the house to inform the people inside. They fled, but the massacre had already begun. The MacDonalds who escaped made for Ballachulish where the Stuarts of Ballachulish and the Stewarts of Appin brought them relief. Mrs. Vancy added another episode concerning a decree of Glenlyon that the soldiers should leave no man or boy alive. The soldiers ex-



amined every cave. A sublieutenant hearing a noise said to a soldier standing by, "That's a child's cry over there, and it's not a girl at all, it's a boy. Go up and kill him." The soldier went up and found a MacDonald woman in there with a child at her breast, a wee boy, and a small dog, a terrier, at her feet. He told her his orders and she said, "Save my child. Think of yourself when you were a lad." The soldier plunged his sword into the dog and took the bloody sword to his officer as proof of the killing. Years afterward, the soldier, having left the army, was on a journey, and he came in to Stoirm of Appin, where there was an inn, and he went inside. And they were saying to him, "You're a soldier?" "Yes," he said, "I've roamed a good part of the world and I've seen a lot," he said. "And what's the strangest thing you've ever seen, or the saddest thing you've come across?" "Well," he said, "the saddest thing I ever encountered was the Massacre of Glencoe." The innkeeper said, "Were you there?" "Yes," he said, "I was there." And while he was speaking two men left the table and went outside the house. "Did anything happen when you were there?" "Yes," he said, "I did something that I keep remembering. I saved a child's life," he said. And he told the story of how he saved the life of that woman's baby and how he killed the terrier. The man at once leapt across the table and extended his hand. "I am that child," he said, "and you may stay with me as long as you live." That's how the lady told me the story. [A good variant by John Finlayson has also been recorded (SA 1958/168 Bl).j In this full version two prominent folklore themes are evident: the warning verse recited by the shamed conspirator, a verse that varies in each telling; and the male child saved from death through the killing of a substituted animal. This last incident is Motif K512.1.1, "Compassionate executioner: bloody knife (sword) from slain animal substitute." Calum MacLean elicited from John Wilson other traditions associated with the Glencoe massacre (SA 1959/59 A4 & 6). He recalled the former site of the village in the middle of the glen whose ruins he had often passed, and the big stone on the left-hand side called the Signal Rock, since a gun had been fired from it the night the massacre began. "You see it mentioned in the story written by Robert Louis Stevenson, when Alan Breck, he and Davie Balfour were there." Wilson - who was a Stewart



of Appin - further said that a great secret "was told from father to son, 'handed down' as the Lowland tongue puts it," as to who actually killed Campbell of Glure. The gun that was supposed to have killed him, called "the black gun of misfortune" (gurtna dubh a' mhl-fhortairi) was to be seen in Ballachulish house for a number of years. James of the Glen was hanged for the murder, but the true murderer was said to be a Stuart of Ballachulish. The place where the gibbet was erected has since been known as Poll na Give, "The Gibbet Bog". Wilson also told of meeting Angus MacDonald in Glasgow, who laid a wreath at the base of the memorial in the Glen every year (SA 1959/59 B2). He had just come off the train and we went in to an hotel to have a drink and I said, "Angus, how are things going in Glencoe?" "Oh John," said he, "pretty badly." "How's that?" "Do you know that something has happened in Glencoe," he said, "the like of which hasn't occurred since the massacre!" I said, "What was that?" "A Campbell has been born in the Glen," he said. "How was that?" I said. "Well," he said, "one of the girls in the Glen" — and he named the girl, she was a MacDonald — "went to Edinburgh to work. She married a Campbell and he came home to Glencoe and got a job in Ballachulish store. They lived in Glencoe and they had a son, up in Glencoe, and so," he said, "a Campbell has come to the world in Glencoe." Narrator Wilson knew too, about the removal of the corpse from the gibbet by a simple-minded fellow named MacPhee, who was able to mix with the soldiers guarding the body. While they were having a dram at the inn, he sneaked the corpse away, threw the gibbet into the bog, and carried the body to the waiting Stewarts who took it to Appin. A further detail is given by an unnamed informant from Ballachulish or Glencoe (SA 1959/112 A3). The hole would never fill in where the gibbet had been set and no grass would grow on the spot. People said it was because the executed man was innocent. "But I saw it myself too, and I often went to see it, and there was no grass at all around, just black earth." The Stuart Society set up a monument in the very hole where the gibbet had stood. (Cf. Motif E422., "Ineradicable bloodstain after bloody tragedy.") One folk-teller after another recounts the tradition of Henry's Stone (Clach Eanruig), the warning and the saving of the child from murder



and the hanging of the innocent man. Texts of the warning statements follow: "Grey stone in the Glen, if you knew tonight what was to happen You would not be there at all." (Duncan Campbell SA 1953/77 B6) "If you knew what was to happen this night, You would not be here." (Duncan Maclnnes SA 1958/82 B7) "If you knew what was to happen tonight, You wouldn't stay here." (Sandy Livingstone SA 1958/81 B8) "You'd better arise. I arose early And you certainly needed that. Women of this glen, You'd better arise." (John Finlayson SA 1958/162 A5)

In Finlayson's telling, the warning is given as a verse played by the piper of the Campbells, actually a MacDonald. A warning verse is also played by a piper in a separate tradition given below, concerning Alasdair MacColl. "Coll, my friend, Avoid the fort I am caught." (Charles Maclnnes SA 1953/110 A4)

The accompanying narrative is fragmentary but explains that Coil's sail would take three wrong turns when he reached Gocam-go Mill near a fort. Other narrations amplify episodes of the massacre and its aftermath. According to John MacDonald of Spean Bridge (SA 1953/255), one of the Stewarts of Appin killed Colin of Glenure in 1752 and wished to go to court in Fort William to confess when an innocent man was brought to trial. But other Stewarts locked him in a room and the innocent man was hung at Ballachulish Ferry. The recorded historical fact sof the Glencoe massacre seem wilder and grimmer than any legend. Beginning the chain of events, the aged chief of the MacDonald clan, Maclain, swallowed his pride and made a desperate march with his gillies to sign the oath of allegiance to King William of Orange, missing the January 1, 1692 deadline by six days. His delay was



in part caused by the absence of the sheriff of Argyll from Inveraray over the holidays. The sheriff finally administered the oath, but a thin line was drawn by enemies through Maclain's name on the list of oath-takers sent to the King in London. Plotters arranged for the extirpation of the marauding clan MacDonald. A wastrel heavily in debt, Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, who had a niece living in Glencoe, was commissioned captain of the Earl of Argyll's Regiment of Foot and instructed to dispatch the MacDonalds. Maclain received him hospitably in the best Highland tradition, quartered his troops throughout the homes in the Glen, and entertained, them with food and drink and games, believing all the while that his clan now lay under the protection of the Crown. After thirteen days of comradeship, the King's soldiers, chiefly Campbells, the ancient foe of the MacDonalds, rose against their host at five a.m., shooting Maclain in the back as he was putting on his trews, slaughtering men in the beds or shooting them on dung-heaps, killing some of the women and children and driving others half-naked into the bitter snow and cold. Thirty-eight MacDonalds died in the massacre, but Glenlyon proved less than an expert butcher for most lived to tell the tale, and they have told it up to the present day. In his vivid history, Glencoe, The Story of the Massacre, Prebble employs oral traditions in greater variety than those I secured from the School of Scottish Studies. For the Warning he presents four variations. One was uttered to a child by a Campbell soldier as they watched a game of shinty between the Argyll men and the MacDonalds at MacHenry's [sic] Stone: "Great stone of the glen! Great is your right to be here, but if you knew what will happen this night you would be up and away." A soldier quartered with a family that had treated him well thus addressed their dog, "Grey dog, if I were you grey dog, my bed tonight would be the heather." Another soldier living at the Robertson cottage plucked at a plaid. "This is a good plaid. Were this good plaid mine, I would put it on and go out into the night to look after my cattle. Were this good plaid mine, I would put it on my shoulders and I would take my family out to drive my cattle to a safe place." Also Prebble cites the report that Glenlyon's piper, Hugh Mackenzie, stood on MacHenry's Stone and played "Women of the Glen" in warning. Prebble discounts as "absurd" the stories of the Glencoe people that the soldiers knew in advance of the massacre, and surmises that one soldier



may have guessed at or overheard the order being relayed to his sergeant. Still the tradition of the Warning reveals sympathy of the MacDonalds for one of their enemies, a point that strengthens its probability. The fact that the massacre fell far short of total destruction suggests that the news may have leaked out. In another place Prebble supports the view that at the last moment some of the soldiers drew back from the impending slaughter. "Confused and contradictory though the legends became, they do record the truth that some of the Argyll men were revolted by the orders given them, and that within the oath of obedience they had taken they attempted to warn the people."3 As another example of the soldiers' clemency, Prebble also gives the incident of the soldier who kills a dog to save the crying child, but with an added twist. The officer who had sent the soldier to dispatch the child recognizes that the blood on the sword is not human blood and sends the soldier back. "Kill the child, or I'll kill you." Thereupon the soldier cuts off the little linger of the child's hand and covers his sword with the blood. Many years later when the ex-soldier stopped at a cottage in Appin, he mentioned having taken part in the massacre of Glencoe. His host resolved to kill him in the morning. But at breakfast the guest told the incident of the child, and his host held up a hand with a little finger missing. Still another vein of folklore incorporated by Prebble into his stirring history is the oral poetry of the bard Murdoch Matheson. A guest of Maclain and a survivor of the slaughter, Matheson composed a powerful lament on the tragedy, first printed in 1776. "Given equal odds between them and the Lowland band, the feathered birds of the mountains would have screamed from their enemies' corpses."4 (iv) Other historical traditions Besides the '45 and the Glencoe Massacre, Highlanders and Hebrideans dwell on other historical events and figures known to them through folk remembrance. Deeds of Rob Roy are recalled. Soldiers have surrounded him; he asks them, before he surrenders, to place their hands in a log he has cleft with a wedge, that he may give the wood to his wife for burning. Then he withdraws the wedge, trapping them. After he releases them, they 3 4

