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Bertha

The betrothed of John of Leyden, but, being a vassal of Count Oberthal, she was unable to marry without her lord's consent. When she went with her mother to ask permission of marriage, the count, struck with her beauty, determined to make her his mistress. She afterwards makes her escape from the castle, and, fancying that the “prophet” had caused the death of her lover, goes to Munster fully resolved to compass his death by setting fire to the palace. She is apprehended, and, being brought before the prophet-king, recognises her lover in him, saying, “I loved thee once, but now my love is turned to hate,” and stabs herself.

(Meyerbeer's opera, Le Prophéte.)

Bertha

The blind daughter of Caleb Plummer in Dickens's Cricket on the Hearth (a Christmas story), 1845.

Bertha

(Frau ). A German impersonation of the Epiphany, corresponding to the Italian Befana. Represented as a white lady, who steals softly into nurseries and rocks infants asleep in the absence of negligent nurses; she is, however, the terror of all naughty children. Her feet are very large, and she has an iron nose. (See Befana.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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