Vassilisa the Wise: A Tale of Medieval Russia
The storyteller’s note claims that in the tenth century, there was a Prince Vladimir in Kiev.
The story tells how, one-day Prince Vladimir was having a party, but one of his princes was not looking happy, when asked why, he responds that he misses his wife, Vassilisa, who is the wisest person. The king gets mad at him and throws him from the court and puts him into prison. When Vasilisa finds of his fate, she dresses as a tartar warrior and starts towards the court, sending Prince Vladimir a request of 20 years of tribute for the horde. The prince is scared, but when he receives Vassilisa as a tartar ambassador, he is surprised when “Vasilli” asks for the prince’s niece hand in marriage. The niece suspects that Vasilli is a woman, so they set tasks for her to prove it: first some wrestling, then archery, and last chess; where the prince gambles his city, for the winner. Vasilisa wins, but asks only for the niece. Then, she requests music for the party, when the music is not to her liking, the prince has to call Staver, Vasilsa’s husband, to come and play at the party. Vasilisa tricks the prince into giving her Staver the musician, in exchange for sparing the city from the Tartar hordes. After the Prince agrees, Vasilisa shows herself as a woman. The prince agrees that Vasilisa is, indeed, wise, as Satver had proclaimed. Everything was forgiven and Staver and Vasilisa drink, eat and are joyful. The pictures show the characters in traditional garb, the buildings are decorated in the Russian style, but the style of the illustrations is not the traditional Russian style.
About the Author
Robert Daniel San Souci was a multiple award-winning children’s book author, who resided in San Francisco, California. He often worked with his brother, Daniel San Souci, a children’s book illustrator.