Historical Nonfiction

fun facts, quotes, and pictures from history

The Story of a Nursery Rhyme

Baa baa black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes sir, yes sir,

Three bags full.

One for the Master, 

One for the Dame,

And one for the little boy

Who lives down the lane.



The song is definitely not about black sheep, or even little boys – it’s about taxes! Back in the 13th century, King Edward I realized that he could make some decent cash by taxing the sheep farmers. As a result of the new taxes, one third of the price of a sack of wool went to the king, one third to the church and the last third to the farmer. Nothing was left for the shepherd boy, crying down the lane. As it happens, black sheep are also bad luck: the fleece can’t be dyed, and so it’s worth less to the sheep farmer.

(Source: listverse.com)

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