B bábi, Tibor

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Bertha Legend (Bertha au grand pied or Big-Foot Bertha, a.k.a. “Bertrada Broadfoot”, “Goosefoot” and “The Spinner”) (Laon, Aisne around 720, France- Choisy, Haute-Savoie, France 12 July 783) – According to the Charlemagne legends, Bertha, daughter of either the Count of Laon or a Hungarian king, became the wife of Pepin (Pipin, Pippin) the Short (751-768), King of the Franks. She is rumored to have been very beautiful but had large feet. Legend has it that on her journey to Pepin’s court as a bride, her evil escort had arranged to have her killed and to send his ugly daughter to Pepin instead. However, in some miraculous way, Bertha escaped death and during a royal hunt Pepin saw her and married her before 742. Of this marriage, Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was born. Thus goes the legend, which strongly resembles the swan-footed or goose-footed German pagan goddess, Berchta (or Perahta, meaning bright or shiny in Old High German). Several versions of it exist in Latin, Italian and French. In German legends she was known as The Spinner (Die Spinnerin). Bertha was the subject of many medieval poems; the best known is the one by the Walloon troubadour Adanet le Roi: Berte aus grand pies, written in 1275. Francois Villon (1431-ca.1480) apostrophizes “Berte au grant pié” in his Ballade des dames du temps jadis (Ballad of the Ladies of Bygone Times). In French and Burgundian churches one can still see statues of Reine Pedaque (Regina pede aucae). The story is known in Hungarian Transylvanian (Erdély, now in Romania) folk legend as The Shaman and the Gooseherd Girl (A táltos és a libapásztor lány). She has also inspired proverbs such as “Al tempo que Berte filava” (Italian), “Die Zeit ist hin, wo Berta spann” (German), and “Ce n’est plus le temps oú Berthe filait” (French). All to the effect that the good old times, when Bertha spun, are gone. Nobody knows when and where the various versions of the legend originated. B: 1054, 7617, T: 7617.

Bertha, Zoltán (Szentes, 4 June 1955 - ) – Literary historian, critic. His higher studies were at the University of Debrecen, where he read Hungarian and English Literature (1973-1978). He was librarian at the History of Literature Institute of the same University (1973-1986), and was its Scientific Contributor (1986-1990). He was Editor for the journal Work and Sprit (Dolog és Szellem) (1988-1989); thereafter, a contributor for the periodical Tomorrow (Holnap) (1990-1993), the weekly Hungarian Life (Magyar Élet) (1993-1995), and Editor for the literary review Lowland (Alföld) (1991-1993). Since 1994 he has been Professor at the Gáspár Károli Reformed University, Budapest. He was an initiator and organizer of the opposition movement. He was a Member of Parliament (1990-1994). His field of research is 20th century Hungarian Literature beyond the present borders of Hungary, mainly in Romania. His works include Hungarian Literature in Romania in the Seventies (A hetvenes évek romániai magyar irodalma) with A. Görömbei (1983), Signal Lights of the Spirit (A szellem jelzőfényei) essays (1994), and Mirror of Fate (Sorstükör), essays (2001). He is a recipient of the Kölcsey Prize (1996), and the Attila József Prize (2004). – B: 0874, 1257, T: 7103.

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