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Title: Legends & Romances of Brittany
Author: Spence, Lewis, 1874-1955
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Although the folk-tales and legends of Brittany have received
ample attention from native scholars and collectors, they have not as
yet been presented in a popular manner to English-speaking readers.
The probable reasons for what would appear to be an otherwise
incomprehensible omission on the part of those British writers who
make a popular use of legendary material are that many Breton
folk-tales strikingly resemble those of other countries, that from
a variety of considerations some of them are unsuitable for
presentation in an English dress, and that most of the folk-tales
proper certainly possess a strong family likeness to one another.

But it is not the folk-tale alone which goes to make up the
romantic literary output of a people; their ballads, the heroic
tales which they have woven around passages in their national
history, their legends (employing the term in its proper sense),
along with the more literary attempts of their romance-weavers,
their beliefs regarding the supernatural, the tales which cluster
around their ancient homes and castles--all of these, although
capable of separate classification, are akin to folk-lore, and I
have not, therefore, hesitated to use what in my discretion I
consider the best out of immense stores of material as being much
more suited to supply British readers with a comprehensive view of
Breton story. Thus, I have included chapters on the lore which
cleaves to the ancient stone monuments of the country, along with
some account of the monuments themselves. The Arthurian matter
especially connected with Brittany I have relegated to a separate
chapter, and I have considered it only fitting to include such of
the _lais_ of that rare and human songstress Marie de France as deal
with the Breton land. The legends of those sainted men to whom
Brittany owes so much will be found in a separate chapter, in
collecting the matter for which I have obtained the kindest
assistance from Miss Helen Macleod Scott, who has the preservation of
the Celtic spirit so much at heart. I have also included chapters on
the interesting theme of the black art in Brittany, as well as on
the several species of fays and demons which haunt its moors and
forests; nor will the heroic tales of its great warriors and
champions be found wanting. To assist the reader to obtain the
atmosphere of Brittany and in order that he may read these tales
without feeling that he is perusing matter relating to a race of
which he is otherwise ignorant, I have afforded him a slight
sketch of the Breton environment and historical development, and in
an attempt to lighten his passage through the volume I have here and
there told a tale in verse, sometimes translated, sometimes original.

As regards the folk-tales proper, by which I mean stories collected
from the peasantry, I have made a selection from the works of Gaidoz,
Sébillot, and Luzel. In no sense are these translations; they are
rather adaptations. The profound inequality between Breton folk-tales
is, of course, very marked in a collection of any magnitude, but as
this volume is not intended to be exhaustive I have had no difficulty
in selecting material of real interest. Most of these tales were
collected by Breton folk-lorists in the eighties of the last century,
and the native shrewdness and common sense which characterize much of
the editors' comments upon the stories so carefully gathered from
peasants and fishermen make them deeply interesting.

It is with a sense of shortcoming that I offer the reader this volume
on a great subject, but should it succeed in stimulating interest in
Breton story, and in directing students to a field in which their
research is certain to be richly rewarded, I shall not regret the
labour and time which I have devoted to my task.

  L. S.


  CHAPTER                                                         PAGE
        I The Land, the People and their Story                      13
       II Menhirs And Dolmens                                       37
      III The Fairies of Brittany                                   54
       IV Sprites And Demons of Brittany                            96
        V World-Tales in Brittany                                  106
       VI Breton Folk-Tales                                        156
      VII Popular Legends of Brittany                              173
     VIII Hero-Tales of Brittany                                   211
       IX The Black Art and Its Ministers                          241
        X Arthurian Romance in Brittany                            254
       XI The Breton Lays of Marie De France                       283
      XII The Saints of Brittany                                   332
     XIII Costumes and Customs of Brittany                         372
          Glossary and Index                                       392


  Graelent and the Fairy-Woman                          _Frontispiece_
  Nomenoë                                                           23
  The Death of Marguerite in the Castle of Trogoff                  34
  Raising a Menhir                                                  44
  The Seigneur of Nann And the Korrigan                             58
  Merlin And Vivien                                                 66
  The Fairies of Broceliande Find the Little Bruno                  72
  Fairies in a Breton 'Houle'                                       81
  The Poor Boy And the Three Fairy Damsels                          88
  The Demon-Dog                                                    102
  N'Oun Doare And the Princess Golden Bell                         112
  The Bride of Satan                                               144
  Gwennolaïk and Nola                                              170
  The Devil in the Form of a Leopard appears before
      the Alchemist                                                179
  The Escape of King Gradlon from the Flooded City of
      Ys                                                           186
  A Peasant Insurrection                                           197
  Morvan returns to his Ruined Home                                214
  The Finding of Silvestik                                         232
  Héloïse as Sorceress                                             250
  King Arthur and Merlin at the Lake                               257
  Tristrem and Ysonde                                              268
  King Arthur and the Giant of Mont-Saint-Michel                   276
  The Were-Wolf                                                    288
  Gugemar comes upon the Magic Ship                                294
  Gugemar's Assault on the Castle of Meriadus                      300
  Eliduc carries Guillardun to the Forest Chapel                   312
  Convoyon and his Monks carry off the Relics of St
      Apothemius                                                   336
  St Tivisiau, the Shepherd Saint                                  339
  St Yves instructing Shepherd-boys in the Use of the
      Rosary                                                       352
  Queen Queban stoned to Death                                     369
  Modern Brittany                                                  377
  The Souls of the Dead                                            385


The romantic region which we are about to traverse in search of the
treasures of legend was in ancient times known as Armorica, a
Latinized form of the Celtic name, Armor ('On the Sea'). The Brittany
of to-day corresponds to the departments of Finistère, Côtes-du-Nord,
Morbihan, Ille-et-Vilaine, and Loire-Inférieure. A popular division of
the country is that which partitions it into Upper, or Eastern, and
Lower, or Western, Brittany, and these tracts together have an area of
some 13,130 square miles.

Such parts of Brittany as are near to the sea-coast present marked
differences to the inland regions, where raised plateaux are covered
with dreary and unproductive moorland. These plateaux, again, rise
into small ranges of hills, not of any great height, but, from their
wild and rugged appearance, giving the impression of an altitude much
loftier than they possess. The coast-line is ragged, indented, and
inhospitable, lined with deep reefs and broken by the estuaries of
brawling rivers. In the southern portion the district known as 'the
Emerald Coast' presents an almost subtropical appearance; the air is
mild and the whole region pleasant and fruitful. But with this
exception Brittany is a country of bleak shores and grey seas, barren
moorland and dreary horizons, such a land as legend loves, such a
region, cut off and isolated from the highways of humanity, as the
discarded genii of ancient faiths might seek as a last stronghold.

Regarding the origin of the race which peoples this secluded
peninsula there are no wide differences of opinion. If we take the
word 'Celt' as describing any branch of the many divergent races which
came under the influence of one particular type of culture, the true
originators of which were absorbed among the folk they governed and
instructed before the historic era, then the Bretons are 'Celts'
indeed, speaking the tongue known as 'Celtic' for want of a more
specific name, exhibiting marked signs of the possession of 'Celtic'
customs, and having those racial characteristics which the science of
anthropology until recently laid down as certain indications of
'Celtic' relationship--the short, round skull, swarthy complexion, and
blue or grey eyes.

It is to be borne in mind, however, that the title 'Celtic' is shared
by the Bretons with the fair or rufous Highlander of Scotland, the
dark Welshman, and the long-headed Irishman. But the Bretons exhibit
such special characteristics as would warrant the new anthropology in
labelling them the descendants of that 'Alpine' race which existed in
Central Europe in Neolithic times, and which, perhaps, possessed
distant Mongoloid affinities. This people spread into nearly all parts
of Europe, and later in some regions acquired Celtic speech and custom
from a Celtic aristocracy.

It is remarkable how completely this Celtic leaven--the true history
of which is lost in the depths of prehistoric darkness--succeeded in
impressing not only its language but its culture and spirit upon the
various peoples with whom it came into contact. To impose a special
type of civilization upon another race must always prove a task of
almost superhuman proportions. To compel the use of an alien tongue by
a conquered folk necessitates racial tact as well as strength of
purpose. But to secure the adoption of the racial _spirit_ by the
conquered, and adherence to it for centuries, so that men of widely
divergent origins shall all have the same point of view, the same mode
of thought, manner of address, aye, even the same _facies_ or general
racial appearance, as have Bretons, some Frenchmen, Cornishmen,
Welshmen, and Highlanders--that surely would argue an indwelling
racial strength such as not even the Roman or any other world-empire
might pretend to.

But this Celtic civilization was not one and undivided. In late
prehistoric times it evolved from one mother tongue two dialects which
afterward displayed all the differences of separate languages
springing from a common stock. These are the Goidelic, the tongue
spoken by the Celts of Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, and the
Brythonic, the language of the Welsh, the Cornish, and the people of

_The Breton Tongue_

The Brezonek, the Brythonic tongue of Brittany, is undoubtedly the
language of those Celtic immigrants who fled from Britain the Greater
to Britain the Less to escape the rule of the Saxon invaders, and who
gave the name of the country which they had left to that Armorica in
which they settled. In the earliest stages of development it is
difficult to distinguish Breton from Welsh. From the ninth to the
eleventh centuries the Breton language is described as 'Old Breton.'
'Middle Breton' flourished from the eleventh to the seventeenth
centuries, since when 'Modern Breton' has been in use. These stages
indicate changes in the language more or less profound, due chiefly to
admixture with French. Various distinct dialects are indicated by
writers on the subject, but the most marked difference in Breton
speech seems to be that between the dialect of Vannes and that of the
rest of Brittany. Such differences do not appear to be older than the
sixteenth century.[1]

_The Ancient Armoricans_

The written history of Brittany opens with the account of Julius
Cæsar. At that period (57 B.C.) Armorica was inhabited by five
principal tribes: the Namnetes, the Veneti, the Osismii, the
Curiosolitæ, and the Redones. These offered a desperate resistance to
Roman encroachment, but were subdued, and in some cases their people
were sold wholesale into slavery. In 56 B.C. the Veneti threw off the
yoke and retained two of Cæsar's officers as hostages. Cæsar advanced
upon Brittany in person, but found that he could make no headway while
he was opposed by the powerful fleet of flat-bottomed boats, like
floating castles, which the Veneti were so skilful in manœuvring.
Ships were hastily constructed upon the waters of the Loire, and a
desperate naval engagement ensued, probably in the Gulf of Morbihan,
which resulted in the decisive defeat of the Veneti, the Romans
resorting to the stratagem of cutting down the enemy's rigging with
sickles bound upon long poles. The members of the Senate of the
conquered people were put to death as a punishment for their
defection, and thousands of the tribesmen went to swell the
slave-markets of Europe.

Between A.D. 450 and 500, when the Roman power and population were
dwindling, many vessels brought fugitives from Britain to Armorica.
These people, fleeing from the conquering barbarians, Saxons, Picts,
and Scots, sought as asylum a land where a kindred race had not yet
been disturbed by invasion. Says Thierry, in his _Norman Conquest_:
"With the consent of the ancient inhabitants, who acknowledged them as
brethren of the same origin, the new settlers distributed themselves
over the whole northern coast, as far as the little river Coesoron,
and southward as far as the territory of the city of the Veneti, now
called Vannes. In this extent of country they founded a sort of
separate state, comprising all the small places near the coast, but
not including within its limits the great towns of Vannes, Nantes, and
Rennes. The increase of the population of this western corner of the
country, and the great number of people of the Celtic race and
language thus assembled within a narrow space, preserved it from the
irruption of the Roman tongue, which, under forms more or less
corrupted, was gradually becoming prevalent in every other part of
Gaul. The name of _Brittany_ was attached to these coasts, and the
names of the various indigenous tribes disappeared; while the island
which had borne this name for so many ages now lost it, and, taking
the name of its conquerors, began to be called the land of the Saxons
and Angles, or, in one word, _England_."


One of these British immigrants was the holy Samson, who laboured to
convert pagan Brittany to Christianity. He hailed from Pembrokeshire,
and the legend relates that his parents, being childless, constructed
a menhir[2] of pure silver and gave it to the poor in the hope that a
son might be born to them. Their desire was fulfilled, and Samson, the
son in question, became a great missionary of the Church. Accompanied
by forty monks, he crossed the Channel and landed on the shores of the
Bay of Saint-Brieuc, a savage and deserted district.

As the keel of his galley grated on the beach the Saint beheld a man
on the shore seated at the door of a miserable hut, who endeavoured to
attract his attention by signs. Samson approached the shore-dweller,
who took him by the hand and, leading him into the wretched dwelling,
showed him his wife and daughter, stricken with sickness. Samson
relieved their pain, and the husband and father, who, despite his
humble appearance, was chief of the neighbouring territory, gave him a
grant of land hard by. Here, close to the celebrated menhir of Dol, he
and his monks built their cells. Soon a chapel rose near the ancient
seat of pagan worship--in later days the site of a great cathedral.

Telio, a British monk, with the assistance of St Samson, planted near
Dol an orchard three miles in length, and to him is attributed the
introduction of the apple-tree into Brittany. Wherever the monks went
they cultivated the soil; all had in their mouths the words of the
Apostle: "If any would not work, neither should he eat." The people
admired the industry of the new-comers, and from admiration they
passed to imitation. The peasants joined the monks in tilling the
ground, and even the brigands from the hills and forests became
agriculturists. "The Cross and the plough, labour and prayer," was the
motto of these early missionaries.

_Wax for Wine_

The monks of Dol were renowned bee-farmers, as we learn from an
anecdote told by Count Montalembert in his _Moines d'Occident_. One
day when St Samson of Dol, and St Germain, Bishop of Paris, were
conversing on the respective merits of their monasteries, St Samson
said that his monks were such good and careful preservers of their
bees that, besides the honey which the bees yielded in abundance, they
furnished more wax than was used in the churches for candles during
the year, but that the climate not being suitable for the growth of
vines, there was great scarcity of wine. Upon hearing this St Germain
replied: "We, on the contrary, produce more wine than we can consume,
but we have to buy wax; so, if you will furnish us with wax, we will
give you a tenth of our wine." Samson accepted this offer, and the
mutual arrangement was continued during the lives of the two saints.

Two British kingdoms were formed in Armorica--Domnonia and Cornubia.
The first embraced the Côtes-du-Nord and Finistère north of the river
Élorn, Cornubia, or Cornouaille, as it is now known, being situated
below that river, as far south as the river Ellé. At first these
states paid a nominal homage to their native kings in Britain, but on
the final fall of the British power they proclaimed a complete

_The Vision of Jud-Hael_

A striking story relating to the migration period is told concerning a
Cambrian chieftain of Brittany, one Jud-Hael, and the famous British
bard Taliesin. Shortly after the arrival of Taliesin in Brittany
Jud-Hael had a remarkable vision. He dreamt that he saw a high
mountain, on the summit of which was placed a lofty column fixed
deeply in the earth, with a base of ivory, and branches which reached
to the heavens. The lower part was iron, brilliantly polished, and to
it were attached rings of the same metal, from which were suspended
cuirasses, casques, lances, javelins, bucklers, trumpets, and many
other warlike trophies. The upper portion was of gold, and upon it
hung candelabra, censers, stoles, chalices, and ecclesiastical symbols
of every description. As the Prince stood admiring the spectacle the
heavens opened and a maiden of marvellous beauty descended and
approached him.

"I salute you, O Jud-Hael," she said, "and I confide to your keeping
for a season this column and all that it supports"; and with these
words she vanished.

On the following day Jud-Hael made public his dream, but, like
Nebuchadnezzar of old, he could find no one to interpret it, so he
turned to the bard Taliesin as to another Daniel. Taliesin, says the
legend, then an exile from his native land of Britain, dwelt on the
seashore. To him came the messenger of Jud-Hael and said: "O thou who
so truly dost interpret all things ambiguous, hear and make clear the
strange vision which my lord hath seen." He then recounted Jud-Hael's
dream to the venerable bard.

For a time the sage sat pondering deeply, and then replied: "Thy
master reigneth well and wisely, O messenger, but he has a son who
will reign still more happily even than himself, and who will become
one of the greatest men in the Breton land. The sons of his loins will
be the fathers of powerful counts and pious Churchmen, but he himself,
the greatest man of that race, shall be first a valiant warrior and
later a mighty champion of heaven. The earlier part of his life shall
be given to the world; the latter portion shall be devoted to God."

The prophecy of Taliesin was duly fulfilled. For Judik-Hael, the son
of Jud-Hael, realized the bard's prediction, and entered the cloister
after a glorious reign.


Taliesin ('Shining Forehead') was in the highest repute in the middle
of the twelfth century, and he was then and afterward, unless we
except Merlin, the bardic hero of the greatest number of romantic
legends. He is said to have been the son of Henwg the bard, or St
Henwg, of Caerleon-upon-Usk, and to have been educated in the school
of Cattwg, at Llanvithin, in Glamorgan, where the historian Gildas was
his fellow-pupil. Seized when a youth by Irish pirates, he is said,
probably by rational interpretation of a later fable of his history,
to have escaped by using a wooden buckler for a boat. Thus he came
into the fishing weir of Elphin, one of the sons of Urien. Urien made
him Elphin's instructor, and gave him an estate of land. But, once
introduced into the Court of that great warrior-chief, Taliesin became
his foremost bard, followed him in his wars, and sang his victories.
He celebrates triumphs over Ida, the Anglian King of Bernicia (_d._
559) at Argoed about the year 547, at Gwenn-Estrad between that year
and 559, at Menao about the year 559. After the death of Urien,
Taliesin was the bard of his son Owain, by whose hand Ida fell. After
the death of all Urien's sons Taliesin retired to mourn the downfall
of his race in Wales, dying, it is said, at Bangor Teivi, in
Cardiganshire. He was buried under a cairn near Aberystwyth.

_Hervé the Blind_

There is nothing improbable in the statement that Taliesin dwelt in
Brittany in the sixth century. Many other British bards found a refuge
on the shores of Britain the Less. Among these was Kyvarnion, a
Christian, who married a Breton Druidess and who had a son, Hervé.
Hervé was blind from birth, and was led from place to place by a wolf
which he had converted (!) and pressed into the service of Mother

One day, when a lad, Hervé had been left in charge of his uncle's
farm, when a ploughman passed him in full flight, crying out that a
savage wolf had appeared and had killed the ass with which he had been
ploughing. The man entreated Hervé to fly, as the wolf was hard upon
his heels; but the blind youth, undaunted, ordered the terrified
labourer to seize the animal and harness it to the plough with the
harness of the dead ass. From that time the wolf dwelt among the sheep
and goats on the farm, and subsisted upon hay and grass.


Swarms of Irish from Ossory and Wexford began to arrive about the
close of the fifth century, settling along the west and north coasts.
The immigrants from Britain the Greater formed by degrees the
counties of Vannes, Cornouaille, Léon, and Domnonée, constituted a
powerful aristocracy, and initiated a long and arduous struggle
against the Frankish monarchs, who exercised a nominal suzerainty over
Brittany. Louis the Pious placed a native chief, Nomenoë, at the head
of the province, and a long period of peace ensued. But in A.D. 845
Nomenoë revolted against Charles the Bald, defeated him, and forced
him to recognize the independence of Brittany, and to forgo the annual
tribute which he had exacted. A ballad by Villemarqué describes the
incident. Like Macpherson, who in his enthusiasm for the fragments of
Ossianic lore 'reconstructed' them only too well, Villemarqué
unfortunately tampered very freely with such matter as he collected,
and it may even be that the poem on Nomenoë, for which he claims
authority, is altogether spurious, as some critics consider. But as it
affords a spirited picture of the old Breton chief the story is at
least worth relating.

The poem describes how an aged chieftain waits on the hills of Retz
for his son, who has gone over to Rennes to pay the Breton tribute to
the Franks. Many chariots drawn by horses has he taken with him, but
although a considerable time has elapsed there is no indication of his
return. The chieftain climbs to an eminence in the hope of discerning
his son in the far distance, but no sign of his appearance is to be
seen on the long white road or on the bleak moors which fringe it.

The anxious father espies a merchant wending slowly along the highway
and hails him.

"Ha, good merchant, you who travel the land from end to end, have you
seen aught of my son Karo, who has gone to conduct the tribute
chariots to Rennes?"

[Illustration: NOMENOË]

"Alas! chieftain, if your son has gone with the tribute it is in vain
you wait for him, for the Franks found it not enough, and have weighed
his head against it in the balance."

The father gazes wildly at the speaker, sways, and falls heavily with
a doleful cry.

"Karo, my son! My lost Karo!"

The scene changes to the fortress of Nomenoë, and we see its master
returning from the chase, accompanied by his great hounds and laden
with trophies. His bow is in his hand, and he carries the carcass of a
boar upon his shoulder. The red blood drops from the dead beast's
mouth and stains his hand. The aged chief, well-nigh demented, awaits
his coming, and Nomenoë greets him courteously.

"Hail, honest mountaineer!" he cries. "What is your news? What would
you with Nomenoë?"

"I come for justice, Lord Nomenoë," replies the aged man. "Is there a
God in heaven and a chief in Brittany? There is a God above us, I
know, and I believe there is a just Duke in the Breton land. Mighty
ruler, make war upon the Frank, defend our country, and give us
vengeance--vengeance for Karo my son, Karo, slain, decapitated by the
Frankish barbarians, his beauteous head made into a balance-weight for
their brutal sport."

The old man weeps, and the tears flow down his grizzled beard.

Then Nomenoë rises in anger and swears a great oath. "By the head of
this boar, and by the arrow which slew him," cries he, "I will not
wash this blood from off my hand until I free the country from mine

Nomenoë has gone to the seashore and gathered pebbles, for these are
the tribute he intends to offer the bald King.[3] Arrived at the gates
of Rennes, he asks that they shall be opened to him so that he may pay
the tribute of silver. He is asked to descend, to enter the castle,
and to leave his chariot in the courtyard. He is requested to wash his
hands to the sound of a horn before eating (an ancient custom), but he
replies that he prefers to deliver the tribute-money there and then.
The sacks are weighed, and the third is found light by several

"Ha, what is this?" cries the Frankish castellan. "This sack is under
weight, Sir Nomenoë."

Out leaps Nomenoë's sword from the scabbard, and the Frank's head is
smitten from his shoulders. Then, seizing it by its gory locks, the
Breton chief with a laugh of triumph casts it into the balance. His
warriors throng the courtyard, the town is taken; young Karo is

_Alain Barbe-torte_

The end of the ninth century and the beginning of the tenth were
remarkable for the invasions of the Northmen. On several occasions
they were driven back--by Salomon (_d._ 874), by Alain, Count of
Vannes (_d._ 907)--but it was Alain Barbe-torte, 'Alain of the Twisted
Beard,' or 'Alain the Fox' (_d._ 952), who gained the decisive victory
over them, and concerning him an ancient ballad has much to say. It
was taken down by Villemarqué from the lips of a peasant, an old
soldier of the Chouan leader Georges Cadoudal.

In his youth Alain was a mighty hunter of the bear and the boar in the
forests of his native Brittany, and the courage gained in this manly
sport stood him in good stead when he came to employ it against the
enemies of his country, the hated Northmen. Rallying the Bretons who
lurked in the forests or hid in the mountain fastnesses, he led them
against the enemy, whom he surprised near Dol in the middle of the
night, making a great carnage among them. After this battle the
Scandinavian invaders were finally expelled from the Breton land and
Alain was crowned King or Arch-chief in 937.

A free translation of this ballad might run as follows:

  Lurks the Fox within the wood,
  His teeth and claws are red with blood.

  Within his leafy, dark retreat
  He chews the cud of vengeance sweet.

  Oh, trenchant his avenging sword!
  It falls not on the rock or sward,

  But on the mail of Saxon foe:
  Swift as the lightning falls the blow.

  I've seen the Bretons wield the flail,
  Scattering the bearded chaff like hail:

  But iron is the flail they wield
  Against the churlish Saxon's shield.

  I heard the call of victory
  From Michael's Mount to Élorn fly,

  And Alain's glory flies as fast
  From Gildas' church to every coast.

  Ah, may his splendour never die,
  May it live on eternally!

  But woe that I may nevermore
  Declaim this lay on Armor's shore,

  For the base Saxon hand has torn
  My tongue from out my mouth forlorn.

  But if my lips no longer frame
  The glories of our Alain's name,

  My heart shall ever sing his praise,
  Who won the fight and wears the bays![4]

The Saxons of this lay are, of course, the Norsemen, who, speaking a
Teutonic tongue, would seem to the Celtic-speaking Bretons to be
allied to the Teuton Franks.

_Bretons and Normans_

During the latter half of the tenth and most of the eleventh century
the Counts of Rennes gained an almost complete ascendancy in Brittany,
which began to be broken up into counties and seigneuries in the
French manner. In 992 Geoffrey, son of Conan, Count of Rennes, adopted
the title of Duke of Brittany. He married a Norman lady of noble
family, by whom he had two sons, Alain and Eudo, the younger of whom
demanded a share of the duchy as his inheritance. His brother made
over to him the counties of Penthièvre and Tréguier, part of the old
kingdom of Domnonia in the north. It was a fatal transference, for he
and his line became remorseless enemies of the ducal house, with whom
they carried on a series of disastrous conflicts for centuries. Conan
II, son of Alain, came under the regency of Eudo, his uncle, in
infancy, but later turned his sword against him and his abettor,
William of Normandy, the Conqueror.

Notwithstanding the national enmity of the Normans and Bretons, there
existed between the Dukes of Normandy and the Dukes of Brittany ties
of affinity that rendered the relations between the two states
somewhat complicated. At the time when Duke Robert, the father of
William of Normandy, set out upon his pilgrimage, he had no nearer
relative than Alain, Duke of Brittany, the father of Conan II,
descended in the female line from Rollo, the great Norse leader, and
to him he committed on his departure the care of his duchy and the
guardianship of his son.

Duke Alain declared the paternity of his ward doubtful, and favoured
that party which desired to set him aside from the succession; but
after the defeat of his faction at Val-ès-Dunes he died, apparently of
poison, doubtless administered by the contrivance of the friends of
William. His son, Conan II, succeeded, and reigned at the period when
William was making his preparations for the conquest of England. He
was a prince of ability, dreaded by his neighbours, and animated by a
fierce desire to injure the Duke of Normandy, whom he regarded as a
usurper and the murderer of his father Alain. Seeing William engaged
in a hazardous enterprise, Conan thought it a favourable moment to
declare war against him, and dispatched one of his chamberlains to him
with the following message: "I hear that you are ready to pass the sea
to make conquest of the kingdom of England. Now, Duke Robert, whose
son you feign to consider yourself, on his departure for Jerusalem
left all his inheritance to Duke Alain, my father, who was his cousin;
but you and your abettors have poisoned my father, you have
appropriated to yourself the domain of Normandy, and have kept
possession of it until this day, contrary to all right, since you are
not the legitimate heir. Restore to me, therefore, the duchy of
Normandy, which belongs to me, or I shall levy war upon you, and shall
wage it to extremity with all my forces."

_The Poisoned Hunting-Horn_

The Norman historians state that William was much startled by so
hostile a message; for even a feeble diversion might render futile his
ambitious hopes of conquest. But without hesitation he resolved to
remove the Breton Duke. Immediately upon his return to Conan, the
envoy, gained over, doubtless, by a bribe of gold, rubbed poison into
the inside of the horn which his master sounded when hunting, and, to
make his evil measures doubly sure, he poisoned in like manner the
Duke's gloves and his horse's bridle. Conan died a few days after his
envoy's return, and his successor, Eudo, took especial care not to
imitate his relative in giving offence to William with regard to the
validity of his right; on the contrary, he formed an alliance with
him, a thing unheard of betwixt Breton and Norman, and sent his two
sons to William's camp to serve against the English.

These two youths, Brian and Alain, repaired to the rendezvous of the
Norman forces, accompanied by a body of Breton knights, who styled
them Mac-tierns.[5] Certain other wealthy Bretons, who were not of the
pure Celtic race, and who bore French names, as Robert de Vitry,
Bertrand de Dinan, and Raoul de Gael, resorted likewise to the Court
of the Duke of Normandy with offers of service.

Later Brittany became a bone of contention between France and
Normandy. Hoel, the native Duke, claimed the protection of France
against the Norman duchy. A long period of peace followed under Alain
Fergant and Conan III, but on the death of the latter a fierce war of
succession was waged (1148-56). Conan IV secured the ducal crown by
Norman-English aid, and gave his daughter Constance in marriage to
Geoffrey Plantagenet, son of Henry II of England. Geoffrey was crowned
Duke of Brittany in 1171, but after his death his son Arthur met with
a dreadful fate at the hands of his uncle, John of England. Constance,
his mother, the real heiress to the duchy, married again, her choice
falling upon Guy de Thouars, and their daughter was wed to Pierre de
Dreux, who became Duke, and who defeated John Lackland, the slayer of
his wife's half-brother, under the walls of Nantes in 1214.

_French Influence_

The country now began to flourish apace because of the many
innovations introduced into it by the wisdom of its French rulers. A
new way of life was adopted by the governing classes, among whom
French manners and fashions became the rule. But the people at large
retained their ancient customs, language, and dress; nor have they
ever abandoned them, at least in Lower Brittany. On the death of John
III (1341) the peace of the duchy was once more broken by a war of
succession. John had no love for his half-brother, John of Montfort,
and bequeathed the ducal coronet to his niece, Joan of Penthièvre,
wife of Charles of Blois, nephew of Philip VI of France. This
precipitated a conflict between the rival parties which led to years
of bitter strife.

_The War of the Two Joans_

Just as two women, Fredegonda and Brunhilda, swayed the fortunes of
Neustria and Austrasia in Merovingian times, and Mary and Elizabeth
those of England and Scotland at a later day, so did two heroines
arise to uphold the banners of either party in the civil strife which
now convulsed the Breton land. England took the side of Montfort and
the French that of Charles. Almost at the outset (1342) John of
Montfort was taken prisoner, but his heroic wife, Joan of Flanders,
grasped the leadership of affairs, and carried on a relentless war
against her husband's enemies. After five years of fighting, in 1347,
and two years subsequent to the death of her lord, whose health had
given way after his imprisonment, she captured her arch-foe, Charles
of Blois himself, at the battle of La Roche-Derrien, on the Jaudy. In
this encounter she had the assistance of a certain Sir Thomas Dagworth
and an English force. Three times was Charles rescued, and thrice was
he retaken, until, bleeding from eighteen wounds, he was compelled to
surrender. He was sent to London, where he was confined in the Tower
for nine years. Meanwhile his wife, Joan, imitating her rival and
namesake, in turn threw her energies into the strife. But another
victory for the Montfort party was gained at Mauron in 1352. On the
release of Charles of Blois in 1356 he renewed hostilities with the
help of the famous Bertrand Du Guesclin.

_Bertrand Du Guesclin_

Bertrand Du Guesclin (_c._ 1320-80), Constable of France, divides with
Bayard the Fearless the crown of medieval French chivalry as a mighty
leader of men, a great soldier, and a blameless knight. He was born of
an ancient family who were in somewhat straitened circumstances, and
in childhood was an object of aversion to his parents because of his

One night his mother dreamt that she was in possession of a casket
containing portraits of herself and her lord, on one side of which
were set nine precious stones of great beauty encircling a rough,
unpolished pebble. In her dream she carried the casket to a lapidary,
and asked him to take out the rough stone as unworthy of such goodly
company; but he advised her to allow it to remain, and afterward it
shone forth more brilliantly than the lustrous gems. The later
superiority of Bertrand over her nine other children fulfilled the
mother's dream.

At the tournament which was held at Rennes in 1338 to celebrate the
marriage of Charles of Blois with Joan of Penthièvre, young Bertrand,
at that time only some eighteen years old, unhorsed the most famous
competitors. During the war between Blois and Montfort he gathered
round him a band of adventurers and fought on the side of Charles V,
doing much despite to the forces of Montfort and his ally of England.

Du Guesclin's name lives in Breton legend as Gwezklen, perhaps the
original form, and approximating to that on his tomb at Saint-Denis,
where he lies at the feet of Charles V of France. In this inscription
it is spelt "Missire Bertram du Gueaquien," perhaps a French rendering
of the Breton pronunciation. Not a few legendary ballads which recount
the exploits of this manly and romantic figure remain in the Breton
language, and I have made a free translation of the following, as it
is perhaps the most interesting of the number:


  Trogoff's strong tower in English hands
  Has been this many a year,
  Rising above its subject-lands
  And held in hate and fear.
  That rosy gleam upon the sward
  Is not the sun's last kiss;
  It is the blood of an English lord
  Who ruled the land amiss.

  "O sweetest daughter of my heart,
  My little Marguerite,
  Come, carry me the midday milk
  To those who bind the wheat."
  "O gentle mother, spare me this!
  The castle I must pass
  Where wicked Roger takes a kiss
  From every country lass."

  "Oh! fie, my daughter, fie on thee!
  The Seigneur would not glance
  On such a chit of low degree
  When all the dames in France
  Are for his choosing." "Mother mine,
  I bow unto your word.
  Mine eyes will ne'er behold you more.
  God keep you in His guard."

  Young Roger stood upon the tower
  Of Trogoff's grey château;
  Beneath his bent brows did he lower
  Upon the scene below.
  "Come hither quickly, little page,
  Come hither to my knee.
  Canst spy a maid of tender age?
  Ha! she must pay my fee."

  Fair Marguerite trips swiftly by
  Beneath the castle shade,
  When villain Roger, drawing nigh,
  Steals softly on the maid.
  He seizes on the milking-pail
  She bears upon her head;
  The snow-white flood she must bewail,
  For all the milk is shed.

  "Ah, cry not, pretty sister mine,
  There's plenty and to spare
  Of milk and eke of good red wine
  Within my castle fair.
  Ah, feast with me, or pluck a rose
  Within my pleasant garth,
  Or stroll beside yon brook which flows
  In brawling, sylvan mirth."

  "Nor feast nor flowers nor evening air
  I wish; I do entreat,
  Fair Seigneur, let me now repair
  To those who bind the wheat."
  "Nay, damsel, fill thy milking-pail:
  The dairy stands but here.
  Ah, foolish sweeting, wherefore quail,
  For thou hast naught to fear?"

  The castle gates behind her close,
  And all is fair within;
  Above her head the apple glows,
  The symbol of our sin.
  "O Seigneur, lend thy dagger keen,
  That I may cut this fruit."
  He smiles and with a courteous mien
  He draws the bright blade out.


  She takes it, and in earnest prayer
  Her childish accents rise:
  "O mother, Virgin, ever fair,
  Pray, pray, for her who dies
  For honour!" Then the blade is drenched
  With blood most innocent.
  Vile Roger, now, thine ardour quenched,
  Say, art thou then content?

  "Ha, I will wash my dagger keen
  In the clear-running brook.
  No human eye hath ever seen,
  No human eye shall look
  Upon this gore." He takes the blade
  From out that gentle heart,
  And hurries to the river's shade.
  False Roger, why dost start?

  Beside the bank Du Guesclin stands,
  Clad in his sombre mail.
  "Ha, Roger, why so red thy hands,
  And why art thou so pale?"
  "A beast I've slain." "Thou liest, hound!
  But I a beast will slay."
  The woodland's leafy ways resound
  To echoings of fray.

  Roger is slain. Trogoff's château
  Is level with the rock.
  Who can withstand Du Guesclin's blow,
  What towers can brave his shock?
  The combat is his only joy,
  The tournament his play.
  Woe unto those who would destroy
  The peace of Brittany!

In the decisive battle of Auray (1364) Charles was killed and Du
Guesclin taken prisoner. John of Montfort, son of the John who had
died, became Duke of Brittany. But he had to face Oliver de Clisson,
round whom the adherents of Blois rallied. From a war the strife
degenerated into a vendetta. Oliver de Clisson seized the person of
John V and imprisoned him. But in the end John was liberated and the
line of Blois was finally crushed.

_Anne of Brittany_

The next event of importance in Breton history is the enforced
marriage of Anne of Brittany, Duchess of that country in her own
right, to Charles VIII of France, son of Louis XI, which event took
place in 1491. Anne, whose father, Duke Francis II, had but recently
died, had no option but to espouse Charles, and on his death she
married Louis XII, his successor. Francis I, who succeeded Louis XII
on the throne of France, and who married Claude, daughter of Louis XII
and Anne, annexed the duchy in 1532, providing for its privileges. But
beneath the cramping hand of French power the privileges of the
province were greatly reduced. From this time the history of Brittany
is merged in that of France, of which country it becomes one of the
component parts in a political if not a racial sense.

We shall not in this place deal with the people of modern Brittany,
their manners and customs, reserving the subject for a later chapter,
but shall ask the reader to accompany us while we traverse the
enchanted ground of Breton story.


   [1] Consult E. Ernault, _Petite Grammaire bretonne_ (Saint-Brieuc,
       1897); L. Le Clerc, _Grammaire bretonne_ (Saint-Brieuc,
       1908); J. P. Treasure, _An Introduction to Breton Grammar_
       (Carmarthen, 1903). For the dialect of Vannes see A.
       Guillevic and P. Le Goff, _Grammaire bretonne du Dialect de
       Vannes_ (Vannes, 1902).

   [2] Lit. 'long stone,' a megalithic monument. See Chapter II,
       "Menhirs and Dolmens." Students of folk-lore will recognize the
       symbolic significance of the offering. We seem to have here
       some connexion with pillar-worship, as found in ancient Crete,
       and the adoration of the Irminsul among the ancient Saxons.

   [3] Charles the Bald.

   [4] For the Breton original and the French translation from which the
       above is adapted see Villemarqué, _Barzaz-Breiz_, p. 112.

   [5] 'Sons of the Chief.' MacTier is a fairly common name in Scotland


In the mind of the general reader Brittany is unalterably associated
with the prehistoric stone monuments which are so closely identified
with its folk-lore and national life. In other parts of the world
similar monuments are encountered, in Great Britain and Ireland,
Scandinavia, the Crimea, Algeria, and India, but nowhere are they
found in such abundance as in Brittany, nor are these rivalled in
other lands, either as regards their character or the space they

To speculate as to the race which built the primitive stone monuments
of Brittany is almost as futile as it would be to theorize upon the
date of their erection.[6] A generation ago it was usual to refer all
European megalithic monuments to a 'Celtic' origin, but European
ethnological problems have become too complicated of late years to
permit such a theory to pass unchallenged, especially now that the
term 'Celt' is itself matter for fierce controversy. In the immediate
neighbourhood of certain of these monuments objects of the Iron Age
are recovered from the soil, while near others the finds are of Bronze
Age character, so that it is probably correct to surmise that their
construction continued throughout a prolonged period.

_What Menhirs and Dolmens are_

Regarding the nomenclature of the several species of megalithic
monuments met with in Brittany some definitions are necessary. A
menhir is a rude monolith set up on end, a great single stone, the
base of which is buried deep in the soil. A dolmen is a large,
table-shaped stone, supported by three, four, or even five other
stones, the bases of which are sunk in the earth. In Britain the term
'cromlech' is synonymous with that of 'dolmen,' but in France and on
the Continent generally it is exclusively applied to that class of
monument for which British scientists have no other name than 'stone
circles.' The derivation of the words from Celtic and their precise
meaning in that tongue may assist the reader to arrive at their exact
significance. Thus 'menhir' seems to be derived from the Welsh or
Brythonic _maen_, 'a stone,' and _hir_, 'long,' and 'dolmen' from
Breton _taol_, 'table,' and _men_, 'a stone.'[7] 'Cromlech' is also of
Welsh or Brythonic origin, and is derived from _crom_, 'bending' or
'bowed' (hence 'laid across'), and _llech_, 'a flat stone.' The _allée
couverte_ is a dolmen on a large scale.

