When Good King Arthur Ruled His Land

When good King Arthur ruled his land
He was a goodly king;
He stole three pecks of barley meal
To make a bag-pudding.
A bag-pudding the king did make,
And stuffed it well with plums,
And in it put great lumps of fat
As big as my two thumbs.
The king and queen did eat thereof,
And noblemen beside,
And what they could not eat that night
The queen next morning fried.

When Good King Arthur Ruled His Land


When Good King Arthur Ruled His Land is a well-known nursery rhyme that originated in England in the 1930's. The lyrics of this classic rhyme tell the story of a King who reigned in a powerful kingdom. The phrase “ When good King Arthur ruled his land” is thought to reference the legendary King Arthur from medieval British folklore. It is a popular belief that King Arthur was a strong and powerful leader who fought for justice in the kingdom he ruled. This song has passed through generations and remains today as a favorite nursery rhyme among children.


Most people believe that the rhyme is simply a nursery rhyme and does not have much meaning beyond having a nice story. However, some people believe that the rhyme has a much deeper meaning. This secret meaning is thought to refer to the declining power of the nobility in England, from the medieval period through to the early modern period. 

The rhyme speaks of various people in King Arthur's kingdom who held the power of some sort. There is a mention of the nobles, merchants, and jailers who likely had all kinds of roles in the kingdom, though the exact meaning of the roles they had is not clear. 

Children’s Activities 

boy princeWhen Good King Arthur Ruled His Land is a great nursery rhyme to share with your children. You can use it as a starting point to encourage imagination and creativity. Children can role-play and make up their own stories about King Arthur and his kingdom. You can also try turning the rhyme into a game by assigning each line of the song a certain action for children to follow. If your children are old enough, you can try to play acting together the story of King Arthur's rule. There is also a way to turn the story of King Arthur and his kingdom into a math game. You can have children practice math by keeping track of the different kinds of people and the amount of power they hold in the kingdom.
Since King Arthur was known to be a fair and just ruler, another fun activity you can do with your children is to create their own list of rules and regulations that they think King Arthur would have implemented in his kingdom. Discuss with them what kind of rights the people should have and the roles of the nobles, jailers, and merchants, and come up with a new set of laws for the kingdom. This activity is sure to get your kids to think critically and come up with creative solutions to the different problems in King Arthur’s land.

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