Vouvant cité médiévale - Vue aérienne
©David Herbreteau
The builder fairy

The legend of the Fairy Melusine

The legend comes from chivalrous popular tales of the Middle Age where the fairy Melusine is a famous character of France. Does the story of the woman with a snake tail rings a bell ?

The curse of Melusine


Legend says that the Fairy Pressine, Melusine’s mother, cast a spell on her three daughters after they offended their father, Elinas, King of Albania.

To Melusine was given the following curse : each Saturday, her long legs would be covered by scales and would take the shape of a snake tail.

If someone were to see her in that state, she would never be able to turn back to her human form.

How to break the curse ?

To counter the curse, the man she was to be married to mustn’t, in under any circumstance, see her on a Saturday.

Raimondin meets Melusine


One day, Raimondin went on a wild boar hunt with his uncle, the Count of Poitiers. The chase of the animal going wrong, the nephew accidentally killed his uncle while putting the beast to death. Overwhelmed with grief, he wandered in the forest of Coulombiers where he caught sight of three girls in a clearing.

Melusine was the one to smile and speak to him. She promised Raimondin happiness and prosperity if he married her. However, he had to promise that he wouldn’t try to find what she was doing or where she was going to on Saturdays. Raimondin, dazzled by her beauty, accepted and the wedding was then celebrated.

By marring the fairy, Raimondin became the most powerful lord of Poitou. Melusine, the builder, constructed the Lusignan castle on her husband’s land. She then built several other castles and cities on the surrounding hills.

The envy of the Lusignan Lord


But the mystery surrounding Melusine began to make people talk. The 10 children that were born from their marriage, every single one of them had a deformity. One had just one eye in the middle of his forehead, another had a lion claw on his cheek… And why did Melusine locked herself up every Saturday ?

Raimondin was convinced by his envious brother that Melusine was suspicious, and decided to discover the truth behind his wife’s secret. He went to the tower where she isolated herself and with his sword, broke the door’s lock, taking Melusine by surprise in her bath while she was brushing her long blond hairs.

He then realised that Melusine’s graceful legs had disappeared to be replaced by an enormous snake tail. When Melusine saw him, she screamed and flew away by the window. She shouted terrible threats of destruction toward all the fortresses she had built for Raimondin. She swore that every year, the fortresses of Pouzauges, Tiffauges, Mervent, Châteaumur, and Vouvant would fall, stone by stone.

People say that some night she still haunts the ruins of her castles…