John Prebble, Glencoe: the Story of the Massacre (London, 1966), pp. 231-232. 245. Ibid., pp. 222, 238, 240. 246.



leave him in peace (Angus MacLellan, South Uist, SA 1959/57 B2). This same trick (Type 38, "Claw in Split Tree," Motifs K551.29* and K l l l l ) is told on American frontier heroes. Rob Roy also pays the rent for a poor widow and then steals the money back from the collector (MacLellan, SA 1959/56 Bl), in the same fashion as Jesse James. The story of Robert the Bruce taking heart and renewing his fight after he sees a spider complete his web in a cave on the fourth attempt, lives on orally. A surprising number of traditions concern the ninth century invasion of the Norsemen, or Norwegians, and sites of battles they fought with the clans. One informant remarked, "None of us are against the Norsemen. We would prefer Norsemen to Englishmen." One legend, "How the Caledonian Forest was Burnt," has become a magical fiction (Miss Munro, Laide, SA 1955/164 B7). The king of Norway wanted to burn the forests of Scotland. His daughter volunteered, telling him to find a witch to turn her into a bird. As a white bird she flew to Scotland and set the trees on fire with a wand she carried under her wing. She turned black from the pine soot and was called Dubh a' Ghiuthais, "The Black of Pine." Finally the farmers lured her to earth by separating baby animals from their mothers. When the bird heard their cries, she flew down to protect them and the farmers shot her. The king sent a ship to fetch her body, but a storm arose every time the crew sought to embark. Finally the princess was buried at Little Loch, where a place is named for her (See Motifs A2218.3, "Animal who steals fire scorched: cause of his color"; G211.4, "Witch in form of bird: unspecified"; K2351.1, "Sparrows of Cirencester.") In these instances folklore has fairly eclipsed history, but there are other, less fanciful accounts in the archives that redress the balance.


Turning from twentieth to nineteenth century collectors of Scottish historical traditions, we encounter much firmer and fuller materials, only recently made available in a work of unique importance, The Dewar Manuscripts.5 These English texts form an extraordinary body of tradi6

The Dewar Manuscripts, volume one: Scottish West Highland Folk Tales, collected originally in Gaelic by John Dewar, translated into English by Hector MacLean, edited with introduction and notes by the Reverend John MacKechnie (Glasgow: William MacLellan, 1964). Regrettably the editor has deferred providing information



tional history. They present in depth and close detail a picture of the cattle-raiding, feuding, warlike clans and lairds of the Highland society finally destroyed at Culloden. Some historical references, such as the battles of the '45 and allusions to the American Revolution and the fighting in Flanders, give a sense of anchorage, but for the most part the raids and fights, pursuits and escapes, killings and reprisals, take place in glens, lochs, and castles remote from the central stage of history. Dates are almost never given but personal names and genealogies of the actors and place name stories of the stones, braes, hills, and ponds adorn every narrative. The '45 recitals vary in length from a few hundred to 13,000 words. All are clearly intended to describe reality. Because the stories are presented in so straightforward a manner, in clear contrast to the style and supernatural characters of magic tales, their folklore content is not immediately evident. Some feats of strength and acts of brutality inspire awe, but they do not involve gods or demons. Always on the lookout for recurrent tale types and motifs, the folklorist will recognize some incidents he has seen before. An account of MacMillan of Glencannel tells of his visiting the homes of his three daughters to determine which was keeping Christmas best (page 261). At the house of the first, the roast smelled so appetizing that he did not feel the need to venture inside. At the second house, husband and wife were in bed as if it were any other day, and the hens had scattered the ashes of the fireplace all over the house. At the third house the son-in-law was giving hay to the beasts but the daughter was abed and the fire unkindled. MacMillan took his Christmas with his first daughter and left his land to her and her husband Gille-braigh. (In an earlier episode MacMillan had fought with Gille-braigh when he found him secretly consorting with his daughter.) This decision recalls the folktale identified as Type 1452, Bride Test, one of Grimm's Household Tales. Two examples from the Pennsylvania Dutch are given in my Buying the Wind (pages 146-148), dealing with the selection of a wife and of a servant by testing three persons. The test for the prospective wife is how well she scrapes her kneading trough and for the servant whether he removes a stone from his shoe before ploughing. On the whole, heroic saga rather than popular folktale seems to have about the tradition tellers and given no explanations for the order and arrangement of the volume. Campbell of Islay furnished a table giving useful data on the narrators of his Popular Tales of the West Highlands.



left its mark on the Highland traditions. The clan society that reached its height in the seventeenth century exhibits all the characteristics defined by the Ghadwicks in their analysis of the Heroic Age. Here is the warring, cattle-raiding, pre-urban culture of which they write. Bards compose songs and laments in praise of their chieftains and of memorable frays; clansmen recite deeds of renowned warriors. When the Duke of Atholl requested Ewen Cameron of Lochiel to meet him alone to discuss their disputed claims to Aird-raineach, Lochiel insisted that his piper accompany him. "Whatever be the affair to which I go, I like always to have someone with me, to listen to what is said that he may remember it and remind me of it again" (page 89). Besides the piper who functioned as an oral poet-historian, individual raiders also recalled and related chronicles of their clans. "Gillespie MacCombie" concludes with a passage describing the reliance of the Highlanders on oral knowledge. When Gillespie MacCombie was young, it was the custom of the people of the country when the long winter nights came, to go to one another's houses and pass the time singing songs and telling stories. Before the year 1800 there was many a one of the Highlanders who could tell the names of his ancestors for many generations back. Also, although they could neither read nor write, they took note of the time, and he who did not always learn the day of the month and the age of the moon, was considered a man void of intelligence. The people who were of old would tell when the new moon would come, when it would be full or in the quarter, as well as though they had an almanac. They trusted much to their memory and when anything remarkable happened, they had a proverb to illustrate it. Gillespie MacCombie remembered many of the stories which he had heard in his youth. (Page 259) This kind of society, paying tribute to the high-born fighting man and dependent on verbal arts, fulfills the precise conditions set forth by the Chadwicks for the formation of heroic legend and saga, and The Dewar Manuscripts lives up to expectations. Many of the narratives describe astounding acts of strength, bravery, and heroism performed by prodigious swordsmen and archers. For instance, "Big Auchry was the bravest man and best swordsman in the whole country." Hence the Macfies of Colonsay sought to ambush him, since they came often to Argyll to "lift a prey," and they knew that, clad in helmet and shirt of mail, he could dispatch them one after another. To avoid being taken by surprise, Auchry moved from his own house at Baile-ghuirgean to a bothy inside a bank, with a large stone by the door, and took with him his little dog, whom he taught not to bark but to scratch his master



behind the ear when he saw someone coming. "Someone that was not faithful to Big Auchry informed the Macfies of Auchry's hiding place at Druimban." Three boatloads of Macfies landed at night at the Port of Peats as if they were coming for peat, and they marched in two bands against Auchry, the smaller in advance, knowing that he would scorn to flee from a small band. The day was hot when they reached Druimban and Auchry's dog was lying at the door of the bothy asleep. He did not observe the Macfies until they were close to him, and he had only time to bark and squeal once, before they killed him. Big Auchry came out and put his back to the large stone at the end of the bothy. There he defended himself with his sword in the best way he could. They surrounded him but he killed them as they closed with him. The chief of the Macfies cried — 'Let some strike him above and others in the hams.' But before they managed to do this he killed nine of them. At last one of the Macfies succeeded in striking him in the ankle. He was now wounded and another struck him at the knee. He then fell on his knee, but he killed four more of the Macfies before they killed him. When the chief of the Macfies saw Auchry Mor Malcolm lying dead, he said — 'It was a great loss and ill deserved that Auchry Mor was a Malcolm. Were he a Macfie, what a champion!' (Page 61)

