A princess is born to a previously childless king and queen. There is a grand christening to celebrate, and all the fairies in the kingdom are invited, excepting an old one, who was forgotten. During the christening, all but one of the fairies have given their gifts, when the old fairy appears in a towering rage, and curses the young daughter to prick her finger on a spindle and die.
The fairy who has not yet spoken steps forward. Although she cannot break the curse, she softens it to a sleep for a hundred years, to be woken with a kiss. The king issues a decree to burn all the spindles in his kingdom, but despite his care, the princess still pricks her finger on a spindle and she and the entire castle fall asleep. After a few hours, around the entire kingdom springs a hedge of thorns.
The kingdom sleeps for a hundred years, oblivious to all the princes who hear a rumour of a "sleeping beauty" and come to meet their death in the hedge of thorns. Finally after a hundred years, a prince comes riding by and hears of the tale from an old man living nearby. He rides to the castle, and enters without difficulty. He walks from room to room until he finds the princess and wakes her with a kiss. With that, the whole castle awakens, in time for the wedding.
In the Perrault variation, he takes her home to his kingdom, where she is treated badly by his stepmother, who is part ogre. The princess bears her husband two children, both of who are taken away by the queen, who claims that Briar Rose (the princess) has eaten them. Eventually, the queen is killed by one of her own traps, and the children found to be safe.