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.
As you might have guessed, this rhyme is all about the sheep trade.
Until the late 16th century the final lines of the rhyme read “And none for the little boy who cries down the lane.” It was changed to the current version in order to cheer it up and make it into a rhyme more suitable for children to sing
There was a great demand for wool in medieval England, and after returning from the Crusades in 1272 Edward 1st decided to pay for his military quests by adding taxes on the wool trade.
According to the rhyme, these taxes consisted of one third of each bag sold for the King one for the church, and one for the poor shepherd who owned and tended the flock.
Now that makes more sense, doesn’t it?