{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/international-collections.php' }

The Water Spirit Melusina

(The following is a post by Taru Spiegel, Reference Specialist, European Division.)

The 14th-century “Livre de Lusignan” (Book of Lusignan) by Couldrette reads like a soap opera, featuring interrelated characters who have the most unusual adventures. The work also advanced the claim by the important noble family of Lusignan from Poitou, western France, that they were descended from the water spirit of a like name, Melusine, or Melusina. Of Couldrette little is known other than that the author wrote in the Middle Ages.

Tales of humans interacting with water spirits go far back in time. Beginning in the Middle Ages, such stories were written in a number of languages. The Library of Congress’s 15th-century German translation from the French Book of Lusignan, “Von einer Frouwen genant Melusina” (About a lady called Melusina), contains lovely, watercolor-enhanced woodcut illustrations that highlight important events of the story of the beautiful Lady Melusina and the noble Raymond of Poitou.

Melusina agreed to marry Raymond on condition that he never enter her chamber on a Saturday. They were happily married and had a number of children, but one day Raymond broke his promise, and on a Saturday saw Melusina in her bath as part-woman, part-serpent. As a result she was forced to fly off, which she did while wailing sorrowfully.

The following images depict highlights from the marriage of Melusina and Raymond.

Raymond meets Melusina at a fountain and pledges to return. Image 29. Livre de Lusignan. German.

 

Raymond’s family shows Melusina great courtesy. Image 45. Livre de Lusignan. German.

 

Melusina and Raymond are married by a bishop. Image 47. Livre de Lusignan. German.

 

Raymond peeks at Melusina while she bathes. Image 116. Livre de Lusignan. German.

 

Melusina departs the castle in great sorrow. Image 145. Livre de Lusignan. German.

The book contains many more adventures and images, which may be seen either as page view or PDF.

 

One Comment

  1. Nawal Kawar
    June 26, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Very interesting.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.