_The Nature of the Monuments_

The nature of these monuments and the purpose for which they were
erected were questions which powerfully exercised the minds of the
antiquaries of a century ago, who fiercely contended for their use as
altars, open-air temples, and places of rendezvous for the discussion
of tribal affairs. The cooler archæologists of a later day have
discarded the majority of such theories as untenable in the light of
hard facts. The dolmens, they say, are highly unsuitable for the
purpose of altars, and as it has been proved that this class of
monument was invariably covered in prehistoric times by an earthen
tumulus its ritualistic use is thereby rendered improbable. Moreover,
if we chance upon any rude carving or incised work on dolmens we
observe that it is invariably executed on the _lower_ surface of the
table stone, the upper surface being nearly always rough, unhewn,
often naturally rounded, and as unlike the surface of an altar as

Recent research has established the much more reasonable theory that
these monuments are sepulchral in character, and that they mark the
last resting-places of persons of tribal importance, chiefs, priests,
or celebrated warriors. Occasionally legend assists us to prove the
mortuary character of menhir and dolmen. But, without insisting any
further for the present upon the purpose of these monuments, let us
glance at the more widely known of Brittany's prehistoric structures,
not so much in the manner of the archæologist as in that of the
observant traveller who is satisfied to view them as interesting
relics of human handiwork bequeathed from a darker age, rather than as
objects to satisfy the archæological taste for discussion.

For this purpose we shall select the best known groups of Breton
prehistoric structures, and shall begin our excursion at the
north-eastern extremity of Brittany, following the coast-line, on
which most of the principal prehistoric centres are situated, and, as
occasion offers, journeying into the interior in search of famous or
interesting examples.


Dol is situated in the north of the department of Ille-et-Vilaine,
not far from the sea-coast. Near it, in a field called the Champ
Dolent ('Field of Woe'), stands a gigantic menhir, about thirty feet
high and said to measure fifteen more underground. It is composed of
grey granite, and is surmounted by a cross. The early Christian
missionaries, finding it impossible to wean the people from
frequenting pagan neighbourhoods, surmounted the standing stones
with the symbol of their faith, and this in time brought about the
result desired.[8]

_The Legend of Dol_

A strange legend is connected with this rude menhir. On a day in the
dark, uncharted past of Brittany a fierce battle was fought in the
Champ Dolent. Blood ran in streams, sufficient, says the tale, to turn
a mill-wheel in the neighbourhood of the battlefield. When the combat
was at its height two brothers met and grappled in fratricidal strife.
But ere they could harm one another the great granite shaft which now
looms above the field rose up between them and separated them.

There appears to be some historical basis for the tale. Here, or in
the neighbourhood, A.D. 560, met Clotaire, King of the Franks, and his
son, the rebel Chramne. The rebellious son was signally defeated. He
had placed his wife and two little daughters in a dwelling hard by,
and as he made his way thence to convey them from the field he was
captured. He was instantly strangled, by order of his brutal father,
in the sight of his wife and little ones, who were then burned alive
in the house where they had taken refuge. The Champ Dolent does not
belie its name, and even thirteen centuries and a half have failed to
obliterate the memory of a savage and unnatural crime, which, its
remoteness notwithstanding, fills the soul with loathing against its
perpetrators and with deep pity for the hapless and innocent victims.

_A Subterranean Dolmen Chapel_

At Plouaret, in the department of Côtes-du-Nord, is a curious
subterranean chapel incorporating a dolmen. The dolmen was formerly
partially embedded in a tumulus, and the chapel, erected in 1702, was
so constructed that the great table-stone of the dolmen has become the
chapel roof, and the supporting stones form two of its sides. The
crypt is reached by a flight of steps, and here may be seen an altar
to the Seven Sleepers, represented by seven dolls of varying size. The
Bretons have a legend that this structure dates from the creation of
the world, and they have embodied this belief in a ballad, in which it
is piously affirmed that the shrine was built by the hand of the
Almighty at the time when the world was in process of formation.


Camaret, on the coast of Finistère, is the site of no less than
forty-one standing stones of quartz, which outline a rectangular space
600 yards in length at its base. Many stones have been removed, so
that the remaining sides are incomplete. None of these monoliths is of
any considerable size, however, and the site is not considered to be
of much importance, save as regards its isolated character. At
Penmarch, in the southern extremity of Finistère, there is an
'alignment' of some two hundred small stones, and a dolmen of some
importance is situated at Trégunc, but it is at Carnac, on the coast
of Morbihan, that we arrive at the most important archæological
district in Brittany.


The Carnac district teems with prehistoric monuments, the most
celebrated of which are those of Plouharnel, Concarneau, Concurrus,
Locmariaquer, Kermario, Kerlescant, Erdeven, and Sainte-Barbe. All
these places are situated within a few miles of one another, and a
good centre from which excursions can be made to each is the little
town of Auray, with its quaint medieval market-house and shrine of St
Roch. Archæologists, both Breton and foreign, appear to be agreed that
the groups of stones at Ménéac, Kermario, and Kerlescant are portions
of one original and continuous series of alignments which extended for
nearly two miles in one direction from south-west to north-east. The
monolithic avenue commences quite near the village of Ménéac,
stretching away in eleven rows, and here the large stones are
situated, these at first rising to a height of from 10 to 13 feet, and
becoming gradually smaller, until they attain only 3 or 4 feet. In all
there are 116 menhirs at Ménéac. For more than three hundred yards
there is a gap in the series, which passed, we come to the Kermario
avenue, which consists of ten rows of monoliths of much the same size
as those of Ménéac, and 1120 in number.

Passing on to Kerlescant, with its thirteen rows of menhirs made up of
570 individual stones, we come to the end of the avenue and gaze
backward upon the plain covered with these indestructible symbols of a
forgotten past.

Carnac! There is something vast, Egyptian, in the name! There is,
indeed, a Karnak in Egypt, celebrated for its Avenue of Sphinxes and
its pillared temple raised to the goddess Mut by King Amenophis III.
Here, in the Breton Carnac, are no evidences of architectural skill.
These sombre stones, unworked, rude as they came from cliff or
seashore, are not embellished by man's handiwork like the rich temples
of the Nile. But there is about this stone-littered moor a mystery, an
atmosphere no less intense than that surrounding the most solemn ruins
of antiquity. Deeper even than the depths of Egypt must we sound if we
are to discover the secret of Carnac. What mean these stones? What
means faith? What signifies belief? What is the answer to the Riddle
of Man? In the words of Cayot Délandre, a Breton poet:

  Tout cela eut un sens, et traduisit
  Une pensée; mais clé de ce mystère,
  Où est elle? et qui pourrait dire aujourd'hui
  Si jamais elle se retrouvera?[9]

_A Vision_

Over this wild, heathy track, covered with the blue flowers of the
dwarf gentian, steals a subtle change. Nor air nor heath has altered.
The lichen-covered grey stones are the same. Suddenly there arises the
burden of a low, fierce chant. A swarm of skin-clad figures appears,
clustering around a gigantic object which they are painfully dragging
toward a deep pit situated at the end of one of the enormous alleys of
monoliths. On rudely shaped rollers rests a huge stone some twenty
feet in length, and this they drag across the rough moor by ropes of
hide, lightening their labours by the chant, which relates the
exploits of the warrior-chief who has lately been entombed in this
vast pantheon of Carnac. The menhir shall serve for his headstone. It
has been vowed to him by the warriors of his tribe, his henchmen, who
have fought and hunted beside him, and who revere his memory. This
stone shall render his fame immortal.

And now the task of placing the huge monolith in position begins.
Ropes are attached to one extremity, and while a line of brawny
savages strains to raise this, others guide that end of the monolith
destined for enclosure in the earth toward the pit which has been dug
for its reception. Higher and higher rises the stone, until at last it
sinks slowly into its earthy bed. It is held in an upright position
while the soil is packed around it and it is made secure. Then the
barbarians stand back a space and gaze at it from beneath their low
brows, well pleased with their handiwork. He whom they honoured in
life rests not unrecognized in death.

[Illustration: RAISING A MENHIR]

_The Legend of Carnac_

The legend of Carnac which explains these avenues of monoliths bears a
resemblance to the Cornish story of 'the Hurlers,' who were turned
into stone for playing at hurling on the Lord's Day, or to that other
English example from Cumberland of 'Long Meg' and her daughters. St
Cornely, we are told, pursued by an army of pagans, fled toward the
sea. Finding no boat at hand, and on the point of being taken, he
transformed his pursuers into stones, the present monoliths.

The Saint had made his flight to the coast in a bullock-cart, and
perhaps for this reason he is now regarded as the patron of cattle.
Should a bullock fall sick, his owner purchases an image of St Cornely
and hangs it up in the stable until the animal recovers. The church at
Carnac contains a series of fresco paintings which outline events in
the life of the Saint, and in the churchyard there is a representation
of the holy man between two bullocks. The head of St Cornely is said
to be preserved within the edifice as a relic. On the 13th of
September is held at Carnac the festival of the 'Benediction of the
Beasts,' which is celebrated in honour of St Cornely. The cattle of
the district are brought to the vicinity of the church and blessed by
the priests--should sufficient monetary encouragement be forthcoming.


In the neighbourhood is Mont-Saint-Michel,[10] a great tumulus with a
sepulchral dolmen, first excavated in 1862, when late Stone Age
implements, jade celts, and burnt bones were unearthed. Later M.
Zacharie Le Rouzic, the well-known Breton archæologist, tunnelled into
the tumulus, and discovered a mortuary chamber, in which were the
incinerated remains of two oxen. To this tumulus each pilgrim added a
stone or small quantity of earth, as has been the custom in Celtic
countries from time immemorial, and so the funerary mound in the
course of countless generations grew into quite a respectable hill,
on which a chapel was built, dedicated to St Michael, from the doorway
of which a splendid prospect of the great stone alignments can be had,
with, for background, the Morbihan and the long, dreary peninsula of
Quiberon, bleak, treeless, and deserted.


Near Carnac is the great dolmen of Rocenaud, the 'cup-and-ring'
markings on which are thought by the surrounding peasantry to have
been made by the knees and elbows of St Roch, who fell upon this stone
when he landed from Ireland. When the natives desire a wind they knock
upon the depressions with their knuckles, murmuring spells the while,
just as in Scotland in the seventeenth century a tempest was raised by
dipping a rag in water and beating it on a stone thrice in the name of

_Cup-and-Ring Markings_

What do these cup-and-ring markings so commonly discovered upon the
monuments of Brittany portend? The question is one well worth
examining at some length, as it appears to be almost at the
foundations of Neolithic religion. Recent discoveries in New Caledonia
have proved the existence in these far-off islands, as in Brittany,
Scotland, and Ireland, of these strange symbols, coupled with the
concentric and spiral designs which are usually associated with the
genius of Celtic art. In the neighbourhood of Glasgow, and in the
south-west of Scotland generally, stones inscribed with designs
closely resembling those on the New Caledonian rocks have been found
in abundance, as at Auchentorlie and Cockno, Shewalton Sands, and in
the Milton of Colquhoun district, where the famous 'cup-and-ring
altar' was discovered. At Shewalton Sands in particular, in 1904, a
number of stones were found bearing crosses like those discovered in
Portugal by Father José Brenha and Father Rodriguez. These symbols
have a strong resemblance to certain markings on the Breton rocks, and
are thought to possess an alphabetic or magical significance. In
Scotland spirals are commonly found on stones marked with ogham
inscriptions, and it is remarkable that they should occur in New
Caledonia in connexion with a dot 'alphabet.' The New Caledonian
crosses, however, approximate more to the later crosses of Celtic art,
while the spirals resemble those met with in the earlier examples of
Celtic work. But the closest parallel to the New Caledonian
stone-markings to be found in Scotland is supplied by the examples at
Cockno, in Dumbartonshire, where the wheel symbol is associated with
the cup-and-ring markings.

The cup-and-ring stones used to be considered the peculiar product of
a race of 'Brythonic' or British origin, and it is likely that the
stones so carved were utilized in the ritual of rain-worship or
rain-making by sympathetic magic. The grooves in the stone were
probably filled with water to typify a country partially covered with

From these analogies, then, we can glean the purpose of the
cup-and-ring markings upon the dolmens of Brittany, and may conclude,
if our considerations are well founded, that they were magical in
purpose and origin. Do the cup-shaped depressions represent water, or
are they receptacles for rain, and do the spiral symbols typify the
whirling winds?

_The Gallery of Gavr'inis_

Nowhere are these mysterious markings so well exemplified as in the
wonderful tumulus of Gavr'inis. This ancient place of sepulture, the
name of which means 'Goat Island,' lies in the Morbihan, or 'Little
Sea,' an inland sea which gives its name to a department in the south
of Brittany. The tumulus is 25 feet high, and covers a fine gallery 40
feet long, the stones of which bear the markings alluded to. Whorls
and circles abound in the ornamentation, serpent-like figures, and the
representation of an axe, similar to those to be seen in some of the
Grottes aux Fées, or on the Dol des Marchands. The sculptures appear
to have been executed with metal tools. The passage ends in a square
sepulchral chamber, the supports of which are eight menhirs of grained
granite, a stone not found on the island. Such of the menhirs as are
carved were obviously so treated before they were placed _in situ_, as
the design passes round the edges.

_The Ile aux Moines_

The Ile aux Moines ('Monks' Island') is also situated in the Morbihan,
and has many prehistoric monuments, the most extensive of which are
the circle of stones at Kergonan and the dolmen of Penhapp. On the Ile
d'Arz, too, are megalithic monuments, perhaps the best example of
which is the cromlech or circle at Penraz.

The folk-beliefs attached to the megalithic monuments of Brittany are
numerous, but nearly all of them bear a strong resemblance to each
other. Many of the monuments are called Grottes aux Fées or Roches aux
Fées, in the belief that the fairies either built them or used them as
dwelling-places, and variants of these names are to be found in the
Maison des Follets ('House of the Goblins') at Cancoet, in Morbihan,
and the Château des Paulpiquets, in Questembert, in the same district.
Ty en Corygannt ('The House of the Korrigans') is situated in the same
department, while near Penmarch, in Finistère, at the other end of the
province, we find Ty C'harriquet ('The House of the Gorics' or
'Nains'). Other mythical personages are also credited with their
erection, most frequently either the devil or Gargantua being held
responsible for their miraculous creation. The phenomenon, well known
to students of folk-lore, that an unlettered people speedily forgets
the origin of monuments that its predecessors may have raised in times
past is well exemplified in Brittany, whose peasant-folk are usually
surprised, if not amused, at the question "Who built the dolmens?"
Close familiarity with and contiguity to uncommon objects not
infrequently dulls the sense of wonder they should otherwise naturally
excite. But lest we feel tempted to sneer at these poor folk for their
incurious attitude toward the visible antiquities of their land, let
us ask ourselves how many of us take that interest in the antiquities
of our own country or our own especial locality that they demand.[12]

_Fairy Builders_

For the most part, then, the megaliths, in the opinion of the Breton
peasant, are not the handiwork of man. He would rather refer their
origin to spirits, giants, or fiends. If he makes any exception to
this supernatural attribution, it is in favour of the saints he
reverences so profoundly. The fairies, he says, harnessed their oxen
to the mighty stones, selected a site, and dragged them thither to
form a dwelling, or perhaps a cradle for the infant fays they were so
fond of exchanging for human children. Thus the Roches aux Fées near
Saint-Didier, in Ille-et-Vilaine, were raised by fairy hands, the
elves collecting "all the big stones in the country" and carrying them
thither in their aprons. These architectural sprites then mounted on
each other's shoulders in order that they might reach high enough to
place the mighty monoliths securely in position. This practice they
also followed in building the dolmen near the wood of Rocher, on the
road from Dinan to Dol, say the people of that country-side.

But the actual purpose of the megaliths has not been neglected by
tradition, for a venerable farmer at Rouvray stated that the fairies
were wont to honour after their death those who had made good use of
their lives and built the dolmens to contain their ashes. The presence
of such a shrine in a country-side was a guarantee of abundance and
prosperity therein, as a subtle and indefinable charm spread from the
saintly remnants and communicated itself to everything in the
neighbourhood.[13] The fairy builders, says tradition, went about
their work in no haphazard manner. Those among them who possessed a
talent for design drew the plans of the proposed structure, the less
gifted acting as carriers, labourers, and masons. Apron-carrying was
not their only method of porterage, for some bore the stones on their
heads, or one under each arm, as when they raised the Roche aux Fées
in Retiers, or the dolmen in La Lande Marie.[14] The space of a night
was usually sufficient in which to raise a dolmen. But though 'run up'
with more than Transatlantic dispatch, in view of the time these
structures have endured for, any charge of jerry-building against
their elfin architects must fall to the ground. Daylight, too,
frequently surprised the fairy builders, so that they could not finish
their task, as many a 'roofless' dolmen shows.

There are many Celtic parallels to this belief. For example, it is
said that the Picts, or perhaps the fairies, built the original church
of Corstorphine, near Edinburgh, and stood in a row handing the stones
on, one to another, from Ravelston Quarry, on the adjacent hill of
Corstorphine. Such is the local folk-tale; and it has its congeners in
Celtic and even in Hindu myth. Thus in the Highland tale of Kennedy
and the _claistig_, or fairy, whom he captured, and whom he compelled
to build him a house in one night, we read that she set her people to
work speedily:

  And they brought flags and stones
  From the shores of Cliamig waterfall,
  Reaching them from hand to hand.[15]

Again, the Round Tower of Ardmore, in Ireland, was built with stones
brought from Slieve Grian, a mountain some four or five miles distant,
"without horse or wheel," the blocks being passed from hand to hand
from the quarry to the site of the building. The same tradition
applied to the Round Tower of Abernethy, in Perthshire, only it is in
this case demonstrated that the stone of which the tower is composed
was actually taken from the traditional quarry, even the very spot
being geologically identified.[16] In like manner, too, was Rama's
bridge built by the monkey host in Hindu myth, as recounted in the
_Mahābhārata_ and the _Rāmāyana_.

Tales, as apart from beliefs, are not often encountered in connexion
with the monuments. Indeed, Sébillot, in the course of his researches,
found only some dozen of these all told.[17] They are very brief,
and appear for the most part to deal with fairies who have been shut
up by the power of magic in a dolmen. Tales of spirits enclosed in
trees, and even in pillars, are not uncommon, and lately I have
heard a peculiarly fearsome ghost story which comes from Belgium, in
which it is related how certain spirits had become enclosed in a
pillar in an ancient abbey, for the saintly occupants of which they
made it particularly uncomfortable. Mr George Henderson, in one of
the most masterly and suggestive studies of Celtic survivals ever
published, states that stones in the Highlands of Scotland were
formerly believed to have souls, and that those too large to be moved
"were held to be in intimate connexion with spirits." Pillared
stones are not employed in building dwellings in the Highlands,
ill luck, it is believed, being sure to follow their use in this
manner, while to 'meddle' with stones which tradition connects with
Druidism is to court fatality.[18]

_Stones that Travel_

M. Salomon Reinach tells us of the Breton belief that certain sacred
stones go once a year or once a century to 'wash' themselves in the
sea or in a river, returning to their ancient seats after their
ablutions.[19] The stones in the dolmen of Essé are thought to change
their places continually, like those of Callernish and Lewis, and,
like the Roman Penates, to have the gift of coming and going if
removed from their habitual site.

The megalithic monuments of Brittany are undoubtedly the most
remarkable relics of that epoch of prehistoric activity which is now
regarded as the immediate forerunner of civilization. Can it be that
they were miraculously preserved by isolation from the remote
beginnings of that epoch, or is it more probable that they were
constructed at a relatively late period? These are questions of
profound difficulty, and it is likely that both theories contain a
certain amount of truth. Whatever may have been the origin of her
megaliths, Brittany must ever be regarded as a great prehistoric
museum, a unique link with a past of hoary antiquity.


   [6] That it was Neolithic seems undoubted, and in all probability
       Alpine--_i.e._ the same race as presently inhabits Brittany.
       See Dottin, _Anciens Peuples de l'Europe_ (Paris, 1916).

   [7] But _tolmen_ in Cornish meant 'pole of stone.'

   [8] Ostensibly, at least; but see the remarks upon modern pagan
       survivals in Chapter IX, p. 246.

   [9] Which might be rendered:

         All here is symbol; these grey stones translate
         A thought ineffable, but where the key?
         Say, shall it be recovered soon or late,
         To ope the temple of this mystery?

  [10] Not to be confused, of course, with the well-known island mount
       of the same name.

  [11] A Scottish sixteenth-century magical verse was chanted over such
       a stone:

         "I knock this rag wpone this stone,
         And ask the divell for rain thereon."

  [12] The writer's experience is that unlettered British folk often
       possess much better information concerning the antiquities of a
       district than its 'educated' inhabitants. If this information
       is not scientific it is full and displays deep personal

  [13] _Collectionneur breton_, t. iii, p.55.

  [14] See _Comptes rendus de la Société des Antiquaries de France_, pp.
       95 ff. (1836).

  [15] J. G. Campbell, _Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands_.

  [16] Small, _Antiquities of Fife_.

  [17] _Traditions de la Haute-Bretagne_, t. i, p. 26.

  [18] Henderson, _Survivals in Belief among the Celts_ (1911).

  [19] _Cultes, Mythes, et Religiones_, t. iii, pp. 365-433.


Whatever the origin of the race which conceived the demonology
of Brittany--and there are indications that it was not wholly
Celtic--that weird province of Faëry bears unmistakable evidence
of having been deeply impressed by the Celtic imagination, if it
was not totally peopled by it, for its various inhabitants act in
the Celtic spirit, are moved by Celtic springs of thought and
fancy, and possess not a little of that irritability which has
forced anthropologists to include the Celtic race among those
peoples described as 'sanguine-bilious.' As a rule they are by
no means friendly or even humane, these fays of Brittany, and if
we find beneficent elves within the green forests of the duchy we
may feel certain that they are French immigrants, and therefore
more polished than the choleric native sprites.


Of all the many localities celebrated in the fairy lore of Brittany
none is so famous as Broceliande. Broceliande! "The sound is like a
bell," a far, faëry chime in a twilit forest. In the name Broceliande
there seems to be gathered all the tender charm, the rich and haunting
mystery, the remote magic of Brittany and Breton lore. It is, indeed,
the title to the rarest book in the library of poetic and traditional

"I went to seek out marvels," said old Wace. "The forest I saw, the
land I saw. I sought marvels, but I found none. A fool I came back, a
fool I went; a fool I went, a fool I came back; foolishness I sought;
a fool I hold myself."[20]

Our age, even less sceptical than his, sees no folly in questing for
the beautiful, and if we expect no marvels, nor any sleight of faëry,
however desirous we are, we do not hold it time lost to plunge into
the enchanted forest and in its magic half-gloom grope for, and
perchance grasp, dryad draperies, or be trapped in the filmy webs of
fancy which are spun in these shadows for unwary mortals.

Standing in dream-girt Broceliande of a hundred legends, its shadows
mirrored by dim meres that may never reflect the stars, one feels the
lure of Brittany more keenly even than when walking by its fierce and
jagged coasts menaced by savage grey seas, or when wandering on its
vast moors where the monuments of its pagan past stand in gigantic
disarray. For in the forest is the heart of Arthurian story, the
shrine of that wonder which has drawn thousands to this land of
legend, who, like old Wace, trusted to have found, if not elfin
marvels, at least matter of phantasy conjured up by the legendary
associations of Broceliande.

But we must beware of each step in these twilit recesses, for the fays
of Brittany are not as those of other lands. Harsh things are spoken
of them. They are malignant, say the forest folk. The note of Brittany
is scarce a joyous one. It is bitter-sweet as a sad chord struck on an
ancient harp.

The fays of Brittany are not the friends of man. They are not 'the
good people,' 'the wee folk'; they have no endearing names, the gift
of a grateful peasantry. Cold and hostile, they hold aloof from human
converse, and, should they encounter man, vent their displeasure at
the interruption in the most vindictive manner.

Whether the fairies of Brittany be the late representatives of the
gods of an elder day or merely animistic spirits who have haunted
these glades since man first sheltered in them, certain it is that in
no other region in Europe has Mother Church laid such a heavy ban upon
all the things of faëry as in this strange and isolated peninsula. A
more tolerant ecclesiastical rule might have weaned them to a timid
friendship, but all overtures have been discouraged, and to-day they
are enemies, active, malignant, swift to inflict evil upon the pious
peasant because he is pious and on the energetic because of his

_The Korrigan_

Among those forest-beings of whom legend speaks such malice none is
more relentless than the Korrigan, who has power to enmesh the heart
of the most constant swain and doom him to perish miserably for love
of her. Beware of the fountains and of the wells of this forest of
Broceliande, for there she is most commonly to be encountered, and you
may know her by her bright hair--"like golden wire," as Spenser says
of his lady's--her red, flashing eyes, and her laughing lips. But if
you would dare her wiles you must come alone to her fountain by night,
for she shuns even the half-gloom that is day in shadowy Broceliande.
The peasants when they speak of her will assure you that she and her
kind are pagan princesses of Brittany who would have none of
Christianity when the holy Apostles brought it to Armorica, and who
must dwell here under a ban, outcast and abhorred.

_The Seigneur of Nann_[21]

The Seigneur of Nann was high of heart, for that day his bride of a
year had presented him with two beautiful children, a boy and a girl,
both white as May-blossom. In his joy the happy father asked his wife
her heart's desire, and she, pining for that which idle fancy urged
upon her, begged him to bring her a dish of woodcock from the lake in
the dale, or of venison from the greenwood. The Seigneur of Nann
seized his lance and, vaulting on his jet-black steed, sought the
borders of the forest, where he halted to survey the ground for track
of roe or slot of the red deer. Of a sudden a white doe rose in front
of him, and was lost in the forest like a silver shadow.

At sight of this fair quarry the Seigneur followed into the greenwood.
Ever his prey rustled among the leaves ahead, and in the hot chase he
recked not of the forest depths into which he had plunged. But coming
upon a narrow glade where the interlacing leaves above let in the sun
to dapple the moss-ways below, he saw a strange lady sitting by the
broken border of a well, braiding her fair hair and binding it with
golden pins.

The Seigneur louted low, begged that he might drink, and bending down
set his lips to the water; but she, turning strange eyes upon
him--eyes not blue like those of his bride, nor grey, nor brown, nor
black, like those of other women, but red in their depths as the
heart's blood of a dove--spoke to him discourteously.

"Who are you who dare to trouble the waters of my fountain?" she
asked. "Do you not know that your conduct merits death? This well is
enchanted, and by drinking of it you are fated to die, unless you
fulfil a certain condition."

"And what is that?" asked the Seigneur.

"You must marry me within the hour," replied the lady.

"Demoiselle," replied the Seigneur, "it may not be as you desire, for
I am already espoused to a fair bride who has borne me this very day a
son and a daughter. Nor shall I die until it pleases the good God.
Nevertheless, I wot well who you are. Rather would I die on the
instant than wed with a Korrigan."

Leaping upon his horse, he turned and rode from the woodland as a man
possessed. As he drew homeward he was overshadowed by a sense of
coming ill. At the gate of his château stood his mother, anxious to
greet him with good news of his bride. But with averted eyes he
addresses her in the refrain so familiar to the folk-poetry of all

  "My good mother, if you love me, make my bed. I am sick unto
  death. Say not a word to my bride. For within three days I shall
  be laid in the grave. A Korrigan has done me evil."

Three days later the young spouse asks of her mother-in-law:

"Tell me, mother, why do the bells sound? Wherefore do the priests
chant so low?"

"'Tis nothing, daughter," replies the elder woman. "A poor stranger
who lodged here died this night."

"Ah, where is gone the Seigneur of Nann? Mother, oh, where is he?"


"He has gone to the town, my child. In a little he will come to see

"Ah, mother, let us speak of happy things. Must I wear my red or my
blue robe at my churching?"

"Neither, daughter. The mode is changed. You must wear black."

Unconscious in its art, the stream of verse carries us to the church,
whence the young wife has gone to offer up thanks for the gift of
children. She sees that the ancestral tomb has been opened, and a
great dread is at her heart. She asks her mother-in-law who has died,
and the old woman at last confesses that the Seigneur of Nann has just
been buried.

That same night the young mother was interred beside her husband-lover.
And the peasant folk say that from that tomb arose two saplings, the
branches of which intertwined more closely as they grew.

_A Goddess of Eld_

In the depths of Lake Tegid in our own Wales dwelt Keridwen, a
fertility goddess who possessed a magic cauldron--the sure symbol of a
deity of abundance.[22] Like Demeter, she was strangely associated
with the harmless necessary sow, badge of many earth-mothers, and
itself typical of fertility. Like Keridwen, the Korrigan is associated
with water, with the element which makes for vegetable growth.
Christian belief would, of course, transform this discredited goddess
into an evil being whose one function was the destruction of souls.
May we see a relation of the Korrigan and Keridwen in Tridwan, or St
Triduana, of Restalrig, near Edinburgh, who presided over a certain
well there, and at whose well-shrine offerings were made by sightless
pilgrims for many centuries?

Many are the traditions which tell of human infants abducted by the
Korrigan, who at times left an ugly changeling in place of the babe
she had stolen. But it was more as an enchantress that she was
dreaded. By a stroke of her magic wand she could transform the leafy
fastnesses in which she dwelt into the semblance of a lordly hall,
which the luckless traveller whom she lured thither would regard as a
paradise after the dark thickets in which he had been wandering. This
seeming castle or palace she furnished with everything that could
delight the eye, and as the doomed wretch sat ravished by her beauty
and that of her nine attendant maidens a fatal passion for her entered
his heart, so that whatever he cherished most on earth--honour, wife,
demoiselle, or affianced bride--became as naught to him, and he cast
himself at the feet of this forest Circe in a frenzy of ardour. But
with the first ray of daylight the charm was dissolved and the
Korrigan became a hideous hag, as repulsive as before she had been
lovely; the walls of her palace and the magnificence which had
furnished it became once more tree and thicket, its carpets moss, its
tapestries leaves, its silver cups wild roses, and its dazzling
mirrors pools of stagnant water.

_The Unbroken Vow_[23]

Sir Roland of Brittany rides through gloomy Broceliande a league ahead
of his troop, unattended by squire or by page. The red cross upon his
shoulder is witness that he is vowed to service in Palestine, and as
he passes through the leafy avenues on his way to the rendezvous he
fears that he will be late, most tardy of all the knights of Brittany
who have sworn to drive the paynim from the Holy Land. Fearful of such
disgrace, he spurs his jaded charger on through the haunted forest,
and with anxious eye watches the sun sink and the gay white moon sail
high above the tree-tops, pouring light through their branches upon
the mossy ways below.

A high vow has Roland taken ere setting out upon the crusade--a vow
that he will eschew the company of fair ladies, in which none had
delighted more than he. No more must he mingle in the dance, no more
must he press a maiden's lips with his. He has become a soldier of the
Cross. He may not touch a lady's hand save with his mailed glove, he
must not sit by her side. Also must he fast from dusk till dawn upon
that night of his setting forth. "Small risk," he laughs a little
sadly, as he spurs his charger onward, "small risk that I be mansworn
ere morning light."

But the setting of the moon tells him that he must rest in the forest
until dawn, as without her beams he can no longer pursue his way. So
he dismounts from his steed, tethers it to a tree, and looks about for
a bed of moss on which to repose. As he does so his wandering gaze
fixes upon a beam of light piercing the gloom of the forest. Well
aware of the traditions of his country, he thinks at first that it is
only the glimmer of a will-o'-the-wisp or a light carried by a
wandering elf. But no, on moving nearer the gleam he is surprised to
behold a row of windows brilliantly lit as if for a festival.

"Now, by my vow," says Roland, "methought I knew well every château in
this land of Brittany, nor wist I that seigneur or count held court
in this forest of Broceliande."

Resolved to view the château at still closer quarters, he draws near
it. A great court fronts him where neither groom nor porter keeps
guard, and within he can see a fair hall. This he enters, and
immediately his ears are ravished by music which wanders through the
chamber like a sighing zephyr. The murmur of rich viols and the call
of flutes soft as distant bird-song speak to his very soul. Yet
through the ecstasy comes, like a serpent gliding among flowers, the
discord of evil thoughts. Grasping his rosary, he is about to retire
when the doors at the end of the hall fly open, and he beholds a
rapturous vision. Upon a couch of velvet sits a lady of such dazzling
beauty that all other women compared with her would seem as
kitchen-wenches. A mantle of rich golden hair falls about her, her
eyes shine with the brightness of stars, her smile seems heavenly.
Round her are grouped nine maidens only less beautiful than herself.

As the moon moving among attendant stars, so the lady comes toward
Roland, accompanied by her maidens. She welcomes him, and would
remove his gauntlet, but he tells her of the vow he has made to wear
it in lady's bower, and she is silent. Next she asks him to seat
himself beside her on the couch, but he will not. In some confusion
she orders a repast to be brought. A table is spread with fragrant
viands, but as the knight will partake of none of them, in chagrin the
lady takes a lute, which she touches with exquisite skill. He listens
unmoved, till, casting away her instrument, she dances to him,
circling round and round about him, flitting about his chair like a
butterfly, until at length she sinks down near him and lays her head
upon his mailed bosom. Upward she turns her face to him, all
passion-flushed, her eyes brimming with love. Sir Roland falters.
Fascinated by her unearthly beauty, he is about to stoop down to
press his lips to hers. But as he bends his head she shrinks from
him, for she sees the tender flush of morning above the eastern
tree-tops. The living stars faint and fail, and the music of awakening
life which accompanies the rising of the young sun falls upon the
ear. Slowly the château undergoes transformation. The glittering roof
merges into the blue vault of heaven, the tapestried walls become
the ivied screens of great forest trees, the princely furnishings
are transformed into mossy banks and mounds, and the rugs and carpets
beneath Roland's mailed feet are now merged in the forest ways.

But the lady? Sir Roland, glancing down, beholds a hag hideous as sin,
whose malicious and distorted countenance betrays baffled hate and
rage. At the sound of a bugle she hurries away with a discordant
shriek. Into the glade ride Roland's men, to see their lord clasping
his rosary and kneeling in thanksgiving for his deliverance from the
evils which beset him. He had been saved from breaking his vow!

The nine attendant maidens of the Korrigan bring to mind a passage in
Pomponius Mela[24]: "Sena [the Ile de Sein, not far from Brest], in
the British Sea, opposite the Ofismician coast, is remarkable for an
oracle of the Gallic god. Its priestesses, holy in perpetual
virginity, are said to be nine in number. They are called Gallicenæ,
and are thought to be endowed with singular powers. By their charms
they are able to raise the winds and seas, to turn themselves into
what animals they will, to cure wounds and diseases incurable by
others, to know and predict the future. But this they do only for
navigators, who go thither purposely to consult them."

Like the sylphs and salamanders so humorously described by the Abbé de
Villars in _Le Comte de Gabalis_,[25] the Korrigans desired union with
humanity in order that they might thus gain immortality. Such, at
least, is the current peasant belief in Brittany. "For this end they
violate all the laws of modesty." This belief is common to all lands,
and is typical of the fay, the Lorelei, countless well and water
sprites, and that enchantress who rode off with Thomas the Rhymer:

  For if you dare to kiss my lips
  Sure of your bodie I shall be.

Unlike the colder Sir Roland, 'True Thomas' dared, and was wafted to a
realm wondrously described by the old balladeer in the vivid phrase
that marks the poetry of vision.

_Merlin and Vivien_

It was in this same verdant Broceliande that Vivien, another fairy,
that crafty dame of the enchanted lake, the instructress of Lancelot,
bound wise Merlin so that he might no more go to Camelot with oracular
lips to counsel British Arthur.

But what say the folk of Broceliande themselves of this? Let us hear
their version of a tale which has been so battered by modern
criticism, and which has been related in at least half a score of
versions, prose and poetic. Let us have the Broceliande account of
what happened in Broceliande.[26] Surely its folk, in the very forest
in which he wandered with Vivien, must know more of Merlin's
enchantment than we of that greater Britain which he left to find a
paradise in Britain the Less, for, according to Breton story, Merlin
was not imprisoned by magic art, but achieved bliss through his love
for the fairy forest nymph.

Disguised as a young student, Merlin was wandering one bright May
morning through the leafy glades of Broceliande, when, like the
Seigneur of Nann, he came to a beautiful fountain in the heart of the
forest which tempted him to rest. As he sat there in reverie, Vivien,
daughter of the lord of the manor of Broceliande, came to the water's
edge. Her father had gained the affection of a fay of the valley, who
had promised on behalf of their daughter that she should be loved by
the wisest man in the world, who should grant all her wishes, but
would never be able to compel her to consent to his.

Vivien reclined upon the other side of the fountain, and the eyes of
the sage and maiden met. At length Merlin rose to depart, and gave the
damsel courteous good-day. But she, curious and not content with a
mere salutation, wished him all happiness and honour. Her voice was
beautiful, her eyes expressive, and Merlin, moved beyond anything in
his experience, asked her name. She told him she was a daughter of a
gentleman of that country, and in turn asked him who he might be.

"A scholar returning to his master," was the reply.

"Your master? And what may he teach you, young sir?"

"He instructs me in the magic art, fair dame," replied Merlin, amused.
"By aid of his teaching I can raise a castle ere a man could count a
score, and garrison it with warriors of might. I can make a river flow
past the spot on which you recline, I can raise spirits from the great
deeps of ether in which this world rolls, and can peer far into the
future--aye, to the extreme of human days."

"Would that I shared your wisdom!" cried Vivien, her voice thrilling
with the desire of hidden things which she had inherited from her
fairy mother. "Teach me these secrets, I entreat of you, noble
scholar, and accept in return for your instruction my most tender

Merlin, willing to please her, arose, and traced certain mystical
characters upon the greensward. Straightway the glade in which they
sat was filled with knights, ladies, maidens, and esquires, who danced
and disported themselves right joyously. A stately castle rose on the
verge of the forest, and in the garden the spirits whom Merlin the
enchanter had raised up in the semblance of knights and ladies held
carnival. Vivien, delighted, asked of Merlin in what manner he had
achieved this feat of faëry, and he told her that he would in time
instruct her as to the manner of accomplishing it. He then dismissed
the spirit attendants and dissipated the castle into thin air, but
retained the garden at the request of Vivien, naming it 'Joyous

Then he made a tryst with Vivien to meet her in a year on the Vigil of
St John.

[Illustration: MERLIN AND VIVIEN]

Now Merlin had to be present at the espousal of Arthur, his King,
with Guinevere, at which he was to assist the archbishop, Dubric, as
priest. The festivities over, he recalled his promise to Vivien, and
on the appointed day he once more assumed the guise of a travelling
scholar and set out to meet the maiden in the forest of Broceliande.
She awaited him patiently in Joyous Garden, where they partook of a
dainty repast. But the viands and the wines were wasted upon Merlin,
for Vivien was beside him and she alone filled his thoughts. She was
fair of colour, and fresh with the freshness of all in the forest, and
her hazel eyes made such fire within his soul that he conceived a
madness of love for her that all his wisdom, deep as it was, could not

But Vivien was calm as a lake circled by trees, where no breath of the
passion of tempest can come. Again and again she urged him to impart
to her the secrets she so greatly longed to be acquainted with. And
chiefly did she desire to know three things; these at all hazards must
she have power over. How, she asked, could water be made to flow in a
dry place? In what manner could any form be assumed at will? And,
lastly, how could one be made to fall asleep at the pleasure of

"Wherefore ask you this last question, demoiselle?" said Merlin,
suspicious even in his great passion for her.