The death of Big Auchry follows closely the pattern of the hero's fate analyzed by the Chadwicks. Although the greatest warrior of his land, the mighty hero is mortal and must die. It is fitting that he die in battle rather than in bed, but who can kill the champion? Only an army, or a traitor striking from behind. Auchry's death particularly resembles the doom of Grettir the Strong in Icelandic saga. Grettir, also a celebrated fighting man, had similarly retreated to a hideaway in a cave atop an isle, accessible only by a ladder. A faithless thrall left suspended the ladder leading up to the cave. Even though lamed by an axe-stroke that glanced off an enchanted log, Grettir fought the host that surrounded him in his hut, until fatally struck from behind when blinded by two halves of a foe he had severed falling on him. The betrayal, crushing odds, wounding in the knee, and withal the carnage wrought by the champion facing the foe in his retreat, link Grettir and Big Auchry. But other heroes, from Achilles to Davy Crockett, are slain in similar fashion. One of the longest narratives sets forth adventures of "Big Malcolm Macllvain" of the clan Ilvain in Strath Eck, "renowned for his strength and exploits, and for being an excellent swordsman" (page 125). Among his feats Malcolm fights a black bull in Lock Eck and cuts off its ears. He wrestles and fells the notorious robber Nial na Gainne, and then asks



the Earl of Argyll to set him free, offering to stand security that Nial will rob no more. He steals another man's wife and conceals her for seven years in a cave that he blocks with a stone seven men can not lift. Caught in a bog by a band of pursuers, he fights them off until his sword breaks, then defends himself with a piece of the sword until he has sunk to his hips, and kills the commander of his enemies with a blow on the forehead with the fragment of sword. Captured and imprisoned, he escapes with a key his sister makes for him from an impression of the jailer's key she obtained in barley dough; he lowers himself down a rope blanket and walks to a waiting boat, carrying seven stones of iron on him, each weighing twenty and a half pounds. In a subsequent episode he toys with and finally slays a champion Irish swordsman at Skipness. In his old age, dirty, ragged, and bearded, Malcolm still throws strength-stones further than any of a group of caterans (cattle thieves) and by felling their captain seizes their cattle spoil. While the heroic death by treachery or against tremendous odds is not present here, most of the episodes in heroic saga make their appearance: the single combats with beasts and men, with the hero always victorious; the lifting of enormous weights; the code of chivalry. Tales were also told about Big Malcolm's grandson, Big John, who squeezed an arrogant fencer by the hand so hard the blood squirted from his finger tips and then threw him out of a window; as an old man Big John wrestled his son and a servant to the ground, lifted them one under each arm, and tied them back to back with a horse's halter (page 143). A number of strong-hero motifs can be identified in the saga of Big Auchry, under the general category F610, "Remarkably strong man." Some are F624, "Mighty lifter"; F624.0.1, "Strong man slays monster"; F628.2, "Strong man throws enormous stone"; F639.9, "Strong man crushes ribs of person he embraces." One hero-tale of a single combat takes place on the battlefield of Culloden and involves well-known historical personalities. The day after the battle the victorious Duke of Cumberland, along with Generals Wolfe and John Campbell of Mamore who commanded the Highland regiments on the King's side, was examining his prisoners in their pens. The Duke paused to sneer at fifteen Highland lads and the Prince who would use them for soldiers. General John Campbell spoke up for his countrymen, even though he had fought against them, and concluded a wager with the Duke, to buy him fifteen bottles of wine if one Highlander lost in a duel



with a picked English swordsman, while the prisoners would all go free if the Highlander won. An accomplished English fencer was picked, who bragged he would take the prisoners on one after the other. Each of the Highlanders volunteered, including Fierce John who had lost a hand and was staunching the blood with a sword heated in a fire and held in his good hand. In the end, the brother of Fierce John was chosen and brought against the English champion. "They did not resemble each other in appearance. The Englishman was a big, stalwart man and seemingly very strong. The Highlander was but a chip of a slender, sallow stripling, very bare of flesh, but tough and brawny, and slightly under middle size." (Page 235). At first the Highlander only defended himself, but when urged on by General Campbell, speedily dispatched the Englishman. "Go home now," said Campbell to him, "and thank your mother, because she gave you such good milk." In wrath, Cumberland ordered all other prisoners and all the wounded found on the battlefield to be put to death. Documentary support does not appear for this gripping scene, which follows an honored tradition of single combats harking back to David and Goliath. But the narrative reveals known Highland attitudes and sentiments: the bonds among the clansmen, both within their own clan and for fellow Highlanders even when divided by war; the hatred for the bloody Duke of Cumberland; and pride in Highland valor. Besides heroic saga, another vein of folklore permeates The Dewar Manuscripts in the form of supernatural belief. Key junctures in the narratives turn on prophecies, dreams, and warnings from witches and the second-sighted. "The laird of Glendariel dreamed that he looked at his hand and that his small finger had taken the place of his thumb" (page 67). An old woman who could foretell the future explained this as a sign that his youngest son would be laird in place of the oldest. The laird was angry, since he had five sons, and he disputed the woman. But so it happened, and the speaker recounts how the older brothers died without legitimate heirs, and the despised youngest son became laird of Glendariel. When the Campbells marched against the Lamonts, a raven croaked thrice, and Mannach of the Big Boots cried, "Ha! Ha! Boys! That is a good sign! You shall draw blood before you return!" (page 76). The Campbells secured the high ground and drove the Lamonts into the sea, where those first in the boats left their kinsmen behind to drown or be destroyed.



Few clans were as loving among themselves as Clan Nail who once possessed Strath Eck. One day they went fishing together on the river Echaig, nine nines in number, and a stranger woman passing by remarked to a forester, "If there are many of them fishing on the river today, there will not be so many of them tomorrow. You will not see so many of Clan Nail together fishing on the river Echaig again" (page 122). The woman went away and when the forester looked again at Strath Eck he saw Clan Nail madly fighting one another. An eldest brother attacked his youngest brother with a sword, because his wife had falsely accused the youngest brother of attempting to violate her. Those nearby ran to the aid of one or the other person, and in the end the fishing party turned into a slaughter from which Clan Nail never recovered. So the proverb is confirmed, "There is no forest without withered branches." When Ewen Cameron of Lochiel set out to meet the Duke of Atholl to discuss disputed land, an old hag named Gormla, known as a witch, met him on the way. Lochiel cursed her as a bad omen, until she advised him not to meet the Duke alone but to return for his men and hide them behind a hill within call. He heeded her advice, and wisely, for Atholl had secretly brought his own men, whom Lochiel was able to defeat. Thereafter he esteemed Gormla. (Pages 89-91.) So too did the "One-Eyed Ferryman," Archibald Maclnnes, credited with the second sight, warn Colin of Glenure not to go home by the side of Loch Leven. Colin did not take his advice and was fatally ambushed. (Page 203.) A ludicrous episode in a lengthy narrative about Big Archibald MacPhail shows the strong hero cowed by a spirit. Big Archibald of Glencoe was strong and fearless, an expert swordsman and a successful cattle-lifter, but he had his foolish side. Once going to Ballachulish he met a lowland gentleman with a gun on his shoulder, whom he saluted in Gaelic with "God's blessing to you, sir." When the gentleman, knowing no Gaelic, replied "This is a fine day," Archibald slew him for despising the word of God and took his gun, shoes, and a gold guinea he found in his pocket. But he missed sixty gold guineas later found by men of the laird of Ballachulish. Ever after Big Archibald was afraid of meeting the spirit of this gentleman. He did not fear Highland spirits, because he could converse with them. One night he went to see his son in Glen Creran and at the top of a pass met a soldier's wife who had lost her way and was smoking a pipe while resting. Never having seen a pipe-smoker, Big Archibald was taken aback, especially when the woman puffed smoke



out of her mouth. She spoke to him in English and he exclaimed, "O! God of the Elements! have I met a Lowland spirit?" He turned and fled, but the soldier's wife followed him hoping he would lead her to a house. Big Archibald ran to his daughter's house with all the breath out of him, crying that a Lowland spirit was pursuing him. When he learned that she was a real woman he pulled out his dirk and would have killed her if not prevented. While the spirit in this narration proved to be a living person, Big Archibald's belief in the reality of spirits could not be more convincingly illustrated. In a note (page 362), the editor, John MacKechnie, emphasizes the Highlander's dread of meeting a spirit unable to converse with him in Gaelic. MacKechnie gives a "well-authenticated" tale of a highly respectable, elderly lady on her way home from a religious affair, encountering a stranger who talked with her in Gaelic, chiefly about the Jacobites. At the end of their walk he said that she seemed apprehensive of the road, and she replied she was indeed apprehensive, since Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, a wild sort of man, used to live there. The stranger introduced himself as Alasdair and vanished. For the whole two mile walk the lady had felt no fear or uneasiness and was struck only by the musical quality of her companion's Gaelic. Alasdair was the famous Gaelic poet and "poet laureate" to Prince Charles. Belief in spirits also appears in the narrative "Sir Neil Campbell's Promise." While in Holland, Sir Neil had promised a brave soldier to care for his wife and family should he be slain. The soldier was killed in battle with the French but Sir Neil forgot his promise. One night the shade of the soldier appeared to Sir Neil and said, "I do not find rest in the grave; the cries of my wife and family reach me there. Remember your promise." Sir Neil did thereafter take care of the widow and her children. The narrator concludes, "It is difficult to believe this story, but many of the people of Cowal believe it to be true." (Page 81. Cf. Motif E363, "Ghost returns to aid living.") Curiously this is the only instance in the volume where the narrator is described. "From Mr. Archibald MacLean, Glaic near South Hall. He is an old man of 85 years of age, and can tell a tale punctually, without stopping or hesitating. He lives in an oldfashioned house, with a Lothian brace in the kitchen instead of a vent, which lets the heat of a fire out through the house better than a vent does." The idea of weapons becoming accursed appears in the story of "Donald



