Creating and Recreating Jean d’Arras’ Mélusine from the Hundred Years’ War to Isabelline Spain


Creating and Recreating Jean d’Arras’ Mélusine from the Hundred Years’ War to Isabelline Spain

Lecture by Maggie Geoga

Given at the Harvard University Senior Thesis Colloquium 2012




Halfway through the Hundred Years’ War, the king’s uncle Jean, duke of Berry, commissioned a romance that linked his family to the legendary fairy Melusine, a character created by Jean d’Arras using elements from her ancient mythological ancestors, earlier literary versions, and medieval avatars. Originally intended to increase Jean de Berry’s prestige in the eyes of his fellow nobles, Melusine enjoyed great success in France, even inspiring imitations commissioned by lesser nobility, and spread throughout Europe, eventually reaching Spain fifteen years into the reign of Isabella I of Castile. This thesis explores the symbiotic relationship between culture and politics by investigating Jean d’Arras’ creation of his character and the relationship between his literary choices and the romance’s political effectiveness and popularity, as well as how Isabelline politics and culture may have affected the translators’ choice to publish the romance in Spain with their own changes to Jean d’Arras’ character

See also: When a Knight meets a Dragon Maiden: Human Identity and the Monstrous Animal Other