"So that I may cast the spell of sleep over my father and my mother
when I come to you, Merlin," she replied, with a beguiling glance,
"for did they know that I loved you they would slay me."

Merlin hesitated, and so was lost. He imparted to her that hidden
knowledge which she desired. Then they dwelt together for eight days
in the Joyous Garden, during which time the sage, to Vivien's delight
and amaze, related to her the marvellous circumstances of his birth.

Next day Merlin departed, but came again to Broceliande when the
eglantine was flowering at the edge of the forest. Again he wore the
scholar's garments. His aspect was youthful, his fair hair hung in
ringlets on his shoulders, and he appeared so handsome that a tender
flower of love sprang up in Vivien's heart, and she felt that she must
keep him ever near her. But she knew full well that he whom she loved
was in reality well stricken in years, and she was sorrowful. But she
did not despair.

"Beloved," she whispered, "will you grant me but one other boon? There
is one secret more that I desire to learn."

Now Merlin knew well ere she spoke what was in her mind, and he sighed
and shook his head.

"Wherefore do you sigh?" she asked innocently.

"I sigh because my fate is strong upon me," replied the sage. "For it
was foreseen in the long ago that a lady should lead me captive and
that I should become her prisoner for all time. Neither have I the
power to deny you what you ask of me."

Vivien embraced him rapturously.

"Ah, Merlin, beloved, is it not that you should always be with me?"
she asked passionately. "For your sake have I not given up father and
mother, and are not all my thoughts and desires toward you?"

Merlin, carried away by her amorous eloquence, could only answer: "It
is yours to ask what you will."

Vivien then revealed to him her wish. She longed to learn from his
lips an enchantment which would keep him ever near her, which would so
bind him to her in the chains of love that nothing in the world could
part him from her. Hearkening to her plea, he taught her such
enchantment as would render him love's prisoner for ever.

Evening was shrouding the forest in soft shadows when Merlin sank to
rest. Vivien, waiting until his deep and regular breathing told her
that he was asleep, walked nine times around him, waving her cloak
over his head, and muttering the mysterious words he had taught her.
When the sage awoke he found himself in the Joyous Garden with Vivien
by his side.

"You are mine for ever," she murmured. "You can never leave me now."

"My delight will be ever to stay with you," he replied, enraptured.
"And oh, beloved, never leave me, I pray you, for I am bespelled so as
to love you throughout eternity!"

"Never shall I leave you," she replied; and in such manner the wise
Merlin withdrew from the world of men to remain ever in the Joyous
Garden with Vivien. Love had triumphed over wisdom.

The Arthurian version of the story does not, of course, represent
Vivien as does the old Breton legend. In Geoffrey of Monmouth's book
and in the _Morte d'Arthur_ she is drawn as the scheming enchantress
who wishes to lure Merlin to his ruin for the joy of being able to
boast of her conquest. In some romances she is alluded to as Nimue,
and in others is described as the daughter of Dyonas, who perhaps is
the same as Dylan, a Brythonic (British) sea-god. As the Lady of the
Lake she is the foster-mother of Lancelot, and we should have no
difficulty in classing her as a water deity or spirit very much like
the Korrigan.


But Merlin is a very different character, and it is probable that the
story of his love for Vivien was composed at a comparatively late date
for the purpose of rounding off his fate in Arthurian legend. A recent
hypothesis concerning him is to the effect that "if he belongs to the
pagan period [of Celtic lore] at all, he was probably an ideal
magician or god of magicians."[27] Canon MacCulloch smiles at the late
Sir John Rhys's belief that Merlin was "a Celtic Zeus," but his later
suggestion seems equally debatable. We must remember that we draw our
conception of Merlin as Arthurian archimagus chiefly from late
Norman-French sources and Celtic tradition. Ancient Brythonic
traditions concerning beings of much the same type as Merlin appear to
have existed, however, and the character of Lailoken in the life of St
Kentigern recalls his life-story. So far research on the subject seems
to show that the legend of Merlin is a thing of complex growth,
composed of traditions of independent and widely differing origin,
most of which were told about Celtic bards and soothsayers. Merlin is,
in fact, the typical Druid or wise man of Celtic tradition, and there
is not the slightest reason for believing that he was ever paid divine
honours. As a soothsayer of legend, he would assuredly belong to the
pagan period, however much he is indebted to Geoffrey of Monmouth for
his late popularity in pure romance.

_The Fountain of Baranton_

In the country of Broceliande lies the magic fountain of Baranton,
sequestered among hills and surrounded by deep woods. Says a
thirteenth-century writer of this fountain:

"Oh, amazing wonder of the Fountain of Brecelien! If a drop be taken
and poured on a certain rock beside the spring, immediately the water
changes into vapour, forms itself into great clouds filled with hail;
the air becomes thick with shadows, and resonant with the muttering of
thunder. Those who have come through curiosity to behold the prodigy
wish that they had never done so, so filled are their hearts with
terror, and so does fear paralyse their limbs. Incredible as the
marvel may seem, yet the proofs of its reality are too abundant to be

Huon de Méry was more fortunate than Wace. He sprinkled the magic
stone which lay behind the fountain with water from the golden basin
that hung from the oak that shaded it, and beheld many marvels. And so
may he who has the seeing eye to-day.


  Ah, how remote, forlorn
  Sounded the sad, sweet horn
  In forest gloom enchanted!
  I saw the shadows of kings go riding by,
  But cerements mingled and paled with their panoply,
  And the moss-ways deadened the steps of steeds that never panted.

  Ah, what had phantasy
  In that sad sound to say,
  Sad as a spirit's wailing?
  A call from over the seas of shadowland,
  A call the soul of the soul might understand,
  But never, ah, never the mind, the steeps of soul assailing.

_Bruno of La Montagne_

The old fragmentary romance of Bruno of La Montagne is eloquent of the
faëry spirit which informs all Breton lore. Butor, Baron of La
Montagne, had married a young lady when he was himself of mature
years, and had a son, whom he resolved to take to a fountain where the
fairies came to repose themselves. The Baron, describing this magic
well to the child's mother, says (we roughly translate):

  "Some believe 'tis in Champagne,
  And others by the Rock Grifaigne;
  Perchance it is in Alemaigne,
  Or Bersillant de la Montagne;
  Some even think that 'tis in Spain,
  Or where sleeps Artus of Bretaigne."

The Seigneur gave his infant son into the keeping of Bruyant, a trusty
friend of his, and they set out for the fairy fountain with a troop of
vassals. They left the infant in the forest of Broceliande. Here the
fairies soon found him.

"Ha, sisters," said one whose skin was as white as the robe of
gossamer she wore, and whose golden crown betokened her the queen of
the others, "come hither and see a new-born infant. How, I wonder,
does he come to be here? I am sure I did not behold him in this spot
yesterday. Well, at all events, he must be baptized and suitably
endowed, as is our custom when we discover a mortal child. Now what
will you give him?"

"I will give him," said one, "beauty and grace."

"I endow him," said a second, "with generosity."


"And I," said a third, "with such valour that he will overthrow all
his enemies at tourney and on the battlefield."

The Queen listened to these promises. "Surely you have little sense,"
she said. "For my part, I wish that in his youth he may love one who
will be utterly insensible to him, and although he will be as you
desire, noble, generous, beautiful, and valorous, he will yet, for his
good, suffer keenly from the anguish of love."

"O Queen," said one of the fairies, "what a cruel fate you have
ordained for this unfortunate child! But I myself shall watch over him
and nurse him until he comes to such an age as he may love, when I
myself will try to engage his affections."

"For all that," said the Queen, "I will not alter my design. You shall
not nurse this infant."

The fairies then disappeared. Shortly afterward Bruyant returned, and
carried the child back to the castle of La Montagne, where presently a
fairy presented herself as nurse.

Unfortunately the manuscript from which this tale is taken breaks off
at this point, and we do not know how the Fairy Queen succeeded with
her plans for the amorous education of the little Bruno. But the
fragment, although tantalizing in the extreme, gives us some insight
into the nature of the fairies who inhabit the green fastnesses of

_Fairies in Folk-lore_

Nearly all fairy-folk have in time grown to mortal height. Whether
fairies be the decayed poor relations of more successful deities, gods
whose cult has been forgotten and neglected (as the Irish _Sidhe_, or
fairy-folk), or diminutive animistic spirits, originating in the
belief that every object, small or great, possessed a personality, it
is noticeable that Celtic fairies are of human height, while those of
the Teutonic peoples are usually dwarfish. Titania may come originally
from the loins of Titans or she may be Diana come down in the world,
and Oberon may hail from a very different and more dwarfish source,
but in Shakespeare's England they have grown sufficiently to permit
them to tread the boards of the Globe Theatre with normal humans.
Scores of fairies mate with mortal men, and men, as a rule, do not
care for dwarf-wives. Among Celts, at least, the fay, whatever her
original stature, in later times had certainly achieved the height of
mortal womanhood.

In Upper Brittany, where French is the language in general use, the
usual French ideas concerning fairies prevail. They are called _fées_
or _fetes_ (Latin _fata_), and sometimes _fions_, which reminds us of
the _fions_ of Scottish and Irish folk-lore.[28] There are old people
still alive who claim to have seen the fairies, and who describe them
variously, but the general belief seems to be that they disappeared
from the land several generations ago. One old man described them as
having teeth as long as one's hand, and as wearing garments of
sea-weed or leaves. They were human in aspect, said another ancient
whom Sébillot questioned; their clothes were seamless, and it was
impossible to say by merely looking at them whether they were male or
female. Their garments were of the most brilliant colours imaginable,
but if one approached them too closely these gaudy hues disappeared.
They wore a kind of bonnet shaped like a crown, which appeared to be
part of their person.

The people of the coast say that the fairies are an accursed race who
are condemned to walk the earth for a certain space. Some even think
them rebellious angels who have been sent to earth for a time to
expiate their offences against heaven. For the most part they inhabit
the dolmens and the grottos and caverns on the coast.[29]

On the shores of the Channel are numerous grottos or caverns which the
Bretons call _houles_, and these are supposed to harbour a distinct
class of fairy. Some of these caverns are from twenty to thirty feet
high, and so extensive that it is unwise to explore them too far.
Others seem only large enough to hold a single person, but if one
enters he will find himself in a spacious natural chamber. The
inhabitants of these depths, like all their kind, prefer to sally
forth by night rather than by day. In the day-time they are not seen
because they smear themselves with a magic ointment which renders them
invisible; but at night they are visible to everybody.

_The Lost Daughter_

There was once upon a time a labourer of Saint-Cast named Marc
Bourdais, but, according to the usage of the country, he had a
nickname and was called Maraud. One day he was returning home when he
heard the sound of a horn beneath his feet, and asked a companion who
chanced to be with him if he had heard it also.

"Of course I did," replied the fellow; "it is a fairy horn."

"Umph," said Maraud. "Ask the fairies, then, to bring us a slice of

His companion knelt down and shouted out the request, but nothing
happened and they resumed their way.

They had not gone far, however, when they beheld a slice of beautiful
white bread lying on a snowy napkin by the roadside. Maraud picked it
up and found that it was well buttered and as toothsome as a cake, and
when they had divided and eaten it they felt their hunger completely
satisfied. But he who has fed well is often thirsty, so Maraud,
lowering his head, and speaking to the little folk beneath, cried:
"Hullo, there! Bring us something to drink, if you please."

He had hardly spoken when they beheld a pot of cider and a glass
reposing on the ground in front of them. Maraud filled the glass, and,
raising it to his lips, quaffed of the fairy cider. It was clear and
of a rich colour, and he declared that it was by far the best that he
had ever tasted. His friend drank likewise, and when they returned to
the village that night they had a good story to tell of how they had
eaten and drunk at the expense of the fairies. But their friends and
neighbours shook their heads and regarded them sadly.

"Alas! poor fellows," they said, "if you have eaten fairy food and
drunk fairy liquor you are as good as dead men."

Nothing happened to them within the next few days, however, and it was
with light hearts that one morning they returned to work in the
neighbourhood of the spot where they had met with such a strange
adventure. When they arrived at the place they smelt the odour of
cakes which had been baked with black corn, and a fierce hunger at
once took possession of them.

"Ha!" said Maraud, "the fairies are baking to-day. Suppose we ask them
for a cake or two." "No, no!" replied his friend. "Ask them if you
wish, but I will have none of them."

"Pah!" cried Maraud, "what are you afraid of?" And he cried: "Below
there! Bring me a cake, will you?"

Two fine cakes at once appeared. Maraud seized upon one, but when he
had cut it he perceived that it was made of hairs, and he threw it
down in disgust.

"You wicked old sorcerer!" he cried. "Do you mean to mock me?"

But as he spoke the cakes disappeared.

Now there lived in the village a widow with seven children, and a hard
task she had to find bread for them all. She heard tell of Maraud's
adventure with the fairies, and pondered on the chance of receiving a
like hospitality from them, that the seven little mouths she had to
provide for might be filled. So she made up her mind to go to a fairy
grotto she knew of and ask for bread. "Surely," she thought, "what the
good people give to others who do not require it they will give to me,
whose need is so great." When she had come to the entrance of the
grotto she knocked on the side of it as one knocks on a door, and
there at once appeared a little old dame with a great bunch of keys
hanging at her side. She appeared to be covered with limpets, and
mould and moss clung to her as to a rock. To the widow she seemed at
least a thousand years old.

"What do you desire, my good woman?" she asked.

"Alas! madame," said the widow, "might I have a little bread for my
seven children? Give me some, I beseech you, and I will remember you
in my prayers."

"I am not the mistress here," replied the old woman. "I am only the
porteress, and it is at least a hundred years since I have been out.
But return to-morrow and I will promise to speak for you."

Next day at the same time the widow returned to the cave, and found
the old porteress waiting for her.

"I have spoken for you," said she, "and here is a loaf of bread for
you, and those who send it wish to speak to you."

"Bring me to them," said the widow, "that I may thank them."

"Not to-day," replied the porteress. "Return to-morrow at the same
hour and I will do so."

The widow returned to the village and told her neighbours of her
success. Every one came to see the fairy loaf, and many begged a

Next day the poor woman returned to the grotto in the hope that she
would once more benefit from the little folks' bounty. The porteress
was there as usual.

"Well, my good woman," said she, "did you find my bread to your taste?
Here is the lady who has befriended you," and she indicated a
beautiful lady, who came smilingly from the darkness of the cavern.

"Ah, madame," said the widow, "I thank you with all my heart for your

"The loaf will last a long time," said the fairy, "and you will find
that you and your family will not readily finish it."

"Alas!" said the widow, "last night all my neighbours insisted on
having a piece, so that it is now entirely eaten."

"Well," replied the fay, "I will give you another loaf. So long as you
or your children partake of it it will not grow smaller and will
always remain fresh, but if you should give the least morsel to a
stranger the loaf will disappear. But as I have helped you, so must
you help me. I have four cows, and I wish to send them out to
pasture. Promise me that one of your daughters will guard them for

The widow promised, and next morning sent one of her daughters out to
look for the cows, which were to be pastured in a field where there
was but little herbage. A neighbour saw her there, and asked what she
was doing in that deserted place.

"Oh, I am watching the fairy cows," replied she. The woman looked at
her and smiled, for there were no cows there and she thought the girl
had become half-witted.

With the evening the fairy of the grotto came herself to fetch the
cows, and she said to the little cowherd:

"How would you like to be godmother to my child?"

"It would be a pleasure, madame," replied the girl.

"Well, say nothing to any one, not even to your mother," replied the
fairy, "for if you do I shall never bring you anything more to eat."

A few days afterward a fairy came to tell the girl to prepare to come
to the cavern on the morrow, as on that day the infant was to be
named. Next day, according to the fairy's instructions, she presented
herself at the mouth of the grotto, and in due course was made
godmother to the little fairy. For two days she remained there, and
when she left her godchild was already grown up. She had, as a matter
of fact, unconsciously remained with the 'good people' for ten years,
and her mother had long mourned her as dead. Meanwhile the fairies had
requested the poor widow to send another of her daughters to watch
their cows.

When at last the absent one returned to the village she went straight
home, and her mother on beholding her gave a great cry. The girl could
not understand her agitation, believing as she did that she had been
absent for two days only.

"Two days!" echoed the mother. "You have been away ten years! Look how
you have grown!"

After she had overcome her surprise the girl resumed her household
duties as if nothing particular had happened, and knitted a pair of
stockings for her godchild. When they were finished she carried them
to the fairy grotto, where, as she thought, she spent the afternoon.
But in reality she had been away from home this time for five years.
As she was leaving, her godchild gave her a purse, saying: "This purse
is full of gold. Whenever you take a piece out another one will come
in its place, but if any one else uses it it will lose all its

When the girl returned to the village at last it was to find her
mother dead, her brothers gone abroad, and her sisters married, so
that she was the only one left at home. As she was pretty and a good
housewife she did not want for lovers, and in due time she chose one
for a husband. She did not tell her spouse about the purse she had had
from the fairies, and if she wanted to give him a piece of gold she
withdrew it from the magic purse in secret. She never went back to the
fairy cavern, as she had no mind to return from it and find her
husband an old man.

_The Fisherman and the Fairies_

A fisherman of Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer, walking home to his cottage from
his boat one evening along the wet sands, came, unawares, upon a
number of fairies in a _houle_. They were talking and laughing gaily,
and the fisherman observed that while they made merry they rubbed
their bodies with a kind of ointment or pomade. All at once, to the
old salt's surprise, they turned into ordinary women. Concealing
himself behind a rock, the fisherman watched them until the now
completely transformed immortals quitted their haunt and waddled away
in the guise of old market-women.


The fisherman waited until they were well out of sight, and then
entered the cavern, where the first object that met his gaze was the
pot of ointment which had effected the marvellous change he had
witnessed. Taking some of the pomade on his forefinger, he smeared it
around his left eye. He afterward found that he could penetrate the
various disguises assumed by the fairies wherever he met them, and
that these were for the most part adopted for the purposes of
trickery. Thus he was able to see a fairy in the assumed shape of a
beggar-woman going from door to door demanding alms, seeking an
opportunity to steal or work mischief, and all the while casting
spells upon those who were charitable enough to assist her. Again, he
could distinguish real fish caught in his net at sea from merwomen
disguised as fish, who were desirous of entangling the nets or
otherwise distressing and annoying the fishermen.

But nowhere was the disguised fairy race so much in evidence as at the
fair of Ploubalay, where he recognized several of the elusive folk in
the semblance of raree-showmen, fortune-tellers, and the like, who had
taken these shapes in order to deceive. He was quietly smiling at
their pranks, when some of the fairies who composed a troupe of
performers in front of one of the booths regarded him very earnestly.
He felt certain that they had penetrated his secret, but ere he could
make off one of them threw a stick at him with such violence that it
struck and burst the offending left eye.

Fairies in all lands have a constitutional distaste for being
recognized, but those of Brittany appear to visit their vengeance upon
the members with which they are actually beheld. "See what thieves the
fairies are!" cried a woman, on beholding one abstract apples from a
countrywoman's pocket. The predatory elf at once turned round and tore
out the eye that had marked his act.

A Cornish woman who chanced to find herself the guardian of an
elf-child was given certain water with which to wash its face. The
liquid had the property of illuminating the infant's face with a
supernatural brightness, and the woman ventured to try it upon
herself, and in doing so splashed a little into one eye. This gave her
the fairy sight. One day in the market-place she saw a fairy man
stealing, and gave the alarm, when the enraged sprite cried:

  "Water for elf, not water for self.
  You've lost your eye, your child, and yourself."

She was immediately stricken blind in the right eye, her fairy
foster-child vanished, and she and her husband sank into poverty and

Another Breton tale recounts how a mortal woman was given a polished
stone in the form of an egg wherewith to rub a fairy child's eyes. She
applied it to her own right eye, and became possessed of magic sight
so far as elves were concerned. Still another case, alluded to in the
_Revue Celtique_,[30] arose through 'the sacred bond' formed between a
fairy man and a mortal woman where both stood as godparents to a
child. The association enabled the woman to see magically. The fairy
maiden Rockflower bestows a similar gift on her lover in a Breton tale
from Saint-Cast, and speaks of "clearing his eyes like her own."[31]


The Breton fairies, like others of their race, are fond of kidnapping
mortal children and leaving in their places wizened elves who cause
the greatest trouble to the distressed parents. The usual method of
ridding a family of such a changeling is to surprise it in some
manner so that it will betray its true character. Thus, on suspicion
resting upon a certain Breton infant who showed every sign of
changeling nature, milk was boiled on the fire in egg-shells,
whereupon the impish youngster cried: "I shall soon be a hundred
years old, but I never saw so many shells boiling! I was born in
Pif and Paf, in the country where cats are made, but I never saw
anything like it!" Thus self-revealed, the elf was expelled from
the house. In most Northern tales where the changeling betrays itself
it at once takes flight and a train of elves appears, bringing back
the true infant. Again, if the wizened occupant of the cradle can be
made to laugh that is accepted as proof of its fairy nature.
"Something ridiculous," says Simrock, "must be done to cause him to
laugh, for laughter brings deliverance."[32] The same stratagem
appears to be used as the cure in English and Scots changeling tales.

_The King of the Fishes_

The Breton fays were prone, too, to take the shape of animals,
birds, and even of fish. As we have seen, the sea-fairies of
Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer were in the habit of taking the shape of fish
for the purpose of annoying fishermen and damaging their gear.
Another Breton tale from Saint-Cast illustrates their penchant for
the fish shape. A fisherman of that town one day was lucky enough to
catch the King of the Fishes disguised as a small golden fish. The
fish begged hard to be released, and promised, if he were set free, to
sacrifice as many of his subjects as would daily fill the fisherman's
nets. On this understanding the finny monarch was given his liberty,
and fulfilled his promise to the letter. Moreover, when the
fisherman's boat was capsized in a gale the Fish King appeared, and,
holding a flask to the drowning man's lips, made him drink a magic
fluid which ensured his ability to exist under water. He conveyed the
fisherman to his capital, a place of dazzling splendour, paved
with gold and gems. The rude caster of nets instantly filled his
pockets with the spoil of this marvellous causeway. Though probably
rather disturbed by the incident, the Fish King, with true royal
politeness, informed him that whenever he desired to return the way
was open to him. The fisherman expressed his sorrow at having to
leave such a delightful environment, but added that unless he
returned to earth his wife and family would regard him as lost. The
Fish King called a large tunny-fish, and as Arion mounted the dolphin
in the old Argolian tale, so the fisherman approached the tunny,

  Hollowed his back and shaped it as a selle.[33]

The fisherman at once

  Seized the strange sea-steed by his bristling fin
  And vaulted on his shoulders; the fleet fish
  Swift sought the shallows and the friendly shore.[34]

Before dismissing the fisherman, however, the Fish King presented him
with an inexhaustible purse--probably as a hint that it would be
unnecessary for him on a future visit to disturb his paving

_Fairy Origins_

Two questions which early obtrude themselves in the consideration of
Breton fairy-lore are: Are all the fays of Brittany malevolent? And,
if so, whence proceeds this belief that fairy-folk are necessarily
malign? Example treads upon example to prove that the Breton fairy is
seldom beneficent, that he or she is prone to ill-nature and
spitefulness, not to say fiendish malice on occasion. There appears to
be a deep-rooted conviction that the elfish race devotes itself to the
annoyance of mankind, practising a species of peculiarly irritating
trickery, wanton and destructive. Only very rarely is a spirit of
friendliness evinced, and then a motive is usually obvious. The
'friendly' fairy invariably has an axe to grind.

Two reasons may be advanced to account for this condition of things.
First, the fairy-folk--in which are included house and field
spirits--may be the traditional remnant of a race of real people,
perhaps a prehistoric race, driven into the remote parts of the
country by strange immigrant conquerors. Perhaps these primitive folk
were elfish, dwarfish, or otherwise peculiar in appearance to the
superior new-comers, who would in pride of race scorn the small,
swarthy aborigines, and refuse all communion with them. We may be sure
that the aborigines, on their part, would feel for their tall,
handsome conquerors all the hatred of which a subject race is capable,
never approaching them unless under compulsion or necessity, and
revenging themselves upon them by every means of annoyance in their
power. We may feel certain, too, that the magic of these conquered and
discredited folk would be made full use of to plague the usurpers of
the soil, and trickery, as irritating as any elf-pranks, would be
brought to increase the discomfort of the new-comers.

There are, however, several good objections to this view of the origin
of the fairy idea. First and foremost, the smaller prehistoric
aboriginal peoples of Europe themselves possessed tales of little
people, of spirits of field and forest, flood and fell. It is unlikely
that man was ever without these.

  Yea, I sang, as now I sing, when the Prehistoric Spring
  Made the piled Biscayan ice-pack split and shove,
  And the troll, and gnome, and dwerg, and the gods of cliff and berg
  Were about me and beneath me and above.[35]

The idea of animism, the belief that everything had a personality of
its own, certainly belonged to the later prehistoric period, for among
the articles which fill the graves of aboriginal peoples, for use on
the last journey, we find weapons to enable the deceased to drive off
the evil spirits which would surround his own after death. Spirits, to
early man, are always relatively smaller than himself. He beholds the
"picture of a little man" in his comrade's eyes, and concludes it to
be his 'soul.' Some primitive peoples, indeed, believe that several
parts of the body have each their own resident soul. Again, the spirit
of the corn or the spirit of the flower, the savage would argue, must
in the nature of things be small. We can thus see how the belief in
'the little folk' may have arisen, and how they remained little until
a later day.

A much more scientific theory of the origin of the belief in fairies
is that which sees in them the deities of a discredited religion, the
gods of an aboriginal people, rather than the people themselves. Such
were the Irish _Daoine Sidhe_, and the Welsh _y Mamau_ ('the
Mothers')--undoubtedly gods of the Celts. Again, although in many
countries, especially in England, the fairies are regarded as small of
stature, in Celtic countries the fay proper, as distinct from the
brownie and such goblins, is of average mortal height, and this would
seem to be the case in Brittany. Whether the gorics and courils of
Brittany, who seem sufficiently small, are fairies or otherwise is a
moot point. They seem to be more of the field spirit type, and are
perhaps classed more correctly with the gnome race; we thus deal with
them in our chapter on sprites and demons. It would seem, too, as if
there might be ground for the belief that the normal-sized fairy race
of Celtic countries had become confounded with the Teutonic idea of
elves (Teut. _Elfen_) in Germany and England, from which, perhaps,
they borrowed their diminutive size.

But these are only considerations, not conclusions. Strange as it may
seem, folk-lore has by no means solved the fairy problem, and much
remains to be accomplished ere we can write 'Finis' to the study of
fairy origins.

_The Margots_

Another Breton name for the fairies is _les Margots la fée_, a title
which is chiefly employed in several districts of the Côtes-du-Nord,
principally in the _arrondissements_ of Saint-Brieuc and Loudéac, to
describe those fairies who have their abode in large rocks and on the
wild and extensive moorlands which are so typical of the country.
These, unlike the _fées houles_, are able to render themselves
invisible at pleasure. Like human beings, they are subject to
maladies, and are occasionally glad to accept mortal succour. They
return kindness for kindness, but are vindictive enemies to those who
attempt to harm them.

But fairy vindictiveness is not lavished upon those unwitting mortals
who do them harm alone. If one chances to succeed in a task set by the
immortals of the forest, one is in danger of death, as the following
story shows.

_The Boy who Served the Fairies_

A poor little fellow was one day gathering faggots in the forest when
a gay, handsomely dressed gentleman passed him, and, noticing the
lad's ragged and forlorn condition, said to him: "What are you doing
there, my boy?"

"I am looking for wood, sir," replied the boy. "If I did not do so we
should have no fire at home."

"You are very poor at home, then?" asked the gentleman.

"So poor," said the lad, "that sometimes we only eat once a day, and
often go supperless to bed."


"That is a sad tale," said the gentleman. "If you will promise to
meet me here within a month I will give you some money, which will
help your parents and feed and clothe your small brothers and

Prompt to the day and the hour, the boy kept the tryst in the forest
glade, at the very spot where he had met the gentleman. But though he
looked anxiously on every side he could see no signs of his friend. In
his anxiety he pushed farther into the forest, and came to the borders
of a pond, where three damsels were preparing to bathe. One was
dressed in white, another in grey, and the third in blue. The boy
pulled off his cap, gave them good-day, and asked politely if they had
not seen a gentleman in the neighbourhood. The maiden who was dressed
in white told him where the gentleman was to be found, and pointed out
a road by which he might arrive at his castle.

"He will ask you," said she, "to become his servant, and if you accept
he will wish you to eat. The first time that he presents the food to
you, say: 'It is I who should serve you.' If he asks you a second time
make the same reply; but if he should press you a third time refuse
brusquely and thrust away the plate which he offers you."

The boy was not long in finding the castle, and was at once shown into
the gentleman's presence. As the maiden dressed in white had foretold,
he requested the youth to enter his service, and when his offer was
accepted placed before him a plate of viands. The lad bowed politely,
but refused the food. A second time it was offered, but he persisted
in his refusal, and when it was proffered to him a third time he
thrust it away from him so roughly that it fell to the ground and the
plate was broken.

"Ah," said the gentleman, "you are just the kind of servant I require.
You are now my lackey, and if you are able to do three things that I
command you I will give you one of my daughters for your wife and you
shall be my son-in-law."

The next day he gave the boy a hatchet of lead, a saw of paper, and a
wheelbarrow made of oak-leaves, bidding him fell, bind up, and measure
all the wood in the forest within a radius of seven leagues. The new
servant at once commenced his task, but the hatchet of lead broke at
the first blow, the saw of paper buckled at the first stroke, and the
wheelbarrow of oak-leaves was broken by the weight of the first little
branch he placed on it. The lad in despair sat down, and could do
nothing but gaze at the useless implements. At midday the damsel
dressed in white whom he had seen at the pond came to bring him
something to eat.

"Alas!" she cried, "why do you sit thus idle? If my father should come
and find that you have done nothing he would kill you."

"I can do nothing with such wretched tools," grumbled the lad.

"Do you see this wand?" said the damsel, producing a little rod. "Take
it in your hand and walk round the forest, and the work will take care
of itself. At the same time say these words: 'Let the wood fall, tie
itself into bundles, and be measured.'"

The boy did as the damsel advised him, and matters proceeded so
satisfactorily that by a little after midday the work was completed.
In the evening the gentleman said to him:

"Have you accomplished your task?"

"Yes, sir. Do you wish to see it? The wood is cut and tied into
bundles of the proper weight and measurement."

"It is well," said the gentleman. "To-morrow I will set you the second

On the following morning he took the lad to a knoll some distance from
the castle, and said to him:

"You see this rising ground? By this evening you must have made it a
garden well planted with fruit-trees and having a fish-pond in the
middle, where ducks and other water-fowl may swim. Here are your

The tools were a pick of glass and a spade of earthenware. The boy
commenced the work, but at the first stroke his fragile pick and spade
broke into a thousand fragments. For the second time he sat down
helplessly. Time passed slowly, and as before at midday the damsel in
white brought him his dinner.

"So I find you once more with your arms folded," she said.

"I cannot work with a pick of glass and an earthenware spade,"
complained the youth.

"Here is another wand," said the damsel. "Take it and walk round this
knoll, saying: 'Let the place be planted and become a beautiful garden
with fruit-trees, in the middle of which is a fish-pond with ducks
swimming upon it.'"

The boy took the wand, did as he was bid, and the work was speedily
accomplished. A beautiful garden arose as if by enchantment, well
furnished with fruit-trees of all descriptions and ornamented with a
small sheet of water.

Once more his master was quite satisfied with the result, and on the
third morning set him his third task. He took him beneath one of the
towers of the castle.

"Behold this tower," he said. "It is of polished marble. You must
climb it, and at the top you will find a turtle-dove, which you must
bring to me."

The gentleman, who was of opinion that the damsel in white had helped
his servant in the first two tasks, sent her to the town to buy
provisions. When she received this order the maiden retired to her
chamber and burst into tears. Her sisters asked her what was the
matter, and she told them that she wished to remain at the castle, so
they promised to go to the town in her stead. At midday she found the
lad sitting at the foot of the tower bewailing the fact that he could
not climb its smooth and glassy sides.

"I have come to help you once more," said the damsel. "You must get a
cauldron, then cut me into morsels and throw in all my bones, without
missing a single one. It is the only way to succeed."

"Never!" exclaimed the youth. "I would sooner die than harm such a
beautiful lady as you."

"Yet you must do as I say," she replied.

For a long time the youth refused, but at last he gave way to the
maiden's entreaties, cut her into little pieces, and placed the bones
in a large cauldron, forgetting, however, the little toe of her left
foot. Then he rose as if by magic to the top of the tower, found the
turtle-dove, and came down again.[36] Having completed his task, he
took a wand which lay beside the cauldron, and when he touched the
bones they came together again and the damsel stepped out of the
great pot none the worse for her experience.

When the young fellow carried the dove to his master the gentleman

"It is well. I shall carry out my promise and give you one of my
daughters for your wife, but all three shall be veiled and you must
pick the one you desire without seeing her face."

The three damsels were then brought into his presence, but the lad
easily recognized the one who had assisted him, because she lacked the
small toe of the left foot. So he chose her without hesitation, and
they were married.

But the gentleman was not content with the marriage. On the day of the
bridal he placed the bed of the young folks over a vault, and hung it
from the roof by four cords. When they had gone to bed he came to the
door of the chamber and said:

"Son-in-law, are you asleep?"

"No, not yet," replied the youth.

Some time afterward he repeated his question, and met with a similar

"The next time he comes," said the bride, "pretend that you are

Shortly after that his father-in-law asked once more if he were
asleep, and receiving no answer retired, evidently well satisfied.

When he had gone the bride made her husband rise at once. "Go
instantly to the stables," said she, "and take there the horse which
is called Little Wind, mount him, and fly."

The young fellow hastened to comply with her request, and he had
scarcely left the chamber when the master of the castle returned and
asked if his daughter were asleep. She answered "No," and, bidding her
arise and come with him, he cut the cords, so that the bed fell into
the vault beneath. The bride now heard the trampling of hoofs in the
garden outside, and rushed out to find her husband in the act of

"Stay!" she cried. "You have taken Great Wind instead of Little Wind,
as I advised you, but there is no help for it," and she mounted behind
him. Great Wind did not belie his name, and dashed into the night like
a tempest.

"Do you see anything?" asked the girl.

"No, nothing," said her husband.

"Look again," she said. "Do you see anything now?"

"Yes," he replied, "I see a great flame of fire."

The bride took her wand, struck it three times, and said: "I change
thee, Great Wind, into a garden, myself into a pear-tree, and my
husband into a gardener."

The transformation had hardly been effected when the master of the
castle and his wife came up with them.

"Ha, my good man," cried he to the seeming gardener, "has any one on
horseback passed this way?"

"Three pears for a sou," said the gardener.

"That is not an answer to my question," fumed the old wizard, for such
he was. "I asked if you had seen any one on horseback in this

"Four for a sou, then, if you will," said the gardener.

"Idiot!" foamed the enchanter, and dashed on in pursuit. The young
wife then changed herself, her horse, and her husband into their
natural forms, and, mounting once more, they rode onward.

"Do you see anything now?" asked she.

"Yes, I see a great flame of fire," he replied.

Once more she took her wand. "I change this steed into a church," she
said, "myself into an altar, and my husband into a priest."

Very soon the wizard and his wife came to the doors of the church and
asked the priest if a youth and a lady had passed that way on

"Dominus vobiscum," said the priest, and nothing more could the wizard
get from him.

Pursued once more, the young wife changed the horse into a river,
herself into a boat, and her husband into a boatman. When the wizard
came up with them he asked to be ferried across the river. The boatman
at once made room for them, but in the middle of the stream the boat
capsized and the enchanter and his wife were drowned.

The young lady and her husband returned to the castle, seized the
treasure of its fairy lord, and, says tradition, lived happily ever
afterward, as all young spouses do in fairy-tale.


  [20] _Roman de Rou_, v. 6415 ff.

  [21] Consult original ballad in Vicomte de la Villemarqué's _Chants
       populaires de la Bretagne_.

  [22] MacCulloch, _The Religion of the Ancient Celts_, p. 116
       (Edinburgh, 1911).

  [23] See _Ballads and Metrical Tales, illustrating the Fairy Mythology
       of Europe_ (anonymous, London, 1857) for a metrical version of
       this tale.

  [24] Lib. III, cap. vi.

  [25] Paris, 1670. Strange that this book should have been seized upon
       by students of the occult as a 'text-book' furnishing
       longed-for details of the 'lost knowledge' concerning
       elementary spirits, when it is, in effect, a very whole-hearted
       satire upon belief in such beings!

  [26] Villemarqué, _Myrdhinn, ou l'Enchanteur Merlin_ (1861).

  [27] MacCulloch, _The Religion of the Ancient Celts_, p. 122.

  [28] Or subterranean dwellers. See D. MacRitchie's _Fians, Fairies,
       and Picts_ (1893).

  [29] See the chapter on "Menhirs and Dolmens."

  [30] Vol. i, p. 231.

  [31] _Contes populaires de la Haute-Bretagne_ (Paris, 1880).

  [32] _Handbuch der deutschen Mythologie._

  [33] Saddle.

  [34] See the author's _Le Roi d'Ys and other Poems_ (London, 1910).

  [35] Kipling, "Primum Tempus."

  [36] In folk-tales of this nature a ladder is usually made of the
       bones, but this circumstance seems to have been omitted in the
       present instance.


The idea of the evil spirit, malicious and revengeful, is common to
all primitive peoples, and Brittany has its full share of demonology.
Wherever, in fact, a primitive and illiterate peasantry is found the
demon is its inevitable accompaniment. But we shall not find these
Breton devils so very different from the fiends of other lands.

_The Nain_

The nain is a figure fearsomely Celtic in its hideousness, resembling
the gargoyles which peer down upon the traveller from the carven
'top-hamper' of so many Breton churches. Black and menacing of
countenance, these demon-folk are armed with feline claws, and their
feet end in hoofs like those of a satyr. Their dark elf-locks, small,
gleaming eyes, red as carbuncles, and harsh, cracked voices are all
dilated upon with fear by those who have met them upon lonely heaths
or unfrequented roads. They haunt the ancient dolmens built by a
vanished race, and at night, by the pale starlight, they dance around
these ruined tombs to the music of a primitive refrain:

  "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
  Thursday and Friday."

Saturday and Sunday they dare not mention as being days sacred from
fairy influence. We all remember that in the old tale of Tom Thumb the
elves among whom the hero fell sang such a refrain. But wherefore? It
would indeed be difficult to say. Deities, credited and discredited,
have often a connexion with the calendar, and we may have here some
calendric reference, or again the chant may be merely a nonsense
rhyme. Bad luck attached itself to the human who chanced to behold the
midnight revels of the nains, and if he entered the charmed circle and
danced along with them his death was certain to ensue before the year
was out. Wednesday was the nains' high-day, or rather night, and their
great _nuit festale_ was the first Wednesday in May. That they should
have possessed a fixed festival at such a period, full of religious
significance for most primitive peoples, would seem to show that they
must at one time have been held in considerable esteem.