Stewart" (No. 32). An altercation had arisen between Donald, who had shot a deer at a great distance with a Spanish gun called the "Slinneanach," and Alexander Campbell, who said that his brother Colin had been shot in the same manner as the deer and by the same gun. "The people of Ballachulish after this gave a bad report of the gun called the Slinneanach; that any house in which it was should take fire." (Page 216.) For a while they kept it in an outhouse, and at last sent the gun to the north, since the North Country men did not share their fears about the "Slinneanach." MacKechnie comments (page 354) that a gun fired upwards at a deer and downward at a man could hardly have left the same marks; but he documents the belief in accursed weapons and missiles from ancient Greece to an Act of 1846 revoking deodand, or the surrendering of lethal instruments to the king, in order to protect railway engines from surrender. Folk humor is conspicuously absent from the Dewar texts, although other traditions or narrators or collectors might well have emphasized comic elements. A straightforward beginning to one relation informs us, "There was a gentleman of the MacKellars called MacKellar of Cruachan dwelling in Cruachan at the side of Loch Awe opposite to Inishconnel" a typical, low-keyed, matter-of-fact start, but followed by a sensational development - "and he held a right from the Pope that when any pair was married between Cruachan and Kilchrenan, he might claim the first night of the bride." (Page 273.) The teller goes on to explain how strong the authority of the Pope was in those times, confirmed by the law of the kingdom. Instead of a Boccaccio-like bedroom romp, however, we are given a sober clan fight between MacKellar and his four sons with MacArthur, father of the bride, and MacArthur's four sons, with morality triumphing over popery. In a note the editor documents this ius primae noctis, mentioned in a number of Celtic myth-stories that allude to royal and semi-divine persons with a ritual access to another's marriage-bed, such as King Conchobar, who could enjoy the first wedding night with the bride of every Ulsterman.6 The loutish strong hero, Big Archibald MacPhail, could easily be presented as a buffoon, but his humorous prayers are obscured in a serious saga. Seeing a large band of armed men coming in pursuit of cattle he and fellow caterans have just stolen, Big Archibald got down on his knees for his first prayer: * MacKechnie cites Alwyn and Brinley Rees, Celtic Heritage (London, 1961), pp. 225 ff., and B. Z. Goldberg, The Sacred Fire (London, 1931), p. 51.



"O! God of the Elements! Thou knowest Thyself that I have never troubled Thee hitherto with any request. And thou knowest Thyself that there are many of them come against us and that there is but a small number of us; I pray thee render us aid at this time. Be with us — be among us to rout them — and it may be that I shall not trouble Thee with another request for a long time hereafter." (Page 238) Apparently the Lord heard Big Archibald, for he and the Glencoe raiders escaped on this occasion, but at a later time he found himself again in trouble as the Campbells swarmed around the MacDonalds. Down again he went on his knees and looked to the sky: "O! God of the elements! Thou knowest Thyself that I did not propose to Thee so much as this all my life but once before ... It is now five years since I troubled Thee with a request. I pray Thee that Thou wilt be with us today in the battle; that Thou wilt be among us to give us direction; and if Thou wilt not be with us, be not against us, but just let it be between ourselves and the earls." (Page 242) In a note MacKechnie quotes Campbell of Islay, who recognized an American folk parallel: "this is exactly like the Yankee hunter's prayer which is in some modern funny book: Lord help me! But don't help the bear. If you will stand aside and help neither, you will see the darndest fight you ever saw." (Page 360.) An outstanding American Negro informant, James Douglas Suggs, sang and recited to me a version of "The Preacher and the Grizzly Bear" with the celebrated punch line, "Oh Lord, if you don't help me, don't help that grizzly bear."' For the social historian and the folklife scholar The Dewar Manuscripts is rich in descriptions of customs and behavior of the old Highland culture. The narratives refer to methods of preparing food, techniques of sword-play, and codes of honor and social etiquette. Several recitals contain details on roasting meat. In the days of the Feinn, their great chieftain Fionn MacCumhail would give a feast after winning a battle. A deep hole was dug on the plain and fuel burned until the hole was half full of hot coals; then it was covered with flat stones, deer meat placed on the stones, more stones placed on the meat, and a layer of sods on top of all. (Page 154.) MacKechnie adds that the cooking pit was filled with water brought to a boil by the hot stones. (Page 321.) In another story, the robber Nial na Gainne and his gillie kill a wedder (a yearling ram), 7

Richard M. Dorson, "Negro Folksongs in Michigan from the Repertoire of J. D. Suggs," Folklore and Folk Music Archivist 9 (1966): 11-13.



take out and clean the paunch, put a hoop in the mouth of the paunch and place a withe across it for a pothook, and hang the paunch, filled with a piece of flesh and with water, like a pot over the fire to cook. (Page 130; cf. 139-140.) Feudal customs are explained, such as the taking of the socalled "door-post horse," the best horse on the farm, by the laird when a farmer died, but in return the laird must help the widow and children until the latter are grown. (Page 257.) One narrative opens with a detailed picture of a dwelling-house owned by a Highland laird in the period of James VI (1567-1625). The teller comments that a farmer of the present (1865) with less than a thousand sheep would scorn this house of the laird of Arrochar. The house was but thirty-four feet long and thirteen broad, inside. It contained but three rooms: a kitchen, a sitting-room and a pantry, and the pantry was in the middle of the house. The kitchen-fire was on the middle of the floor and a hole right over it in the roof allowed the smoke to escape. The fire of the sittingroom was near the gable and a stone with a smooth surface behind it. A chimney-top made of twigs and daubed with clay was above the fire of the chamber to let out the smoke. The rafters of the house were about three feet asunder. Beams of cleft oak placed close together and covered with sods formed a loft above the laird of Arrochar. There was but a single window with six panes in the chamber. There was one window with four panes in the kitchen, on the front of the house, and there was a window-hole at the back, which was shut with boards when the wind blew through it. There was another window-hole in the pantry shut with boards which was opened when anything was to be done there. The house was thatched with bracken. (Page 115) John Dewar had seen this house and the Dukes of Argyll used it as an inn. The narration concerns an affair between the wife of MacFarlane, laird of Arrochar, with the laird of Luss, who met clandestinely at a weaver's house. Accordingly the narrator explains that in "those olden times" gentlewomen spun wool and flax and did not consider it demeaning to go to the weaver's house and give directions how the web was to be woven. A tale begun with these neutral facts about house-style and clothmaking leads into another grisly Highland report of clan slaughter, with the MacFarlanes storming the castle of the laird of Luss and bringing his private parts to MacFarlane's faithless lady. There are other connections between history and folklore in John Dewar's collection. Nearly every narrative contains a scatter of incidents giving rise to place-names. For instance, in the one text dealing with the legendary Feinn (No. 23, "The Great Strait of the Feinn"), a whole series



of place-name origins is given in a single passage. The King of Lochlann prepared a great fleet to conquer the Feinn and it set sail for the Isles. One ship was named the Iubhrach. MacKechnie's note (page 321) explains that this word, meaning "made of yew wood," denotes a magical ship in many Gaelic tales, yew being a sacred wood. The Iubhrach's skipper Paruig, unfamiliar with the strait, let his ship strike a rock, thereafter called Glach Pharuig (Paruig's Stone), while the strait was called Caolas Mhic Pharuig (MacPharuig's Sound). As the rock damaged the Iubhrach and she began to fill with water, the crew sailed her to an island, since named after the ship, where she was abandoned and carried by the flood tide to a bay where she rotted, and the bay is named after the Iubhrach. (Pages 155-156.) Such instances could be many times multiplied, and afford challenges for the historian-cum-folklorist to determine whether a legend has grown from or given rise to a place-name. The previous comments have faintly suggested the wealth of tradition, belief, and custom in The Dewar Manuscripts. But the presence of folklore does not invalidate the content of history. In his appended notes MacKechnie identifies and documents many of the personalities and events mentioned in the texts. A case in point is the lengthy account of "Colin of Glenure" (pages 194-206) and its sequel "James Stewart of the Glen" (pages 207-213). James Stewart was tried and sentenced for the murder of Colin of Glenure, September 21-25, 1752, although Allan Breck Stewart later confessed to the murder. MacKechnie is able to compare transcripts of the trial proceedings with the traditions collected by Dewar over a century later and finds them coinciding at many points, although there occur folklore intrusions such as the one-eyed ferryman. Conversely, there are traditional texts for which documentary support is hard to find, and yet these may be all the more valuable since they provide the sole record. The startling account of "The Family of Ardsheil" gives information on relations between Highlanders and Americans at the time of the American Revolution. After losing the estate of Ardsheil, Duncan of Ardsheil went to America, became Town Chamberlain and Chief Collector of taxes in Boston, and married the daughter of the governor of Boston, Ann Irvine. The narrative then has General John Campbell and Charles Campbell of Inverary, both British officers, apprehended while traveling in America, imprisoned in Boston, and sentenced to be burned as spies. From their prison cell they heard called the name "Mistress Stewart of Ardsheil." Getting word to her, they asked



that she bring her husband to them. In the end he engineered a hairbreadth escape for them, his wife stealing her father's keys to the prison. When the prisoners were missed, Duncan Stewart himself had to leave secretly for England. There he ran fortuitously into the Campbells, who interceded with the Duke of Argyll to have Ardsheil restored to him. After some complicated land transactions, Duncan did regain Ardsheil and settle his family upon the estate. (Pages 218-224.) Such episodes in Highland-American relations rarely appear in conventional history, although thousands of Highlanders emigrated to America before 1776. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOLKTALE COLLECTIONS

As supplement to The Dewar Manuscripts we can add three twentieth century collections of traditional tales from the Highlands and the Hebrides which include, as any representative and faithful collection from that area must include, local historical traditions. They are The Peat-Fire Flame, Folk-Tales and Traditions of the Highlands & Islands by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (Edinburgh and London, 1937, reprinted with corrections 1947); Tales of Barra Told by the Coddy (John MacPherson, Northbay, Barra, 1876-1955,), with Foreword by Compton MacKenzie and Introduction and Notes by John Lome Campbell (Edinburgh, 1960); and Stories from South JJist, told by Angus MacLellan, translated by John Lome Campbell (London, 1961). These volumes, in contrast to The Dewar Manuscripts, cover the range of Scottish Gaelic oral traditions. The latter two collections are especially meritorious, preserving the repertoire of two Gaelic-speaking master narrators of the Hebrides and buttressing the texts with valuable historical notes and glosses. John Lome Campbell, himself laird of the isle of Canna, has followed modem folklore methods; he presents literal texts, recorded on wire or tape; translates them directly from the recording into natural and equivalent English, avoiding the "pseudo-archaic" and misty "Celtic Twilight" styles; groups them into families of stories by subject matter; prominently introduces and describes the narrator; and appends notes to correct, amplify, and substantiate statements in the tales and to indicate folklore comparisons. These are indeed model volumes. MacGregor's work offers none of these contributions and the author avowedly eschews the "science of Folk-tales." Informants and printed sources are rarely or loosely identified, and traditions are recounted in colorless paraphrase.



