FRANCE (2022)-Europa- Myths & Legends (1v)

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0622-france-12-1
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About Europa - Stories & Myths

Melusine is a legendary creature represented in the form of a mermaid, a reptile from the hips, or a dragon. Coming from chivalrous stories and medieval tales, she becomes a river nymph, living in a water hole, a fairy nestled at the bottom of a cave, even a wyvern in the hollow of a moor. She is called Merluisaine in Champagne, Mother Louise in Burgundy, Merlusse in the Vosges, and she still bears many names in various provinces of France. Beneficent, she watches over the home and the crops. Maleficent, she sows the plague. One of the oldest evocations of Melusine is found in the Tales for Court People dating from the 12th century.

The fairy also appears in Henno cum dentibus, a fabliau written between 1188 and 1193 by a cleric who lived at the English court. It recounts the meeting of the valiant Henno-aux-Grandes-Dents with a beautiful woman in tears, adorned with gold and diamonds, victim of a shipwreck. The young lord is thinking of taking her as his wife when he discovers her secret: Melusine turns into a terrible creature when she bathes. It is found in Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry with illuminations painted around 1411. For his part, the Sieur de Couldrette wrote the Roman de Mélusine at the end of the 14th century, which was to enjoy great success.

It will be translated into English, German and Flemish over the next century. Closer to home, the poet Émile Verhaeren (1855-1916) evoked the fairy in Le chant de l'eau. Today, Mélusine has become a likeable comic book heroine. This young lady – who is only 119 years old! – lives in Transylvania in the castle of a vampire. Her exploits are inspired by those of Harry Potter at the school of wizards, because, like him, she learns magic.

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