But although the nains while away their time in such simple fashion as
dancing to the repetition of the names of the days of the week, they
have a less innocent side to their characters, for they are forgers of
false money, which they fabricate in the recesses of caverns. We all
recall stories of fairy gold and its perishable nature. A simple youth
sells something on market day to a fairy, and later on turning over in
his pocket the money he has received he finds that it has been
transformed into beans. The housewife receives gold from a fairy for
services rendered, and carefully places it in a drawer. A day when she
requires it arrives, but, alas! when she opens the cabinet to take it
out she finds nothing but a small heap of withered leaves. It is such
money that the nains manufacture in their subterranean mints--coin
which bears the fairy impress of glamourie for a space, but on later
examination proves to be merely dross.

The nains are also regarded as the originators of a cabalistic
alphabet, the letters of which are engraved on several of the
megalithic monuments of Morbihan, and especially those of Gavr'inis.
He who is able to decipher this magic script, says tradition, will be
able to tell where hidden treasure is to be found in any part of the
country. Lest any needy folk be of a mind to fare to Brittany to try
their luck in this respect it is only right to warn them that in all
probability they will find the treasure formula in ogham characters or
serpentine markings, and that as the first has long ago been
deciphered and the second is pure symbolism they will waste their time
and money in any event.

Sorcery hangs about the nain like a garment. Here he is a prophet and
a diviner as well as an enchanter, and as much of his magic power is
employed for ill, small wonder that the Breton peasant shudders and
frowns when the name of the fearsome tribe is spoken and gives the
dolmens they are supposed to haunt the widest of wide berths _au clair
de la lune_.

_Crions, Courils, and Gorics_

Brittany has a species of dwarfs or gnomes peculiar to itself which in
various parts of the country are known as crions, courils, or
gorics. It will at once be seen how greatly the last word resembles
Korrigan, and as all of them perhaps proceed from a root meaning
'spirit' the nominal resemblance is not surprising. Like the nains,
these smaller beings inhabit abandoned Druidical monuments or dwell
beneath the foundations of ancient castles. Carnac is sometimes
alluded to in Breton as 'Ty C'harriquet,' 'the House of the Gorics,'
the country-folk in this district holding the belief that its
megalithic monuments were reared by these manikins, whom they
describe as between two and three feet high, but exceedingly
strong, just as the Scottish peasantry speak of the Picts of
folk-lore--'wee fouk but unco' strang.' Every night the gorics
dance in circles round the stones of Carnac, and should a mortal
interrupt their frolic he is forced to join in the dance, until,
breathless and exhausted, he falls prone to the earth amid peals of
mocking laughter. Like the nains, the gorics are the guardians of
hidden treasure, for the tale goes that beneath one of the menhirs of
Carnac lies a golden hoard, and that all the other stones have been
set up the better to conceal it, and so mystify those who would
discover its resting-place. A calculation, the key to which is to
be found in the Tower of London, will alone indicate the spot where
the treasure lies. And here it may be of interest to state that
the ancient national fortalice of England occurs frequently in Breton
and in Celtic romance.[37] Some of the immigrant Britons into
Armorica probably came from the settlement which was later to grow
into London, and may have carried tales of its ancient British
fortress into their new home.

The courils are peculiar to the ruins of Tresmalouen. Like the gorics,
they are fond of dancing, and they are quite as malignantly inclined
toward the unhappy stranger who may stumble into their ring. The
castle of Morlaix, too, is haunted by gorics not more than a foot
high, who dwell beneath it in holes in the ground. They possess
treasures as great as those of the gnomes of Norway or Germany, and
these they will sometimes bestow on lucky mortals, who are permitted,
however, to take but one handful. If a person should attempt to seize
more the whole of the money vanishes, and the offender's ears are
soundly boxed by invisible hands.

The night-washers (_eur tunnerez noz_) are evil spirits who appear at
night on the banks of streams and call on the passers-by to assist
them to wash the linen of the dead. If they are refused, they seize
upon the person who denies them, drag him into the water, and break
his arms. These beings are obviously the same as the Bean Nighe, 'the
Washing Woman' of the Scottish Highlands, who is seen in lonely places
beside a pool or stream, washing the linen of those who will shortly
die. In Skye she is said to be short of stature. If any one catches
her she tells all that will befall him in after life. In Perthshire
she is represented as "small and round and dressed in pretty green."

_The Teurst_

In the district of Morlaix the peasants are terribly afraid of beings
they call teursts. These are large, black, and fearsome, like the
Highland ourisk, who haunted desert moors and glens. The _teursta
poulict_ appears in the likeness of some domestic animal. In the
district of Vannes is encountered a colossal spirit called Teus or
Bugelnoz, who appears clothed in white between midnight and two in the
morning. His office is to rescue victims from the devil, and should he
spread his mouth over them they are secure from the Father of Evil.
The Dusii of Gaul are mentioned by St Augustine, who regarded them as
_incubi_, and by Isidore of Seville, and in the name we may perhaps
discover the origin of our expression 'the deuce!'

_The Nicole_

The Nicole is a spirit of modern creation who torments the honest
fishermen of the Bay of Saint-Brieuc and Saint-Malo. Just as they are
about to draw in their nets this mischievous spirit leaps around them,
freeing the fish, or he will loosen a boat's anchor so that it will
drift on to a sand-bank. He may divide the cable which holds the
anchor to the vessel and cause endless trouble. This spirit received
its name from an officer who commanded a battalion of fishermen
conscripts, and who from his intense severity and general reputation
as a martinet obtained a bad reputation among the seafaring

_The Mourioche_

The Mourioche is a malicious demon of bestial nature, able, it would
seem, to transform himself into any animal shape he chooses. In
general appearance he is like a year-old foal. He is especially
dangerous to children, and Breton babies are often chided when noisy
or mischievous with the words: "Be good, now, the Mourioche is
coming!" Of one who appears to have received a shock, also, it is
said: "He has seen the Mourioche." Unlucky is the person who gets in
his way; but doubly so the unfortunate who attempts to mount him in
the belief that he is an ordinary steed, for after a fiery gallop he
will be precipitated into an abyss and break his neck.

_The Ankou_

Perhaps there is no spirit of evil which is so much dreaded by the
Breton peasantry as the Ankou, who travels the duchy in a cart,
picking up souls. In the dead of night a creaking axle-tree can be
heard passing down the silent lanes. It halts at a door; the summons
has been given, a soul quits the doomed house, and the wagon of the
Ankou passes on. The Ankou herself--for the dread death-spirit of
Brittany is probably female--is usually represented as a skeleton. M.
Anatole le Braz has elaborated a study of the whole question in his
book on the legend of death in Brittany,[38] and it is probable that
the Ankou is a survival of the death-goddess of the prehistoric
dolmen-builders of Brittany. MacCulloch[39] considers the Ankou to be
a reminiscence of the Celtic god of death, who watches over all things
beyond the grave and carries off the dead to his kingdom, but greatly
influenced by medieval ideas of 'Death the skeleton.' In some Breton
churches a little model or statuette of the Ankou is to be seen, and
this is nothing more nor less than a cleverly fashioned skeleton. The
peasant origin of the belief can be found in the substitution of a
cart or wagon for the more ambitious coach and four of other lands.

_The Youdic_

Dark and gloomy are many of the Breton legends, of evil things, gloomy
as the depths of the forests in which doubtless many of them were
conceived. Most folk-tales are tinged with melancholy, and it is
rarely in Breton story that we discover a vein of the joyous.

[Illustration: THE DEMON-DOG]

Among the peaks of the Montagnes d'Arrée lies a vast and dismal peat
bog known as the Yeun, which has long been regarded by the Breton folk
as the portal to the infernal regions. This Stygian locality has
brought forth many legends. It is, indeed, a remarkable territory. In
summer it seems a vast moor carpeted by glowing purple heather, which
one can traverse up to a certain point, but woe betide him who would
advance farther, for, surrounded by what seems solid ground, lies a
treacherous quagmire declared by the people of the neighbourhood to be
unfathomable. This part of the bog, whose victims have been many, is
known as the Youdic. As one leans over it its waters may sometimes be
seen to simmer and boil, and the peasants of the country-side devoutly
believe that when this occurs infernal forces are working beneath,
madly revelling, and that it is only the near presence of St Michael,
whose mount is hard by, which restrains them from doing active harm to
those who may have to cross the Yeun.

Countless stories are afloat concerning this weird maelstrom of mud
and bubbling water. At one time it was the custom to hurl animals
suspected of being evil spirits into its black depths. Malevolent
fiends, it was thought, were wont to materialize in the form of great
black dogs, and unfortunate animals of this type, if they evinced such
peculiarities as were likely to place them under suspicion, were taken
forthwith to the Youdic by a member of the enlightened priesthood of
the district, and were cast into its seething depths with all the
ceremonies suitable to such an occasion.

A story typical of those told about the place is that of one Job Ann
Drez, who seems to have acted as sexton and assisted the parish priest
in his dealings with the supernatural. Along with the priest, Job
repaired one evening after sunset to the gloomy waters of the Youdic,
dragging behind him a large black dog of the species most likely to
excite distrust in the priestly mind. The priest showed considerable
anxiety lest the animal should break loose.

"If he should get away," he said nervously, "both of us are lost."

"I will wager he does not," replied Job, tying the cord by which the
brute was led securely to his wrist.

"Forward, then," said the priest, and he walked boldly in front, until
they came to the foot of the mountain on the summit of which lies the

The priest turned warningly to Job. "You must be circumspect in this
place," he said very gravely. "Whatever you may hear, be sure not to
turn your head. Your life in this world and your salvation in the next
depend absolutely on this. You understand me?"

"Yes, sir, I understand."

A vast desolation surrounded them. So dark was the night that it
seemed to envelop them like a velvet curtain. Beneath their feet they
heard the hissing and moaning of the bog, awaiting its prey like a
restless and voracious wild beast. Through the dense blackness they
could see the iridescent waters writhing and gleaming below.

"Surely," said Job half to himself, "this must be the gateway to

At that word the dog uttered a frightful howl--such a howl as froze
Job's blood in his veins. It tugged and strained at the cord which
held it with the strength of a demon, striving to turn on Job and rend

"Hold on!" cried the priest in mortal terror, keeping at a safe
distance, however. "Hold on, I entreat you, or else we are undone!"

Job held on to the demon-dog with all his strength. Indeed, it was
necessary to exert every thew and sinew if the animal were to be
prevented from tearing him to pieces. Its howls were sufficient to
strike terror to the stoutest heart. "Iou! Iou!" it yelled again and

But Job held on desperately, although the cord cut his hands and blood
ran from the scarified palms. Inch by inch he dragged the brute toward
the Youdic. The creature in a last desperate effort turned and was
about to spring on him open-mouthed, when all at once the priest,
darting forward, threw his cloak over its head. It uttered a shriek
which sounded through the night like the cry of a lost soul.

"Quick!" cried the priest. "Lie flat on the earth and put your face on
the ground!"

Scarcely had the two men done so than a frightful tumult ensued. First
there was the sound of a body leaping into the morass, then such an
uproar as could only proceed from the mouth of the infernal regions.
Shrieks, cries, hissings, explosions followed in quick succession for
upward of half an hour; then gradually they died away and a horrible
stillness took their place. The two men rose trembling and unnerved,
and slowly took their way through the darkness, groping and stumbling
until they had left the awful vicinity of the Yeun behind them.


  [37] See Nutt, _Celtic and Mediæval Romance_.

  [38] _La Légende de la Mort._

  [39] _Religion of the Ancient Celts_, p. 345


I have entitled this chapter 'World-Tales' to indicate that the
stories it contains are in plot or _motif_ if not in substance common
to the whole world--that, in short, although they are found in
Brittany, they are no more Breton than Italian, Russian, American, or
Australian. But although the story which tells of the search for the
golden-haired princess on the magic horse is the possession of no one
particular race, the tales recounted here have the Breton colouring
and the Breton spirit, and in perusing them we encounter numerous
little allusions to Breton customs or manners and obtain not a few
sidelights upon the Breton character, its shrewdness and its goodwill,
while we may note as well the narrowness of view and meanness so
characteristic of peoples who have been isolated for a long period
from contact with other races.

The first two of these tales are striking ones built upon two
world-_motifs_--those of the magic horse and the search for the
golden-haired princess, who is, of course, the sun, two themes which
have been amalgamated in not a few deathless stories.

_The Youth who did not Know_

One day the Marquis of Coat-Squiriou was returning from Morlaix, when
he beheld lying on the road a little fellow of four or five years of
age. He leapt from his horse, picked the child up, and asked him what
he did there.

"I do not know," replied the little boy.

"Who is your father?" asked the Marquis.

"I do not know," said the child for the second time.

"And your mother?" asked the kindly nobleman.

"I do not know."

"Where are you now, my child?"

"I do not know."

"Then what is your name?"

"I do not know."

The Marquis told his serving-man to place the child on the crupper of
his horse, as he had taken a fancy to him and would adopt him. He
called him N'Oun Doare, which signifies in Breton, 'I do not know.' He
educated him, and when his schooling was finished took him to Morlaix,
where they put up at the best inn in the town. The Marquis could not
help admiring his adopted son, who had now grown into a tall, handsome
youth, and so pleased was he with him that he desired to signify his
approval by making him a little present, which he resolved should take
the form of a sword. So they went out into the town and visited the
armourers' shops in search of a suitable weapon. They saw swords of
all kinds, but N'Oun Doare would have none of them, until at last they
passed the booth of a seller of scrap-metal, where hung a rusty old
rapier which seemed fit for nothing.

"Ha!" cried N'Oun Doare, "that is the sword for me. Please buy it, I
beg of you."

"Why, don't you see what a condition it is in?" said the Marquis. "It
is not a fit weapon for a gentleman."

"Nevertheless it is the only sword I wish for," said N'Oun Doare.

"Well, well, you are a strange fellow," said the Marquis, but he
bought the sword nevertheless, and they returned to Coat-Squiriou. The
next day N'Oun Doare examined his sword and discovered that the blade
had the words "I am invincible" engraved upon it.

Some time afterward the Marquis said to him: "It is time that you had
a horse. Come with me to Morlaix and we will purchase one." They
accordingly set out for Morlaix. In the market-place they saw many
fine animals, but with none of them was N'Oun Doare content. On
returning to the inn, however, he espied what looked like a
broken-down mare standing by the roadside, and to this sorry beast he
immediately drew the attention of the Marquis.

"That is the horse for me!" he cried. "I beg of you, purchase it for

"What!" cried the Marquis, "that broken-down beast? Why, only look at
it, my son." But N'Oun Doare persisted, and at last, despite his own
better judgment, the Marquis bought the animal. The man who sold it
was a cunning-looking fellow from Cornouaille, who, as he put the
bridle into N'Oun Doare's hand, whispered:

"You see the knots on the halter of this animal?"

"Yes," replied N'Oun Doare; "what of them?"

"Only this, that each time you loosen one the mare will immediately
carry you five hundred leagues from where you are."

The Marquis and his ward returned once more to the château, N'Oun
Doare riding his new purchase, when it entered into his head to untie
one of the knots on the halter. He did so, and immediately descended
in the middle of Paris--which we must take the story-teller's word for
it is five hundred leagues from Brittany!

Several months afterward the Marquis had occasion to go to Paris, and
one of the first people he met there was N'Oun Doare, who told him of
his adventure. The Marquis was going to visit the King, and took his
_protégé_ along with him to the palace, where he was well received.

Some nights afterward the youth was walking with his old mare outside
the walls of Paris, and noticed something which glittered very
brightly at the foot of an ancient stone cross which stood where four
roads met. He approached it and beheld a crown of gold, set with the
most brilliant precious stones. He at once picked it up, when the old
mare, turning its head, said to him: "Take care; you will repent

Greatly surprised, N'Oun Doare thought that he had better replace the
crown, but a longing to possess it overcame him, and although the mare
warned him once more he finally resolved to take it, and, putting it
under his mantle, rode away.

Now the King had confided to his care part of the royal stables, and
when N'Oun Doare entered them their darkness was immediately lit up by
the radiance of the crown which he carried. So well had the Breton lad
attended to the horses under his charge that the other squires had
become jealous, and, observing the strange light in N'Oun Doare's part
of the stable, they mentioned it to the King, who in turn spoke of it
to the Marquis of Coat-Squiriou. The Marquis asked N'Oun Doare the
meaning of the light, and the youth replied that it came from the
ancient sword they had bought at Morlaix, which was an enchanted
weapon and shone at intervals with strange brilliance. But one night
his enemies resolved to examine into the matter more closely, and,
looking through the keyhole of the stable, they saw that the wondrous
light which had so puzzled them shone from a magnificent crown of
gold. They ran at once to tell the King, and next night N'Oun Doare's
stable was opened with a master-key and the crown removed to the
King's quarters. It was then seen that an inscription was engraved
upon the diadem, but in such strange characters that no one could read
it. The magicians of the capital were called into consultation, but
none of them could decipher the writing. At last a little boy of seven
years of age was found who said that it was the crown of the Princess
Golden Bell. The King then called upon N'Oun Doare to approach, and
said to him:

"You should not have hidden this thing from me, but as you are guilty
of having done so I doom you to find the Princess Golden Bell, whom I
desire shall become my wife. If you fail I shall put you to death."

N'Oun Doare left the royal presence in a very perturbed state of mind.
He went to seek his old mare with tears in his eyes.

"I know," said the mare, "the cause of your sorrow. You should have
left the golden crown alone, as I told you. But do not repine; go to
the King and ask him for money for your journey."

The lad received the money from the King, and set out on his journey.
Arriving at the seashore, one of the first objects he beheld was a
little fish cast up by the waves on the beach and almost at its last

"Throw that fish back into the water," said the mare. N'Oun Doare did
so, and the fish, lifting its head from the water, said:

"You have saved my life, N'Oun Doare. I am the King of the Fishes, and
if ever you require my help call my name by the seashore and I will
come." With these words the Fish-King vanished beneath the water.

A little later they came upon a bird struggling vainly to escape from
a net in which it was caught.

"Cut the net and set that poor bird free," said the wise mare.

Upon N'Oun Doare doing so the bird paused before it flew away and

"I am the King of the Birds, N'Oun Doare. I will never forget the
service you have rendered me, and if ever you are in trouble and need
my aid you have only to call me and I shall fly swiftly to help you."

As they went on their way N'Oun Doare's wonderful mare crossed
mountains, forests, vast seas, and streams with a swiftness and ease
that was amazing. Soon they beheld the walls of the Château of the
Golden Bell rising before them, and as they drew near they could hear
a most confused and terrible noise coming from it, which shook N'Oun
Doare's courage and made him rather fearful of entering it. Near the
door a being of the most curious aspect was hung to a tree by a chain,
and this peculiar individual had as many horns on his body as there
are days in the year.

"Cut that unfortunate man down," said the mare. "Will you not give him
his freedom?"

"I am too much afraid to approach him," said N'Oun Doare, alarmed at
the man's appearance.

"Do not fear," said the sagacious animal; "he will not harm you in any

N'Oun Doare did so, and the stranger thanked him most gratefully,
bidding him, as the others whom he had rescued had done, if he ever
required help to call upon Grifescorne, King of the Demons, for that
was his name, and he would be with him immediately.

"Enter the château boldly and without fear," said the mare, "and I
will await you in the wood yonder. After the Princess Golden Bell has
welcomed you she will show you all the curiosities and marvels of her
dwelling. Tell her you have a horse without an equal, which can dance
most beautifully the dances of every land. Say that your steed will
perform them for her diversion if she will come and behold it in the

Everything fell out as the mare had said, and the Princess was
delighted and amused by the mare's dancing.

"If you were to mount her," said N'Oun Doare, "I vow she would dance
even more wonderfully than before!"

The Princess after a moment's hesitation did so. In an instant the
adventurous youth was by her side, and the horse sped through the air,
so that in a short space they found themselves flying over the sea.

"You have tricked me!" cried the infuriated damsel. "But do not
imagine that you are at the end of your troubles; and," she added
viciously, "you will have cause to lament more than once ere I wed the
old King of France."

They arrived promptly at Paris, where N'Oun Doare presented the lovely
Princess to the monarch, saying:

"Sire, I have brought to you the Princess Golden Bell, whom you desire
to make your wife."


The King was dazed by the wondrous beauty of the Princess, and was
eager for the marriage to take place immediately, but this the royal
maiden would not hear of, and declared petulantly that she would not
be wed until she had a ring which she had left behind her at her
château, in a cabinet of which she had lost the key.

Summoning N'Oun Doare, the King charged him with the task of finding
the ring. The unfortunate youth returned to his wise mare, feeling
much cast down.

"Why," said the mare, "foolish one! do you not remember the King of
the Birds whom you rescued? Call upon him, and mayhap he will aid you
as he promised to do."

With a return of hope N'Oun Doare did as he was bid, and immediately
the royal bird was with him, and asked him in what way he could help
him. Upon N'Oun Doare explaining his difficulty, the Bird-King
summoned all his subjects, calling each one by name. They came, but
none of them appeared to be small enough to enter the cabinet by way
of the keyhole, which was the only means of entrance. The wren was
decided to be the only bird with any chance of success, and he set out
for the château.

Eventually, with much difficulty and the loss of the greater part of
his feathers, the bird procured the ring, and flew back with it to
Paris. N'Oun Doare hastened to present the ring to the Princess.

"Now, fair one," said the impatient King, "why delay our wedding

"Nay," said she, pouting discontentedly, "there is one thing that I
wish, and without it I will do nothing."

"What do you desire? You have only to speak and it shall be brought."

"Well, transport my château with all it contains opposite to yours."

"What!" cried the King, aghast. "Impossible!"

"Well, then, it is just as impossible that I should marry you, for
without my château I shall not consent."

For a second time the King gave N'Oun Doare what seemed an insurmountable

"Now indeed I am as good as lost!" lamented the youth as they came to
the château and he saw its massive walls towering above him.

"Call Grifescorne, King of the Demons, to your assistance," suggested
the wise mare.

With the aid of the Demon-King and his subjects N'Oun Doare's task was
again accomplished, and he and his mare followed the demon army to
Paris, where they arrived as soon as it did.

In the morning the people of Paris were struck dumb to see a wonderful
palace, its golden towers flashing in the sun, rising opposite to the
royal residence.

"We shall be married at last, shall we not?" asked the King.

"Yes," replied the Princess, "but how shall I enter my château and
show you its wonders without a key, for I dropped it in the sea when
N'Oun Doare and his horse carried me over it."

Once more was the youth charged with the task, and through the aid of
the Fish-King was able to procure the key, which was cut from a single
diamond. None of the fishes had seen it, but at last the oldest fish,
who had not appeared when his name was pronounced, came forward and
produced it from his mouth.

With a glad heart the successful N'Oun Doare returned to Paris, and as
the Princess had now no more excuses to make the day of the wedding
was fixed and the ceremony was celebrated with much splendour. To the
astonishment of all, when the King and his betrothed entered the
church N'Oun Doare followed behind with his mare. At the conclusion of
the ceremony the mare's skin suddenly fell to the ground, disclosing a
maiden of the most wonderful beauty.

Smiling upon the bewildered N'Oun Doare, the damsel gave him her hand
and said: "Come with me to Tartary, for the king of that land is my
father, and there we shall be wed amid great rejoicing."

Leaving the amazed King and wedding guests, the pair quitted the
church together. More might have been told of them, but Tartary is a
far land and no news of them has of late years reached Brittany.

_The Princess of Tronkolaine_

There was once an old charcoal-burner who had twenty-six grandchildren.
For twenty-five of them he had no great difficulty in procuring
godparents, but for the twenty-sixth--that, alas! was a different
story. Godmothers, indeed, were to be found in plenty, but he could
not find anyone to act as godfather.

As he wandered disconsolately along the high road, dwelling on his bad
luck, he saw a fine carriage coming toward him, its occupant no less a
personage than the King himself. The old man made an obeisance so low
that the King was amused, and threw him a handful of silver.

"My good man," he said, "here are alms for you."

"Your Majesty," replied the charcoal-burner, "I do not desire alms. I
am unhappy because I cannot find a godfather for my twenty-sixth

The King considered the matter.

"I myself will be godfather to the child," he said at length. "Tell me
when it is to be baptized and I will meet you at the church."

The old man was delighted beyond measure, and in due time he and his
relatives brought the child to be baptized. When they reached the
church, sure enough, there was the King waiting to take part in the
ceremony, and in his honour the child was named Charles. Before taking
leave the King gave to the charcoal-burner the half of a coin which he
had broken in two. This Charles on reaching his eighteenth birthday
was to convey to the Court at Paris, as a token whereby his godfather
should know him. His Majesty also left a thousand crowns, which were
to be utilized in the education and general upbringing of the child.

Time passed and Charles attained his eighteenth birthday. Taking the
King's token, he set out for the royal abode. As he went he
encountered an old man, who warned him on no account to drink from a
certain well which he would pass on his way. The lad promised to
regard the warning, but ere he reached the well he had forgotten it.

A man sat by the side of the well.

"You are hot and tired," he said, feigning courtesy, "will you not
stop to drink?"

The water was cool and inviting. Charles bent his head and drank
thirstily. And while he drank the stranger robbed him of his token;
but this he did not know till afterward.

Gaily Charles resumed his way, while the thief went to Paris by a
quicker route and got there before him.

Boldly the thief demanded audience of the King, and produced the token
so wickedly come by. The sovereign ordered the other half of the coin
to be brought out, and lo! they fitted exactly. And because the thief
had a plausible face the good King did not doubt that he was indeed
his godson. He therefore had him treated with all honour and respect,
and bestowed gifts upon him lavishly.

Meanwhile Charles had arrived in Paris, and, finding that he had been
deprived of his only means of proving his identity to the King, he
accepted the situation philosophically and set about earning his
living. He succeeded in obtaining a post as herdsman on the royal

One day the robber was greatly disconcerted to find the real Charles
at the very gates of the palace. He determined to be rid of him once
for all, so he straightway approached the King.

"Your Majesty, there is a man among your retainers who has said that
he will demand of the sun why it is so red at sunrise."

"He is indeed a foolish fellow," said the King. "Our decree is that he
shall carry out his rash boast to-morrow ere sunset, or, if it be but
idle folly, lose his head on the following morning."

The thief was delighted with the success of his plot. Poor Charles was
summoned before the King and bidden to ask the sun why he was so red
at sunrise. In vain he denied having uttered the speech. Had not the
King the word of his godson?

Next morning Charles set out on his journey. Ere he had gone very far
he met an old man who asked him his errand, and afterward gave him a
wooden horse on which to ride to the sun. Charles thought this but a
sorry joke. However, no sooner had he mounted his wooden steed than it
rose into the air and flew with him to where the sun's castle towered
on the peak of a lofty mountain.

To the sun, a resplendent warrior, Charles addressed his query.

"In the morning," said the sun, "I pass the castle of the Princess of
Tronkolaine, and she is so lovely that I must needs look my best."

Charles, mounted on his wooden horse, flew with this answer to Paris.
The King was satisfied, but the thief gnashed his teeth in secret
rage, and plotted yet further against the youth.

"Your Majesty," he said, "this herdsman who tends your herds has said
that he will lead hither the Princess of Tronkolaine to be your

"If he has said so," replied the King, "he shall lead her hither or
forfeit his life."

"Alas!" thought Charles, when he learned of the plot, "I must bid
farewell to my life--there is no hope for me!"

All the same he set out boldly enough, and by and by encountered the
old man who had helped him on his previous mission. To him Charles
confided his troubles, begging for advice and assistance.

The old man pondered.

"Return to the Court," he said, "and ask the King to give you three
ships, one laden with oatmeal, another with bacon, and the third with
salt meat. Then sail on till you come to an island covered with ants.
To their monarch, the Ant-King, make a present of the cargo of
oatmeal. He will direct you to a second island, whereon dwell fierce
lions. Fear them not. Present your cargo of bacon to their King and he
will become your friend. Yet a third island you will touch, inhabited
only by sparrow-hawks. Give to their King your cargo of salt meat and
he will show you the abode of the Princess."

Charles thanked the sage for his advice, which he promptly proceeded
to follow. The King granted him the three ships, and he sailed away
in search of the Princess.

When he came to the first island, which was swarming with ants, he
gave up his cargo of grain, and so won the friendship of the little
creatures. At the second island he unloaded the bacon, which he
presented to the King of the Lions; while at the third he gave up the
salt beef to the King of the Sparrow-hawks, who directed him how to
come at the object of his quest. Each monarch bade Charles summon him
instantly if he had need of assistance.

Setting sail from the island of the sparrow-hawks, the youth arrived
at length at the abode of the Princess.

She was seated under an orange-tree, and as Charles gazed upon her he
thought her the most beautiful woman in the world, as indeed she was.

The Princess, looking up, beheld a comely youth, beneath whose ardent
gaze her eyes fell. Smiling graciously, she invited him into her
castle, and he, nothing loath, followed her into the great hall, where
tempting viands were spread before him.

When he had supped he made known his errand to the Princess, and
begged her to accompany him to Paris. She agreed only on condition
that he would perform three tasks set him, and when Charles was
curious to know what was required of him she led him into another room
where was a large heap of every kind of seed--corn, barley, clover,
flax--all mixed up anyhow.

"This is the first task," said the Princess: "you must put each kind
of seed into a different heap, so that no single seed shall be out of
its place. This you must accomplish ere to-morrow at sunrise." With
that she left the room.

Charles was in despair, until he bethought him of his friend the King
of the Ants, whom he begged to help him. Scarcely had he uttered the
words when ants began to fill the room, coming from he knew not where.
In less time than it takes to tell they had arranged the seeds into
separate heaps, so that no single seed was out of its place.

When the Princess arrived in the morning she was astonished to find
the hero fast asleep and the work accomplished. All day she
entertained him hospitably in her castle, and at nightfall she showed
him the second task. An avenue of great oaks led down from the castle.
Giving him a wooden axe and a wooden saw, the Princess bade him cut
down all the trees ere morning.

When she had left him Charles called upon the King of the Lions.
Instantly a number of lions bounded upon the scene, and with teeth and
claws soon performed the task.

In the morning the Princess, finding Charles asleep and all the trees
cut down, was more astonished than ever.

The third task was the most difficult of all. A high mountain had to
be levelled to the plain in a single night. Without the help of the
sparrow-hawks, Charles would certainly have failed, but these faithful
creatures worked with a will, and soon had the great mountain carried
away piece by piece and dropped into the sea.

When the Princess came for the third time and found the hero asleep by
the finished task she fell in love with him straightway, and kissed
him softly on the brow.

There was now nothing further to hinder his return, and he begged the
Princess to accompany him to Paris. In due time they arrived in that
city, to be welcomed with great warmth by the people. The beauty of
the lady won all hearts. But great was the general astonishment when
she declared that she would marry, not the King, but the youth who had
brought her to Paris! Charles thereupon declared himself the true
godson of the King, and the monarch, far from being angry, gave the
couple his blessing and great estates; and when in course of time he
died they reigned in his stead.

As for the thief, he was ordered to execution forthwith, and was
roasted to death in a large oven.

_The Princess Starbright_

This is another tale which introduces the search for the sun-princess
in a peculiar setting.

In the long ago there lived near the Lake of Léguer a jolly miller who
found recreation after his work in shooting the wild swans and ducks
which frequented that stretch of water. One December day, when it was
freezing hard and the earth was covered with snow, he observed a
solitary duck near the edge of the lake. He shot at it, and went
forward to pick it up, when he saw to his amazement that it had
changed into a beautiful princess. He was ready to drop into the snow
with fright, but the lady came graciously forward to him, saying:

"Fear not, my brave fellow, for know that I have been enchanted these
many years under the form of a wild duck, because of the enmity of
three malicious demons. You can restore me permanently to my human
shape if you choose to show only a little perseverance and courage."

"Why, what do you desire me to do, madam?" stammered the miller,
abashed by the lady's beauty and condescension.

"What only a brave man could accomplish, my friend," she replied; "all
that you have to do is to pass three consecutive nights in the old
manor which you can see over there."

The miller shuddered, for he had heard the most terrible stories in
connexion with the ruined manor, which had an evil name in the

"Alas! madam," he said, "whom might I not encounter there! Even the
devil himself----"

"My good friend," said the Princess, sadly, "if you do as I ask you
will have to encounter not one but a dozen devils, who will torment
you in every possible way. But fear nothing, for I can provide you
with a magic ointment which will preserve you entirely from all the
injuries they would attempt to inflict upon you. Even if you were dead
I could resuscitate you. I assure you that if you will do as I ask you
will never regret it. Beneath the hearthstone in the hall of the manor
are three casks of gold and three of silver, and all these will belong
to you and to me if you assist me; so put your courage to the proof, I
pray you."

The miller squared his shoulders. "Lady," he said, "I will obey you,
even if I have to face a hundred devils instead of twelve."

The Princess smiled encouragingly and disappeared. On the following
night the miller set out for the old manor, carrying a bundle of
faggots to make a fire, and some cider and tobacco to refresh him
during his vigil. When he arrived in the dismal old place he sat
himself down by the hearth, where he had built a good fire, and lit
his pipe. But he had scarcely done so when he heard a most tremendous
commotion in the chimney. Somewhat scared, he hid himself under an old
bed which stood opposite the hearth, and, gazing anxiously from his
place of concealment, beheld eleven grisly fiends descend from the
flue. They seemed astonished to find a fire on the hearth, and did not
appear to be in the best of tempers.

"Where is Boiteux?" cried one. "Oh," growled another, who appeared to
be the chief of the band, "he is always late."

"Ah, behold him," said a third, as Boiteux arrived by the same road as
his companions.

"Well, comrades," cried Boiteux, "have you heard the news?" The others
shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads sulkily.

"Well," said Boiteux, "I am convinced that the miller of Léguer is
here, and that he is trying to free the Princess from the enchantment
which we have placed upon her."

A hurried search at once took place, the demons scrambling from one
part of the room to the other, tearing down the curtains and making
every effort to discover the hiding-place of the intruder. At last
Boiteux, peering under the bed, saw the miller crouching there, and
cried out: "Here is the rogue beneath the bed."

The unlucky miller was then seized by the foot and dragged into the
shrieking and leaping circle. With a gesture of command the chief
demon subdued the antics of his followers.

"So, my jolly miller," said he, "our friend the Princess has found a
champion in you, has she? Well, we are going to have some sport with
you, which I fear will not be quite to your taste, but I can assure
you that you will not again have the opportunity of assisting a
princess in distress."

With this he seized the miller and thrust him from him with great
force. As he flew like a stone from a sling, another of the fiends
seized him, and the unhappy man was thrown violently about from one to
the other. At last they threw him out of the window into the
courtyard, and as he did not move they thought that he was dead. But
in the midst of their laughter and rejoicing at the easy manner in
which they had got rid of him, cockcrow sounded, and the diabolic
company swiftly disappeared. They had scarcely taken their departure
when the Princess arrived. She tenderly anointed the miller's hurts
from the little pot of magic ointment she had brought with her, and,
nothing daunted, now that he was thoroughly revived, the bold fellow
announced his intention of seeing the matter through and remaining in
the manor for the two following nights.

He had scarcely ensconced himself in his seat by the chimney-side on
the second night when the twelve fiends came tumbling down the chimney
as before. At one end of the room was a large heap of wood, behind
which the miller quickly took refuge.

"I smell the smell of a Christian!" cried Boiteux. A search followed,
and once more the adventurous miller was dragged forth.

"Oho!" cried the leader, "so you are not dead after all! Well, I can
assure you that we shall not botch our work on this occasion."

One of the grisly company placed a large cauldron of oil upon the
fire, and when this was boiling they seized their victim and thrust
him into it. The most dreadful agony seized the miller as the liquid
seethed around his body, and he was just about to faint under the
intensity of the torture when once again the cock crew and the
fiendish band took themselves off. The Princess quickly appeared, and,
drawing the miller from the cauldron, smeared him from head to foot
with the ointment.

On the third night the devils once more found the miller in the
apartment. In dismay Boiteux suggested that he should be roasted on a
spit and eaten, but unluckily for them they took a long time to come
to this conclusion, and when they were about to impale their victim on
the spit, the cock crew and they were forced to withdraw, howling in
baffled rage. The Princess arrived as before, and was delighted to see
that this time her champion did not require any assistance.

"All is well now," she said. "You have freed me from my enchantment
and the treasure is ours."

They raised the hearthstone from its place, and, as she had said, the
three casks of gold and the three casks of silver were found resting
beneath it.

"Take what you wish for yourself," said the Princess. "As for me, I
cannot stay here; I must at once make a journey which will last a year
and a day, after which we shall never part again."

With these words she disappeared. The miller was grieved at her
departure, but, consoling himself with the treasure, made over his
mill to his apprentice and, apprising one of his companions of his
good luck, resolved to go upon a journey with him, until such time as
the Princess should return. He visited the neighbouring countries,
and, with plenty of money at his disposal, found existence very
pleasant indeed. After some eight months of this kind of life, he and
his friend resolved to return to Brittany, and set out on their
journey. One day they encountered on the road an old woman selling
apples. She asked them to buy, but the miller was advised by his
friend not to pay any heed to her. Ignoring the well-meant advice, the
miller laughed and bought three apples. He had scarcely eaten one when
he became unwell. Recalling how the fruit had disagreed with him, he
did not touch the other apples until the day on which the Princess had
declared she would return. When on the way to the manor to meet her,
he ate the second apple. He began to feel sleepy, and, lying down at
the foot of a tree, fell into a deep slumber.

Soon after the Princess arrived in a beautiful star-coloured chariot
drawn by ten horses. When she saw the miller lying sleeping she
inquired of his friend what had chanced to him. The man acquainted her
with the adventure of the apples, and the Princess told him that the
old woman from whom he had purchased them was a sorceress.

"Alas!" she said, "I am unable to take him with me in this condition,
but I will come to this place to-morrow and again on the following
day, and if he be awake I will transport him hence in my chariot. Here
are a golden pear and a handkerchief; give him these and tell him that
I will come again."

She disappeared in her star-coloured equipage. Shortly afterward the
miller wakened, and his friend told him what had occurred and gave him
the pear and the kerchief. The next day the friends once more repaired
to the spot where the Princess had vanished, but in thoughtlessness
the miller had eaten of the third apple, and once more the Princess
found him asleep. In sorrow she promised to return next day for the
last time, once more leaving a golden pear and a handkerchief with his
friend, to whom she said:

"If he is not awake when I come to-morrow he will have to cross three
powers and three seas in order to find me."

Unluckily, however, the miller was still asleep when the Princess
appeared on the following day. She repeated what she had said to his
friend concerning the ordeal that the unfortunate miller would have to
face before he might see her again, and ere she took her departure
left a third pear and a third handkerchief behind her. When the miller
awoke and found that she had gone he went nearly crazy with grief, but
nevertheless he declared his unalterable intention of regaining the
Princess, even if he should have to travel to the ends of the earth in
search of her. Accordingly he set out to find her abode. He walked and
walked innumerable miles, until at last he came to a great forest. As
he arrived at its gloomy borders night fell, and he considered it
safest to climb a tree, from which, to his great satisfaction, he
beheld a light shining in the distance. Descending, he walked in the
direction of the light, and found a tiny hut made of the branches of
trees, in which sat a little old man with a long white beard.

"Good evening, grandfather," said the miller.

"Good evening, my child," replied the old man. "I behold you with
pleasure, for it is eighty years since I have seen any human being."

The miller entered the hut and sat down beside the old man, and after
some conversation told him the object of his journey.