Still the work has some value, for MacGregor knows the Hebrides as a native, referring to cousins on the isle of Lewis who believe the seventh son can cure the king's evil, and he has brought together many scattered materials. A homogeneous body of oral narratives emerges from these collections, with traditional history clearly one of the main storytelling genres. Where Campbell of Islay has emphasized the international folktale, only six of the forty-two tales told by Angus MacLellan and none of the sixty-seven told by the Coddy or the more than two hundred summarized by MacGregor fall under this rubric. The strength of the tradition lies in the believed rather than the imaginary story. Believed narrations themselves cover a wide spectrum, from two-thousand-year-old legends of the warlike Feinn or Fingalians, to clan feuds and the '45 and the evictions taking place from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, swelled by numerous memorats of dealing with fairies, spirits, water-monsters, witches, and of treasure searches and second-sighted prophecies. Several chapters in The Peat-Fire Flame involve local and general history, particularly those on "Rievers' and Caterans' Tales," "FolkTales of Doughty Men and Doughty Deeds," "Norse and Viking FolkTales," and "Folk-Tales of the '15 and '45." In his introductory comment to this last chapter, MacGregor declares that the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745 constitute "the only outstanding phase of Scottish history since the arrival of Columba." The Scottish War of Independence with all its adventures of Wallace and Bruce, the Cromwellian activities north of the Tweed, the Union of the Crowns and, later, of the Parliaments, were all important in their way; but not one of them raised Scotland out of the drab, monotonous succession of minor battles and political intrigues and skirmishes. Bannockburn, it is true, has its peculiar significance for every Scot the world over; but the rout of Edward was of less consequence even to Scotland than Culloden — the last and greatest outburst of Highland chivalry.8 Folk tradition in this case accurately reflects historical significance, and the '45 is still being fought and reenacted by Scots. MacGregor met many Highlanders and Islanders who spoke as if they had known Prince Charlie personally. One tradition contradicts the usual version that the Prince landed at Eriskay, and instead assigns his initial landing to • Alasdair Alpin MacGregor, The Peat-Fire Flame (Edinburgh and London, 1947), p. 312.



Colonsay, with considerable details on his vain attempt to store kegs of gold on the island and to win the support of the MacNeills of Colonsay. Apparently the Prince believed he could confidently leave his treasure with any people living where heather grew. MacGregor also gives a variant of a tradition, known to the older people of Glen Moriston, that a pedlar passing through the glen was shot by English soldiers mistaking him for the Prince, whom he closely resembled. The officer in charge cut off the pedlar's head and took it to the Duke of Cumberland at Fort Augustus. Jacobite prisoners, hoping to give their fugitive leader a respite, assured the Duke that it was indeed the head of the Young Pretender. In the version given earlier, a follower of the Prince with similar features deliberately pretended to the soldiers that he was Charles Edward. Another novel tradition about the Prince, from Skye, ascribes the beauty of a lass born to the Beatons in Bracadale to their encountering the Prince incognito, with Flora MacDonald and a guide. The Beatons oifered the three strangers milk, and noticed that one drank from a gold cup and the other two from an ordinary Highland cumart (wooden drinking dish). When, shortly after, goodwife Beaton gave birth, her awe of the noble stranger left its mark on her beautiful daughter. Here the wandering of Prince Charles has become fused with the folk belief that a woman may transmit to her babe any powerful impression she receives during pregnancy. Thanks to their notes documenting or revising facts in the texts, the two collections by John Lome Campbell demonstrate the usefulness to the historian of specific traditions. Campbell appreciates local-history stories as a distinct genre, and comments, in his Introduction to Stories from South Uist, that Angus MacLellan related many about the MacDonalds of Clanranald, who formerly owned South Uist, and their hereditary poet-historians, the MacVurichs. "There is, or was, a wealth of such stories extant in South Uist, and a whole volume could easily be devoted to them and nothing else, but as far as I know, they have never been brought together." He makes similar remarks about the Coddy and the atmosphere of Barra in which memories of men stretched back to comprehend events in their past as if they were still near at hand, events known from the telling and not from printed books or English-school education. Material events, such as the evictions, the potato famine, the departure of the last of the old race of lairds in the direct line, the Napoleonic wars and the



oppression of the pressgang, none of which happened later than 1851, seemed to be matters of yesterday. The Jacobite risings of 1745 and 1715 felt only a little farther back, and the events of the seventeenth century, the wars between Royalists and Covenanters, and the visits to Barra of the Irish Franciscans (1624-40) and the Vincentians (1652-57), of whom Fr. Dermid Dugan was particularly well remembered, seemed only a very little earlier. Behind all this lay memories of the exploits of the old MacNeils of Barra, of the Lords of the Isles, and of the Viking invaders of Scotland and Ireland, who started coming in the ninth century ..."

As an illustration of how an historical tradition may be checked and found reliable in good part, we may consider the Barra story of "The Weaver of the Castle" and its sequel "The Life Story of the Little Weaver."10 This long narration contains an improbable Hollywood thriller plot of banishment, murder, and revenge. The Weaver was banished from Barra to the Stack Islands, where he built a castle and practiced piracy. Aided by his wife and sons, he cut ships' hawsers so that the ships would drift to shore and be wrecked. A cutter was sent to dispatch the Weaver and his sons. The commander hunted them to Eriskay, slew them, and left the blood of the Weaver on his sword to dry. The story now shifts to the youngest son, John MacNeil, who had escaped the fate of his father and brothers. John eventually made his way to Greenock and shipped aboard a cargo vessel bound from Scotland to Vancouver around Cape Horn. The Little Weaver rose to command of his own ship and one day was in a club in London with veterans drinking whisky and telling stories. One told of killing a raider and his three sons on a western isle of Scotland. John MacNeil made his acquaintance, was invited to his house for tea, beheld the sword stained with his father's blood, and killed the veteran with a blow of his fist. John Lome Campbell is able to compare two other recorded versions. An elaborate variant, probably recorded in 1893, was written down by Father Allan McDonald, the priest-collector of Eriskay, and survives among his papers. This text follows in the main the above outline, but after John's revenge veers into a typical Gaelic heroic-magical fiction. John encounters a princess transformed into a deer, follows her to the Kingdom of the Great World with the aid of a griffin, and finally finds and weds the princess. An inferior and poorly annotated version of this • Tales of Barra told by the Coddy, edited by John Lome Campbell (Edinburgh, 1960), pp. 26-27. 10 Ibid., pp. 81-88,



latter part was collected for Campbell of Islay in 1859 and printed in More West Highland Tales.11 A reader of the 1859 variant unfamiliar with the other two could never suspect that an historical basis underlies the original narration. Campbell sees no reason to doubt the accuracy of the Coddy's tale. He visited the Stack Island in 1951 and observed landmarks and remains of the castle mentioned by the Coddy. The practice of piracy in the manner ascribed to the Weaver is documented for the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries by references in the Privy Council of Scotland. "So that the activities of the Weaver and his sons, his death and the revenge exacted by his youngest son, are perfectly probable. The folkloric elements are likely to have been tacked on to the story of young John by later storytellers in order to entertain their audiences."12 A striking confirmation of one of the Coddy's historical tales is offered in printed testimony given to a royal Commission of Inquiry. The narrative concerns the infamous clearances of 1851 that followed the potato famine of 1846. Ground Officers offered meal to families who would sign up to emigrate to Canada. When the ship came to Lochboisdale to take them away, men and women ran to the hills to escape. The Coddy says, "Now I am going to describe the scenes that took place while the emigrants were put aboard and the brutality shown to human beings was beyond description." And he gives details. A deposition given to the Crofters Commission by John McKay, crofter, of Kilphedir, South Uist on May 28, 1883 elicited this testimony: Chairman (Lord Napier): You make a very serious charge in this paper which requires a little explanation. You say, "Others were driven and compelled to emigrate to America, some of whom had been tied before our eyes, others hiding themselves in caves and crevices, for fear of being caught by authorized officers." Will you explain these words? McKay: I heard and saw portions of it. Lord Napier: Will you relate what you heard and saw? MacKay then proceeded to relate instances of a policeman and a dog chasing Lachlan MacDonald and Angus Johnston and tying them upon 11

