Monday, October 8, 2018

The mysterious Mélusine (Following folktales around the world 86. - Luxembourg)

Today I continue the blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts here, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

I once again ran into the problem of not finding any folktale collections from Luxembourg in any of the languages I read. Which, in this case, was especially frustrating, because there is even a beautiful stamp series of Luxembourg fairy tales - except, I could not locate most of the stories depicted in them. So, here are seven tales that I did manage to scavenge up:
The bag, the pipe, and the hat
(From here)
It is a short, simple version of the Fortunatus tale type. A young man receives three magic items, but a princess wins them from him playing cards. Eventually, he is helped by an old woman and some magic, horn-growing apples in getting the items back.

Michel Michelkleiner's good luck
(L. Bødker, C. Hole, G. D'Aronco: European Folk Tales)
A young man is robbed in the woods and trapped inside a barrel, but with the (unwitting) help of a fox he manages to break free, and he even scares the bandits that robbed him enough that they take off, leaving all their gold behind.

Master Sly
(L. Bødker, C. Hole, G. D'Aronco: European Folk Tales)
Seven rich farmers want to get rid of a poor man, but he repeatedly outwits all of them. He makes fortune out of them killing his mother, destroying his oven, and trying to drown him in a pond - and in the end, in true trickster fashion, he even gets them to jump into the pond themselves.

The beautiful Melusina
(From this great website)
Luxembourg's most famous legend, and one of the best known around medieval Europe; the origin story of the House of Luxembourg. Count Siegfried encounters Melusina, a water-fairy, and falls in love with her; she promises to marry him if he builds a castle by her pool, and does not look at her on Saturdays. After sven children and many years of marriage, the husband does take a peek, and sees Melusina in the bath with her fish tail. She leaves him, and has been haunting the Luxembourg castle ever since, waiting for someone to set her free.

Melusina (soldier's legend)
(Also from here)
Melusina appears to a soldier who is on guard at night, and tells him how he can break the curse on her. He would have to take a key out of the mouth of a fiery serpent - but he is too scared in the last minute, and Melusina remains lost.

The mysterious Mélusine
(Also from here)
In this version Mélusine's day off is the first Wednesday of every month. After her husband's betrayal she moves to the Alzette river, or to caves under the castle. She spends her time knitting, but she only does one stitch every seven years - which is just as well, because if she finishes her work, Luxembourg will crumble.

The wolf of Doncols
(From here and here)
The only tale from the stamp series that I found. It is a local legend about a famous figure, a wandering peddler who told wild tales about how he managed to single-handedly fight and kill many a dangerous wolf (proving it by wearing a wolf pelt on his head).

Where to next?


  1. Melusina/Melusine gets a lot of fiction time. And strictly speaking, she is the ancestress of th British royal family, or some of them(William and Harry are descended from Elizabeth Woodville via their Mum, and EW was a descendant of Melusine).

    Most recently is Gillian Polack’s Time Of Ghosts, in which she is alive and well and living in modern Canberra...

  2. Fascinating as usual. The Melusine legend has always fascinated me. I recently reviewed a novel that had Melusine alive and well: Sue Barnard's Never On A Saturday.