"I will help you, my son," said the ancient. "Do you see these
enchanted gaiters? Well, I wore them at your age. When you buckle them
over your legs you will be able to travel seven leagues at a single
step, and you will arrive without any difficulty at the castle of the
Princess you desire so much to see again."

The miller passed the night in the hut with the old hermit, and on the
following morning, with the rising of the sun, buckled on the magic
gaiters and stepped out briskly. All went well to begin with, nothing
arrested his progress, and he sped over rivers, forests, and
mountains. As the sun was setting he came to the borders of a second
forest, where he observed a second hut, precisely similar to that in
which he had passed the previous night. Going toward it, he found it
occupied by an aged woman, of whom he demanded supper and lodging.

"Alas! my son," said the old woman, "you do ill to come here, for I
have three sons, terrible fellows, who will be here presently, and I
am certain that if you remain they will devour you."

The miller asked the names of the sons, and was informed by the old
woman that they were January, February, and March. From this he
concluded that the crone he was addressing was none other than the
mother of the winds, and on asking her if this was so she admitted
that he had judged correctly. While they were talking there was a
terrible commotion in the chimney, from which descended an enormous
giant with white hair and beard, breathing out clouds of frost.

"Aha!" he cried, "I see, mother, that you have not neglected to
provide for my supper!"

"Softly, softly, good son," said the old dame; "this is little Yves,
my nephew and your cousin; you must not eat him." The giant, who
seemed greatly annoyed, retired into a corner, growling. Shortly
afterward his brothers, February and March, arrived, and were told the
same tale regarding the miller's relationship to them.

Our hero, resolved to profit by the acquaintanceship, asked the
gigantic February if he would carry him to the palace of the Princess,
whom he described.

"Ah," said February, "without doubt you speak of the Princess
Starbright. If you wish I will give you a lift on my back part of the

The miller gratefully accepted the offer, and in the morning mounted
on the back of the mighty wind-giant, who carried him over a great
sea. Then, after traversing much land and a second ocean, and while
crossing a third spacious water, February expressed himself as quite
fatigued and said that he could not carry his new cousin any farther.
The miller glanced beneath him at the great waste of waters and begged
him to make an effort to reach the land on the other side. Giving vent
to a deep-throated grumble, February obeyed, and at last set him down
outside the walls of the town where the castle of the Princess
Starbright was situated. The miller entered the town and came to an
inn, and, having dined, entered into conversation with the hostess,
asking her the news of the place.

"Why," said the woman, amazed, "where do you come from that you don't
know that the Princess Starbright is to be married to-day, and to a
husband that she does not love? The wedding procession will pass the
door in a few moments on its way to the church."

The miller was greatly downcast at these words, but plucking up
courage he placed on a little table before the inn the first of the
pears and handkerchiefs that the Princess had left with his friend.
Shortly afterward the wedding procession passed, and the Princess
immediately remarked the pear and the kerchief, and also recognized
the miller standing close by. She halted, and, feigning illness,
begged that the ceremony might be postponed until the morrow. Having
returned to the palace, she sent one of her women to purchase the
fruit and the handkerchief, and these the miller gave the maiden
without question. On the following day the same thing happened, and on
the third occasion of the Princess's passing the same series of events
occurred. This time the Princess sent for the miller, and the pair
embraced tenderly and wept with joy at having recovered each other.

Now the Princess was as clever as she was beautiful, and she had a
stratagem by which she hoped to marry the miller without undue
opposition on the part of her friends. So she procured the marriage
garments of the prince, her _fiancé_, and attiring the miller in them,
took him to the marriage feast, which had been prepared for the fourth
time at a late hour; but she hid her lover in a secluded corner from
the public gaze. After a while she pretended to be looking for
something, and upon being asked what she had lost, replied:

"I have a beautiful coffer, but, alas! I have lost the key of it. I
have found a new key, but it does not fit the casket; should I not
search until I have recovered the old one?"

"Without doubt!" cried every one. Then the Princess, going to the
place where the miller was concealed, led him forth by the hand.

"My lords and gentles," she said, "the coffer I spoke of is my heart;
here is the one key that can fit it, the key that I had lost and have
found again."

The Princess and the miller were married amid universal rejoicings;
and some time after the ceremony they did not fail to revisit the Lake
of Léguer, the scene of their first meeting, the legend of which still
clings like the mists of evening to its shores.

This quaint and curious tale, in which the native folk-lore and French
elements are so strangely mingled, deals, like its predecessor, with
the theme of the search for the fairy princess. We turn now to another
tale of quest with somewhat similar incidents, where the solar nature
of one of the characters is perhaps more obvious--the quest for the
mortal maiden who has been carried off by the sun-hero. We refrain in
this place from indicating the mythological basis which underlies such
a tale as this, as such a phenomenon is already amply illustrated in
other works in this series.

_The Castle of the Sun_

There once lived a peasant who had seven children, six of them boys
and the seventh a girl. They were very poor and all had to work hard
for a living, but the drudges of the family were the youngest son,
Yvon, and his sister, Yvonne. Because they were gentler and more
delicate than the others, they were looked upon as poor, witless
creatures, and all the hardest work was given them to do. But the
children comforted each other, and became but the better favoured as
they grew up.

One day when Yvonne was taking the cattle to pasture she encountered a
handsome youth, so splendidly garbed that her simple heart was filled
with awe and admiration. To her astonishment he addressed her and
courteously begged her hand in marriage. "To-morrow," he said, "I
shall meet you here at this hour, and you shall give me an answer."

Troubled, yet secretly happy, Yvonne made her way home, and told her
parents all that had chanced. At first they laughed her to scorn, and
refused to believe her story of the handsome prince, but when at
length they were convinced they told her she was free to marry whom
she would.

On the following day Yvonne betook herself to the trysting-place,
where her lover awaited her, even more gloriously resplendent than on
the occasion of his first coming. The very trappings of his horse were
of gleaming gold. At Yvonne's request he accompanied her to her home,
and made arrangements with her kindred for the marriage. To all
inquiries regarding his name and place of abode he returned that these
should be made known on the wedding morning.

Time passed, and on the day appointed the glittering stranger came to
claim his wife. The ceremony over, he swept her into a carriage and
was about to drive away, when her brothers reminded him of his promise
to reveal his identity.

"Where must we go to visit our sister?" they asked.

"Eastward," he replied, "to a palace built of crystal, beyond the Sea
of Darkness."

And with that the pair were gone.

A year elapsed, and the brothers neither saw nor heard anything of
their sister, so that at length they decided to go in search of her.
Yvon would have accompanied them, but they bade him stay at home.

"You are so stupid," they said, "you would be of no use to us."

Eastward they rode, and ever eastward, till at length they found
themselves in the heart of a great forest. Then night came on and they
lost the path. Twice a great noise, like the riot of a tempest, swept
over their heads, leaving them trembling and stricken with panic.

By and by they came upon an old woman tending a great fire, and of her
they inquired how they might reach the abode of their brother-in-law.

"I cannot tell," said the old woman, "but my son may be able to direct

For the third time they heard the noise as of a great wind racing over
the tree-tops.

"Hush!" said the old woman, "it is my son approaching."

He was a huge giant, this son of hers, and when he drew near the fire
he said loudly:

"Oh ho! I smell the blood of a Christian!"

"What!" cried his mother sharply. "Would you eat your pretty cousins,
who have come so far to visit us?"

At that the giant became quite friendly toward his 'cousins,' and when
he learned of their mission even offered to conduct them part of the

Notwithstanding his amiability, however, the brothers spent an anxious
night, and were up betimes on the following morning.

The giant made ready for departure. First of all he bade the old woman
pile fresh fuel on the fire. Then he spread a great black cloth, on
which he made the brothers stand. Finally he strode into the fire, and
when his clothes were consumed the black cloth rose into the air,
bearing the brothers with it. Its going was marked by the sound of
rushing wind which had terrified them on the preceding day. At length
they alighted on a vast plain, half of which was rich and fertile,
while the other half was bleak and arid as a desert. The plain was
dotted with horses, and, curiously enough, those on the arid side were
in splendid condition, whereas those on the fertile part were thin and

The brothers had not the faintest idea of which direction they ought
to take, and after a vain attempt to mount the horses on the plain
they decided to return home. After many wanderings they arrived at
their native place once more.

When Yvon learned of the ill-success which had attended their mission
he decided to go himself in search of his sister, and though his
brothers laughed at him they gave him an old horse and bade him go.

Eastward and eastward he rode, till at length he reached the forest
where the old woman still tended the fire. Seeing that he was strong
and fearless, she directed him by a difficult and dangerous road,
which, however, he must pursue if he wished to see his sister.

It was indeed a place of terrors. Poisonous serpents lay across his
track; ugly thorns and briers sprang underfoot; at one point a lake
barred his way.

Finally a subterranean passage led him into his sister's country,
where everything was of crystal, shining with the splendour of the sun
itself. At the end of a gleaming pathway rose a castle built entirely
of crystal, its innumerable domes and turrets reflecting the light in
a thousand prismatic hues.

Having gained access to the castle through a cave, Yvon wandered
through its many beautiful chambers, till in one of these he came
upon his sister asleep on a silken couch.

Entranced with her beauty, and not daring to wake her, he slipped
behind a curtain and watched her in silence; but as time went on he
marvelled that she did not wake.

At eventide a handsome youth--Yvon's brother-in-law--entered the
chamber, struck Yvonne sharply three times, then flung himself down by
her side and went to sleep. All night Yvon waited in his place of
concealment. In the morning the young man rose from his couch, gave
his wife three resounding blows, and went away. Only then did Yvon
emerge and wake his sister.

Brother and sister exchanged a tender greeting, and found much to talk
of after their long separation. Yvon learned that the country to which
he had come was a peculiar place, where meat and drink could be
entirely dispensed with, while even sleep was not a necessity.

"Tell me, Yvonne," he said, remembering what he had seen of his
brother-in-law, "does your husband treat you well?"

Yvonne assured him that her husband was all she could wish--that she
was perfectly happy.

"Is he always absent during the day?" he asked anxiously.


"Do you know where he goes?"

"I do not, my brother."

"I have a mind," said Yvon, "to ask him to let me accompany him on his
journey. What say you, sister?"

"It is a very good plan," said Yvonne.

At sundown her husband returned home. He and Yvon became very good
friends, and the latter begged to be allowed to accompany him on his
journey the following day.

"You may do so," was the response, "but only on one condition: if you
touch or address anyone save me you must return home."

Yvon readily agreed to accept the condition, and early next morning
the two set off. Ere long they came to a wide plain, one half of which
was green and fruitful, while the other half was barren and dry. On
this plain cattle were feeding, and those on the arid part were fat
and well-conditioned, while the others were mean and shrivelled to a
degree. Yvon learned from his companion that the fat cattle
represented those who were contented with their meagre lot, while the
lean animals were those who, with a plentiful supply of worldly goods,
were yet miserable and discontented.

Many other strange things they saw as they went, but that which seemed
strangest of all to Yvon was the sight of two trees lashing each other
angrily with their branches, as though each would beat the other to
the ground.

Laying his hands on them, he forbade them to fight, and lo! in a
moment they became two human beings, a man and wife, who thanked Yvon
for releasing them from an enchantment under which they had been laid
as a punishment for their perpetual bickering.

Anon they reached a great cavern from which weird noises proceeded,
and Yvon would fain have advanced farther; but his companion forbade
him, reminding him that in disenchanting the trees he had failed to
observe the one essential condition, and must return to the palace
where his sister dwelt.

There Yvon remained for a few days longer, after which his
brother-in-law directed him by a speedy route to his home.

"Go," said the prince, "but ere long you will return, and then it will
be to remain with us for ever."

On reaching his native village Yvon found all trace of his dwelling
gone. Greatly bewildered, he inquired for his father by name. An old
greybeard replied.

"I have heard of him," he said. "He lived in the days when my
grandfather's grandfather was but a boy, and now he sleeps in the
churchyard yonder."

Only then did Yvon realize that his visit to his sister had been one,
not of days, but of generations!

_The Seigneur with the Horse's Head_

Famous among all peoples is the tale of the husband surrounded by
mystery--bespelled in animal form, like the Prince in the story of
Beauty and the Beast, nameless, as in that of Lohengrin, or unbeheld
of his spouse, as in the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Among uncivilized
peoples it is frequently forbidden to the wife to see her husband's
face until some time after marriage, and the belief that ill-luck will
befall one or both should this law be disregarded runs through
primitive story, being perhaps reminiscent of a time when the man of
an alien or unfriendly tribe crept to his wife's lodge or hut under
cover of darkness and returned ere yet the first glimmer of dawn might
betray him to the men of her people. The story which follows, however,
deals with the theme of the enchanted husband whose wife must not
speak to anyone until her first child receives the sacrament of
baptism, and is, perhaps, unique of its kind.

There lived at one time in the old château of Kerouez, in the commune
of Loguivy-Plougras, a rich and powerful seigneur, whose only sorrow
was the dreadful deformity of his son, who had come into the world
with a horse's head. He was naturally kept out of sight as much as
possible, but when he had attained the age of eighteen years he told
his mother one day that he desired to marry, and requested her to
interview a farmer in the vicinity who had three pretty young
daughters, in order that she might arrange a match with one of them.

The good lady did as she was requested, not without much embarrassment
and many qualms of conscience, and after conversing upon every
imaginable subject, at length gently broke the object of her visit to
the astonished farmer. The poor man was at first horrified, but little
by little the lady worked him into a good humour, so that at last he
consented to ask his daughters if any one of them would agree to marry
the afflicted young lord. The two elder girls indignantly refused the
offer, but when it was made plain to them that she who espoused the
seigneur would one day be châtelaine of the castle and become a fine
lady, the eldest daughter somewhat reluctantly consented and the match
was agreed upon.

Some days afterward the bride-to-be happened to pass the castle and
saw the servants washing the linen, when one cried to her:

"How in the world can a fine girl like you be such a fool as to throw
herself away on a man with a horse's head?"

"Bah!" she replied, "he is rich, and, let me tell you, we won't be
married for long, for on the bridal night I shall cut his throat."

Just at that moment a gay cavalier passed and smiled at the farmer's

"You are having a strange conversation, mademoiselle," he said. She
coloured and looked somewhat confused.

"Well, sir," she replied, "it is hateful to be mocked by these wenches
because I have the bad luck to be espoused to a seigneur with a
horse's head, and I assure you I feel so angry that I shall certainly
carry out my threat."

The unknown laughed shortly and went his way. In time the night of the
nuptials arrived. A grand _fête_ was held at the château, and, the
ceremony over, the bridesmaids conducted the young wife to her
chamber. The bridegroom shortly followed, and to the surprise of his
wife, no sooner had the hour of sunset come than his horse's head
disappeared and he became exactly as other men. Approaching the bed
where his bride lay, he suddenly seized her, and before she could cry
out or make the least clamour he killed her in the manner in which she
had threatened to kill him.

In the morning his mother came to the chamber, and was horrified at
the spectacle she saw.

"Gracious heavens! my son, what have you done?" she cried.

"I have done that, my mother," replied her son, "which was about to be
done to me."

Three months afterward the young seigneur asked his mother to repair
once more to the farmer with the request that another of his daughters
might be given him in marriage. The second daughter, ignorant of the
manner of her sister's death, and mindful of the splendid wedding
festivities, embraced the proposal with alacrity. Like her sister, she
chanced to be passing the washing-green of the castle one day, and the
laundresses, knowing of her espousal, taunted her upon it, so that at
last she grew very angry and cried:

"I won't be troubled long with the animal, I can assure you, for on
the very night that I wed him I shall kill him like a pig!"

At that very moment the same unknown gentleman who had overheard the
fatal words of her sister passed, and said:

"How now, young women, that's very strange talk of yours!"

"Well, monseigneur," stammered the betrothed girl, "they are twitting
me upon marrying a man with a horse's head; but I will cut his throat
on the night of our wedding with as little conscience as I would cut
the throat of a pig." The unknown gentleman laughed as he had done
before and passed upon his way.

As on the previous occasion, the wedding was celebrated with all the
pomp and circumstance which usually attends a Breton ceremony of the
kind, and in due time the bride was conducted to her chamber, only to
be found in the morning weltering in her blood.

At the end of another three months the seigneur dispatched his mother
for the third time to the farmer, with the request that his younger
daughter might be given him in marriage, but on this occasion her
parents were by no means enraptured with the proposal. When the great
lady, however, promised them that if they consented to the match they
would be given the farm to have and to hold as their own property,
they found the argument irresistible and reluctantly agreed. Strange
to say, the girl herself was perfectly composed about the matter, and
gave it as her opinion that if her sisters had met with a violent
death they were entirely to blame themselves, for some reason which
she could not explain, and she added that she thought that their loose
and undisciplined way of talking had had much to do with their
untimely fate. Just as her sisters had been, she too was taunted by
the laundresses regarding her choice of a husband, but her answer to
them was very different.

"If they met with their deaths," she said, "it was because of their
wicked utterances. I do not in the least fear that I shall have the
same fate."

As before the unknown seigneur passed, but this time, without saying
anything, he hurried on his way and was soon lost to view.

The wedding of the youngest sister was even more splendid than that of
the two previous brides. On the following morning the young seigneur's
mother hastened with fear and trembling to the marriage chamber, and
to her intense relief found that her daughter-in-law was alive. For
some months the bride lived happily with her husband, who every night
at set of sun regained his natural appearance as a young and handsome
man. In due time a son was born to them, who had not the least sign of
his semi-equine parentage, and when they were about to have the infant
baptized the father said to the young mother:

"Hearken to what I have to say. I was condemned to suffer the horrible
enchantment you know of until such time as a child should be born to
me, and I shall be immediately delivered from the curse whenever this
infant is baptized. But take care that you do not speak a word until
the baptismal bells cease to sound, for if you utter a syllable, even
to your mother, I shall disappear on the instant and you will never
see me more."

Full of the resolve not to utter a single sound, the young mother, who
lay in bed, kept silent, until at last she heard the sound of bells,
when, in her joy, forgetting the warning, she turned to her mother,
who sat near, with words of congratulation on her lips. A few moments
afterward her husband rushed into the room, the horse's head still
upon his shoulders. He was covered with sweat, and panted fiercely.

"Ah, miserable woman," he cried, "what have you done? I must leave
you, and you shall never see me more!" and he made as if to quit the
room. His wife rose from her bed, and strove to detain him, but he
struck at her with his fist. The blood trickled out and made three
spots on his shirt.

"Behold these spots," cried the young wife; "they shall never
disappear until I find you."

"And I swear to you," cried her husband, "that you will never find me
until you have worn out three pairs of iron shoes in doing so."

With these words he ran off at such speed that the poor wife could not
follow him, and, fainting, she sank to the ground.

Some time after her husband had left her the young wife had three
pairs of iron shoes made and went in search of him. After she had
travelled about the world for nearly ten years the last pair of shoes
began to show signs of wear, when she found herself one day at a
castle where the servants were hanging out the clothes to dry, and she
heard one of the laundresses say:

"Do you see this shirt? I declare it is enchanted, for although I have
washed it again and again I cannot rub out these three spots of blood
which you see upon it."

When the wanderer heard this she approached the laundress and said to
her: "Let me try, I pray you. I think I can wash the shirt clean."

They gave her the shirt, she washed it, and the spots disappeared. So
grateful was the laundress that she bade the stranger go to the castle
and ask for a meal and a bed. These were willingly granted her, and at
night she was placed in a small apartment next to that occupied by the
lord of the castle. From what she had seen she was sure that her
husband was the lord himself, so when she heard the master of the
house enter the room next door she knocked upon the boards which
separated it from her own. Her husband, for he it was, replied from
the other side; then, entering her room, he recognized his wife, and
they were happily united after the years of painful separation. To the
wife's great joy her husband was now completely restored to his proper
form, and nothing occurred to mar their happiness for the rest of
their lives.

_The Bride of Satan_

Weird and terrible as are many of the darksome legends of Brittany, it
may be doubted if any are more awe-inspiring than that which we are
now about to relate. "Those who are affianced three times without
marrying shall burn in hell," says an old Breton proverb, and it is
probably this aphorism which has given the Bretons such a strong
belief in the sacred nature of a betrothal. The fantastic ballad from
which this story is taken is written in the dialect of Léon, and the
words are put into the mouth of a maiden of that country. Twice had
she been betrothed. On the last occasion she had worn a robe of the
finest stuff, embroidered with twelve brilliant stars and having the
figures of the sun and moon painted upon it, like the lady in Madame
d'Aulnoy's story of _Finette Cendron_ (_Cinderella_). On the occasion
when she went to meet her third _fiancé_ in church she almost fainted
as she turned with her maidens into the little road leading up to the
building, for there before her was a great lord clad in steel
_cap-à-pie_, wearing on his head a casque of gold, his shoulders
covered by a blood-coloured mantle. Strange lights flashed from his
eyes, which glittered under his casque like meteors. By his side stood
a huge black steed, which ever and again struck the ground impatiently
with his hoofs, throwing up sparks of fire.

The priest was waiting in the church, the bridegroom arrived, but the
bride did not come. Where had she gone? She had stepped on board a
barque with the dark steel-clad lord, and the ship passed silently
over the waters until it vanished among the shadows of night. Then the
lady turned to her husband.

"What gloomy waters are these through which we sail, my lord?" she

"This is the Lake of Anguish," he replied in hollow tones. "We sail to
the Place of Skulls, at the mouth of Hell."

At this the wretched bride wept bitterly. "Take back your wedding-ring!"
she cried. "Take back your dowry and your bridal gifts!"

But he answered not. Down they descended into horrid darkness, and as
the unhappy maiden fell there rang in her ears the cries of the

[Illustration: THE BRIDE OF SATAN]

This tale is common to many countries. The fickle maiden is everywhere
regarded among primitive peoples with dislike and distrust. But
perhaps the folk-ballad which most nearly resembles that just related
is the Scottish ballad of _The Demon Lover_, which inspired the late
Hamish MacCunn, the gifted Scottish composer, in the composition of
his weird and striking orchestral piece, _The Ship o' the Fiend_.

_The Baron of Jauioz_

Another tradition which tells of the fate of an unhappy maiden is
enshrined in the ballad of _The Baron of Jauioz_. Louis, Baron of
Jauioz, in Languedoc, was a French warrior of considerable renown who
flourished in the fourteenth century, and who took part in many of the
principal events of that stirring epoch, fighting against the English
in France and Flanders under the Duke of Berry, his overlord. Some
years later he embarked for the Holy Land, but, if we may believe
Breton tradition, he returned, and while passing through the duchy
fell in love with and actually bought for a sum of money a young
Breton girl, whom he carried away with him to France. The unfortunate
maiden, so far from being attracted by the more splendid environment
of his castle, languished and died.

"I hear the note of the death-bird," the ballad begins sadly; "is it
true, my mother, that I am sold to the Baron of Jauioz?"

"Ask your father, little Tina, ask your father," is the callous reply,
and the question is then put to her father, who requests the
unfortunate damsel to ask her brother, a harsh rustic who does not
scruple to tell her the brutal truth, and adds that she must depart
immediately. The girl asks what dress she must wear, her red gown, or
her gown of white delaine.

"It matters little, my daughter," says the heartless mother. "Your
lover waits at the door mounted on a great black horse. Go to him on
the instant."

As she leaves her native village the clocks are striking, and she
weeps bitterly.

"Adieu, Saint Anne!" she says. "Adieu, bells of my native land!"

Passing the Lake of Anguish she sees a band of the dead, white and
shadowy, crossing the watery expanse in their little boats. As she
passes them she can hear their teeth chatter. At the Valley of Blood
she espies other unfortunates. Their hearts are sunken in them and all
memory has left them.

After this terrible ride the Baron and Tina reach the castle of
Jauioz. The old man seats himself near the fire. He is black and
ill-favoured as a carrion crow. His beard and his hair are white, and
his eyes are like firebrands.

"Come hither to me, my child," says he, "come with me from chamber to
chamber that I may show you my treasures."

"Ah, seigneur," she replies, the tears falling fast, "I had rather be
at home with my mother counting the chips which fall from the fire."

"Let us descend, then, to the cellar, where I will show you the rich
wines in the great bins."

"Ah, sir, I would rather quaff the water of the fields that my
father's horses drink."

"Come with me, then, to the shops, and I will buy you a sumptuous

"Better that I were wearing the working dress that my mother made

The seigneur turns from her in anger. She lingers at the window and
watches the birds, begging them to take a message from her to her

At night a gentle voice whispers: "My father, my mother, for the love
of God, pray for me!" Then all is silence.

In this striking ballad we find strong traces of the Breton love of
country and other national traits. The death-bird alluded to is a grey
bird which sings during the winter in the Landes country in a voice
soft and sad. It is probably a bird of the osprey species. It is
thought that the girl who hears it sing is doomed to misfortune. The
strange and ghostly journey of the unhappy Tina recalls the _mise en
scène_ of such ballads as _The Bride of Satan_, and it would seem that
she passes through the Celtic Tartarus. It is plain that the Seigneur
of Jauioz by his purchase of their countrywoman became so unpopular
among the freedom-loving Bretons that at length they magnified him
into a species of demon--a traditionary fate which he thoroughly
deserved, if the heartrending tale concerning his victim has any
foundation in fact.

_The Man of Honour_

The tale of the man who is helped by the grateful dead is by no means
confined to Brittany. Indeed, in folk-tale the dead are often jealous
of the living and act toward them with fiendish malice. But in the
following we have a story in which a dead man shows his gratitude to
the living for receiving the boon of Christian burial at his hands.

There was once a merchant-prince who had gained a great fortune by
trading on land and sea. Many ships were his, and with these he traded
to far countries, reaping a rich harvest. He had a son named Iouenn,
and he was desirous that he too should embrace the career of a
merchant and become rich. When, therefore, Iouenn declared his
willingness to trade in distant lands his father was delighted and
gave him a ship full of Breton merchandise, with instructions to sell
it to the best advantage in a foreign country and return home with the
gold thus gained.

After a successful voyage the vessel arrived at a foreign port, and
Iouenn presented his father's letters to the merchants there, and
disposed of his cargo so well that he found himself in possession of a
large sum of money. One day as he was walking on the outskirts of the
city he saw a large number of dogs gathered round some object, barking
at it and worrying it. Approaching them, he discovered that that which
they were worrying was nothing less than the corpse of a man. Making
inquiries, he found that the unfortunate wretch had died deeply in
debt, and that his body had been thrown into the roadway to be eaten
by the dogs. Iouenn was shocked to see such an indignity offered to
the dead, and out of the kindness of his heart chased the dogs away,
paid the debts of the deceased, and granted his body the last rites of

A few days afterward he left the port where these things had happened
and set out on his homeward voyage. He had not sailed far when one of
the mariners drew his attention to a strange ship a little distance
away, which appeared to be draped entirely in black.

"That is indeed a curious vessel," said Iouenn. "Wherefore is it
draped in black? and for what reason do those on board bewail so

While he spoke the ship drew nearer, and Iouenn called to the people
who thronged its decks, asking why they made such loud laments.

"Alas! good sir," replied the captain of the strange ship, "not far
from here is an island inhabited by an enormous serpent, which for
seven years has demanded an annual tribute of a royal princess, and we
are now bearing another victim to her doom."

Iouenn laughed. "Where is the Princess?" he asked. At that moment the
Princess came on deck, weeping and wringing her hands. Iouenn was so
struck by her beauty that he there and then declared in the most
emphatic manner that she should never become the prey of the serpent.
On learning from the captain that he would hand over the maiden if a
sufficient bribe were forthcoming, he paid over to him the last of the
money he had gained from his trading, and taking the Princess on his
own vessel sailed homeward.

In due time Iouenn arrived home and was welcomed with delight by his
father; but when the old man learned the story of what had been done
with his money he was furious; nor would he believe for a moment that
the lady his son had rescued was a veritable princess, but chased
Iouenn from his presence with hard and bitter words. Nevertheless
Iouenn married the royal lady he had rescued, and they started
housekeeping in a tiny dwelling. Time went on, and the Princess
presented her husband with a little son, but by this time fortune had
smiled upon Iouenn, for an uncle of his, who was also a merchant, had
entrusted him with a fine vessel to trade in Eastern lands; so, taking
with him the portraits of his wife and child, he set out on his
voyage. With a fresh wind and favourable conditions generally he was
not long in coming to the city where his wife's father reigned. Now,
some mariners of the port, having entered the ship out of curiosity,
observed the portrait of the Princess, and informed the King of the
circumstance. The King himself came to the ship and demanded to know
what had become of his daughter. Iouenn did not, of course, realize
that the monarch was his father-in-law, and assured him that he knew
nothing of his daughter, whereupon the King, growing very angry, had
him cast into prison and ordered his ship to be broken to pieces and
burned. In prison Iouenn made friends with his gaoler, to whom he
related his history, which the gaoler in turn told the King, with the
result that the prisoner was brought before the monarch, who desired
him to set out at once to bring his daughter back, and for this
purpose fitted him out with a new vessel. But the old monarch took the
precaution of sending two of his ministers along with the Breton
sailor in case he should not return. The party soon came to Brittany,
and found the Princess and her infant safe.

Now one of the King's ministers had loved the Princess for a long
time, and consequently did not regard her husband with any great
degree of favour; so when they re-embarked on the return journey to
her father's kingdom her suspicions were aroused, and, fully aware of
the minister's crafty nature, she begged her husband to remain with
her as much as possible. But Iouenn liked to be on the bridge, whence
he could direct the operations of his mariners, and laughed at his
wife's fears. One night as he leaned over the side of the vessel,
gazing upon the calm of the star-strewn sea, his enemy approached very
stealthily and, seizing him by the legs, cast him headlong into the
waters. After this he waited for a few moments, and, hearing no
sound, cried out that the captain had fallen overboard. A search was
made, but with no avail. The Princess was distraught, and in the
belief that her husband had perished remained in her cabin lamenting.
But Iouenn was a capital swimmer and struck out lustily. He swam
around for a long time, without, however, encountering any object upon
which he could lay hold to support himself. Meanwhile the ship sailed
on her course, and in due time arrived at the kingdom of the
Princess's father, by whom she was received with every demonstration
of joy. Great festivities were announced, and so pleased was the old
King at his daughter's return that he willingly consented to her
marriage with the treacherous minister, whom he regarded as the
instrument of her deliverance. But the Princess put off the
wedding-day by every possible artifice, for she felt in her heart that
her husband was not really lost to her.

Let us return now to Iouenn. After swimming for some time he came upon
a barren rock in the middle of the ocean, and here, though beaten upon
by tempests and without any manner of shelter save that afforded by a
cleft in the rock, he succeeded in living for three years upon the
shell-fish which he gathered on the shores of his little domain. In
that time he had grown almost like a savage. His clothes had fallen
off him and he was thickly covered with matted hair. The only mark of
civilization he bore was a chain of gold encircling his neck, the gift
of his wife. One night he was sitting in his small dwelling munching
his wretched supper of shell-fish when an eerie sound broke the
stillness. He started violently. Surely these were human accents that
he heard--yet not altogether human, for their weird cadence held
something of the supernatural, and cold as he was he felt himself
grow still more chilly.

"Cold, cold," cried the voice, and a dreadful chattering of teeth
ended in a long-drawn wail of "Hou, hou, hou!"

The sound died away and once more he was left amid the great silence
of the sea.

The next evening brought the same experience, but although Iouenn was
brave he dared not question his midnight visitor. On the third
occasion, however, he demanded: "Who is there?"

Out of the darkness there crawled a man completely naked, his body
covered with blood and horrible wounds, the eyes fixed and glassy.

Iouenn trembled with horror. "In the name of God, who are you?" he

"Ha, so you do not remember me, Iouenn?" asked the phantom. "I am that
unfortunate man whose body you gave decent burial, and now I have come
to help you in turn. Without doubt you wish to leave this desert rock
on which you have suffered so long."

"I do, most devoutly," replied Iouenn.

"Well, you will have to make haste," said the dead man, "for
to-morrow your wife is going to be married to the minister of your
father-in-law, the wretch who cast you into the sea. Now if you will
promise to give me a share of all that belongs to yourself and your
wife within a year and a day, I will carry you at once to the palace
of your father-in-law."

Iouenn promised to do as the phantom requested, and the dread being
then asked him to mount upon his back. Iouenn did so, and the corpse
then plunged into the sea, and, swimming swiftly, soon brought him to
the port where his father-in-law reigned. When it had set him safely
on shore it turned and with a wave of its gaunt white arm cried, "In a
year and a day," then plunged back into the sea.

When the door-keeper of the palace opened the gate in the morning he
was astounded to see what appeared to be an animal crouching on the
ground outside and crying for help. It was Iouenn. The palace lackeys
crowded round him and threw him morsels of bread, which he devoured
with avidity. One of the waiting-women told the Princess of the
strange being who crouched outside. She descended in order to view
him, and at once observed the golden chain she had given to her
husband round his neck. Iouenn immediately rushed to embrace her. She
took him to her chamber and clothed him suitably. By this time the
bridal preparations had been completed, and, like the Princess in the
story of the Miller of Léguer, the bride asked the advice of the
company as to whether it were better to search for an old key that
fitted a coffer in her possession or make use of a new key which did
not fit; the coffer, of course, being her heart and the respective
keys her husband and the minister. All the company advised searching
for the old key, when she produced Iouenn and explained what she had
meant. The crafty minister grew pale as death at sight of Iouenn, and
the King stormed furiously.

"Ho, there!" he cried, "build a great fire, varlets, and cast this
slave into it." All the company thought at first that his words were
intended to apply to Iouenn, but when they saw him point at the
minister whose guilt the Princess had made plain, they applauded and
the wretch was hurried away to his doom.

Iouenn and the Princess lived happily at the Court, and in time a
second little son was born to them. Their first child had died, and
they were much rejoiced at its place being filled. Iouenn had entirely
forgotten his indebtedness to the dead man, but one day in the month
of November, when his wife was sitting quietly by the fire nursing her
infant, with her husband opposite her, three loud knocks resounded
upon the door, which flew open and revealed the horrible form of the
corpse to which Iouenn owed his freedom. The Princess shrieked at
sight of the phantom, which said in deep tones: "Iouenn, remember thy

Trembling, Iouenn turned to his wife and asked her for the keys of
their treasure-house, that he might give their terrible visitor a
portion of their wealth, but with a disdainful wave of its arm the
apparition bade him cease. "It is not your wealth I require, Iouenn,"
it said in hollow tones. "Behold that which I desire," and it pointed
to the infant slumbering in its mother's arms.

Once more the Princess cried aloud, and clasped her little one to her

"My infant!" cried Iouenn in despair. "Never!"

"If you are a man of honour," said the corpse, "think of your promise
made on the barren rock."

"It is true," said Iouenn, wringing his hands, "but oh, remember how I
saved your body from the dogs."

"I only ask what is my due," said the ghost. "Besides, I do not desire
all your infant, but a share of it only."

"Wretch!" cried Iouenn, "are you without a heart? Have then your wish,
for honour with me is above all." The infant was then undressed and
laid between the two upon a table.

"Take your sword," said the phantom, "and cut off a portion for me."

"Ah, I would that I were on that desert rock in the middle of the
ocean!" cried the unhappy father. He raised his weapon and was about
to strike, when the phantom called upon him to hold.

"Harm not your infant, Iouenn," it cried. "I see clearly that you are
a man of honour and that you have not forgotten the service I rendered
you; nor do I fail to remember what you did for me, and how it is
through you that I am able to dwell in Paradise, which I would not
have been permitted to enter had my debts not been paid and my body
given burial. Farewell, until we meet above." And with these words the
apparition vanished.

Iouenn and the Princess lived long, respected by all, and when the old
King died Iouenn, the man of his word, was made King in his place.


The stories told here under the title of 'folk-tales' are such as do
not partake so much of the universal element which enters so largely
into Breton romance, but those which have a more national or even
local tinge and are yet not legendary. The homely flavour attached to
many stories of this kind is very apparent, and it is evident that
they have been put together in oral form by unknown 'makers,' some of
whom had either a natural or artistic aptitude for story-telling. In
the first of the following tales it is curious to note how the ancient
Breton theme has been put by its peasant narrator into almost a modern

_The Magic Rose_

An aged Breton couple had two sons, the elder of whom went to Paris to
seek his fortune, while the younger one was timid by nature and would
not leave the paternal roof. His mother, who felt the burden of her
age, wished the stay-at-home to marry. At first he would not hear of
the idea, but at last, persuaded by her, he took a wife. He had only
been married a few weeks, however, when his young bride sickened and
died. La Rose, for such was his name, was inconsolable. Every evening
he went to the cemetery where his wife was buried, and wept over her

One night he was about to enter the graveyard on his sad errand when
he beheld a terrible phantom standing before him, which asked him in
awful tones what he did there.

"I am going to pray at the tomb of my wife," replied the terrified La

"Do you wish that she were alive again?" asked the spirit.

"Ah, yes!" cried the sorrowing husband. "There is nothing that I would
not do in order that she might be restored to me."

"Hearken, then," said the phantom. "Return to this place to-morrow
night at the same hour. Provide yourself with a pick and you will see
what comes to pass."

On the following night the young widower was punctually at the
rendezvous. The phantom presented itself before him and said:

"Go to the tomb of your wife and strike it with your pick; the earth
will turn aside and you will behold her lying in her shroud. Take this
little silver box, which contains a rose; open it and pass it before
her nostrils three times, when she will awake as if from a deep

La Rose hastened to the tomb of his wife, and everything happened as
the phantom had predicted. He placed the box containing the rose to
his wife's nostrils and she awoke with a sigh, saying: "Ah, I have
been asleep for a long time." Her husband provided her with clothes
which he had brought with him, and they returned to their house, much
to the joy of his parents.

Some time afterward La Rose's father died at a great age, and the
grief-stricken mother was not long in following him to the grave. La
Rose wrote to his brother in Paris to return to Brittany in order to
receive his portion of the paternal inheritance, but he was unable to
leave the capital, so La Rose had perforce to journey to Paris. He
promised his wife before leaving that he would write to her every
day, but on his arrival in the city he found his brother very ill, and
in the anxiety of nursing him back to health he quite forgot to send
his wife news of how he fared.

The weeks passed and La Rose's wife, without word of her husband,
began to dread that something untoward had happened to him. Day by day
she sat at her window weeping and watching for the courier who brought
letters from Paris. A regiment of dragoons chanced to be billeted in
the town, and the captain, who lodged at the inn directly opposite La
Rose's house, was greatly attracted by the young wife. He inquired of
the landlady who was the beautiful dame who sat constantly weeping at
her window, and learned the details of her history. He wrote a letter
to her purporting to come from La Rose's brother in Paris, telling her
that her husband had died in the capital, and some time after paid his
addresses to the supposed widow, who accepted him. They were married,
and when the regiment left the town the newly wedded pair accompanied

Meanwhile La Rose's brother recovered from his illness, and the eager
husband hastened back to Brittany. But when he arrived at his home he
was surprised to find the doors closed, and was speedily informed of
what had occurred during his absence. For a while he was too
grief-stricken to act, but, recovering himself somewhat, he resolved
to enlist in the regiment of dragoons in which the false captain held
his commission. The beauty of his handwriting procured him the post of
secretary to one of the lieutenants, but although he frequently
attempted to gain sight of his wife he never succeeded in doing so.
One day the captain entered the lieutenant's office, observed the
writing of La Rose, and asked his brother officer if he would kindly
lend him his secretary for a few days to assist him with some
correspondence. While helping the captain La Rose beheld his wife, who
did not, however, recognize him. Greatly pleased with his work, the
captain invited him to dinner. During the repast a servant, who had
stolen a silver dish, fearing that it was about to be missed, slid it
into La Rose's pocket, and when it could not be found, accused the
secretary of the theft. La Rose was brought before a court-martial,
which condemned him to be shot.

