The story goes like this:
Présine was a beautiful witch who charmed the King of Scotland, Elinas, into marrying her: he fell hopelessly in love, but she made him promise he would never attempt to see her in labour, or the spell would be broken. For years they lived happily, and Présine gave birth to two daughters even more lovely than herself: but in the excitement of the birth of the third, Elinas forgot his promise, and Présine was forced to flee with her three daughters to the Lost Isle of Avalon.

The daughters - Mélusine, Mélior and Palestine - grew up resentful of the father who had condemned them to exile. When they grew old enough to cast the spells, they imprisoned their father in a magic mountain in Northumberland. Présine was furious, and called them ungrateful. As Mélusine was the oldest, Présine decided that she was the ringleader, and cursed her, saying that from now on, on every Saturday, she would be changed into a snake from the waist down. Only if she could find a man to marry her who would agree never to look on her on that day would she lift the curse: if she married and he broke his vow, she would be condemned to immortality, wandering forever with the curse always upon her.

Meanwhile, Aymeri, the Duke of Lusignan and Poitou, was on a hunting trip with his adopted son Raimondin when they were attacked by a wild boar. Raimondin thrust his sword at the boar to save Aymeri, but accidentally killed him. For hours he wandered in despair, not knowing how he would tell the family, until he came upon a fountain in the middle of the forest: La Fontaine de Soif, the Fountain of Thirst. Sitting by the fountain were three women of unearthly beauty, dressed in radiant white. Raimondin stood staring in awe, and one of them came to him, bearing him water. She asked him why he looked so sad, heard his tale, and gave him comfort and advice. Her name, she said, was Mélusine. Whilst listening to her kind words, Raimondin became enchanted by her beauty and wisdom, fell in love with her and asked for her hand in marriage. Mélusine, of course, agreed, and stated her condition: she would marry him, but he was not allowed to see her on Saturdays, under any circumstances. Raimondin, who would have agreed to almost anything at that point, accepted her terms, and they were married.

To celebrate their wedding Raimondin begged a small piece of land from the new Duke of Poitou, and, in the course of a single night, with three apronfuls of stone and a draught of water, Mélusine constructed the magnificent château of the Lusignans by magical powers. And so that her husband might become the most powerful lord in the land, it pleased her on certain nights to sprinkle the surrounding hills with fortresses. Raimondin was happy. But the court were disturbed by the magic, and by the strange children of the marriage. Each son Mélusine bore had some deformity. Urian, their first child, had hare's ears, one red eye and one green eye; Gedes had a scarlet face; Gyot had one eye above the other; Antoine had only one eye. Geoffroy, one of the younger sons, had boar's tusks instead of teeth: he was known as Geoffroy le Grand Dent, or Geoffroy l'Horrible, due to his violent disposition.

And why did she hide herself away every Saturday? One Saturday night, the teasing of his family gone beyoind bearing, Raimondin decided he had to find out. He flew up to Mélusine's chamber to find her, and heard the bath running. He quietly opened the door to the bath just enough to see an unbelievable sight: Mélusine, from the waist up, was her beautiful self, and yet from the waist down her body had been transformed into a giant serpent's tail of glistening cold scales. Raimondin was shocked to the core: but he still loved his wife, and vowed not to mention it.

However one day Mélusine and Raimondin received news that their sons Geoffroy l'Horrible and Fromont had fought. Fromont, to seek refuge, had escaped to a nearby monastery. Then Geoffroy, in a typical fit of rage, had burned down the monastery, killing not only his brother, but a hundred monks as well. Raimondin exploded with fury at the news and blamed Mélusine for his son's uncontrollable behaviour: when she attempted to comfort him, he pushed her away and said, "Away odious serpent, contaminator of an honourable race!" Immediately after the words were uttered, he regretted them and begged for forgiveness, but it was too late: Mélusine reminded him that he had broken the vow, and said she must leave forever. Then she transformed and flew away, howling horrible vengeance and cursing the Lusignan fortresses she had built. Her cry is meant to signify the death of one of the heirs of Lusignan.


There are many versions of this myth, which dates back to the beginnings of French mythology, and became highly popular in the Middle Ages, especially in the Poitou area of Normandy. The Lusignan family reigned for a long time over Poitou. They exploited the name of the mythical fairy by declaring Mélusine a corruption of "Mère Lusignan" (mother of the Lusignans) and claiming her as the founder of their line. Such appropriation of fairies by aristocratic families was not unusual in the 12th and 13th centuries. In the late 1300s Jean d'Arras, a French historian, received orders from the Duc de Berry to record all the information he could gather on Mélusine, and to write an epic glorifying the house of Lusignan. In around 1387 D'Arras produced his major work, Chronique de Mélusine, of which the above is a rough synopsis. Much of his research was indebted to William de Portenach's previous chronicles on the history of Mélusine. Portenach's manuscripts no longer exist: therefore, Chronique de Mélusine is the oldest surviving written text on the myth. In 1478, Arras's other work, Le Liure de Mélusine en Fracoys, was published posthumously. Arras's work added to the popularisation of the myth and after his death numerous versions of the Mélusine story were published in different languages, including German, Dutch, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, and Italian. There are still families in France who claim descendancy from Mélusine, and many of the castles she is supposed to have built remain today.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.