The sleeping princess pictured on this month's cover could be Sleeping Beauty, waiting for a charming prince to awaken her with a kiss and end her slumber of 100 years. Or she could be the princess from the story of the princess and the pea, who had such delicate skin that her sleep was disturbed by a pea buried beneath 20 mattresses and featherbeds.
Instead, she is Princess Ursula, daughter of good King Norus of Brittany in the 5th century AD. According to legend,1 Ursula was famous far and wide for her beauty,
virtue, and wisdom, and she had many suitors. One day the king of Anglia sent his ambassadors to ask for Ursula's hand in marriage to his only son. Ursula did not want to say no, because it was a worthy offer; and besides, the king of Anglia was powerful and might not take rejection lightly. On the other hand, she did not want to say yes, because she was a good Christian girl and did not want to betray her faith by marrying a heathen prince. So, the clever princess agreed to marry the Prince of Anglia only after a waiting period of 3 years,
during which he would be baptized and tutored in Christianity.
Koepsell TD. Vittore Carpaccio (circa 1460/6-1525/6). Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(4):298. doi:10.1001/archpedi.162.4.298