John Francis Campbell, More West Highland Tales, transcribed and translated by John G. McKay, edited by W. J. Watson and H. J. Rose (Edinburgh and London, 1940), p. 394. 12 Tales of Barra, p. 91.



the pier of Lochboisdale before being taken aboard ship.13 Thus after the lapse of a century, the Coddy's tradition is well substantiated. In a number of cases, John Lome Campbell points to chronological inaccuracies and impossibilities. Also one can observe favorite motifs in Highland traditional history reappear. The South Uist narrative of "The Widow's Son's Revenge on Clanranald" contains the episode found in the Glencoe massacre of the substituted animal; officers save a boy from the death being meted out to all male members of his clan by bringing Clanranald the heart and lungs of a dog (Motif K512.2, "Compassionate executioner: substituted heart"). The two officers also calculated that they would escape reprisal if the child sought revenge.14 Even for the Hebrides this is a particularly gruesome chronicle: Clanranald ordered Farquhar and his family to be killed to avoid vengeance for his killing Farquhar's brother, a ploughman; Farquhar killed the ploughman for eating a blade of dulse he found in the seaweed, and so shaming his master for feeding his farm servants so poorly. There also recur a prison escape, this time from France, due to the intercession of a Gaelic-speaking gaoler, and the incident of the strong hero squeezing blood from the finger-tips of a man whose hand he shook.15 The folklorist-historian will need to identify and make allowance for conventional formulas and elements that drift from one annal to another. These well-stocked repertoires of Angus MacLellan and John MacPherson suggest a change in the narrative materials employed by twentieth century raconteurs of the Western Isles. While the grim clan histories are still heard, although not in the profusion and density of John Dewar's time, newer and lighter themes have entered tradition. Alongside the laird and the invincible swordsman now appears the public house wag. Often the anecdotes related about eccentric characters are traveling folktales. "The Holiday of Donald and Maggie," describing the visit to Oban of a Highland couple who had never left their croft, matches American jocular tales, often in dialect, of the countryman's first visit to the big city.18 "The Story of the Thrush," telling how Iain mistook a thrush's call for advice to take a drink, recalls the Irishman's similar misunderstanding on hearing u

Ibid., pp. 95-97. Angus MacLellan, Stories from South Uist, translated by John Lome Campbell (London, 1961), p. 84. 16 Tales of Barra, pp. 63, 66. " MacLellan, Stories from South Uist, no. 35. 14



a frog's croak.17 A rollicking series of comic stories has grown out of the actual wreck near Eriskay in 1941 of the Politician, whose cargo of splendid whiskies never reached America but brought good cheer to the Outer Isles. The wreck and its aftermath form the plot of Compton Mackenzie's novel and film, Whisky Galore, retitled Tight Little Island in the United States. In other anecdotes a crofter mistakes a balloon for a flying cow; Mary of the Stream is deceived into thinking a galvanic battery is afishingtackle; and a second-sighted man in Uist sees a weaving loom in the sky, moving at high speed, and years later when the first airplane flies over Uist recognizes the loom. These modern story themes suggest that current history is still contributing to the formation of local tradition in the Outer Isles. A final word needs to be devoted to the unusual and unique book by Hugh Miller, Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland, with the revealing and accurate subtitle, or The Traditional History of Cromarty. Between 1829 and 1832, as a young man, Miller wrote down most of the sketches that comprised the book. He hoped to gain a literary reputation by capturing the personality and biography of the coastal town where he had been born in 1802. Although the book enjoyed success, Miller expanding its first edition of 1835 in 1850, and the 1850 edition being often reprinted - I have an eighth edition dated 1869 - it is forgotten today, and Hugh Miller is remembered primarily as geologist, religious editor, and Scottish nationalist. The Scenes and Legends, and portions of its related work, Miller's splendid autobiography, My Schools and Schoolmasters, complement the sources already described for Highland folk history. In place of clan chronicles and heroic exploits of feudal warriors, we find here the annals of a town and its odd characters and its occupational groups of farmers, fishermen, sailors, and stone masons. Though north of Inverness, Cromarty represents a Sassenach enclave within the Gaelic-speaking Highlands. The clans lived in glens, not towns, and they depended on cattle-raiding and warring, not on trade and industry. In Scenes and Legends Miller assembled all the communal traditions of the townsfolk, embracing the kirk and the school, the sea and the hills, smuggling and marketing, plague and famine, town politics and town literati. Nineteenth century Cromarty, a hardy, isolated community of some fifteen 17

Tales of Barra, pp. 141-143. Cf. Richard M. Dorson, American Negro Folktales (New York, 1967), no. 243, p. 376, "The Irishman and the Frogs."



hundred souls, abounded in oral history of many layers and veins. In the early decades of the nineteenth century an enterprising small proprietor named George Ross sought to industrialize and modernize Cromarty with a cloth factory, a brewery, an enlarged port, a trade in pork, up-todate methods of agriculture, a factory for nails and spades, a lace-making industry. He imported so many laborers from the western isles that he built for them a Gaelic chapel and they for themselves a Gaelic cemetery. His handsome stone house and attractive gardens and walks gave Cromarty some elegance. Yet this valiant effort to effect a bustling metropolis in northern Scotland utterly failed, due in part to the antipathy of the townspeople, in part to the economic difficulties inherent in the location of Cromarty. Today Cromarty is a ghost-town, shrunk to five hundred dispirited people, with the fishery gone, the brewery and factories empty, the magnificent bay bare of vessels. Only briefly during the last two World Wars has the bay come back to life as a harbor for the Royal Navy. No one now would care to write, or find materials for, a history of Cromarty. Yet Cromarty is heir to an instructive and significant history, preserved by Hugh Miller in 1835. Miller did not record literal texts, as did John Dewar, but rather wove traditions into the fabric of his chronicle. The folklorist recognizes a number of circulating motifs in the Scenes and Legends, involving such matters as the prophecies of Kenneth Ore the Brahan seer, the curse that drove the herring away, the foundation sacrifice in Craighouse Castle.18 Cromarty is a different world from the Highland glen and Western isle, and traditions reflect the difference. For an example: the '45 and Culloden made their impact in Cromarty, as elsewhere in the Highlands, but in place of epic accounts of mighty feats of arms, sadistic cruelties, and hairbreadth escapes, we receive lugubrious anecdotes of scavenging and discomfiture. When Highland supporters of Bonny Prince Charlie entered town, a lone Jacobite rushed out to greet them crying, "You're welcome." "Welcome or not, give me your shoes," replied a Highlander. When two clansmen tried to rob Nannie Miller after the Cromarty men had fled, she ducked one in a meal barrel. The obtuse, simple-minded local character attracts legends in Cromarty much as did the strapping swordsman among the clans. A favorite Cromarty tale, presented by Miller, which I found still current on my visit to Cromarty on August 27, 18 Some of these motifs are identified in the discussion of Hugh Miller in my The British Folklorists, a History (Chicago, 1968), pp. 146-149.



1967, concerns Sandy Wood, a small crofter who in moments of excitement sputtered helplessly. Sandy discovered his neighbor stealthily shifting their boundary stones and thereby reducing the size of Sandy's farm. When Sandy accused his neighbor before the townspeople, his neighbor accused Sandy of the same misdeed, and in his ire Sandy choked over his words. He took to his bed and shortly died. On his deathbed he left instructions that he should be buried outside the iron railing bounding the church cemetery, so that he could get a headstart on Judgment Day toward Navity Moor, where in popular Cromarty belief God would interrogate the risen. Sandy's grave can still be seen outside the cemetery fence on the South Sutor overlooking the town. Here in these Cromarty legends is the other half of the coin, the traditional history of farming and fishing folk to supplement the raids of the lairds. The points suggested in this paper may be summarized as follows. Historian and folklorist can find common ground in the area of traditional history. Such history may include personal, family, neighborhood, and township historical traditions. In countries where literacy, formal schooling, and printed publications dominate the culture, traditional history is slighted or scorned by professional historians. Yet in these societies large numbers and groups of people still possess their own oral traditions that differ markedly from conventional written history. The Negro and the immigrant in the United States comprise such groups. To support this thesis, I have examined oral sources available to the historian of the Highlands and western islands of Scotland. This culture area meets the requirements that appear necessary for the preservation of traditional history. The extended families of the resident population maintain a deep interest and pride in their ancestral prowess. Bards and oral historians are institutionalized figures. The clans have inhabited the same lands continuously over an extended period of time and the surrounding landmarks and place-names reinforce memories of historical episodes. Books and book-learning have played little part in Highland culture. As always occurs when oral narrations last across the generations, folklore themes intrude into the mass of saga. The folklorist can identify these themes and the historian can corroborate the factual residue. There remains the question of judging the value of individual traditions for the final history written by the folklorist-historian. Some traditions will



provide local detail, some will indicate popular bias and emotional commitment, some will cast new light on controversial events. The record left by traditional history shows a few brightly lighted spots and many dark areas as contrasted with the record of written history. For the Highlands, three episodes in particular have caught the folk imagination: the bloody battle of Culloden; the escape and wanderings of Bonny Prince Charlie after his defeat at Culloden; and the Glencoe massacre. High and desperate drama has made its impact in folk history, but of mundane matters there is little recollection. Elsewhere the present writer has suggested certain criteria for evaluating the historical validity of oral traditions. 19 These criteria may be applied to the present materials. 1. Identifying folklore themes grafted onto historical settings. The folktale attached to the escape of the Laird of Bernera from the Castle of Culloden is a case in point. 2. Allowance for personal and emotional bias slanting a tradition. The animus behind a MacDonald or a Campbell version of the Glencoe massacre illustrates this factor. 3. Cross-checks of multiple traditions. The plethora of oral accounts surrounding the escape and wanderings of Bonnie Prince Charlie does not present a unified story, but beneath the vagaries of oral tradition is seen a c o m m o n thread. Charles Edward did go into hiding, and make his way from one isle to another. 4. Corroboration of a tradition from printed records. This kind of check is seen in the deposition of a crofter given in 1883 determining an event of 1851 described by the Coddy from oral tradition a century later in much the same fashion. 5. Corroboration of a tradition from geographical landmarks. An example is offered in the Coddy's account of the Little Weaver whose father was slain on Stack Island. In its physical situation the island lent itself to the piracy practised by the Weaver. The Coddy himself had seen the remains of the Weaver's castle. 6. Corroboration of a tradition from material culture. Physical objects used in the daily life of an earlier period may also assist in confirming an episode of traditional history. Thus the detailed description of a laird's l

