The Valiant Little Tailor

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The Valiant Little Tailor
Das tapfere Schneiderlein.jpg
The tailor provokes the giants.
Illustration by Alexander Zick
Folk tale
Name The Valiant Little Tailor
Aarne-Thompson grouping 1640
Country Germany
Published in Grimm's Fairy Tales
Related Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack the Giant Killer

The Valiant Little Tailor or The Brave Little Tailor is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 20.[1] Joseph Jacobs collected another variant A Dozen at One Blow in European Folk and Fairy Tales.[2] Andrew Lang included it in The Blue Fairy Book.[3] Another of many versions of the tale appears in A Book of Giants by Ruth Manning-Sanders.

In the Aarne-Thompson classification system of classifying folktales, it is type 1640.[4] It also include episodes of type 1060, Squeezing Water from a Stone; type 1062, A Contest in Throwing Stones; type 1052, A Contest in Carrying a Tree; type 1051, Springing with a Bent Tree; and type 1115, Attempting to Kill the Hero in His Bed.[5]


A tailor is preparing to eat some jam, but when flies settle on it, he kills seven of them with one swipe of his hand, or "blow." He makes a belt describing the deed saying "Seven at one blow." Inspired, he sets out into the world to seek his fortune. The tailor meets a Giant who assumes that "Seven at one blow" refers to seven men. The giant challenges the tailor. When the Giant squeezes water from a boulder, the tailor squeezes milk, or whey, from cheese. The Giant throws a rock far into the air, and it eventually lands. The tailor counters the feat by tossing a bird that flies away into the sky; the Giant believes the small bird is a "rock" which is thrown so far that it never lands. Later, the Giant asks the tailor to help him carry a tree. The tailor directs the Giant to carry the trunk, while the tailor will carry the branches. Instead, the tailor climbs on, so the Giant carries him as well, but it appears as if the tailor is supporting the branches.

Impressed, the Giant brings the tailor to the Giant's home, where other giants live as well. During the night, the Giant attempts to kill the tailor by bashing the bed. However, the tailor, having found the bed too large, had slept in the corner. Upon returning and seeing the tailor alive, the other Giants flee in fear of the small man.

The tailor enters the royal service, but the other soldiers are afraid that he will lose his temper someday, and then seven of them might die with every blow. They tell the King that either the tailor leaves military service or they will. Afraid of being killed for sending him away, the king instead sends the tailor to defeat two Giants along with a hundred horsemen, offering him half his kingdom and his daughter's hand in marriage if the tailor can kill the giants. By throwing rocks at the two Giants while they sleep, the tailor provokes the pair into fighting each other until they kill each other, at which time the tailor cuts a small mark near the giants' hearts.

Seeking to prove the tailor and make him earn his reward, the King sends him after a unicorn, but the tailor traps it by standing before a tree, so that when the unicorn charges, he steps aside and it drives its horn into the trunk. The King subsequently sends him after a wild boar, but the tailor traps it in a chapel.

With that, the King marries him to his daughter. The tailor's new wife hears him talking in his sleep and realizes that he is merely a tailor. The King promises to have him carried off. A squire warns the tailor, who pretends to be asleep and calls out that he has done all these deeds and is not afraid of the men behind the door. Terrified, they leave, and the King does not try to assassinate the tailor again. The tailor lives out his days as a king.


Class, or "Birth"
The tailor overcomes the class system and exceeds his birthright as a tailor by becoming a king. The tailor ignores the class system and goes directly from peasant to king.
Clever Upstart
Using nothing but his ingenuity, the tailor uses the killing of seven flies in one blow to gradually increase his social standing.
Despite the great risk of bodily harm, the tailor continues on his quest to spread word of his conquest and claim his fortune. He proves himself fearless.


Valiant Little Tailor
This character is like a fox when it comes to his cleverness and genius intelligence. He uses misdirection, decoys, diversion and his cunning and illusions to trick the people (like the king, assassins and giants) to side with him. But also a expert at psychological and psychology and getting into the minds of others. He is able to use his cunning to turn the giants against each other and did some simple things like trap the boar in a house. Manipulating the assassins fear with the found out knowledge of knowing they were in hiding to kill him and make them run away with fear.
This character is very mistrusting and judgmental as well as using the main character to get some dubious tasks that no one wanted to be done done with the power of persuasion of saying half the kingdom would be his. High levels of demands and uses his position to get more out of the Tailor. . The King also lets the social order and royal bloodline traditions rule rather than guide.
The prize for completing all these challenges is the hand in marriage of a Princess. She sets great store by position, power and wealth, so when she finds out that the man she has married is no more than a tailor, she is furious, and tries to have him killed. She holds to the tradition of royal bloodlines, and the deceit by which this was denied drives her to the point of madness. Holding to the traditional way the social order should work.


The recurring motif in the story is that the little tailor keeps outwitting the people, giants, and animals he comes into contact with. Using only his brains and a little skill, he manages to overcome many obstacles. He does this through misdirection, social engineering, confidence, and persuasion.


The technique of tricking the giants into fighting each other is identical to the technique used by Cadmus, in Greek mythology, to deal with the warriors who sprang up when he sowed dragon's teeth.[6]

A similar strategy is also employed by Gandalf to keep three trolls fighting amongst themselves in the The Hobbit (although in that instance it is the rising sun that kills them).


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacob and Wilheim Grimm, Household Tales,"The Brave Little Tailor"
  2. ^ Joseph Jacobs, European Folk and Fairy Tales, "A Dozen at One Blow"
  3. ^ Andrew Lang, The Blue Fairy Book, "The Brave Little Tailor"
  4. ^ Heidi Anne Heiner, "Tales Similar to the Brave Little Tailor"
  5. ^ D. L. Ashliman, "The Grimm Brothers' Children's and Household Tales"
  6. ^ Richard M. Dorson, "Foreword", p xxii, Georgias A. Megas, Folktales of Greece, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1970

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