The Three Good Brothers Charm: Some Historical Points
The charm for wounds beginning “Three good brothers were going/walking” has been documented in written and spoken sources in various languages across the European continent from the medieval period. Ferdinand Ohrt's article in the Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens contained many examples of the formula from Northern European manuscript sources. There remain many more examples to be assembled from English manuscripts and from other cultural traditions This paper (including the Appendices) does not attempt to offer a comprehensive collection of Three Good Brothers charms. Rather, it seeks to understand and interpret selected instances of the charm's appearance from the evidence of selected manuscript contexts. The phrase 'Historical Points' in the title of this paper signals my attempt to elucidate the cultural contexts for the use of this wound charm at specific moments during, before and after its popularity in the manuscript culture of the medieval period.