While in prison awaiting his execution La Rose struck up an
acquaintance with an old veteran named Père La Chique, who brought him
his meals and seemed kindly disposed to him.

"Père La Chique," said La Rose one day, "I have two thousand francs;
if you will do as I ask you they shall be yours."

The veteran promised instantly, and La Rose requested that after he
was shot La Chique should go to the cemetery where he was buried and
resuscitate him with the magic rose, which he had carefully preserved.
On the appointed day La Rose was duly executed, but Père La Chique,
with his pockets full of money, went from inn to inn, drinking and
making merry. Whenever the thought of La Rose crossed his mind, he
muttered to himself in bibulous accents: "Poor fellow, poor fellow, he
is better dead. This is a weary world; why should I bring him back to

When Père La Chique had caroused with his comrades for some days the
two thousand francs had almost disappeared. Then remorse assailed him
and he made up his mind to do as La Rose had wished. Taking a pick
and an axe he went to the graveyard, but when he struck the grave with
his tools and the earth rolled back, disclosing the body of La Rose,
the old fellow was so terrified that he ran helter-skelter from the
spot. A draught of good wine brought back his failing courage,
however, and he returned and passed the rose three times under the
nostrils of his late acquaintance. Instantly La Rose sat up.

"By my faith, I've had a good sleep!" he said, rubbing his eyes.
"Where are my clothes?"

Père La Chique handed him his garments, and after he had donned them
they quitted the graveyard with all haste.

La Rose now found it necessary to cast about for a living. One day he
heard the sound of a drum in the street, and, following it, found that
it was beaten by a crier who promised in the King's name a large
reward to those who would enlist as sentinels to guard a chapel where
the King's daughter, who had been changed into a monster, was
imprisoned. La Rose accepted the offer, and then learned to his dismay
that the sentinel who guarded the place between the hours of eleven
and midnight was never seen again. On the very first night that he
took up his duties this perilous watch fell to his lot. He felt his
courage deserting him, and he was about to fly when he heard a voice
say: "La Rose, where are you?"

La Rose trembled. "What do you wish with me?" he asked.

"Hearken to me, and no evil will befall you," replied the voice. "Soon
a great and grisly beast will appear. Leave your musket by the side of
the sentry-box, climb on the top, and the beast will not touch you."

As eleven o'clock struck La Rose heard a noise and hastened to climb
on the top of the sentry-box. Soon a hideous monster came out of the
chapel, breathing flames and crying: "Sentinel of my father, where art
thou, that I may devour thee?" As it uttered these words, it fell
against the musket, which it seized between its teeth. Then the
creature disappeared into the chapel and La Rose descended from his
perch. He found the musket broken into a thousand pieces.

The old King was delighted to learn that his sentinel had not been
devoured, for in order that his daughter should be delivered from her
enchantment as a beast it was necessary that the same sentinel should
mount guard for three consecutive nights between the hours of eleven
and midnight.

On the following night La Rose was pacing up and down on guard, when
the same voice addressed him, telling him on this occasion to place
his musket before the door of the chapel. The beast issued as before,
seized the musket, broke it into small pieces, and returned to the
chapel. On the third night the voice advised him to throw open the
door of the chapel, and when the beast came out to run into the
building himself, where he would see a leaden shrine, behind which he
could take refuge, and where he would find a small bottle, with the
contents of which he was to sprinkle the beast's head. With its usual
dreadful roar the monster issued from the chapel. La Rose leapt past
it and ran for the leaden shrine. It followed him with hideous howls,
and he only reached the protective sanctuary in time. Seizing the
little bottle which lay there, he fearlessly fronted the beast and
sprinkled its contents over its head. Instantly it changed into a
beautiful princess, whom La Rose escorted to her delighted parents. La
Rose and the princess were betrothed and duly married, and shortly
afterward the King gave up his throne to his son-in-law.

One day the new King was inspecting the regiment of dragoons to which
he had once belonged.

"Colonel," he said, "I miss a man from your regiment."

"It is true, sire," replied the Colonel. "It is an old fellow called
Père La Chique, whom we have left at the barracks playing his violin,
the old good-for-nothing!"

"I wish to see him," said the King.

Père La Chique was brought forward trembling, and the King, tearing
the epaulettes from the shoulders of the captain who had stolen his
wife, placed them on those of Père La Chique. He then gave orders for
a great fire to be lit, in which were burned the wicked captain and
the wife who had so soon forgotten her husband.

La Rose and his Queen lived happily ever afterward--which is rather
odd, is it not, when one thinks of the treatment meted out to his
resuscitated spouse? But if the lights in folk-tale are bright, the
shadows are correspondingly heavy, and rarely does justice go hand in
hand with mercy in legend!

_Norouas, the North-west Wind_

Brittany has an entire cycle of folk-tales dealing with the subject of
the winds--which, indeed, play an extraordinary part in Breton
folk-lore. The fishermen of the north coast frequently address the
winds as if they were living beings, hurling opprobrious epithets at
them if the direction in which they blow does not suit their purpose,
shaking their fists at them in a most menacing manner the while. The
following story, the only wind-tale it is possible to give here, well
illustrates this personalization of the winds by the Breton folk.

There was once a goodman and his wife who had a little field on which
they grew flax. One season their patch yielded a particularly fine
crop, and after it had been cut they laid it out to dry. But Norouas,
the North-west Wind, came along and with one sweep of his mighty wings
tossed it as high as the tree-tops, so that it fell into the sea and
was lost.

When the goodman saw what had happened he began to swear at the Wind,
and, taking his stick, he set out to follow and slay Norouas, who had
spoiled his flax. So hasty had he been in setting forth that he had
taken no food or money with him, and when evening came he arrived at
an inn hungry and penniless. He explained his plight to the hostess,
who gave him a morsel of bread and permitted him to sleep in a corner
of the stable. In the morning he asked the dame the way to the abode
of Norouas, and she conducted him to the foot of a mountain, where she
said the Winds dwelt.

The goodman climbed the mountain, and at the top met with Surouas, the
South-west Wind.

"Are you he whom they call Norouas?" he asked.

"No, I am Surouas," said the South-west Wind.

"Where then is that villain Norouas?" cried the goodman.

"Hush!" said Surouas, "do not speak so loud, goodman, for if he hears
you he will toss you into the air like a straw."

At that moment Norouas arrived, whistling wildly and vigorously.

"Ah, thief of a Norouas," cried the goodman, "it was you who stole my
beautiful crop of flax!" But the Wind took no notice of him.
Nevertheless he did not cease to cry: "Norouas, Norouas, give me back
my flax!"

"Hush, hush!" cried Norouas. "Here is a napkin that will perhaps make
you keep quiet."

"With my crop of flax," howled the goodman, "I could have made a
hundred napkins such as this. Norouas, give me back my flax!"

"Be silent, fellow," said Norouas. "This is no common napkin which I
give you. You have only to say, 'Napkin, unfold thyself,' to have the
best spread table in the world standing before you."

The goodman took the napkin with a grumble, descended the mountain,
and there, only half believing what Norouas had said, placed the
napkin before him, saying, "Napkin, unfold thyself." Immediately a
table appeared spread with a princely repast. The odour of cunningly
cooked dishes arose, and rare wines sparkled in glittering vessels.
After he had feasted the table vanished, and the goodman folded up his
napkin and went back to the inn where he had slept the night before.

"Well, did you get any satisfaction out of Norouas?" asked the

"Indeed I did," replied the goodman, producing the napkin. "Behold
this: Napkin, unfold thyself!" and as he spoke the magic table appeared
before their eyes. The hostess, struck dumb with astonishment, at
once became covetous and resolved to have the napkin for herself. So
that night she placed the goodman in a handsome apartment where
there was a beautiful bed with a soft feather mattress, on which he
slept more soundly than ever he had done in his life. When he was fast
asleep the cunning hostess entered the room and stole the napkin,
leaving one of similar appearance in its place.

In the morning the goodman set his face homeward, and duly arrived
at his little farm. His wife eagerly asked him if Norouas had made
good the damage done to the flax, to which her husband replied
affirmatively and drew the substituted napkin from his pocket.

"Why," quoth the dame, "we could have made two hundred napkins like
this out of the flax that was destroyed."

"Ah, but," said the goodman, "this napkin is not the same as others. I
have only to say, 'Napkin, unfold thyself,' and a table covered with a
most splendid feast appears. Napkin, unfold thyself--unfold thyself,
dost thou hear?"

"You are an old fool, goodman," said his wife when nothing happened.
Her husband's jaw dropped and he seized his stick.

"I have been sold by that rascal Norouas," he cried. "Well, I shall
not spare him this time," and without more ado he rushed out of the
house and took the road to the home of the Winds.

He slept as before at the inn, and next morning climbed the mountain.
He began at once to call loudly upon Norouas, who was whistling up
aloft, demanding that he should return him his crop of flax.

"Be quiet, down there!" cried Norouas.

"I shall not be quiet!" screamed the goodman, brandishing his
bludgeon. "You have made matters worse by cheating me with that napkin
of yours!"

"Well, well, then," replied Norouas, "here is an ass; you have only to
say 'Ass, make me some gold,' and it will fall from his tail."

The goodman, eager to test the value of the new gift, at once led the
ass to the foot of the mountain and said: "Ass, make me some gold."
The ass shook his tail, and a _rouleau_ of gold pieces fell to the
ground. The goodman hastened to the inn, where, as before, he
displayed the phenomenon to the hostess, who that night went into the
stable and exchanged for the magical animal another similar in
appearance to it. On the evening of the following day the goodman
returned home and acquainted his wife with his good luck, but when he
charged the ass to make gold and nothing happened, she railed at him
once more for a fool, and in a towering passion he again set out to
slay Norouas. Arrived at the mountain for the third time, he called
loudly on the North-west Wind, and when he came heaped insults and
reproaches upon him.

"Softly," replied Norouas; "I am not to blame for your misfortune. You
must know that it is the hostess at the inn where you slept who is the
guilty party, for she stole your napkin and your ass. Take this
cudgel. When you say to it, 'Strike, cudgel,' it will at once attack
your enemies, and when you want it to stop you have only to cry, '_Ora
pro nobis_.'"

The goodman, eager to test the efficacy of the cudgel, at once said to
it, "Strike, cudgel," whereupon it commenced to belabour him so
soundly that he yelled, "_Ora pro nobis!_" when it ceased.

Returning to the inn in a very stormy mood, he loudly demanded the
return of his napkin and his ass, whereupon the hostess threatened to
fetch the gendarmes.

"Strike, cudgel!" cried the goodman, and the stick immediately set
about the hostess in such vigorous style that she cried to the goodman
to call it off and she would at once return his ass and his napkin.

When his property had been returned to him the goodman lost no time in
making his way homeward, where he rejoiced his wife by the sight of
the treasures he brought with him. He rapidly grew rich, and his
neighbours, becoming suspicious at the sight of so much wealth, had
him arrested and brought before a magistrate on a charge of wholesale
murder and robbery. He was sentenced to death, and on the day of his
execution he was about to mount the scaffold, when he begged as a last
request that his old cudgel might be brought him. The boon was
granted, and no sooner had the stick been given into his hands than he
cried, "Strike, cudgel!"

And the cudgel _did_ strike. It belaboured judge, gendarmes, and
spectators in such a manner that they fled howling from the scene. It
demolished the scaffold and cracked the hangman's crown. A great cry
for mercy arose. The goodman was instantly pardoned, and was never
further molested in the enjoyment of the treasures the North-west Wind
had given him as compensation for his crop of flax.

_The Foster-Brother_

The weird tale which follows has many parallels in world folk-lore, but
is localized at Tréguier, an old cathedral town in the Côtes-du-Nord at
the junction of the Jaudy and the Guindy, famous for the beautiful
windows of its celebrated church, founded by St Tugdual.

Gwennolaïk was the most noble and beautiful maiden in Tréguier, but,
alas! she was almost friendless, for at an early age she had lost her
father, her mother, and her two sisters, and her sole remaining
relative was her stepmother. Pitiful it was to see her standing at the
door of her manor, weeping as if her heart would break. But although
she had none of her own blood to cherish she still nursed the hope
that her foster-brother, who had journeyed abroad for some years,
might one day return, and often would she stand gazing fixedly over
the sea as if in search of the vessel that would bring him home. They
had been playmates, and although six years had passed since he had
left the country, the time had gone quickly, and when Gwennolaïk
thought of the young man it was as the boy who had shared the games
and little amusements of her childhood. From these day-dreams she
would be rudely awakened by the harsh voice of her stepmother calling
to her: "Come here, my girl, and attend to the animals. I don't feed
you for loafing and doing nothing."

Poor Gwennolaïk had a sad life with her stepmother. Noble as she was
she was yet forced by the vindictive old woman to rise in the early
hours of the morning, even two or three hours before daylight in
winter, to light the fire and sweep the house and perform other menial
work. One evening as she was breaking the ice in the well in order to
draw water for the household she was interrupted by a cavalier
returning to Nantes.

"Good e'en to you, maiden. Are you affianced to anyone?"

The girl did not reply, but hung her head.

"Come, don't be afraid," said the handsome horseman, "but answer my

She looked at him almost fearfully. "Saving your grace, I have never
been affianced to anyone."

"Good," replied the cavalier. "Take this gold ring and say to your
stepmother that you are now affianced to a cavalier of Nantes who
has been in a great battle and who has lost his squire in the
combat; and you may also add that he has been wounded in the side
by a sword-stroke. In three weeks and three days, when my wound is
healed, I will return and will take you to my manor with joy and

The maiden returned to the house and looked at the ring. It was the
same as her foster-brother used to wear on his left hand!

Three weeks ran by, but the cavalier did not return. Then the
stepmother said one morning: "It is time, daughter, that you should
marry, and I may tell you that I have found you a husband after my own

"Saving your grace, good stepmother, I do not wish to marry anyone
except my foster-brother, who has returned. He has given me a golden
wedding-ring, and has promised to come for me within a few days."

"A fig for your gold ring," cried the malignant hag. "_Bon gré, mal
gré_, you shall marry Job the Witless, the stable boy."

"Marry Job! Oh, horror! I should die of grief! Alas, my mother, were
you but here now to protect me!"

"If you must howl, pray do so in the courtyard. You may make as many
grimaces as you please, but in three days you shall be married for all

       *       *       *       *       *

The old gravedigger slowly patrolled the road, his bell in his hand,
carrying the news of those who had died from village to village. In
his doleful whine he cried: "Pray for the soul of a noble cavalier, a
worthy gentleman of a good heart, who was mortally wounded in the side
by the stroke of a sword in the battle near Nantes. He is to be buried
to-day in the White Church."

At the marriage feast the bride was all in tears. All the guests,
young and old, wept with her, all except her stepmother. She was
conducted to the place of honour at supper-time, but she only drank a
sip of water and ate a morsel of bread. By and by the dancing
commenced, but when it was proposed that the bride should join in the
revels she was not to be found; she had, indeed, escaped from the
house, her hair flying in disorder, and where she had gone no one

All the lights were out at the manor, every one slept profoundly. The
poor young woman alone lay concealed in the garden in the throes of a
fever. She heard a footstep close by. "Who is there?" she asked

"It is I, Nola, your foster-brother."

"Ah, is it you? You are truly welcome, my dear brother," cried
Gwennolaïk, rising in rapture.

"Come with me," he whispered, and swinging her on to the crupper of
his white horse he plunged madly into the night.

"We fly fast," she cried. "We must have ridden a hundred leagues, I
think. Ah, but I am happy with thee! I will never leave thee more."

The owl hooted and night noises came to her ears.

"Ah, but thy horse is swift," said she, "and thine armour, how
brilliant it is! How happy I am to have found thee, my foster-brother!
But are we near thy manor?"


"We shall arrive there in good time, my sister," he replied.

"Thy heart is cold, thy hair is wet! Ah, how chill are thy hands!"

"Listen, my sister; do you not hear the noise of the gay musicians who
shall play at our wedding?" He had not finished speaking when his
horse threw itself back on its haunches all at once, trembling and
whinnying loudly.

Gwennolaïk looked around, and found herself on an island where a crowd
of people were dancing. Lads and lasses, they danced most bravely
beneath the green trees heavy with apples, and the music to which they
tripped was as that of heaven.

Suddenly the sun rose above the eastern mountains and flooded this
strange new world with rich light, and there Gwennolaïk found her
mother and her two sisters, and there was nothing in her heart but
beauty and joy.

On the following morning, as the sun rose, the young women carried the
body of Gwennolaïk and laid it in the tomb of her foster-brother in
the White Church.

In this ballad--for the original from which we take the tale is cast
in ballad form--we are once more in touch with the Celtic Otherworld.
It is a thousand pities that this interesting piece breaks off where
it does, thus failing to provide us with a fuller account of that most
elusive realm. The short glimpse we do get of it, however, reminds us
very much of the descriptions of it we possess in Irish lore. We have
also once more the phenomenon of the dead lover who comes to claim the
living bride, the midnight gallop, and other circumstances
characteristic of ballad literature. There was a tradition in Lower
Brittany, however, that no soul might be admitted to the other world
which had not first received burial, but here, of course, we must look
for Christian influence.


"The legend," says Gomme, in a passage most memorable for students of
folk-lore as containing his acute and precise definition of the
several classes of tradition, "belongs to an historical personage,
locality, or event,"[40] and it is in this general sense that the term
is employed in regard to the contents of this chapter, unless where
mythic or folk-lore matter is introduced for the sake of analogy or
illustration. There is, however, a broad, popular reading of the term
as indicating the fanciful-historical. When we read of the King of Ys,
or Arthur, for example, we are not aware whether they ever existed or
not, but they are alluded to by tradition as ancient rulers of
Brittany and Britain, just as Cymbeline and Cole are spoken of as
British monarchs of the distant past. They linger as personal figures
in the folk-memory, but they scarcely seem as the personages of
folk-tale. Let us say, then, for the purposes of our classification of
Breton tradition, that we include in the term 'legend' all tales of
great personal figures who are historical or over whom folk-tale has
cast an historical _vraisemblance_, remembering at the same time that
in the case of personages whose existence is doubtful we may be
dealing with a folk-tale disguised or even a distorted myth.

_The Dark Story of Gilles de Retz_

Of the dark and terrible legends to which Brittany has given birth,
one of the most gloomy and romantic is the story of Gilles de Retz,
alchemist, magician, and arch-criminal. But the story is not
altogether legendary, although it has undoubtedly been added to from
the great stores of tradition. Gilles is none other than the Bluebeard
of the nursery tale, for he appears to have actually worn a beard
bluish-black in hue, and it is probable that his personality became
mingled with that of the hero of the old Oriental story.

Gilles de Laval, Lord of Retz and Marshal of France, was connected
with some of the noblest families in Brittany, those of Montmorency,
Rocey, and Craon, and at his father's death, about 1424, he found
himself lord of many princely domains, and what, for those times, was
almost unlimited power and wealth. He was a handsome youth, lithe and
of fascinating address, courageous, and learned as any clerk. A
splendid career lay before him, but from the first that distorted idea
of the romantic which is typical of certain minds had seized upon him,
and despite his rank and position he much preferred the dark courses
which finally ended in his disgrace and ruin to the dignities of his

Gilles took his principal title from the barony of Retz or Rais, south
of the Loire, on the marches of Brittany. As a youth he did nothing to
justify an evil augury of his future, for he served with zeal and
gallantry in the wars of Charles VI against the English and fought
under Jeanne Darc at the siege of Orléans. In virtue of these
services, and because of his shrewdness and skill in affairs, the King
created him Marshal of France. But from that time onward the man who
had been the able lieutenant of Jeanne Darc and had fought by her side
at Jargeau and Patay began to deteriorate. Some years before he had
married Catherine de Thouars, and with her had received a large dowry;
but he had expended immense sums in the national cause, and his
private life was as extravagant as that of a prince in a fairy tale.
At his castle of Champtocé he dwelt in almost royal state; indeed, his
train when he went hawking or hunting exceeded in magnificence that of
the King himself. His retainers were tricked out in the most gorgeous
liveries, and his table was spread with ruinous abundance. Oxen,
sheep, and pigs were roasted whole, and viands were provided daily for
five hundred persons. He had an insane love of pomp and display, and
his private devotions were ministered to by a large body of
ecclesiastics. His chapel was a marvel of splendour, and was furnished
with gold and silver plate in the most lavish manner. His love of
colour and movement made him fond of theatrical displays, and it is
even said that the play or mystery of Orléans, dealing with the story
of Jeanne Darc, was written with his own hand. He was munificent in
his patronage of the arts, and was himself a skilled illuminator and
bookbinder. In short, he was obviously one of those persons of
abnormal character in whom genius is allied to madness and who can
attempt and execute nothing except in a spirit of the wildest excess.

The reduction of his fortune merely served his peculiar and abnormal
personality with a new excuse for extravagance. At this time the art
of alchemy flourished exceedingly and the works of Nicolas Flamel, the
Arabian Geber, and Pierre d'Estaing enjoyed a great vogue. On an evil
day it occurred to Gilles to turn alchemist, and thus repair his
broken fortunes. In the first quarter of the fifteenth century alchemy
stood for scientific achievement, and many persons in our own
enlightened age still study its maxims. A society exists to-day the
object of which is to further the knowledge of alchemical science. A
common misapprehension is current to the effect that the object of the
alchemists was the transmutation of the baser metals into gold, but in
reality they were divided into two groups, those who sought eagerly
the secret of manufacturing the precious metals, and those who dreamed
of a higher aim, the transmutation of the gross, terrestrial nature of
man into the pure gold of the spirit.

The latter of these aims was beyond the fevered imagination of such a
wild and disorderly mind as that of Gilles de Retz. He sent emissaries
into Italy, Spain, and Germany to invite adepts in the science to his
castle at Champtocé. From among these he selected two men to assist
him in his plan--Prelati, an alchemist of Padua, and a certain
physician of Poitou, whose name is not recorded. At their instigation
he built a magnificent laboratory, and when it was completed commenced
to experiment. A year passed, during which the necessities of the
'science' gradually emptied many bags of gold, but none returned to
the Marshal's coffers. The alchemists slept soft and fed sumptuously,
and were quite content to pursue their labours so long as the Seigneur
of Retz had occasion for their services. But as the time passed that
august person became greatly impatient, and so irritable did he grow
because of the lack of results that at length his assistants, in
imminent fear of dismissal, communicated to him a dark and dreadful
secret of their art, which, they assured him, would assist them at
arriving speedily at the desired end.

The nature of the experiment they proposed was so grotesque that its
acceptance by Gilles proves that he was either insane or a victim of
the superstition of his time. His wretched accomplices told him that
the Evil One alone was capable of revealing the secret of the
transmutation of the baser metals into gold, and they offered to
summon him to their master's aid. They assured Gilles that Satan would
require a recompense for his services, and the Marshal retorted that
so long as he saved his soul intact he was quite willing to conclude
any bargain that the Father of Evil might propose.

It was arranged that the ceremony should take place within a gloomy
wood in the neighbourhood. The nameless physician conducted the Lord
of Retz to a small clearing in this plantation, where the magic circle
was drawn and the usual conjurations made. For half an hour they
waited in silence, and then a great trembling fell upon the physician.
A deadly pallor overspread his countenance. His knees shook, he
muttered wildly, and at last he sank to the ground. Gilles stood by
unmoved. The insanity of egotism is of course productive of great if
not lofty courage, and he feared neither man nor fiend. Suddenly the
alchemist regained consciousness and told his master that the Devil
had appeared to him in the shape of a leopard and had growled at him
horribly. He ascribed Gilles' lack of supernatural vision to want of
faith. He then declared that the Evil One had told him where certain
herbs grew in Spain and Africa, the juices of which possessed the
power to effect the transmutation, and these he obligingly offered to
search for, provided the Lord of Retz furnished the means for his
travels. This Gilles gladly did, and of course never beheld the
Poitevin knave again.

Days and months passed and the physician did not return. Gilles grew
uneasy. It was imperative that gold should be forthcoming immediately,
for not only was he being pressed on every side, but he was unable to
support his usual magnificence. In this dilemma he turned to Prelati,
his remaining alchemical assistant. This man appears to have believed
in his art or he would not have made the terrible suggestion he did,
which was that the Lord of Retz should sign with his own blood a
compact with the Devil, and should offer up a young child in sacrifice
to him. To this proposal the unhappy Gilles consented. On the
following night Prelati quitted the castle, and returned shortly
afterward with the story that the fiend had appeared to him in the
likeness of a young man who desired to be called Barron, and had
pointed out to him the resting-place of a hoard of ingots of pure
gold, buried under an oak in the neighbouring wood. Certain
conditions, however, must be observed before the treasure was dug up,
the chief of which was that it must not be searched for until a period
of seven times seven weeks had elapsed, or it would turn into slates.
With these conditions de Retz would not comply, and, alarmed at his
annoyance, the obliging Prelati curtailed the time of waiting to seven
times seven days. At the end of that period the alchemist and his dupe
repaired to the wood to dig up the treasure. They worked hard for some
time, and at length came upon a load of slates, inscribed with magical
characters. Prelati pretended great wrath, and upbraided the Evil One
for his deceit, in which denunciation he was heartily joined by de
Retz. But so credulous was the Seigneur that he allowed himself to be
persuaded to afford Satan another trial, which meant, of course, that
Prelati led him on from day to day with specious promises and
ambiguous hints, until he had drained him of nearly all his remaining
substance. He was then preparing to decamp with his plunder when a
dramatic incident detained him.


For some time a rumour had been circulating in the country-side that
numerous children were missing and that they had been spirited away.
Popular clamour ran high, and suspicion was directed toward the castle
of Champtocé. So circumstantial was the evidence against de Retz that
at length the Duke of Brittany ordered both the Seigneur and his
accomplice to be arrested. Their trial took place before a commission
which de Retz denounced, declaring that he would rather be hanged like
a dog, without trial, than plead before its members. But the evidence
against him was overwhelming. It was told how the wretched madman, in
his insane quest for gold, had sacrificed his innocent victims on the
altar of Satan, and how he had gloated over their sufferings. Finally
he confessed his enormities and told how nearly a hundred children had
been cruelly murdered by him and his relentless accomplice. Both he
and Prelati were doomed to be burned alive, but in consideration of
his rank he was strangled before being cast into the flames. Before
the execution he expressed to Prelati a hope that they would meet in
Paradise, and, it is said, met his end very devoutly.

The castle of Champtocé still stands in its beautiful valley, and
many romantic legends cluster about its grey old walls. "The
hideous, half-burnt body of the monster himself," says Trollope,
"circled with flames--pale, indeed, and faint in colour, but more
lasting than those the hangman kindled around his mortal form in
the meadow under the walls of Nantes--is seen, on bright moonlight
nights, standing now on one topmost point of craggy wall, and now
on another, and is heard mingling his moan with the sough of the
night-wind. Pale, bloodless forms, too, of youthful growth and
mien, the restless, unsepulchred ghosts of the unfortunates who
perished in these dungeons unassoiled ... may at similar times be
seen flitting backward and forward, in numerous groups, across the
space enclosed by the ruined wall, with more than mortal speed, or
glancing hurriedly from window to window of the fabric, as still
seeking to escape from its hateful confinement."[41]

_Comorre the Cursed_

As has been said, the story of Gilles de Retz is connected by
tradition with that of Bluebeard, but it is probable that this
traditional connexion arises simply from the association of two famous
tales. The other legend in question is that of Comorre the Cursed,
whose story is told in the frescoes which cover the wall of the church
of St Nicolas de Bieuzy, dedicated to St Triphyne, in which the tale
of Bluebeard is depicted as the story of the saint, who in history was
the wife of Comorre. Comorre was a chief who ruled at Carhaix, in
Finistère, and his tale, which owes its modern dress to Émile
Souvestre, himself a Breton, and author of _Derniers Bretons_ and the
brilliant sketch _Un Philosophe sous les Toits_. The tale, translated,
runs as follows:

Guerech, Count of Vannes, 'the Country of White Corn,' had a daughter,
Triphyna, whom he tenderly loved. One day ambassadors arrived from
Comorre, a prince of Cornouaille, 'the Country of Black Corn,'
demanding her in marriage. Now this caused great distress, for
Comorre was a giant, and one of the wickedest of men, held in awe by
every one for his cruelty. As a boy, when he went out, his mother used
to ring a bell to warn people of his approach; and when unsuccessful
in the chase he would set his dogs on the peasants to tear them to
pieces. But most horrible of all, he had had four wives, who had all
died one after the other, it was suspected either by the knife, fire,
water, or poison. The Count of Vannes, therefore, dismissed the
ambassadors, and advanced to meet Comorre, who was approaching with a
powerful army; but St Gildas went into Triphyna's oratory and begged
her to save bloodshed and consent to the marriage. He gave her a
silver ring, which would warn her of any intended evil by turning as
black as a crow's wing at the approach of danger.

The marriage took place with great rejoicings. The first day six
thousand guests were invited; on the next day as many poor were fed,
the bride and the bridegroom themselves serving at the tables. For
some time all went well. Comorre's nature seemed altered; his prisons
were empty, his gibbets untenanted. But Triphyna felt no confidence,
and every day went to pray at the tombs of his four wives. At this
time there was an assembly of the Breton princes at Rennes, which
Comorre was obliged to attend. Before his departure he gave Triphyna
his keys, desiring her to amuse herself in his absence. After five
months he unexpectedly returned, and found her occupied trimming an
infant's cap with gold lace. On seeing the cap Comorre turned pale;
and when Triphyna joyfully announced to him that soon he would be a
father he drew back in a rage and rushed out of the apartment.
Triphyna saw that her ring had turned black, which betokened danger,
she knew not why. She descended into the chapel to pray. When she rose
to depart the hour of midnight struck, and suddenly a sound of
movement in the silent chapel chilled her at the heart; shrinking into
a recess, she saw the four tombs of Comorre's wives open slowly, and
the women all issued forth in their winding-sheets.

Faint with terror, Triphyna tried to escape; but the spectres cried:
"Take care, poor lost one! Comorre seeks to kill you."

"Me," said the Countess. "What evil have I done?"

"You have told him that you will soon become a mother; and, through
the Spirit of Evil, he knows that his child will slay him. He murdered
us when we told him what he has just learned from you."

"What hope, then, of refuge remains for me?" cried Triphyna.

"Go back to your father," answered the phantoms.

"But how escape when Comorre's dog guards the court?"

"Give him this poison which killed me," said the first wife.

"But how can I descend yon high wall?"

"By means of this cord which strangled me," answered the second wife.

"But who will guide me through the dark?"

"The fire that burnt me," replied the third wife.

"And how can I make so long a journey?" returned Triphyna.

"Take this stick which broke my skull," rejoined the fourth spectre.

Armed with the poison, the rope, and the stick, Triphyna set out,
silenced the dog, scaled the wall, and, miraculously guided on her
way through the darkness by a glowing light, proceeded on her road to
Vannes. On awaking next morning Comorre found that his wife had fled,
and pursued her on horseback. The poor fugitive, seeing her ring turn
black, turned off the road and hid herself till night in the cabin of
a shepherd, where there was only an old magpie in a cage at the door,
and here her baby was born. Comorre, who had given up the pursuit, was
returning home by that road, when he heard the magpie trying to
imitate her complaints and calling out "Poor Triphyna!" Guessing that
his wife had passed that way, he set his dog on the track.

Meanwhile Triphyna felt she could proceed no farther, and lay down on
the ground with her baby boy. As she clasped the child in her arms she
saw over her head a falcon with a golden collar, which she recognized
as her father's. The bird came at her call, and giving it the warning
ring of St Gildas she told it to fly with it to her father. The bird
obeyed, and flew like lightning to Vannes; but almost at the same
instant Comorre arrived. Having parted with her warning ring,
Triphyna, who had no notice of his approach, had only time to conceal
her babe in the cavity of a tree when Comorre threw himself upon her,
and with one blow from his sword severed her head from her body.

When the falcon arrived at Vannes he found the Count at dinner with St
Gildas. He let the ring fall into the silver cup of his master, who,
recognizing it, exclaimed:

"My daughter is in danger! Saddle the horses, and let Saint Gildas
accompany us." Following the falcon, they soon reached the spot where
Triphyna lay dead. After they had all knelt in prayer, St Gildas said
to the corpse: "Arise, take thy head and thy child, and follow us."
The dead body obeyed, the bewildered troop followed; but, gallop as
fast as they could, the headless body was always in front, carrying
the babe in her left hand, and her pale head in the right. In this
manner they reached the castle of Comorre.

"Count," called St Gildas before the gates, "I bring back thy wife
such as thy wickedness has made her, and thy child such as heaven has
given it thee. Wilt thou receive them under thy roof?"

Comorre was silent. The Saint three times repeated the question, but
no voice returned an answer. Then St Gildas took the new-born infant
from its mother and placed it on the ground. The child marched alone
to the edge of the moat, picked up a handful of earth, and, throwing
it against the castle, exclaimed: "Let the Trinity execute judgment."
At the same instant the towers shook and fell with a crash, the walls
yawned open, and the castle sunk, burying Comorre and all his partners
in crime. St Gildas then replaced Triphyna's head upon her shoulders,
laid his hands upon her, and restored her to life, to the great joy of
her father. Such is the history of Triphyna and Comorre.

_The Legend of Ys_

The legend of the submerged city of Ys, or Is, is perhaps the most
romantic and imaginative effort of Breton popular legend. Who has not
heard of the submerged bells of Ys, and who has not heard them ring in
the echoes of his own imagination?

This picturesque legend[42] tells us that in the early days of the
Christian epoch the city of Ys, or Ker-is, was ruled by a prince
called Gradlon, surnamed Meur, which in Celtic means 'the Great.'
Gradlon was a saintly and pious man, and acted as patron to Gwénnolé,
founder and first abbé of the first monastery built in Armorica. But,
besides being a religious man, Gradlon was a prudent prince, and
defended his capital of Ys from the invasions of the sea by
constructing an immense basin to receive the overflow of the water at
high tide. This basin had a secret gate, of which the King alone
possessed the key, and which he opened and closed at the necessary

Gradlon, as is so often the case with pious men, had a wayward child,
the princess Dahut, who on one occasion while her father was sleeping
gave a secret banquet to her lover, in which the pair, excited with
wine, committed folly after folly, until at last it occurred to the
frivolous girl to open the sluice-gate. Stealing noiselessly into her
sleeping father's chamber she detached from his girdle the key he
guarded so jealously and opened the gate. The water immediately rushed
in and submerged the entire city.

But, as usual, there is more than one version of this interesting
legend. The city of Ys, says another account, was a place rich in
commerce and the arts, but so given over to luxury as to arouse the
ire of St Gwénnolé, who, in the manner of Jeremiah, foretold its ruin.
It was situated where now a piece of water, the Étang de Laval, washes
the desolate shores of the Bay of Trépassés--though another version of
the tale has it that it stood in the vast basin which now forms the
Bay of Douarnenez. A strong dike protected it from the ocean, the
sluices only admitting sufficient water for the needs of the town.
Gradlon constantly bore round his neck a silver key which opened at
the same time the vast sluices and the city gates. He lived in great
state in a palace of marble, cedar, and gold, and his only grief was
the conduct of his daughter Dahut, who, it is said, "had made a crown
of her vices and taken for her pages the seven capital sins." But
retribution was at hand, and the wicked city met with sudden
destruction, for one night Dahut stole the silver key for the purpose
of opening the city gates to admit her lover, and in the darkness by
mistake opened the sluices. King Gradlon was awakened by St Gwénnolé,
who commanded him to flee, as the torrent was reaching the palace. He
mounted his horse, and, taking his worthless daughter behind him, set
off at a gallop, the incoming flood seething and boiling at his
steed's fetlocks. The torrent was about to overtake and submerge him
when a voice from behind called out: "Throw the demon thou carriest
into the sea, if thou dost not desire to perish." Dahut at that moment
fell from the horse's back into the water, and the torrent immediately
stopped its course. Gradlon reached Quimper safe and sound, but
nothing is said as to his subsequent career.


An ancient ballad on the subject, which, however, bears marks of
having been tampered with, states, on the other hand, that Gradlon led
his people into extravagances of every kind, and that Dahut received
the key from him, the misuse of which precipitated the catastrophe.
Dahut, the ballad continues, became a mermaid and haunted the waters
which roll over the site of the city where she loved and feasted.
"Fisherman," ends the ballad, "have you seen the daughter of the sea
combing her golden hair in the midday sun at the fringes of the
beach?" "Yes," replies the fisherman, "I have seen the white daughter
of the sea, and I have heard her sing, and her songs were plaintive as
the sound of the waves."

The legend of Ys, of the town swallowed up by the sea, is common to
the several branches of the Celtic race. In Wales the site of the
submerged city is in Cardigan Bay, and in Ireland it is Lough Neagh,
as Tom Moore says:

  On Lough Neagh's bank as the fisherman strays,
    When the clear, cold eve's declining,
  He sees the round towers of other days
    In the wave beneath him shining.

This legend had its rise in an extraordinary story which was given
currency to by Giraldus Cambrensis in his _Topography of Ireland_, to
the effect that a certain extremely wicked tribe were punished for
their sins by the inundation of their territory.

"Now there was a common proverb," says Gerald, "in the mouths of the
tribe, that whenever the well-spring of that country was left
uncovered (for out of reverence shown to it, from a barbarous
superstition, the spring was kept covered and sealed), it would
immediately overflow and inundate the whole province, drowning and
destroying the whole population. It happened, however, on some
occasion that a young woman, who had come to the spring to draw water,
after filling her pitcher, but before she had closed the well, ran in
great haste to her little boy, whom she had heard crying at a spot not
far from the spring where she had left him. But the voice of the
people is the voice of God; and on her way back she met such a flood
of water from the spring that it swept off her and the boy, and the
inundation was so violent that they both, and the whole tribe, with
their cattle, were drowned in an hour in this partial and local
deluge. The waters, having covered the whole surface of that fertile
district, were converted into a permanent lake. A not improbable
confirmation of this occurrence is found in the fact that the
fishermen in that lake see distinctly under the water, in calm
weather, ecclesiastical towers, which, according to the custom of the
country, are slender and lofty, and moreover round; and they
frequently point them out to strangers travelling through these parts,
who wonder what could have caused such a catastrophe."

In the Welsh version of this fascinating legend it is the bard
Gwyddno, of the twelfth century, who tells of the downfall of the
submerged city, and two of the strophes which occur in his poem are
also found in the Breton poem. The Welsh bard may have received the
story from Breton sources, or the converse may be the case.

The legend that Cardigan Bay contains a submerged territory is widely
known, and strangely enough seems to be corroborated by the shape of
the coast-line, the contour of which suggests the subsidence of a
large body of land. Like their brothers of Ireland, the fishermen of
Wales assert that at low tide they can see the ruins of ancient
edifices far down beneath the clear waters of the bay.[43]

Before the days of the French Revolution there was still to be seen at
Quimper, between the two towers of the cathedral, a figure of King
Gradlon mounted on his faithful courser, but in the stormy year of
1793 the name of king was in bad odour and the ignorant populace
deprived the statue of its head. However, in 1859 it was restored.
Legend attributes the introduction of the vine into Brittany to King
Gradlon, and on St Cecilia's Day a regular ritual was gone through in
Quimper in connexion with his counterfeit presentment. A company of
singers mounted on a platform. While they sang a hymn in praise of
King Gradlon, one of the choristers, provided with a flagon of wine, a
napkin, and a golden hanap (or cup), mounted on the crupper of the
King's horse, poured out a cup of wine, which he offered ceremoniously
to the lips of the statue and then drank himself, carefully wiped with
his napkin the moustache of the King, placed a branch of laurel in his
hand, and then threw down the hanap in the midst of the crowd below,
in honour of the first planter of the grape in Brittany. To whoever
caught the cup before it fell, and presented it uninjured to the
Chapter, was adjudged a prize of two hundred crowns.