* In a contract research report prepared in 1961 for the Indian Land Claims section of the Department of Justice, United States Government, on "The Historical Validity of Oral Tradition."



dwelling in the reign of James VI was verified two and a half centuries later when collector John Dewar observed the structure. 7. Knowledge of the character of an informant. Modern collectors have changed the practice of presenting anonymous texts and now offer full reports on the careers and personalities of tradition bearers. In the cases of Angus MacLellan and John MacPherson, we can judge their texts the more confidently because we are given illuminating information on their lives and attitudes. With guidelines such as these, the historian may handle oral historical traditions with some assurance. Nowhere in the western world will he find greater resources on which to draw than in the Highlands and Outer Isles. Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana


"Academicus", 73 "Accumulation district", 57-58, 65 Achaeans, 13-15 Adanse, 44-45, 48 Agona, 51 Ahnlund, Nils, 64-71 Ajan of Vrlika, 18 Akan, 42-44, 48-54 Akwamu, 43, 52 Akwasidae, 45, 49, 50, 52 Akyem, 46 Alasdair, MacMhaighstir Alasdair, 97 Amadu Lobbo, 41. See also Amadu Sheku Amadu Sheku, 38-41 Amponsem, Boa, 48, 52 Anachronisms, 27 Ananse, Agya, 46 Andersson, Carl Hj., 55-56, 58-60, 62-63, 65-68, 70 "Animal who steals fire scorched: cause of his color" (Motif A2218.3), 90 Arabic, 30-33, 35-38 Argyll, Duke of, 81, 83, 102 Ari, 22 Arisaig, 77-78 Asante, 42, 44, 46-52 Asante War, 46 Assin, 47-48 Attandansu, 47 Aurelius, Johan, 62 Avdo Mededovic, 16-18 Awlube, 29, 34-35, 37. See also Gawlo

Badenoch, 78 Baganda, 43 Bakuba, 43, 51, 53-54 Balkans, the, 15, 18-19 Ballachulish, 84-86, 98 Bambädo, 38-40, See also Wambäbe Bannockburn, battle of, 78, 103 Barra, 104-105 Bede, 22 Benada tie Denkyira, 46-47 Benbecula, 78, 82 Ben More, 79 Bergstrand, Carl-Martin, 69 Bernera, Laird of, 82, 111 Bonny Prince Charlie. See Charles Edward Book of Settlements, 26 Book of the Icelanders, The (Ari), 22 Bosman, W., 54 Bosnia, 16-18 Bowdich, T. E., 42 Bretuo clan, 50 Buda, 17-18 Bride Test (Type 1452), 91 Broman, Olaf, 68-69 Bubu Ardo Galo, 39-41 Bundu, 30 Buying the Wind (Dorson), 91 Bynum, David, 8; article by 10-12 Camerons, 78 Campbell, General John, 94-95, 101-102 Campbell, John Francis, 106



Campbell, John L o m e , 102, 104-105, 107 Campbell of Glenlyon, 83-84, 88 Campbell of Glure, 86 Campbell of Islay, 75-76, 99, 103, 106 Campbells, 83-84, 87-88, 95, 99, 102, 111 Carlsson, August, 59 Carl XII.s död (Sandklef), 56, 62, 64, 67, 70n-71n Carmina Gadelica (Carmichael), 75 Carmichael, Alexander, 75 Carr, E. H . , 4 3 Caskey, J. L „ 14-15 Catalogues, 14-19. See also Orders of Battle Chadwicks, the, 92-93 Chanson de Roland, 14-15 Charles Edward (Bonny Prince Charlie), 76-83, 97, 103-104, 109, 111 Charles XII, 8, 55-57, 60-61, 63-64,66-69, 71-73 Chronology, 18-19, 51-52 Ciklamini, Marlene, 8, 12; article by, 21-28

Circumlocution, poetic, 24-25 Clason, Sam., 62-63, 65 "Claw in Split Tree" (Type 38, Motifs K551.29* and K l l l l ) , 90 Coddy, the, 104, 106-107, 111 "Colin of Glenure", 101 "Compassionate executioner: bloody knife (sword) from slain animal substitute" (Motif K512.1.1), 85, "Compassionate executioner: substituted heart" (Motif K512.2), 107 Corrodhale, 78 Court crier, 48 Cromarty, 76, 108-109 Cronstedt, Major General Carl, 62 Culloden (Prebble), 76 Culloden, battle of, 75, 77-78, 81-82, 91, 94, 103, 109, 111 Cumberland, D u k e of, 77, 81, 94-95, 104 D a a k u , Kwame Y., 8; article by, 42-54 Dating. See Chronology "Death of Charles XII of Sweden, The" (Srigley), 56n D e Azambuja, D o n Diego, 43 Denkyira, 43, 46-52 Deragärd, 55-56, 59, 60, 64, 68

Dewar, John, 76, 100-101, 107, 109, 112 Dewar Manuscripts, The, 76, 90-92, 95, 98-99, 101-102 Diallo, Tierno Malik, 32 Dinguiraye, 32-33, 35-36 Dirges, 45, 50-51 "Donald Stewart", 97-98 Dorson, Richard M.: introduction by, 7-9; article by, 75-112 Dow, Sterling, 13 Drums, 42, 54; short, 47-48; talking, 44, 48-49 Dundee, Viscount. See G r a h a m , John, of Claverhouse Durbar, 42-43 Dwamuana lineage, 51 Ecclesiastical History of the English People, The (Bede), 22 Elaboration, process of, 27 Elmina, 43 Embu, 43 Enfablement, 11 Epic, 13-14, 16, 18-20; Old Norse, 21 Eriskay, 77, 79-81, 103, 105, 108 Eti, 47 "Family of Ardsheil, The", 101-102 Fanti, 47 Feinn, the, 99-101, 103 Festivals, 43, 52, 54 Fetibegovic of Banjaluka, 18 Fetu, 43 Feyiase, battle of, 51-52 Finley, M . I., 13-15 First Saga, 24 Flora of Airigh Mhuilinn. See MacDonald, Flora Folk beliefs, 56, 95-98, 104 Folk history, 7 Folk humor, 98-99 Folklife, 99-100 Folk soul, 73 Folktales, 72, 76, 82, 91 Folk tradition: historicity of, 56; laws of, 68 '45, the, 77, 82, 89, 91, 103, 109 France, 77, 79, 81, 107 Fredrik of Hessen, 55, 61 Fredrikshald, 55, 57, 60, 63, 66

INDEX Friedlander, Thorsten, 66 Frillesäs, 58 Frodr, 23 Fulbe, 29-35, 38-41 Fulfulde, 30 F u t a Jalon, 30-32, 34, 36-37 F u t a Toro, 30, 34, 36-39, 41 Galo Segelle, 39-41 Gawlo, 38. See also Awlube Gätan frän Fredrikshald (Clason), 62 Genealogies, 26 "Getting Rid of the Man-eating Calf" (Type 1281A), 83 G h a n a , 4 2 , 4 4 , 51 "Ghost returns to aid living" (Motif E363), 97 Gibbet Bog, The, 86 Glencoe Massacre, 83-85, 87, 89, 107, 111 Gleitcoe, The Story of the Massacre (Prebble), 76, 88 Glendariel, laird of, 95 Glengarry, 78 G o m u a Mando, 52 Gothberg-Edlund, Barbro, 65 G r a h a m , John, of Claverhouse, 69 Granberg, Gunnar, 57n "Great Strait of the Feinn, The", 100-101 Greece, 13, 19 Greeks, 19. See also Achaeans Grettir the Strong, 93 Griot, 33 Guinea, 29-31 Guisse, Bani, 38, 41 Gyakari, Ntim, 51 Gyamfi, Adu, 50-51 Hamdullahi, 31, 40-41 Harald the Hardruler, 24-25 Hebrides, the, 77-78, 102-103, 107 Helen of Troy, 13, 19 Henry's Stone, 86-87. See also MacHenry's Stone, Signal Rock and Soldier's Stone in the Glen Herodotus, 10-11 Highland Clearances, The (Prebble), 76 Histoire de Charles XII (Voltaire), 61 Historiography, 10-11 History and the Homeric Iliad (Page), 13 Hittites, 15


