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Seven-league boots

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Hop-o'-My-Thumb stealing the Seven-league boots from the Ogre, by Gustave Doré

Seven-league boots are an element in European folklore. The boots allow the person wearing them to take strides of seven leagues per step, resulting in great speed. The boots are often presented by a magical character to the protagonist to aid in the completion of a significant task. From the context of English language, "Seven-league boots" originally arose as a translation from the French bottes de sept lieues,[1] popularised by Charles Perrault's fairy tales.

Mention of the legendary boots are found in:


From the context of English language, "Seven-league boots" originally arose as a translation from the French bottes de sept lieues,[3] popularised by Charles Perrault's fairy tales. A league (roughly 3 miles (4.8 km)) was considered to represent the distance walked in an hour by an average man. If a man were to walk seven hours per day, he would then walk seven leagues, or about 21 miles (34 km). In the 17th century, post-boys' boots were called "seven-league boots". While some suggest that the "seven leagues" references the distance between post houses (post-boys would only have their boots touch the ground at every coach inn, when changing the horses), this is inaccurate: the distance between coach inns was fixed at no more than five leagues.[4]

Other variations[edit]

In fiction[edit]


  • Russian folklore has a similar magic item called Сапоги-Скороходы (fast-pace boots), which allows the person wearing them to walk and run at an amazing pace.
  • In Finnish and Estonian translations of stories with seven-league boots, they are often translated as Seitsemän Peninkulman Saappaat (Finnish) and Seitsmepenikoormasaapad (Estonian),[5] literally "boots of seven Scandinavian miles".
  • Japanese scholar Kunio Yanagita listed a tale titled The Thousand-ri Boots from Yamanashi and wondered about its great similarity to a tale in the Pentamerone with a pair of seven-league boots.[6]
  • In Latvian tales the phrase "nine-mile boots" (deviņjūdžu zābaki) is used.


  1. ^ "the definition of seven-league boots".
  2. ^ Goethe (1959). Faust, Part Two. Middlesex: Penguin. pp. 216. ISBN 0-14044093-3.
  3. ^ "the definition of seven-league boots".
  4. ^ Jobé, Joseph (1976). Au temps des cochers : histoire illustrée du voyage en voiture attelée du XVe au XXe siècle (in French). Lausanne: Édita-Lazarus. p. 54. ISBN 2-88001-019-5.
  5. ^ Põhjamaade muinasjuttude kuldraamat (in Estonian). Estonia: TEA Kirjastus. 2014. ISBN 9789949243303.
  6. ^ Yanagita, Kunio; Translated by Fanny Hagin Meyer (1986). Yanagita Kunio Guide to the Japanese Folk Tale. Indiana University Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-253-36812-X.

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