“For Want of a Nail” is a popular nursery rhyme and proverb, dating back to the 14th century.

The words of this meaningful say, can teach our children the simple fact that each of our actions, no matter how unimportant we think they are, will have a consequence. Sometimes, something such insignificant like a nail could cause such a big trouble like the loss of a kingdom.

There are different variations of the proverb going around; the first mention of it was related to the King Richard III’s death during the Battle of Bosworth. The story was illustrated in William Shakespeare’s history play Richard III, dating back to around 1591.

The proverb is having its origins in the famous sentence said by the King “A Horse! A Horse! My Kingdom for a Horse!” referring to the moment when his horse was borne down on the battlefield.

Later on, in the 20th century the American novelist Richard Baldwin includes a short version of “For Want of a Nail” proverb in his work “Fifty Famous People”, also referring at King Richard’s Battle of Bosworth from August 1485. There is a very similar French version of this proverb that appeared roughly in the same period.

“For Want of a Nail” Lyrics

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

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