There is a distinct savour of myth about all this. Can it be that
Gradlon was a Breton Bacchus? There are notices of Celtic goddesses in
whose honour Bacchic rites were held, and the place of these was
sometimes taken by a corn god. Later the festival in its memorial
aspect appears to have been associated with different kings[44] in the
various parts of the Celtic world, and it seems likely that Gradlon
was such a monarch who had taken the place of a vanished deity. It
must be left to Celtic scholars to determine whether the name Gradlon
possesses any deific significance hidden in its etymology.

_The Clerk of Rohan_

Jeanne de Rohan, daughter of Alain, fifth of the name, Viscount of
Rohan, married in the year 1236 Matthew, Seigneur of Beauvau, son of
René, Constable of Naples. Breton popular poetry has in many ballads
recounted the adventures of Jeanne and her husband, one of which is as

At the age of thirteen Jeanne consented to be married, but she desired
that she herself should be allowed to choose her husband. Accordingly
the cavaliers and barons of the district were invited to pay their
court to her, and she fixed her affections upon the Seigneur of
Beauvau, a valiant noble with large possessions in Italy. He was loyal
and courteous, and when the pair were wedded their happiness seemed

At this period the war in Palestine against the infidels was agitating
the whole of Europe. The Seigneur of Beauvau desired to join the
Crusaders, but his wife was by no means anxious that he should leave
his home. But his principle was _noblesse oblige_. "I am of the most
noble blood," he said; "therefore it behoves me to be the first to
lead the way."

He confided the care of his estates and his affairs in general to his
wife's cousin, who was known as the Clerk of Rohan, and begged him to
look well after Jeanne and his little son. Then, having bid farewell
to them all, he mounted his horse and rode away to the wars.

Jeanne was inconsolable. For days she wandered about the château
carrying her baby boy in her arms and sobbing. All the domestic circle
seemed disturbed at the Seigneur's departure except the Clerk of
Rohan, to whom Count Matthew had so trustingly confided the charge of
his affairs.

The Seigneur had declared that he would return within a year's time. A
year passed, however, and no news of him had been received. Now the
Clerk was a perfidious and wicked schemer, and one morning as he and
Jeanne were in conversation he hinted that the year within which the
Seigneur had promised to return was now gone by and that the war in
which he had been engaged had come to an end. He made no secret of his
passion for the lady, but she on her part turned upon him angrily,
saying: "Is it the fashion nowadays for women to consider themselves
widows, knowing well that their husbands are alive? Go to, miserable
Clerk, thy heart is full of wickedness. If my husband were here he
would break thee in little pieces!"

When the Clerk heard this he went secretly to the kennels, and there
he slew the Seigneur's favourite greyhound. Taking some of its blood,
he wrote with it a letter to Count Matthew telling him that his wife
was most unhappy because of an accident which had occurred; that she
had been hunting the deer, and that in the chase his favourite
greyhound had died from over-exertion. The Seigneur duly received the
letter, and in his reply told the Clerk to comfort the lady, as he was
quite able to replace the hound. At the same time he desired that
hunting should cease for the present, as the huntsmen seemed unskilful
in their conduct of the chase.

The wicked Clerk once more sought the lady.

"Alas!" said he, "you are losing your beauty by weeping night and

"I will know how to recover my beauty when my husband returns," she
replied coldly.

"Do not cheat yourself," he said. "Surely you can see by this time
that he is either dead or has taken another wife. In the East there
are many beautiful girls who are far wealthier than you."

"If he has taken another wife," said the lady, "I shall die; and if he
be dead I ask for naught but death. Leave me, miserable wretch. Thy
tongue is poisoned with deceit."

When the Clerk had sufficiently recovered from this second rebuff, he
betook himself to the stables, where the Seigneur's horse, the most
beautiful in the country, stood champing in its stall. The wretch,
drawing his poignard, thrust it into the noble steed's entrails, and,
as he had done in the case of the greyhound, took some of the blood
and wrote once more to the Count.

"Another accident has occurred at the château," he said, "but, my dear
Seigneur, pray do not trouble yourself on account of it. When your
wife was returning from a feast in the night your favourite horse fell
and broke two of his legs, and had to be destroyed."

The Seigneur replied that he was grieved to hear of the circumstance,
and that in order to avoid further mischances of the sort it would be
better that his wife should frequent no more feasts.

A third time the perfidious Clerk sought the lady. On this occasion he
threatened her with death if she would not be his, but she replied in
the most spirited manner that she loved death a thousand times better
than him. At these words he could not contain his rage, and, drawing
his dagger, thrust fiercely at her head. But the lady's guardian angel
turned the stroke and the weapon struck harmlessly against the wall.
She fled from the room, closing the door behind her as she went;
whereupon the Clerk rushed downstairs to the nursery where her child
was quietly sleeping in its cradle, and, seeing no one beside it,
stabbed the slumbering infant to the heart.

Then he wrote to the Seigneur: "Hasten your return, I beg of you, for
it is necessary that you should be here to establish order. Your dog
and your white courser have perished, but that is not the worst. Your
little son, alas! is also dead. The great sow devoured him when your
wife was at a ball with the miller for a gallant."

When the Seigneur received this letter he returned at once from the
wars, his anger rising higher and higher with every homeward league.
When he arrived at the château he struck three times upon the door
with his hand, and his summons was answered by the Clerk.

"How now, evil Clerk," shouted the infuriated Count, "did I not leave
my wife in your care?" and with these words he thrust his lance into
the Clerk's open mouth, so that the point stood out at the nape of his
neck. Then, mounting the stairs, he entered his wife's chamber, and
without speaking a word stabbed her with his sword.

The ballad then goes on to speak of the burial of the victims of the
wicked Clerk. The lady, dressed all in white, was laid in her tomb by
the light of the moon and the stars. On her breast lay her little son,
on her right the favourite greyhound, and on her left the white
courser, and it is said that in her grave she first caresses one and
then the other, and the infant, as if jealous, nestles closer to his
mother's heart.

_The Lady of La Garaye_

The château of La Garaye, near Dinan, is rendered famous by the
virtues and boundless charity of its Count, Claude Toussaint Marot de
La Garaye, and his wife. Their interesting story is told in the
charming poem of Mrs Norton, _The Lady of La Garaye_:

  Listen to the tale I tell,
  Grave the story is--not sad;
  And the peasant plodding by
  Greets the place with kindly eye,
  For the inmates that it had.

Count Claude de La Garaye and his wife were young, beautiful, and
endowed with friends, riches, and all that could make life bright and
happy. They entertained generously and enjoyed the pleasures and
amusements of the world. But one day misfortune overtook them, for the
Countess was thrown from her horse, and she was left a cripple for
life, while all expectations of an heir vanished. Both were
inconsolable at their disappointment. One day a monk came to visit
them, and tried to comfort them, seeking by his conversation to turn
their thoughts from earthly afflictions to heavenly consolation.

"Ah, my father," said the lady, "how happy are you, to love nothing on

"You are mistaken," answered the monk; "I love all those who are in
sorrow or suffering. But I submit myself to the will of the Almighty,
and bend myself with resignation to every blow He strikes."

He proceeded to show them that there was still a great deal of
happiness in store for them in ministering to the needs of others.
Following his counsel, they went to Paris, where for three years the
Count studied medicine and surgery, and his wife became a skilful
oculist. On their return to La Garaye they gave up all the amusements
of society and devoted themselves to relieving the sufferings of their
fellow-creatures. Their house was converted into a hospital for the
sick and afflicted, under the ministering care of the Count and his
benevolent wife:

  Her home is made their home; her wealth their dole;
  Her busy courtyard hears no more the roll
  Of gilded vehicles, or pawing steeds,
  But feeble steps of those whose bitter needs
  Are their sole passport. Through that gateway press
  All varying forms of sickness and distress,
  And many a poor, worn face that hath not smiled
  For years, and many a feeble crippled child,
  Blesses the tall white portal where they stand,
  And the dear Lady of the liberal hand.

Nor was their philanthropy confined to their own province. In 1729
they offered themselves to M. de Belsunce--"Marseilles' good
bishop"--to assist him during the visitation of the plague. The fame
of their virtues reached even the French Court, and Louis XV sent
Count de La Garaye the Order of St Lazarus, with a donation of 50,000
livres and a promise of 25,000 more. They both died at an advanced
age, within two years of each other, and were buried among their poor
at Taden. Their marble mausoleum in the church was destroyed during
the French Revolution. The Count left a large sum to be distributed
among the prisoners, principally English, pent up in the crowded gaols
of Rennes and Dinan. He had attended the English prisoners at Dinan
during a contagious fever called the 'peste blanche,' and in
acknowledgment of his humanity Queen Caroline sent him two dogs with
silver collars round their necks, and an English nobleman made him a
present of six more.

The ruined château is approached by an ivy-covered gateway, through an
avenue of beeches. As Mrs Norton renders it:

  And like a mourner's mantle, with sad grace,
  Waves the dark ivy, hiding half the door
  And threshold, where the weary traveller's foot
  Shall never find a courteous welcome more.

The ruin is fast falling to pieces. The principal part remaining is an
octagonal turret of three stories, with elegant Renaissance decoration
round the windows.

_The Falcon_

An interesting and picturesque ballad sung in the Black Mountains is
that of _The Falcon_. Geoffrey, first Duke of Brittany, was departing
for Rome in the year 1008, leaving the government of the country in
the hands of his wife Ethwije, sister of Richard of Normandy. As he
was about to set out on his pilgrimage the falcon which he carried on
his wrist after the manner of the nobles of the period, swooped down
on and killed the hen of a poor peasant woman. The woman in a rage
seized a large stone and cast it at the bird with such violence that
it slew not only the falcon but the Duke himself. The death of the
Duke was followed by a most desperate insurrection among the people.
History does not enlighten us as to the cause of this rising, but
tradition attributes it to the invasion of Brittany by the Normans
(whom the widow of Geoffrey at once brought into the country on the
demise of her husband) and the exactions which were wrung from the
peasants by these haughty aliens.


The ballad, which was used as a war-song by the Bretons at a later
day, begins in true ballad style: "The falcon has strangled the fowl,
the peasant woman has slain the Count who oppressed the people, the
poor people, like a brute-beast."

The hate of the stranger so characteristic of the old Bretons then
flashes forth. "The country has been polluted by the foreigner, by the
men of the Gallic land, and because of the death of a hen and a falcon
Brittany is on fire, blood flows, and there is great dole among the

On the summit of the Black Mountain thirty stout peasants had gathered
to celebrate the ancient feast of the good St John. Among them was
Kado the Striver, who stood there gravely leaning on his iron
pitchfork. For a while he looked upon his comrades; then he opened his

"What say you, fellow-peasants? Do you intend to pay this tax? As for
me, I shall certainly not pay it. I had much rather be hanged.
Nevermore shall I pay this unjust tax. My sons go naked because of it,
my flocks grow less and less. No more shall I pay. I swear it by the
red brands of this fire, by Saint Kado my patron, and by Saint John."

"My fortunes are broken, I am completely ruined," growled one of his
companions. "Before the year is out I shall be compelled to beg my

Then all rose at once as if by a common impulse.

"None of us will pay this tax! We swear it by the Sun and by the Moon,
and by the great sea which encircles this land of Brittany!"

Kado, stepping out from the circle, seized a firebrand, and holding it
aloft cried: "Let us march, comrades, and strike a blow for freedom!"

The enthusiasm of his companions burst out afresh. Falling into loose
ranks they followed him. His wife marched by his side in the first
rank, carrying a reaping-hook on her shoulder and singing as she

"Quickly, quickly, my children! We go to strike a blow for liberty!
Have I brought thirty sons into the world to beg their bread, to carry
firewood or to break stones, or bear burdens like beasts? Are they to
till the green land and the grey land with bare feet while the rich
feed their horses, their hunting-dogs, and their falcons better than
they are fed? No! It is to slay the oppressors that I have borne so
many sons!"

Quickly they descended the mountains, gathering numbers as they went.
Now they were three thousand strong, five thousand strong, and when
they arrived at Langoad nine thousand strong. When they came to
Guérande they were thirty thousand strong. The houses of those who had
ground them down were wrapped in flames, fiercely ends the old ballad,
"and the bones of those who had oppressed them cracked, like those of
the damned in Tartarus."

History tells us nothing concerning Kado the Striver, but it is most
unlikely that he is a mere figment of popular imagination. What
history does record, however, is that the wicked Duchess and her host
of mercenary Normans were forced to flee, and that her place was taken
by a more just and righteous ruler.

_The Marquis of Guérande_

Breton tradition speaks of a wild young nobleman, Louis-François de
Guérande, Seigneur of Locmaria, who flourished in the early part of
the seventeenth century. He was wealthy, and lived a life of reckless
abandon; indeed, he was the terror of the parish and the despair of
his pious mother, who, whenever he sallied forth upon adventure bent,
rang the bell of the château, to give the alarm to the surrounding
peasantry. The ballad which tells of the infamous deeds of this titled
ruffian, and which was composed by one Tugdual Salaün, a peasant of
Plouber,[46] opens upon a scene of touching domestic happiness. The
Clerk of Garlon was on a visit to the family of his betrothed.

"Tell me, good mother," he asked, "where is Annaïk? I am anxious that
she should come with me to dance on the green."

"She is upstairs asleep, my son. Take care," added the old woman
roguishly, "that you do not waken her."

The Clerk of Garlon ran lightly up the staircase and knocked at
Annaïk's door.

"Come, Annaïk," he cried; "why are you asleep when all the others go
to dance upon the village green?"

"I do not wish to go to the dance, for I fear the Marquis of
Guérande," replied the girl.

The Clerk of Garlon laughed. "The Marquis of Guérande cannot harm you
so long as I am with you," he said lightly. "Come, Annaïk; were there
a hundred such as he I should protect you from them."

Reassured by her lover's brave words, the girl rose and put on her
dress of white delaine. They were a joyous and beautiful pair. The
Clerk was gaily dressed, with a peacock's feather in his hat and a
chain on his breast, while his betrothed wore a velvet corsage
embroidered with silver.

On that evening the Marquis of Guérande leaped on his great red steed
and sallied forth from his château. Galloping along the road, he
overtook the Clerk of Garlon and his betrothed on their way to the

"Ha!" he cried, "you go to the dance, I see. It is customary to
wrestle there, is it not?"

"It is, Seigneur," replied the Clerk, doffing his hat.

"Then throw off your doublet and let us try a fall or two," said
Guérande, with a wicked look at Annaïk which was not lost upon her

"Saving your grace, I may not wrestle with you," said the Clerk, "for
you are a gentleman and I am nobody. You are the son of a lord and I
am the son of a peasant."

"Ha! what! The son of a peasant, say you, and you take your choice of
the pretty girls of the village?"

"Seigneur, pardon me. I did not choose this maiden; God gave her to

During this parley Annaïk stood by, trembling violently. She had heard
of the Marquis of Guérande, and was only too well aware of the evil
and reckless character he bore. The Clerk tried to calm her fears by
whispered words and pressures of the hand, but the wicked Marquis,
observing the state of terror she was in, exulted in the alarm he was
causing her.

"Well, fellow," said he, "since you cannot wrestle with me perhaps you
will try a bout of sword-play."

At these words Annaïk's rosy cheeks became deathly white; but the
Clerk of Garlon spoke up like a man.

"My lord," he said, "I do not wear a sword. The club is my only
weapon. Should you use your sword against me it would but stain it."

The wicked Marquis uttered a fiendish laugh. "If I stain my sword, by
the Saints, I shall wash it in your blood," he cried, and as he spoke
he passed his rapier through the defenceless Clerk's body.

At the sight of her slain lover the gentle heart of Annaïk broke, and
a great madness came upon her. Like a tigress she leapt upon the
Marquis and tore his sword from his hand. Without his rapier he was as
a child in the grasp of the powerful Breton peasant woman. Exerting
all her strength, in a frenzy of grief she dragged the wretch to the
green where the dance was in progress, haling him round and round it
until exhausted. At last she dropped his senseless body on the green
turf and hastened homeward.

And once again we encounter the haunting refrain: "My good mother, if
you love me make my bed, for I am sick unto death."

"Why, daughter, you have danced too much; it is that which has made
you sick."

"I have not danced at all, mother; but the wicked Marquis has slain my
poor Clerk. Say to the sexton who buries him: 'Do not throw in much
earth, for in a little while you will have to place my daughter beside
him in this grave.' Since we may not share the same marriage-bed we
shall at least sleep in the same tomb, and if we have not been married
in this world we shall at least be joined in heaven."

The reader will be relieved to learn that the hero of this ballad,
the Clerk of Garlon, was not killed after all, and that for once fact
is enabled to step in to correct the sadness of fiction; for, when one
comes to think of it, there are few sadder things in the world than
the genuine folk-ballad, which, although at the time it may arouse
æsthetic emotions, may yet afterward give rise to haunting pain. We
are glad to be able to chronicle, then, that the worthy Clerk did not
die of his wound as stated by Tugdual Salaün of the parish of Plouber,
author of the ballad, and that the wicked Marquis escaped the halter,
which, according to Breton custom, he would not otherwise have done
had the Clerk died. His good mother took upon herself the burden of an
annual pension to the Clerk's aged parents, and adopted the second
child of Annaïk, who had duly married her sweetheart, and this little
one she educated, furthering its interests in every possible manner.
As for the Marquis, he actually settled down, and one cannot help
feeling chagrined that such a promising rogue should have turned
talents so eminently suitable for the manufacture of legendary
material into more humdrum courses. Conscious of the gravity of his
early misdemeanours, he founded a hospital for the poor of the parish,
and each evening in one of the windows of this place the peasants
could see a light which burned steadily far into the night. If any
asked the reason for this illumination he was told: "It is the Marquis
of Guérande, who lies awake praying God to pardon his youth."

_The Châteaux of Brittany_

The châteaux of Brittany may truly be called the historical and
legendary shrines of the province, for within their halls, keeps, and
donjons Breton tradition and history were made. It is doubtful,
indeed, if the castellated mansions of any other country, save,
perhaps, those of the Rhine, harbour so many legends, arising either
from the actual historical happenings connected with them or from
those more picturesque yet terrible associations which they are
popularly supposed to have with the powers of evil. The general
appearance of such a building as the Breton château admirably lends
itself to sombre tradition. The massy walls seem thick enough to
retain all secrets, and the cry for vengeance for blood spilt within
them cannot pass to the outer world through the narrow _meurtrières_
or arrow-slits of the _avant-corps_. The broad yet lofty towers which
flank the front rise into a _toiture_ or _coiffe_ like an enchanter's
conical cap. The _lucarnes_, or attic casements, are guarded on either
side by gargoyles grim of aspect, or perhaps by griffins holding the
shield-borne arms of dead and gone seigneurs. Seek where you will,
among the wizard-houses of old Prague, the witch-dens of ancient
Edinburgh, the bat-haunted castles of Drachenfels or Rheinstein, you
will come at nothing built of man more informed with the soul of the
Middle Ages, more drenched with their peculiar savour of mystery, than
these stark keeps whose crests and _girouettes_ rise above encircling
woods or frown upon mirroring rivers over the length and breadth of
the Breton land.

_La Roche-Jagu_

One of the most typical of the châteaux of Brittany is that of La
Roche-Jagu, at one time the guardian of the mouth of the river Trieux.
It is built on the top of a hill which overhangs the Trieux, and from
one of its battlemented galleries a splendid view of the windings of
the river can be obtained. The wall on this side of the fortress is so
thick as to allow of a chapel being hewn out of its solidity. A most
distinctive architectural note is struck by the fourteen wonderful
chimney-shafts of cut stone ornamented with iron spikes.


Some miles farther down the river, but on its opposite side, is the
imposing castle of Tonquédec, perhaps the finest remnant of the
medieval military architecture of Brittany. It has always remained in
the family of the Viscounts of Coêtman, who ranked among the foremost
of the Breton nobility, though one of them espoused the cause of the
Constable Clisson against Duke John IV, and had the anguish of seeing
his ancestral fortress razed to the ground. Under Henry IV, however,
the castle was restored, only to be again demolished by order of
Cardinal Richelieu, who strongly and forcibly disapproved of such
powerful fortalices.

It had an outer enclosure, and had to be entered by a drawbridge, and
it was strengthened in every way conceivable to the military art of
the times. It was surrounded by dwellings for the convenience of the
seigneur's retainers, a fine _salle d'armes_ still remaining. To the
keep, four stories high, a flying bridge led, in order to facilitate
the withdrawal of the garrison in case of siege. Behind walls ten feet
thick, so long as food and ammunition lasted, the inmates could hold
the enemy in scorn.


The château of Clisson, once the property of the great Constable
Oliver de Clisson, whom the Viscount of Coêtman and the Bretons of
Penthièvre had championed, is now only a grand old ruin, a touching
monument of the architectural splendours of former days. By
moonlight it makes a scene not easily forgotten, gaunt and still
and ruggedly imposing, the silent reminder of events and people
tales of whom will not readily die, the treasurer of secrets it
will probably never yield. Its antithesis is the castle of Nantes,
with the stamp of the Renaissance upon its delicately sculptured
balconies and window-frames. It is now an arsenal, a fact which
robs it of some of the romantic interest of Clisson, or, indeed, of
ruins in general, yet within its walls are the prison chambers in
which Gilles de Laval, the ambitious Finance Minister Fouquet, the
Cardinal de Retz, and the Duchess of Berry once languished. For many
years it served as one of the political prisons of France, though
it is also associated with brighter and happier times; for here, on
pleasure bent, lingered many of the Kings of France from Louis XI
onward, and here in 1675 Madame de Sévigné sojourned, a circumstance
which casts about it a literary as well as a romantic glamour. The
great well in the courtyard, with its ornamental railing of wrought
iron, is quite equal to the famous well of Quentin Matsys at Antwerp.


The castle of Josselin, also associated with the history of the great
Constable Clisson and his allies, as well as with the notorious League
whose followers wrought such intolerable misery in Brittany, is built
on a rocky foundation near the river Oust. With its imposing front and
conically roofed towers it is one of the best examples of a
twelfth-century fortress-château. Very different in tone is the
architecture of the interior court, being that of the period when the
lighter traceries and more imaginative lines of the Renaissance were
in favour. The window-openings of the two first stories are beautiful
enough to rival those of Chambord and equal those of Blois. Above the
windows an open gallery runs, and in the space between each the device
of the Rohans is carved, with their motto, _A Plus_, this celebrated
family having built this part of the château. About the year 1400
Clisson added a keep, walls, and parapets, but in 1629, when the
fortress was no longer a stronghold of the League, these were
permitted to fall into ruin. Through the courtesy of the family now in
residence this wonderfully preserved castle may be visited, a
circumstance for which the tourist in Brittany should indeed be
grateful. Interest within these massy walls clings around the well,
with its ornamental railings, the noble and lofty hall, the library,
with its magnificent chimney-piece, repeating again, in stone, the
Rohan motto, _A Plus_, and the equestrian statue of Clisson, by
Frémiet, in the dining-room.

_Hennebont and Largoet_

Of the old château of Hennebont, where John of Montfort breathed his
last after escaping from the Louvre of his day, only a heap of stones
remains. The old fortress of Largoet is in much the same condition,
nothing of the ancient structure having been conserved save the famous
Tour d'Elven, considered to be the most beautiful castle keep in all
Brittany, which has also a literary distinction as being the scene of
some of the most touching episodes in Octave Feuillet's _Roman d'un
jeune Homme pauvre_.


At Châteaubriant, which owes its name to the compounding of the
word 'château' with that of 'Briant,' the family style of its
original lord, the old feudal fortress is now a ruin, but the
castle, built by Jean de Laval, Governor of Brittany under Francis
I, is in good repair. An inscription giving the date of the completion
of the new château as 1538 is above the portal of the colonnade.
There is a gruesome legend associated with the old château, in which
for some time dwelt the unfortunate Françoise de Foix, Countess of
Châteaubriant and beloved of Francis I. Tiring or becoming suspicious
of her royal lover, she decided to return to her husband, the old
Count of Laval. The reunion, however, was not productive of
happiness, owing to the fever of jealousy in which her elderly
husband lived because of the love affair with the King. This
jealousy eventually flared into mania when he heard that she had
actually visited her former lover in prison after he had been
captured at Pavia. Instantly he "shut his young wife up in a
darkened and padded cell, and finally had her cut into pieces by two
surgeons," so the story goes. Terrified at what he had done and of
the consequences which were sure to follow when the King heard of
his savagery, the Count fled the country immediately afterward.

The château of Brodineuf (dating from the twelfth century) and that of
Caradeuc are in good repair, but the latter is ancient only in parts.
It shelters two Murillos within its walls. The picturesque château of
Combourg was in early times a feudal fortress, and in it René
Châteaubriand's infancy was passed. This place may be visited by
interested sightseers, and there they may view the writing-table of
the author of _Le Génie du Christianisme_, and, in the bedroom he
occupied at Combourg, the bed on which he died in Paris. The château
of Vitré is also in a state of preservation, and is considered one of
the best specimens of military architecture in the province.
Comparatively near is the château of Rochers, once the home of Mme de
Sévigné, and in consequence one of the famous sights of the country.
The many letters she dated from this castle paint a vivid and detailed
picture of social life in the seventeenth century, and fortunately the
atmosphere of the time has been happily retained in the building

Another twelfth-century structure is that of the château of Rustefan,
near Quimperlé. It was built by Stephen, Count of Penthièvre, and
belonged in the next century to Blanche of Castile, the mother of St
Louis. The ruins now in existence are those of the château built in
the fifteenth century, and its cylindrical tower, pinnacled doorway,
and the stone mullions of the windows still remain fairly intact. The
château of Kerjolet, in Concarneau, is one which has been saved from
decay, restored as it was by Countess Chaveau-Narishkine and presented
by her to the department. It contains a museum in which are specimens
of all the costumes and _coiffes_ of Lower Brittany, and antiquities
of prehistoric and medieval times, which all students of Breton and
Celtic lore should see.

_Palaces of the Past_

The château of Tourlaville is situated among very beautiful
surroundings, and is built in the classic style of the Renaissance,
with an angular tower. On chimney-piece and fireplace throughout the
castle there are numerous sentimental devices in which Cupids and
flaming hearts and torches figure largely, with the occasional
accompaniment of verses and mottoes of an equally amatory nature.
These are all seventeenth-century examples and may be taken as
expressions of the time. In a boudoir called the Blue Chamber, because
of the colour of its draperies and decorations, many coats-of-arms are
emblazoned; but all the greatness to which these testify has become a
thing of the past, for the château has now been turned into a

The château of Dinan may also be classed among the palaces of the
past, for now, despite the fact that it was built by the Dukes of
Brittany, it has become a prison. From the tourist as well as the
romantic point of view this is somewhat of a tragedy. The Tower of
Coëtquen, one of the ancient towers of the city wall, is practically
part of the castle, and the keep, or Queen Anne's Tower, is the most
distinctive feature remaining. This keep is of four stories, and is
over a hundred feet high, the last story being reached by a spiral
staircase. What was once the oratory of the Duchess Anne is now the
guard-room. There are still several dungeons whose original
gruesomeness has been left untouched, and whose use in bygone days can
well be imagined.


The château of Suscino is one of the chief sights of the neighbourhood
of Vannes, because it is the ruin of what was once a marvellous
structure of the thirteenth century, and follows the finest Gothic
traditions of the time. All the roofing of the building has quite
disappeared, but its battlemented towers and walls remain to give a
good idea of the architectural perfection that must have belonged to
it. At one time it fell into the hands of Charles of Blois, only to be
retaken by his rival, Montfort, in 1364, and in 1373 it was occupied
by an English garrison. Eventually it was bestowed upon John of
Châlons, Prince of Orange, by Anne of Brittany, but in time Francis I
relieved him of it in order to present it to Françoise de Foix, the
celebrated Lady of Châteaubriant. The irregular pentagon formed by the
château is possibly somewhat modified from the original plan of 1320,
and of the seven towers which flanked its gates and walls in the
beginning six have weathered the storms of the times through which
they have passed. Its orchid-shaped machicolations have also survived,
and even to-day they are noticeably beautiful. The new tower is a fine
cylindrical keep, dating from the fourteenth century, and over the
entrance this legend still remains:

       Ici Est Né
    Le Duc Arthur III
    le 24 Août, 1393.

We have already dealt with many of the stories connected with the
ancient castles of Brittany, and these will be found in nearly
every chapter of this book, so varied are they. But no tale, however
vivid, can hope to capture and retain all the wonder and mystery of
these grand old strongholds, which must be seen in order to leave
upon the imagination and memory the full impress of their weird and
extraordinary fascination.


  [40] _Folk-lore as an Historical Science_, p. 129.

  [41] _Western France_, vol. ii.

  [42] See Le Braz, _La Légende de la Mort_, t. i, p. 39, t. ii, pp. 37
       ff.; Albert Le Grand, _Vies des Saints de la Bretagne_, p. 63;
       Villemarqué, _Chants populaires_, pp. 38 ff.

  [43] See MacCulloch, _Religion of the Ancient Celts_, p. 372 and

  [44] MacCulloch, _op. cit._, p. 274.

  [45] Villemarqué avouches that this version was taken down by his
       mother from the lips of an old peasant woman of the parish of
       Névez. It bears the stamp of ballad poetry, and as it has
       parallels in the folk-verse of other countries I see no reason
       to question its genuineness.

  [46] See "Maro Markiz Gwerrand," in the _Bulletin de la Société
       Académique de Brest_, 1865.


Soon after the Vicomte Hersart de la Villemarqué published his
_Barzaz-Breiz_, a collection of popular ballads from the Breton,
critics who possessed a knowledge of the language and were acquainted
with its literature exposed the true nature of the work, acting,
indeed, as did British critics when Macpherson published his
fragments of Ossian. Villemarqué was, in fact, a Breton Macpherson. He
would hear a Breton ballad sung or recited, and would then either
enlarge upon it and torture it out of all resemblance to its original
shape, or he would instigate a literary friend to do so. We must
remember that such a proceeding was fashionable at the time, as no
less a personage than Sir Walter Scott had led the way, and he had
been preceded by Burns in the practice. But whereas Burns made no
secret of what he did and greatly enhanced the poetical value of the
songs and ballads he altered, Scott and his friends, Kirkpatrick
Sharpe, Leyden, and others, indulged in what they described as the
"mystification" of their acquaintances by these semi-forgeries.
Like theirs, Villemarqué's work had usually an historical or
legendary basis, but it is impossible to say how much of it is
original matter of folk-song and how much his own invention,
unless we compare his versions with those furnished by M. Luzel in
his _Guerziou Breiz-Izel_ (1868), which, however, only contains a few
of the originals of the tales given in the _Barzaz-Breiz_, and those
not the most interesting.

I have cast the following tales into narrative form from the ballads
published in the _Barzaz-Breiz_, where they obviously appear as
traditional tales in a polished, modern dress.[47] They may be
regarded, largely, as efforts of the modern imagination regarding the
Breton past. In any case the author of a book on Breton romances would
not be justified in omitting all mention of Villemarqué and refraining
from affording the reader a specimen of his work, any more than he
would be in founding solely upon the labours of the Vicomte.

_Lez-Breiz, the Prop of Brittany_

Morvan, chief of Léon, so celebrated in the history of the ninth
century as one of the upholders of Breton independence, and known to
tradition as 'the Prop of Brittany,' is the subject of a remarkable
series of ballads or hero-tales in the _Barzaz-Breiz_ which together
constitute what is almost an epic. These tell of his life, death,
adventures, travels, and the marvellous feats of derring-do he
accomplished. In some measure he is to Breton legend what Arthur is to
British or Holger to that of Denmark. That he is familiar to Breton
tradition there can be no question, and whether Villemarqué himself
wove the following adventures around him or not they are certainly
typical of the age in which the hero flourished.

_Morvan's First Adventure_

One day the child Morvan was sitting at the edge of the forest when a
cavalier issued from its depths armed at all points and riding a
great charger. The boy, excited by his martial appearance, ran from
him in terror, calling out that here indeed was St Michael; but the
cavalier rode so swiftly that he soon came up with the lad, who
devoutly threw himself on his knees and made the sign of the Cross,
calling out:

"Seigneur Saint Michael, in the name of God I pray thee do me no

The knight laughed loudly. "Why, lad," he said, "I am no more Saint
Michael than I am a thief, but merely a belted knight, such as one may
meet with by the score in this land of chivalry."

"I have never seen a knight," replied Morvan; "and what may that be
which you carry?"

"That is called a lance, my boy."

"And what are these that you wear on your head and breast?"

"The one is a casque and the other a breast-plate. They are intended
to protect me from the stroke of sword and spear. But tell me, lad,
have you seen any one pass this way?"

"Yes, Seigneur, a man went by this very road not half an hour agone."

"Thank you, boy," replied the knight. "If you are asked who spoke to
you, say the Count of Quimper," and with these words he spurred his
horse and set off down the road in the direction which the little
Morvan had indicated.

Morvan returned to his mother, who had been sitting some distance
away, and began to tell her of his meeting. He was so full of the
gallantry of the knight he had met, his grace and martial bearing,
that the good dame could not stem the torrent of words which flowed
from him.

"Oh, mother," he babbled on, "you never saw anyone so splendid as him
whom I have seen to-day, a man more beautiful than the Lord Michael
the Archangel, whose image is in our church."

His mother smiled and patted him fondly on the cheek.

"Come, my son," she said, "there is no man so beautiful as the
Archangel Michael."

But little Morvan shook his head.

"Saving your grace, there are, my mother," he said gravely. "There are
many men more splendid than Saint Michael, and they are called
knights. How I wish that I might grow up and become a knight too!"

At these words the poor lady, who had lost her husband in battle and
who dreaded that her only son might be taken from her, was seized with
such dismay that she sank to the ground unconscious. The little
Morvan, without turning his head, entered the stables and led out a
fresh horse. Jumping lightly on the steed's back, he turned its head
in the direction in which the splendid cavalier had gone and rode
hastily after him.

_The Return of Morvan_

Ten years passed--years full of martial achievement and adventure for
young Morvan. Then a desire to return to the ancestral mansion seized
upon the youth, and he made his way homeward. But great was his dismay
when he entered the courtyard of the manor and looked about him, for
the blackberry bushes and the nettles were growing round the threshold
of the house and the walls were half ruined and covered with ivy. As
he was about to enter he observed a poor old blind woman standing in
the entrance.


"Pardon me, dame, but perhaps you can give me hospitality for the
night," he said.

"Alas! sir, we have but little," she replied. "This house has been
allowed to go to ruin since its son and heir quitted it."

As she ceased speaking a young damsel descended the broken stone
steps, and after regarding Morvan for a moment burst into tears.

"How now, maiden," said Morvan, "wherefore do you weep?"

"Alas, Seigneur," replied the maiden, "I have a brother who left us
ten years ago to lead the life of a warrior, and every time that I see
a youth about his age I feel myself compelled to weep."

"Tell me, my child," said Morvan, "have you no other brother?"

"None in the world, Sir Knight."

"And your mother, what of her?"

"Alas! sir, she too is gone. There is no one but myself and my old
nurse in the house. My poor mother died of grief when my brother rode
off to become a knight."

On hearing these words Morvan was deeply affected.

"Alas!" he cried, "wretch that I am, I have slain her who gave me

When he spoke thus the damsel turned deadly pale.

"In the name of heaven, sir, who are you?" she cried. "How are you

"I am Morvan, son of Conan, and Lez-Breiz is my surname, my sister."

The young girl stared for a moment, sighed, and then fell into his
arms; but soon she opened her eyes and praised God that she had found
her long-lost brother.

_The King's Cavalier_

But Lez-Breiz could not remain long at home. The tented field was his
fireside, the battle his sport. Adventure followed adventure in his
full and stirring life. One day he said to his young squire:

"Arouse you, my squire, and furnish my sword, my casque, and my
shield, that I may redden them in the blood of the Franks, for with
the help of God and this right arm I shall carry slaughter into their
ranks this day."

"Tell me, my lord," asked the squire, "shall I not fight along with
you to-day?"

Morvan smiled at the lad's eagerness, perhaps because he remembered
his own on the day he met the Count of Quimper, then a grave shadow
crossed his face.

"Think of your mother, lad," said he. "What if you never return to
her? Think of her grief should you die this day."

"Ah, Seigneur," entreated the stripling, "if you love me, grant my
prayer; let me fight along with you."

When Morvan rode out to battle an hour later his squire rode beside
him, knee to knee. Passing near the church of St Anne of Armor they

"O Saint Anne, most holy dame," prayed Morvan, "I am not yet twenty
years old and I have been in twenty battles. All those I have gained
by your aid, and if I return again to this land I shall make you a
rich gift. I shall give you enough candles to go three times round the
walls of your church, and thrice round your churchyard--aye, thrice
round your lands, when I come home again; and further I shall give you
a banner of white satin with an ivory staff. Also shall I give you
seven silver bells which will ring gaily night and day above your
head. And three times on my knees will I draw water for your use."

The enemy saw Morvan coming from afar. He was mounted on a small white
ass with a halter of hemp, to signify his contempt for them. Lorgnez,
his chief foe, came against him with a troop of warriors, while Morvan
had only his little squire behind him. The foemen came on, ten by ten,
until they reached the Wood of Chestnuts. For a moment the little
squire was dismayed, but a word from his master rallied him, and,
drawing his sword, he spurred forward. Soon they came front to front
with Lorgnez and hailed him in knightly fashion.

"Ho! Seigneur Lorgnez, good day to you."

"Good morrow, Seigneur Morvan. Will you engage in single combat?"

"No; I despise your offer. Go back to your King and tell him that I
mock him; and as for yourself, I laugh at you and those with you.
Return to Paris, stay among your women, take off your mail and put on
the silken armour of fops."

Lorgnez's face flamed with anger.

"By heaven!" he cried, "the lowest varlet in my company shall hew your
casque from your head for this!"

At these words Morvan drew his great sword.

       *       *       *       *       *

The old hermit of the wood heard some one knocking on the door of his
cell. He opened it quickly and saw the young squire standing before
him. He started back at the sight of the youth's blood-stained armour
and death-pale countenance.

"Ha, my son," he cried, "you are sorely hurt. Come and wash your
wounds at the fountain and repose for a little."

"I may not rest here, good father," replied the squire, shaking his
head. "I have come to find water to take to my young master, who has
fallen in the fight. Thirty warriors lie slain by his hand. Of these
the Chevalier Lorgnez was the first."

"Brave youth!" said the hermit. "Alas that he has fallen!"

"Do not grieve, father. It is true that he has fallen, but it is only
from fatigue. He is unwounded and will soon recover himself."

When he was recovered Morvan betook him to the chapel of St Anne and
rendered the gifts he had promised her.

"Praise be to Saint Anne," cried he, "for she it is who has gained
this victory."

_The King's Blackamoor_

One day the King of the Franks was sitting among his courtiers.