Hoddu, 30, 38, 40-41 "Holiday of Donald and Maggie, The", 107 Homer, 13-14, 16-17, 20 Horred, 55, 58, 67 Household Tales (Grimm), 91 "How the Caledonian Forest was Burnt", 90 Hrafnkels saga, 26n Huckleberry Finn (Twain), 80 Hultkvist, Gustaf, 65 Hungary, 19 Huydecoper, 42 Ibrahim pasa, 17-18 Iceland, 21-23, 26 Iliad, 13, 16-17, 19 "Ineradicable bloodstain after bloody tragedy" (Motif F422., 86 Inverness, 78, 81, 108 lus primae noctis, 98 Jacobites, 97, 103-104, 109 Jägerskiöld, Stig, 65 Jahja pasa, 17-18 James VI, period of, 100, 112 "James Stewart of the Glen", 101 Jaréjo, 33, 38 Jawando, 39 Jeli Musa, 33-38, 41 Jihäd, 36-37, 39 Jones, Gwyn, 21 Kajnidza, 16-18 Karolinska Förbundet, 64 Khalwa, 39-40 Kirk, G . S., 13-14 Kitäb Matn al-ajä'ib, 32 Klein, Barbro, 8; article by, 55-74 Klis, 18 Kliski sandzak, 18 Konny, John, of Ahanta, 42 Koromante Memenada, 46 Kosovo, battle of, 14 Krcki sandzak, 18 Krka, 18 Kulknappen och Carl XII:s död (Sandklef), 56, 67, 70n, 74 Legends, 11, 65, 69, 70-72, 90, 92, 110



Lewis, 78, 82, 103 Libations, 45-46, 52 Liöki sandzak, 18 "Life Story of the Little Weaver, The", 105 Lika, the, 18 Linguist staffs, 42, 45, 47 Lion of the North (Prebble), 76 Liungman, Waldemar, 69 Lord, Albert, 8, 12; article by, 13-20 Mäbo, 36. See also Mäbube Mäbube, 29, 34-35, 37. See also Mäbo Macarthy War, 52 MacCumhail, Fionn, 99 MacDonald, Duncan, 77-78 MacDonald, Flora, 78-81, 104 MacDonald, Lady, 78 MacDonald of Boisdale, 77 MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart, 77 MacDonalds, 78, 83-85, 87-89, 99, 111 MacGregor, Alasdair Alpin, 102-103 MacHenry's Stone, 88. See also Henry's Stone, Signal Rock and Soldier's Stone in the Glen Maclan, 87-88 Macllvain, Big Malcolm, 93-94 MacKay, Isabel, 81 MacKenzie, Compton, 108 MacLellan, Angus, 82, 90, 102-104, 107, 112 MacMillan of Glencannel, 91 MacPhail, Big Archibald, 96-99 MacPherson, John, 102, 107, 112 Maigret, Philippe, 61 Malcom, Big Auchry Mor, 92-94 "Maldon", 25 Mali, 29, 31, 41 Mande, 31, 33, 38 Mankattasa, 52 Marduk, 19 Masai, 43 Masina, 31, 40-41 Matheson, Murdoch, 89 Memorats, 103 Migert, 57, 61 "Mighty lifter" (Motif F624), 94 Miller, Hugh, 76, 108-109 Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature, 14, 16

Moidart, 78 More West Highland Tales (John Francis Campbell), 106 Murray, Lord George, 77-78 Mustajbeg of the Lika, 18 Mycenaean period, 13, 16, 19 My Schools and Schoolmasters (Miller), 108 Myths, 11, 19, 98 Ndiaye, Amadu, 35-36, 38 Niai na Gainne, 93-94, 99-100 Nibelungenlied, 14 Njals saga, 26-27 Njaro 38-39 Nkondwasoafohene, 45 Nordstierna, Mârtin Nilsson, 60, 62, 64, 66 Norsemen, 90 N o r t h Uist, 82 Norway, 23, 28 Ntam Kese Mmiensa, 46 Nyankomasi, Assin 47 Oaths, 45-47 Odomankoma Kyerema, 48 Olaf, Saint, 24 Olaf Tryggvason, 21, 25 Ôljugfrôdr, 22 Oman, 44 Omanhene, 44, 47 Oral evidence, 10-12 Oral tradition, 11-12, 35, 43, 52-53; criteria for evaluating historicity of, 111-112; historical content of, 7-9 Oral transmission, 14-16, 19, 21 Orders of Battle, 13, 15. See also Catalogues Osmanbeg Delibegovic and Paviôevic Luka, 16-17 O'SulIivan, Sean, 8 Otibo, Kwodwo, 52 Oxnevalla, 58-63, 65-68, 70 Page, Denys L., 13-17 Parry, Milman, 8 "Parson and the Calf, The" (Type 1739), 83 Peat-Fire Flame, Folk-Tales and Traditions of the Highlands and Islands, The

INDEX (MacGregor), 102-103 Pettersson, Karl, 60, 66-68, 71 Place-names, 100-101 Popular Tales of the West Highlands (Campbell of Islay), 75-76 Pozega, 17-18 "Preacher and the Grizzly Bear, The", 99 Prebble, John, 76, 88-89 Prince's Bay, 80 Prince's Cave, 78 Prince's Flower, 80-81. See also Prince's Mult Prince's Mult (Muld), 77. See also Prince's Flower Proverbs, 45, 53, 92, 96 Pular, 30-31, 33, 36, 38 Qasida, 34, 36 "Remarkable strong man" (Motif F610), 94 Rimah, ar-, 32n Robert the Bruce, 78, 90, 103 Robinson, David, 8, 12; article by, 29-54 Rob Roy, 89-90 Rumor, 11, 70 Saga age: in Iceland, 23 Sagas: Norse, 21-28, 93; Scottish, 91-92, 95, 98, 110 "Sängernas nas svenska kungar" (Granburg), 57n Sagranti War, 52 Salif, 36, 38 Sandklef — Ahnlund controversy, 72, 74 Sandklef, Albert, 55-70, 70n, 73-74 Sannfrddr, 22 Sanning och Sägen om Karl XII:s död (Ahnlund et al.), 64 Sasraku, Ansa, 52 Scaldic poetry, 23-25 Scalds, 24 Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland or the Traditional History of Cromarty (Miller), 108-109 School of Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh), 75-76, 81-82, 88 Scotland, 75-76, 80-81, 103, 105, 109-110 Sea Peoples, 14-15 Senegal, 29, 31


Senegal River, 30 Shari'a, 30 Sicre, André, 61-62, 63n-64n Signal Rock, 85. See also Henry's Stone, MacHenry's Stone, and Soldier's Stone in the Glen Sike, 57, 61 Siquert, 57, 61 Sir Genent Wolsey's War, 52 "Sir Neil Campbell's Promise", 97 Sivert, 57-58, 61 Skye, 78-80,104 Soldier's Stone in the Glen, 84. See also Henry's Stone, MacHenry's Stone and Signal Rock Snorri Sturluson, 21, 23-24 Songs: African, 45, 49-50, 53; South Slavic 14, 16-18. See also Epic South Uist, 77-80, 90, 104, 106-107 "Sparrows of Cirencester" (Motif K2351.1), 90 Srigley, Michael, 56n Stewarts of Appin, 84-87 Stjàrnhult, 67 Stjàrnhult's rote, 60 Stools, 44-45, 51 Stories from South Uist (MacLellan), 102, 104 "Story of the Thrush, The", 107 Stròmbom, Nils, 60, 67 "Strong man crushes ribs of person he embraces" (Motif F639.9), 94 "Strong man slays monster" (Motif F624.0.1), 94 "Strong man throws enormous stone" (Motif F628.2), 94 Stuarts of Ballachulish, 84, 86 Sudan, Far Western, 29, 31 Sulejman the Magnificent, 18 Sweden, 55, 57-58, 61, 68, 73 Takyiman, 51-52 Tales of Barra Told by the Coddy (John MacPherson, Northbay, Barra, 18761955;, 102 Tamba, 38 Telescoping of events, 27-28 Thucydides, 10-11 Tight Little Island (MacKenzie), 108 T'iamat, 19



Tijaniyya, 31-32, 34 Tiro, Hasan Pasa, 17-18 Titans, war of the, 19 Travnik, 17-18 Trevor-Roper, H., 43-44 Trojans, 13, 15 Trojan War, 13-16, 19 Troy, 13, 19; Vila, 13-14, 16 Turks, 18 Tutu, Osei, 46, 51-52 Tyam, Mohammadou Aliou, 34, 36 Uist, 78-79, 108 Ulrika Eleonora, 55, 61 "Umarian Movement", 32 Umar Tal, 29-39, 41 Voltaire, 61 Von Görtz, Baron, 61 Von Sydow, Carl Wilhelm, 69-70,70n, 72

Vorskla, Battle of, 68 Vrlika, 18 Wambäbe, 30, 38. See also Bambädo Ware, Opoku, 46, 52 Weaver, the Little, 105-106, 111 "Weaver of the Castle, The", 105 Wedding of Smailagic Meho, 16-17 Weibull, Curt, 27 Whiskey Galore (MacKenzie), 108 "Widow's Son's Revenge on Clanranald, The", 107 William of Orange, 87 "Witch in form of bird: unspecified" (Motif G211.4), 90 "Woman throws apple to man in woman's dress" (Motif H1578.1.4.1), 80 "Women of the Glen", 88 Yimba, 32-37 Yoruba, 43