Bertha Big Foot is the direct translation of Berte as grans pies (Old French), or Berthe aux grands pieds (Modern French). Sounds terrible in English, doesn't it? That's why I've been calling it Queen Berta and King Pippin. In fact, in Medieval times, having long elegant feet was a sign of being refined, noble. I like that thought. I'm a size 11 (42 in French sizes).
I just had a conversation with Beth Horner about loglines, one-sentence descriptions of a story. Here's one for Queen Berta and King Pippin: Queen Berta's identity is stolen, she's taken to the forest to be killed, she escapes only to face brigands, bears and brambles. How will her big feet save her from this terrible treachery? Okay, two sentences, it's hard to be brief with a story that will take over an hour to tell.
I've been working on this story for months in preparation for next April's Going Deep Festival. I first found it a few years ago in Norma Lorre Goodrich's book The Medieval Myths. I went searching for a version in French. No dice. All I could find was the Old French. I read it once, then set out to make my own translation. A couple of weeks ago I decided to put that on hold and just read it again in Old French without trying to write out my version. In the meantime, I went online and found a couple of copies of the story.
I thought there wasn't a translation into Modern French, but I was wrong! How could I have missed this?! One arrived yesterday from an antiquarian bookseller in Brussels. It's by Gaitan Hecq, published in 1897. This copy had never been read--the pages were unopened (that's the term used when they need to be cut apart). Because I wasn't collecting it for its worth as an object, I used an index card to cut the folds.
I've been reading this translation and am quite pleased. I did fairly well with the Old French. Still, there are some things I missed. For example I don't remember reading about two brigands who attacked Berta in the forest and then got into a fight over her, enabling her to escape again. Good stuff. I think I'll spend some time this afternoon reading the rest of it.