The tale goes that every day King Shahryar would marry a new virgin and he would send the previous day’s wife to be beheaded. This was done in anger after finding out that his first wife had betrayed him. He had killed three thousand wives by the time he was introduced to Shahrazad, the Vizier's daughter.
In Sir Richard F. Burton's translation of The Nights, Shahrazad was described in this way:
"[Shahrazad] had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of by gone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred."
Against her father's protestations, Shahrazad volunteered to spend one night with the King. Once in the King's chambers, Shahrazad asked if she might bid one last farewell to her beloved sister, Dinazade, who had secretly been prepared to ask Shahrazad to tell a story during the long night. The King lay awake and listened with awe as Shahrazad told her first story. The night whiled away, and Shahrazad stopped in the middle of the story. The King asked her to finish, but Shahrazad said there was not time, as dawn was breaking. So, the King spared her life for one day to finish the story the next night. So the next night, Shahrazad finished the story, and then began a second, even more exciting tale which she again stopped halfway through, at dawn. So the King again spared her life for another day to finish the second story.
And so the King kept Shahrazad alive day by day, as he eagerly anticipated the finishing of the previous night's story. At the end of one thousand and one nights and one thousand stories, Shahrazad told the King that she had no more tales to tell him. During these one thousand and one nights, the King had fallen in love with Shahrazad, and had three sons with her. So, having been made a wiser and kinder man by Shahrazad and her tales, he spared her life, and made her his Queen.
The Arabian Nights is a series of stories with in a story. The classic folktales originate from various countries such as India, Persia and Arabia. The main story is that of the King Shahrayar and Shahrazad, the daughter of the Vizier.