"Would that some one would rid me of this pestilent Morvan, who
constantly afflicts the Frankish land and slays my doughtiest
warriors," he said, on hearing of a fresh exploit on the part of the
Breton chief.

Then the King's blackamoor, who heard these words, arose and stood
before his master. He was tall and great of thew and sinew--a giant
among men, towering head and shoulders even above the tall Frankish

"Allow me to fulfil your wishes, sire," he said. "Sir Morvan has sent
me his glove, and if to-morrow I do not bring you his head I will
willingly part with my own."

On the next morning Morvan's squire came to his master trembling

"Seigneur," he said, with ashy countenance, "the King's Moor is here
and bids you defiance."

Morvan rose and took his sword.

"Alas! my dear master," said the squire, "take heed what you do, I
pray you, for I assure you that this Moor is nothing but a demon who
practises the most horrible enchantments."

Morvan laughed. "Well, we shall see whether this demon can withstand
cold steel or not," he said. "Go and saddle my black horse."

"Saving your grace," said the page, "if you will hearken to my words
you will not fight on the black charger. He has been bewitched.
Moreover, you will notice that when you enter the lists to fight the
Moor he will cast his mantle to the ground. But do not follow his
example, for should your mantle fall beneath his the strength of the
black giant will be doubled. When the Moor advances to the attack make
the sign of the Cross with the shaft of your lance, and when he rushes
upon you in his battle-fury receive him with the steel. If you do this
you may be sure that your lance will not break."

The heroes met within the lists. The King of France and his nobles had
followed the giant Moor in order to witness the combat, and when all
had been seated the trumpets sounded and the two champions rushed
together with the utmost fury. They circled round one another like
eagles seeking an opening to strike. Now one struck, then the other,
and the blood flowed down their bright armour. The Frankish King in
high excitement called out:

"Ho! black crow of the sea, pierce me now this merle."

At these words the giant assailed Morvan most furiously, as a great
tempest assails a ship. The lances crossed, but that of the Moor broke
like matchwood. Both leaped to earth, sword in hand, and rushed at
each other like lions. Many lusty strokes were given and taken, and
from their armour flew sparks like those from a smith's anvil. Then
the Moor, grasping his sword with both hands, made ready to strike a
mighty blow, when swift and trenchantly Morvan thrust his blade far
into the arm-pit and the heart and the giant tumbled to the earth like
a falling tree. Morvan placed his foot on the dead man's breast,
withdrew his sword, and cut off the Moor's head. Then, attaching the
bleeding trophy to the pommel of his saddle, he rode home with it and
affixed it to the gate of his castle. All men praised him for his
doughty deed, but he gave the grace of his victory entirely to St
Anne, and declared that he would build a house of prayer in her honour
on the heights between Léguer and the Guindy.

_Morvan Fights the King_

One day Morvan sallied forth to encounter the King of the Franks
himself. The King brought no fewer than five thousand mounted
men-at-arms. As this host was about to set out, a great clap of
thunder resounded in the vault of heaven, and the King's nobles
perforce regarded it as a bad omen.

"For heaven's sake, sire, go not hence," said one of them, "since the
day has begun with such an evil token."

"Impossible," was the royal reply. "I have given the order; we must

That morning, on the other hand, the sister of Morvan said to her
brother: "My dear brother, if you love me seek not this combat, for if
you do you will certainly go to your death, and what will become of me
afterward? I see on the shore the white sea-horse, the symbol of
Brittany. A monstrous serpent entwines him, seizing him round the hind
legs and the body with his enormous coils. The sea-steed turns his
head to seize the reptile. The combat is unequal. You are alone; the
Franks are legion!"

But Morvan was already beyond ear-shot.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the hermit of the wood of Helléan[48] slept three knocks sounded on
his door.

"Good hermit," said some one, "open the door. I seek an asylum and
help from you."

The wind blew coldly from the country of the Franks. It was the hour
when savage beasts wander here and there in search of their prey. The
hermit did not rise with alacrity.

"Who are you who knock at my door at this hour of night demanding an
entrance?" he asked sulkily; "and by what sign shall I know whether
you are a true man or otherwise?"

"Priest, I am well known in this land. I am Morvan Lez-Breiz, the
Hatchet of Brittany."

"I will not open my door to you," said the hermit hastily. "You are a
rebel; you are the enemy of the good King of the Franks."

"How, priest!" cried Morvan angrily, "I am a Breton and no traitor or
rebel. It is the King of the Franks who has been a traitor to this

"Silence, recreant!" replied the hermit. "Rail not against the King of
the Franks, for he is a man of God."

"Of God, say you? Nay, rather of the devil! Has he not ravaged and
wasted the Breton land? The gold that he wrings from the Breton folk
is expended for the good of Satan. Open, hermit, open!"

"Not so, my son, for should I do so the Franks would surely fix a
quarrel upon me."

"You refuse?" shouted Morvan in a voice of thunder. "Good; then I
shall burst into your cell," and with these words he threw himself
against the door, which creaked ominously.

"Hold, my son, hold!" cried the old hermit in tremulous tones.
"Forbear and I will open to you"; and seizing a torch he lit it at the
remains of his fire and went to open the door.

_The Severed Head_

He unlocked it and drew it back, but as he did so he recoiled
violently, for he saw advancing upon him a terrible spectre, holding
its head in its two hands. Its eyes seemed full of blood and fire, and
rolled round and round in a most horrible manner. The hermit was about
to shriek in terror when the head of the apparition, after laughing
grimly, addressed him:

"Come now, old Christian, do not be afraid. God permits this thing to
be. He has allowed the Franks to decapitate me, but for a time only,
and as you see me now I am only a phantom. But He will permit you
yourself to replace my head on my shoulders if you will."

The hermit stammered and drew back. This was not his first encounter
with the supernatural, which he had good reason to dread, but like all
Bretons he had come under the magnetism of Morvan, even although he
believed that the King of the Franks was his rightful overlord; so,
steeling himself against his natural timidity, he said:

"If God permits this thing I shall be very willing to replace your
head on your shoulders."

"Take it, then," said the decapitated Morvan, and with trembling hands
the priest took the gory trophy and replaced it on the Breton chief's
shoulders, saying at the same time: "I replace your head, my son, in
the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit."

And by virtue of this benediction the phantom once more became a man.

"Morvan," said the hermit, "you must do penance, heavy penance, with
me. You must carry about with you for seven years a robe of lead,
padlocked to your neck, and each day at the hour of twelve you must go
to fetch water from the well at the summit of the mountain yonder."

"I will do as you desire," said Morvan; "I will follow your saintly

When the seven years of the penance had passed the robe had flayed
Morvan's skin severely, and his beard, which had become grey, and the
hair of his head, fell almost to his waist. Those who saw him did not
recognize him; but a lady dressed in white, who passed through the
greenwood, stopped and gazed earnestly at him and her eyes filled with

"Morvan, my dear son, it is indeed you," she said. "Come here, my
beloved child, that I may free you of your burden," and she cut the
chain which bound the shirt of lead to the shoulders of the penitent
with a pair of golden scissors, saying:

"I am your patron, Saint Anne of Armor."

Now for seven years had the squire of Morvan sought his master, and
one day he was riding through the greenwood of Helléan.

"Alas!" he said, "what profits it that I have slain his murderer when
I have lost my dear lord?"

Then he heard at the other end of the wood the plaintive whinnying of
a horse. His own steed sniffed the air and replied, and then he saw
between the parted branches a great black charger, which he recognized
as that of Lez-Breiz. Once more the beast whinnied mournfully. It
almost seemed as if he wept. He was standing upon his master's grave!

But, like Arthur and Barbarossa, Morvan Lez-Breiz will yet return.
Yes, one day he will return to fight the Franks and drive them from
the Breton land!

We have sundry intimations here of the sources from which Villemarqué
drew a part at least of his matter. There are resemblances to
Arthurian and kindred romances. For example, the incident which
describes the flight of young Morvan is identical with that in the
Arthurian saga of _Percival le Gallois_, where the child Percival
quits his mother's care in precisely the same fashion. The Frankish
monarch and his Court, too, are distinctly drawn in the style of the
_chansons de gestes_, which celebrated the deeds of Charlemagne and
his peers. There are also hints that the paganism against which
Charlemagne fought, that of the Moors of Spain, had attracted the
attention of the author, and this is especially seen in his
introduction of the Moorish giant, so common a figure in the
Carlovingian stories.

_The Ballad of Bran_

A sorrowful and touching ballad, claimed by Villemarqué as being sung
in the Breton dialect of Léon, tells of the warrior Bran, who was
wounded in the great fight of Kerlouan, a village situated on the
coast of Léon, in the tenth century. The coast was raided by the
Norsemen, and the Bretons, led by their chief, Even the Great, marched
against them and succeeded in repelling them. The Norsemen, however,
carried off several prisoners, among them a warrior called Bran.
Indeed, a village called Kervran, or 'the village of Bran,' still
exists near the seashore, and here it was, tradition relates, that the
warrior was wounded and taken by the Scandinavian pirates. In the
church of Goulven is to be seen an ancient tablet representing the
Norse vessels which raided the coast.

The ballad recounts how Bran, on finding himself on the enemy's ship,
wept bitterly. On arriving in the land of the Norsemen he was
imprisoned in a tower, where he begged his gaolers to allow him to
send a letter to his mother. Permission to do so was granted, and a
messenger was found. The prisoner advised this man, for his better
safety, to disguise himself in the habit of a beggar, and gave him his
gold ring in order that his mother might know that the message came
from her son in very truth. He added: "When you arrive in my country
proceed at once to my mother, and if she is willing to ransom me show
a white sail on your return, but if she refuses, hoist a black sail."

When the messenger arrived at the warrior's home in the country of
Léon the lady was at supper with her family and the bards were present
playing on their harps.

"Greeting, lady," said the messenger. "Behold the ring of your son,
Bran, and here is news from him contained in this letter, which I pray
you read quickly."

The lady took the missive, and, turning to the harpers, told them to
cease playing. Having perused the letter she became extremely
agitated, and, rising with tears in her eyes, gave orders that a
vessel should be equipped immediately so that she might sail to seek
her son on the morrow.

One morning Bran, the prisoner, called from his tower: "Sentinel,
Sentinel, tell me, do you see a sail on the sea?"

"No," replied the sentinel, "I see nothing but the sea and the sky."

At midday Bran repeated the question, but was told that nothing but
the birds and the billows were in sight. When the shadows of evening
gathered he asked once more, and the perfidious sentinel replied with
a lie:

"Yes, lord, there is a ship close at hand, beaten by wind and sea."

"And what colour of a sail does she show?" asked Bran. "Is it black or

"It is black, lord," replied the sentinel, in a spirit of petty

When the unhappy warrior heard these words he never spoke more.

That night his mother arrived at the town where he had been
imprisoned. She asked of the people: "Why do the bells sound?"

"Alas! lady," said an ancient man, "a noble prisoner who lay in yonder
tower died this night."

With bent head the lady walked to the tower, her white hair falling
upon her folded arms. When she arrived at its foot she said to the
guard: "Open the door quickly; I have come to see my son."

And when the great door was opened she threw herself upon the corpse
of Bran and breathed her last.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the battlefield of Kerlouan there is an oak which overshadows the
shore and which marks the place where the Norsemen fled before the
face of Even the Great. On this oak, whose leaves shine in the moon,
the birds gather each night, the birds of the sea and the land, both
of white and black feather. Among them is an old grey rook and a young
crow. The birds sing such a beautiful song that the great sea keeps
silence to hear it. All of them sing except the rook and the crow. Now
the crow says: "Sing, little birds, sing; sing, little birds of the
land, for when you die you will at least end your days in Brittany."

The crow is of course Bran in disguise, for the name Bran means 'crow'
in the Breton tongue, and the rook is possibly his mother. In the most
ancient Breton traditions the dead are represented as returning to
earth in the form of birds. A number of the incidents in this piece
are paralleled in the poem of _Sir Tristrem_, which also introduces a
messenger who disguises himself for the purpose of travelling more
safely in a foreign country, a ring of gold, which is used to show the
messenger's _bona-fides_, a perfidious gaoler, and the idea of the
black or white sail. The original poem of _Sir Tristrem_ was probably
composed about the twelfth or thirteenth century, and it would seem
that the above incidents at least have a Breton source behind them. A
mother, however, has been substituted for a lover, and the ancient
Breton dame takes the place of Ysonde. There is, indeed, little
difference between the passage which relates the arrival of the mother
in the Norsemen's country and that of Ysonde in Brittany when she
sails on her last voyage with the intention of succouring Tristrem.
Ysonde also asks the people of the place why the bells are ringing,
one of the ancient inhabitants tells her of the death of her lover,
and, like the Breton mother, she casts herself on the body of him she
has lost.

"This passage," says Villemarqué, with wonderful _sang-froid_, "duly
attests the prior claim of the Armorican piece!" But even if he had
been serious, he wrote without the possession of data for the precise
fixing of the period in which the Breton ballad was composed; and in
any case his contention cannot assist the Breton argument for
Armorican priority in Arthurian literature, as borrowing in ballad and
folk-tale is much more flagrant than he, writing as he did in 1867,
could ever have guessed--more flagrant even than any adaptation he
himself ever perpetrated!

He adds, however, an antiquarian note to the poem which is of far
greater interest and probably of more value than his supposition. He
alludes to the passage contained in the ballad regarding the harpers
who are represented as playing in the hall of Bran's mother while
she sits at supper. The harp, he states, is no longer popular in
Brittany, and he asks if this was always the case. There can be very
little doubt that in Brittany, as in other Celtic countries--for
example, Wales, Ireland and Scotland--the harp was in ancient times
one of the national instruments. It is strange that it should have
been replaced in that country by the _biniou_, or bagpipe, just as
the _clairschach_, or Highland harp, was replaced by the same
instrument in the Highlands of Scotland.


Guy Eder de Fontenelle, a son of the house of Beaumanoir, was one of
the most famous partisans of the Catholic League, and, according to
one who saw him in 1587, had then begun to show tendencies to the wild
life he was afterward to lead. He was sent as a scholar to Paris to
the College of Boncotest, but in 1589, when about sixteen years of
age, he became impatient of scholastic confinement, sold his books and
his robe, and bought a sword and poignard. Leaving the college, he
took the road to Orléans, with the object of attaching himself to the
army of the Duke of Mayenne, chief of the Catholic party in France,
but, returning to his native Brittany, he placed himself at the head
of the populace, which had risen in arms on behalf of the Leaguers. As
he was of good family and a Breton and displayed an active spirit,
they obeyed him very willingly. Soon he translated his intentions into
action, and commenced to pillage the smaller towns and to make captive
those who differed from him politically. He threatened Guingamp, which
was held for the King, and made a sally into Léon, carrying away the
daughter of the Lady of Coadelan, a wealthy heiress, who was only
about eight or nine years of age. This occurrence Villemarqué has
related for us in Breton verse, assuring us that it was 'recovered' by
the Comte de Kergariou, a friend of his. Fontenelle is supposed to
have encountered the little heiress plucking flowers in a wayside

"Tell me, little one," said he, "for whom do you pluck these

"For my foster-brother, whom I love. But I am afraid, for I know that
Fontenelle is near."

"Ha, then, so you know this terrible Fontenelle, my child?"

"No, sir, I do not know him, but I have heard tell of him. I have
heard folk say that he is a very wicked man and that he carries away
young ladies."

"Yes," replied Fontenelle, with a laugh, "and, above all, heiresses."

He took the child in his arms and swung her on to the crupper of his
saddle. Then, dashing the spurs into his charger's flanks, he set off
at a gallop for Saint-Malo, where he placed the little heiress in a
convent, with the object of marrying her when she had arrived at the
age of fourteen.

Years afterward Fontenelle and the heiress, who was now his wife, went
to live at their manor of Coadelan. They had a little child beautiful
as the day, who greatly resembled his father. One day a letter arrived
for the Seigneur, calling upon him to betake himself to Paris at once.
His wife was inconsolable.

"Do not set forth alone for Paris, I pray you," she said, "for if you
do I shall instantly follow you. Remain at home, I beg of you, and I
will send a messenger in your stead. In the name of God, do not go,
husband, for if you do you will never return."

But Fontenelle disregarded his wife's entreaties, and, begging her to
take good care of their son during his absence, set forth on his
journey to the capital. In due time he arrived in Paris and stood
before the King and Queen. He greeted them courteously, but they
looked coldly on him, and the King told him bluntly that he should not
return to Coadelan, adding: "There are sufficient chains in my palace
to restrain you."

On hearing this Fontenelle called his little page and begged him to
return at once to his mistress and tell her to discard her finery,
because she would soon be a widow, and to bring him back a coarse
shirt and a white sheet, and, moreover, to bring a gold plate on which
his enemies might expose his head after his death.

"And, little page," he added, "take a lock of my hair and place it on
the door of Coadelan, so that all men as they go to Mass may say, 'God
have mercy on the soul of Fontenelle.'"

The page did as he was bidden, but as for the plate of gold it was
useless, for Fontenelle's head was thrown on the pavement to serve as
a ball for the children of the gutter.

All Paris was surprised when one day a lady from a distant country
arrived and made great stir in its narrow streets. Every one asked his
neighbour who this dame might be. It was the heiress of Coadelan,
dressed in a flowing robe of green. "Alas!" said the pitiful
burgesses, "if she knew what we know she would be dressed in black."
Shortly she stood before the King. "Sire," said she, "give me back my
husband, I beg of you."

"Alas! madam," replied the King, with feigned sorrow, "what you ask is
impossible, for but three days ago he was broken on the wheel."

"Whoso goes to Coadelan to-day will turn away from it with grief, for
the ashes are black upon the hearth and the nettles crowd around the
doorway--and still," the ballad ends naïvely, "still the wicked world
goes round and the poor folk weep with anguish, and say, 'Alas that
she is dead, the mother of the poor.'"

_The Return from England_

There is a good deal of evidence to show that a considerable body of
Bretons accompanied the invading army of William the Conqueror when he
set forth with the idea of gaining the English crown. They were
attached to his second battle corps, and many of them received land in
England. A ballad which, says Villemarqué, bears every sign of
antiquity deals with the fortunes of a young Breton, Silvestik, who
followed in the train of the Conqueror. The piece is put into the
mouth of the mother of Silvestik, who mourns her son's absence, and
its tone is a tender and touching one.

"One night as I lay on my bed," says the anxious mother, "I could not
sleep. I heard the girls at Kerlaz singing the song of my son. O God,
Silvestik, where are you now? Perhaps you are more than three hundred
leagues from here, cast on the great sea, and the fishes feed upon
your fair body. Perhaps you may be married now to some Saxon damsel.
You were to have been wed to a lovely daughter of this land, Mannaïk
de Pouldergat, and you might have been among us surrounded by
beautiful children, dwelling happily in your own home.


"I have taken to my door a little white dove which sits in a small
hollow of the stone. I have tied to his neck a letter with the ribbon
of my wedding-dress and have sent it to my son. Arise, my little dove,
arise on your two wings, fly far, very far across the great sea, and
discover if my son is still alive and well."

Silvestik rested in the shade of an English wood, and as he did so a
familiar note fell upon his ear.

"That sound resembles the voice of my mother's little white dove," he
said. The sound grew louder; it seemed to say, "Good luck to you,
Silvestik, good luck to you. I have here a letter for you."

Silvestik in high happiness read the letter, and resolved to return
home to his sorrowing parent.

Two years passed, three years passed, and the dove did not return to
delight the heart of the longing mother, who day by day walked the
dismal seashore waiting for the vessel that never came. One day of
storm she was wandering on the beach as usual when she saw a vessel
being driven with great force upon the iron coast. Even as she watched
it it dashed upon the rocks. Soon there were cast upon the shore the
forms of many dead, and when the gale abated and the heart-sick mother
was able to search among them she found Silvestik!

Several competent judges are of opinion that this ballad is
contemporary with the events which it relates. Many of the Breton
lords who sailed with William the Conqueror did not return for several
years after the expedition had accomplished its object, and some not
at all. Nothing is known regarding the hero. The bird is frequently
the messenger between lovers in ballad literature, but it is seldom
that it is found carrying letters between a mother and her
son--indeed, this is perhaps the only instance known.

_The Marriage-Girdle_

This ballad has reference to the Breton expedition which sailed for
Wales in 1405 to assist the Welsh under Owen Glendower to free their
principality from the English yoke. The Bretons rendered material
assistance to their Welsh brothers, and had the satisfaction on their
return of knowing that they had accomplished that which no French king
had ever been able to achieve--the invasion of English territory. The
expedition was commanded by Jean de Rieux, Marshal of France, and
numbered ten thousand men.

The ballad tells how a young man on the morning after his betrothal
received orders to join the standard of de Rieux "to help the Bretons
oversea." It was with bitterness in his heart, says the lover, that he
entered the house of his betrothed with the object of bidding her
farewell. He told her that duty called him, and that he must go to
serve in England. At this her tears gushed forth, and she begged him
not to go, reminding him how changeful was the wind and how perfidious
the sea.

"Alas!" said she, "if you die what shall I do? In my impatience to
have news of you my heart will break. I shall wander by the seashore,
from one cottage to another, asking the sailors if they have heard
tell of you."

"Be comforted, Aloïda," said her lover, "and do not weep on my
account. I will send you a girdle from over the sea, a girdle of
purple set with rubies."

They parted at daybreak, he to embark on the sea, she to weep, and as
he sought his ship he could hear the magpies cackle: "If the sea is
changeable women are even more so."

When the autumn had arrived the young girl said: "I have looked far
over the sea from the heights of the mountains of Arez. I have seen
upon the waters a ship in danger, and I feel that upon it was him whom
I love. He held a sword in his hand, he was engaged in a terrible
combat, he was wounded to death and his garments were covered with
blood. I am certain that he is dead."

And before many weeks had passed she was affianced to another.

Then good news arrived in the land. The war was finished and the
cavalier returned to his home with a gay heart. No sooner had he
refreshed himself than he went to seek his beloved. As he approached
her dwelling he heard the sound of music, and observed that every
window in the house was illuminated as if for a festival. He asked
some revellers whom he met outside the cause of this merrymaking, and
was told that a wedding was proceeding.

It is the custom in Brittany to invite beggars to a wedding, and when
these were now admitted one of them asked hospitality for the night.
This was at once granted him, but he sat apart, sad and silent. The
bride, observing this, approached him and asked him why he did not
join in the feasting. He replied that he was weary with travel and
that his heart was heavy with sorrow. Desirous that the marriage
festivities should not flag, the bride asked him to join her in the
dance, and he accepted the invitation, saying, however, that it was an
honour he did not merit.

Now while they danced he came close to her and murmured in her ear:

"What have you done with the golden ring that you received from me at
the door of this very house?"

The bride stared at him in wild dismay. "Oh, heaven," she cried,
"behold, I have now two husbands! I who thought I was a widow!"

"You think wrongly, _ma belle_," hissed the beggar; "you will have no
husband this side of the grave," and drawing a dagger from under his
cloak he struck the lady to the heart.

In the abbey of Daoulas there is a statue of the Virgin decorated with
a splendid girdle of purple sparkling with rubies, which came from
across the sea. If you desire to know who gave it to her, ask of a
repentant monk who lies prostrate on the grass before the figure of
the Mother of God.

It is strange that the faithless damsel should have alleged that she
saw her lover perish in a naval combat when in the very year to which
the circumstances of the ballad refer (1405) a Breton fleet
encountered and defeated an English flotilla several leagues from
Brest. "The combat was terrible," says a historian of the Dukes of
Burgundy, "and was animated by the ancient hate between the English
and the Bretons." Perhaps it was in this sea-fight that the lady
beheld her lover; and if, as she thought, he was slain, she scarcely
deserves the odium which the balladeer has cast upon her memory.

_The Combat of Saint-Cast_

This ballad somewhat belies its name, for it has some relation to an
extraordinary incident which was the means rather of preventing
than precipitating a battle. In 1758 a British army was landed upon
the shores of Brittany with the object of securing for British
merchant ships safety in the navigation of the Channel and of creating
a diversion in favour of the German forces, then our allies. A
company of men from Lower Brittany, from the towns of Tréguier and
Saint-Pol-de-Léon, says Villemarqué, were marching against a
detachment of Scottish Highlanders. When at a distance of about a
mile the Bretons could hear their enemies singing a national song. At
once they halted stupefied, for the air was one well known to them,
which they were accustomed to hear almost every day of their lives.
Electrified by the music, which spoke to their hearts, they arose
in their enthusiasm and themselves sang the patriotic refrain. It
was the Highlanders' turn to be silent. All this time the two
companies were nearing one another, and when at a suitable distance
their respective officers commanded them to fire; but the orders
were given, says the tradition, "in the same language," and the
soldiers on both sides stood stock-still. Their inaction, however,
lasted but a moment, for emotion carried away all discipline, the
arms fell from their hands, and the descendants of the ancient Celts
renewed on the field of battle those ties of brotherhood which had
once united their fathers.

However unlikely this incident may seem, it appears to be confirmed by
tradition, if not by history. The air which the rival Celts sang is,
says Villemarqué,[49] common to both Brittany and "the Highlands of
Scotland." With the music before me, it seems to bear a marked
resemblance to The _Garb of Old Gaul_, composed by General Reid
(1721-1807). Perhaps Reid, who was a Highlander, based his stirring
march on an older Celtic theme common to both lands.

_The Song of the Pilot_

One of the most famous of Breton nautical traditions tells of the
chivalry displayed by a Breton crew toward the men of a British
warship. During the American War of Independence much enthusiasm was
excited in France in connexion with the valiant struggle for liberty
in which the American colonies were engaged. A number of Breton ships
received letters of marque enabling them to fight on the American side
against Great Britain, and these attempted to blockade British
commerce. The _Surveillante_, a Breton vessel commanded by Couédic de
Kergoaler, encountered the British ship _Quebec_, commanded by Captain
Farmer. In the course of the action the _Surveillante_ was nearly sunk
by the British cannonade and the _Quebec_ went on fire. But Breton and
Briton, laying aside their swords, worked together with such goodwill
that most of the British crew were rescued and the _Surveillante_ was
saved, although the _Quebec_ was lost, and this notwithstanding that
nearly every man of both crews had been wounded in the fighting.

I have here attempted a very free translation of the stirring ballad
which relates this noteworthy incident, which cannot but be of
interest at such a time as the present.


  Yo ho, ye men of Sulniac!
  We ship to-day at Vannes,
  We sail upon a glorious track
  To seek an Englishman.
  Our saucy sloop the _Surveillante_
  Must keep the seaways clear
  From Ushant in the north to Nantes:
  Aboard her, timoneer!

  See, yonder is the British craft
  That seeks to break blockade;
  St George's banner floats abaft
  Her lowering carronade.
  A flash! and lo, her thunder speaks,
  Her iron tempest flies
  Beneath her bows, and seaward breaks,
  And hissing sinks and dies.

  Thunder replied to thunder; then
  The ships rasped side by side,
  The battle-hungry Breton men
  A boarding sally tried,
  But the stern steel of Britain flashed,
  And spite of Breton vaunt
  The lads of Morbihan were dashed
  Back on the _Surveillante_.

  Then was a grim encounter seen
  Upon the seas that day.
  Who yields when there is strife between
  Britain and Brittany?
  Shall Lesser Britain rule the waves
  And check Britannia's pride?
  Not while her frigate's oaken staves
  Still cleave unto her side!

  But hold! hold! see, devouring fire
  Has seized the stout _Quebec_.
  The seething sea runs high and higher,
  The _Surveillante's_ a wreck.
  Their cannon-shot has breached our side,
  Our bolts have fired the foe.
  Quick, to the pumps! No longer bide!
  Below, my lads! below!

  The yawning leak is filled, the sea
  Is cheated of its prey.
  Now Bretons, let the Britons see
  The heart of Brittany!
  Brothers, we come to save, our swords
  Are sheathed, our hands are free.
  There is a fiercer fight toward,
  A fiercer foe than we!

  A long sea-day, till sank the sun,
  Briton and Breton wrought,
  And Great and Little Britain won
  The noblest fight ere fought.
  It was a sailors' victory
  O'er pride and sordid gain.
  God grant for ever peace at sea
  Between the Britains twain!


  [47] For the criticism on Villemarqué's work see H. Gaidoz and P.
       Sébillot, "Bibliographie des Traditions et de la Littérature
       populaire de la Bretagne" (in the _Revue Celtique_, t. v, pp.
       277 ff.). The title _Barzaz-Breiz_ means "The Breton Bards,"
       the author being under the delusion that the early forms of the
       ballads he collected and altered had been composed by the
       ancient bards of Brittany.

  [48] Once a part of the forest of Broceliande. It has now

  [49] _Barzaz-Breiz_, p. 335. Sébillot (_Traditions de la
       Haute-Bretagne_, t. i, p. 346) says that he could gain nothing
       regarding this incident at the village of Saint-Cast but "vague


Sorcery is a very present power in most isolated communities, and in
the civilized portions of Brittany it is but a thing of yesterday,
while in the more secluded departments it is very much a thing of
to-day. The old folk can recall the time when the farm, the dairy, and
the field were ever in peril of the spell, the enchantment, the
noxious beam of the evil eye, and tales of many a "devilish cantrip
sleight," as Burns happily characterized the activity of the witch and
the wizard, were told in hushed voices at the Breton fireside when the
winter wind blew cold from the cruel sea and the heaped faggots sent
the red glow of fire-warmth athwart the thick shadows of the great
farm kitchen, and old and young from grandsire to herd-boy made a
great circle to hearken to the creepy tales so dear to the Breton

As in the East, where to refuse baksheesh is to lay oneself open to
the curse of the evil eye, the beggar was regarded as the chief
possessor of this bespelling member. The guild of tattered wanderers
naturally nourished this superstition, and to permit one of its
members to hobble off muttering threats or curses was looked upon as
suicidal. Indeed, the mendicants were wont to boast of their feats of
sorcery to the terrified peasants, who hastened to placate them by all
the means in their power.

Certain villages, too, appear to have possessed an evil reputation
among the country-folk as the dwelling-places of magicians, centres of
sorcery, which it was advisable to shun. Thus we read in Breton
proverb of the sorcerers of Fougères, of Trèves, of Concoret, of

The strangest circumstances were connected with the phenomena of
sorcery by the credulous Bretons. Thus, did a peasant join a dance of
witches, the sabots he had on would be worn out in the course of the
merrymaking. A churn of turned butter, a sour pail of milk, were
certain to be accounted for by sorcery. In a certain village of
Moncontour the cows, the dog, even the harmless, necessary cat, died
off, and the farmer hastened to consult a diviner, who advised him to
throw milk in the fire and recite certain prayers. The farmer obeyed
and the spell was broken!

In the town of Rennes about fifty years ago dwelt a knowing fellow
called Robert, a very 'witch-doctor,' who investigated cases of
sorcery and undertook the dissipation of enchantments. On a certain
large farm the milk would yield no butter. An agricultural expert
might have hinted at poor pasturage, but the farmer and his wife had
other views as to the cause of the 'insufficiency of fats,' as an
analyst would say, in the lacteal output of the establishment.
Straightway they betook themselves to the mysterious Robert, who on
arriving to investigate the affair was attired in a skin dyed in two
colours. He held in leash a large black dog, evidently his familiar.
He exorcized the dairy, and went through a number of strange
ceremonies. Then, turning to the awestruck farm hands, he said:

"You may now proceed with your work. The spell is raised. It has been
a slow business. I must go now, but don't be afraid if you see
anything odd."

With these words he whistled, and a great black horse at once
appeared as if from nowhere. Placing his hand on its crupper, he
vaulted into the saddle, bade good-bye to the astonished rustics, and
while they gazed at him open-mouthed, vanished 'like a flash.'

Many kinds of amulets or talismans were used by the Breton peasantry
to neutralize the power of sorcerers. Thus, if a person carried a
snake with him the enchanters would be unable to harm his sight, and
all objects would appear to him under their natural forms. Salt placed
in various parts of a house guarded it against the entrance of wizards
and rendered their spells void.

But many consulted the witch and the sorcerer for their personal
advantage, in affairs of the heart, to obtain a number in the casting
of lots for conscription which would free them from military service,
and so forth; and, as in other countries, there grew up a class of
middlemen between the human and the supernatural who posed as
fortune-tellers, astrologers, and quack mediciners.

It was said that sorcerers were wont to meet at the many Roches aux
Fées in Brittany at fixed periods in order to deliberate as to their
actions and settle their affairs. If anyone, it was declared, wandered
into their circle or was caught by them listening to their secret
conclave he seldom lived long. Others, terrified at the sight
presented by the gleaming eyes of the cat-sorcerers, blazing like live
coals, fled incontinently from their presence, and found that in the
morning the hair of their heads had turned white with the dread
experience. Long afterward they would sit by the fireside trembling
visibly at nothing, and when interrogated regarding their very evident
fears would only groan and bury their faces in their hands.

A story is told of one, Jean Foucault, who one moonlight night had,
like Tam o' Shanter, sat overlong

  Fast by an ingle bleezin' finely,
  Wi' reaming swats that drank divinely,

where the cider was as good as the company, and, issuing at midnight's
weary hour from his favourite inn, was not in a mood to run away from
anything, however fearsome. Walking, or rather rolling, across the
moor singing the burden of the last catch he had trolled with his
fellows at the ale-house, all on a sudden he stumbled into a circle of
sorcerer-cats squatting around a cross of stone. They were of immense
size and of all colours, black, grey, white, tortoise-shell, and when
he beheld them seated round the crucifix, their eyes darting fire and
the hair bristling on their backs, his song died upon his lips and all
his bellicose feelings, like those of Bob Acres, leaked out at his
finger-tips. On catching sight of him the animals set up a horrible
caterwauling that made the blood freeze in his veins. For an awful
moment the angry cats glared at him with death in their looks, and
seemed as if about to spring upon him. Giving himself up for lost, he
closed his eyes. But about his feet he could hear a strange purring,
and, glancing downward, he beheld his own domestic puss fawning upon
him with every sign of affection.

"Pass my master, Jean Foucault," said the animal.

"It is well," replied a great grey tom, whom Jean took to be the
leader; "pass on, Jean Foucault."

And Jean, the cider fumes in his head quite dissipated, staggered
away, more dead than alive.

_Druidic Magic_

The more ancient sorcerers of Brittany deserve a word of notice. Magic
among the Celtic peoples in olden times was so clearly identified with
Druidism that its origin may be said to have been Druidic. Whether
Druidism was of Celtic origin, however, is a question upon which much
discussion has taken place, some authorities, among them Rhys,
believing it to have been of non-Celtic and even non-Aryan origin, and
holding that the earliest non-Aryan or so-called Iberian people of
Britain introduced the Druidic religion to the immigrant Celts. An
argument advanced in favour of this theory is that the Continental
Celts sent their neophyte Druid priests to Britain to undergo a
special training at the hands of the British Druids, and that this
island seems to have been regarded as the headquarters of the cult.
The people of Cisalpine Gaul, for instance, had no Druidic priesthood.
Cæsar has told us that in Gaul Druidic seminaries were very numerous,
and that within their walls severe study and discipline were entailed
upon the neophytes, whose principal business was to commit to memory
countless verses enshrining Druidic knowledge and tradition. That this
instruction was astrological and magical we have the fullest

The Druids were magi as they were priests in the same sense that the
American Indian shaman is both magus and priest. That is, they were
medicine-men on a higher scale, and had reached a loftier stage of
transcendental knowledge than the priest-magicians of more barbarous
races. Thus they may be said to be a link between the barbarian
shaman and the magus of medieval times. Many of their practices were
purely shamanistic, while others more closely resembled medieval
magical rite. But they were not the only magicians of the Celts, for
frequently among that people we find magic power the possession of
women and of the poetic craft. The magic of Druidism had many points
of comparison with most magical systems, and perhaps approximated more
to that black magic which desires power for the sake of power alone
than to any transcendental type. Thus it included the power to render
the magician invisible, to change his bodily shape, to produce an
enchanted sleep, to induce lunacy, and to inflict death from afar.

The arts of rain-making, bringing down fire from heaven, and causing
mists, snow-storms, and floods were also claimed for the Druids.
Many of the spells probably in use among them survived until a
comparatively late period, and are still employed in some remote
Celtic localities, the names of saints being substituted for those
of Celtic deities. Certain primitive ritual, too, is still carried
out in the vicinity of some megalithic structures in Celtic areas,
as at Dungiven, in Ireland, where pilgrims wash before a great stone
in the river Roe and then walk round it, and in many parts of

In pronouncing incantations the usual method employed was to stand
upon one leg and to point with the forefinger to the person or object
on which the spell was to be laid, at the same time closing one eye,
as if to concentrate the force of the entire personality upon that
which was to be placed under ban. A manuscript possessed by the
monastery of St Gall, and dating from the eighth or ninth century,
includes magical formulæ for the preservation of butter and the
healing of certain diseases in the name of the Irish god Diancecht.
These and others bear a close resemblance to Babylonian and Etruscan
spells, and thus go to strengthen the hypothesis often put forward
with more or less plausibility that Druidism had an Eastern origin. At
all magical rites spells were uttered. Druids often accompanied an
army, to assist by their magical arts in confounding the enemy.[52]

There is some proof that in Celtic areas survivals of a Druidic
priesthood have descended to our own time in a more or less debased
condition. Thus the existence of guardians and keepers of wells said
to possess magical properties, and the fact that in certain families
magical spells and formulæ are handed down from one generation to
another, are so many proofs of the survival of Druidic tradition,
however feeble. Females are generally the conservators of these
mysteries, and that there were Druid priestesses is fairly certain.

The sea-snake's egg, or adder's stone, which is so frequently alluded
to in Druidic magical tales, otherwise called _Glain Neidr_, was said
to have been formed, about midsummer, by an assemblage of snakes. A
bubble formed on the head of one of them was blown by others down the
whole length of its back, and then, hardening, became a crystal ring.
It was used as one of the insignia of the Archdruid, and was supposed
to assist in augury.

The _herbe d'or_, or 'golden herb,' was a medicinal plant much in
favour among the Breton peasantry. It is the _selago_ of Pliny, which
in Druidical times was gathered with the utmost veneration by a hand
enveloped with a garment once worn by a sacred person. The owner of
the hand was arrayed in white, with bare feet, washed in pure water.
In after times the plant was thought to shine from a distance like
gold, and to give to those who trod on it the power of understanding
the language of dogs, wolves, and birds.

These, with the mistletoe, the favourite Druidical plant, the sorcerer
is entreated, in an old balled, to lay aside, to seek no more for vain
enchantments, but to remember that he is a Christian.

_Abélard and Héloïse_

The touching story of the love of Abélard and Héloïse has found its
way into Breton legend as a tale of sorcery. Abélard was a Breton. The
Duke of Brittany, whose subject he was born, jealous of the glory of
France, which then engrossed all the most famous scholars of Europe,
and being, besides, acquainted with the persecution Abélard had
suffered from his enemies, had nominated him to the Abbey of St
Gildas, and, by this benefaction and mark of his esteem, engaged him
to pass the rest of his days in his dominions. Abélard received this
favour with great joy, imagining that by leaving France he would
quench his passion for Héloïse and gain a new peace of mind upon
entering into his new dignity.

The Abbey of St Gildas de Rhuys was founded on the inaccessible coast
near Vannes by St Gildas, a British saint, the schoolfellow and friend
of St Samson of Dol and St Pol of Léon, and counted among its monks
the Saxon St Dunstan, who, carried by pirates from his native isle,
settled on the desolate shores of Brittany and became, under the name
of St Goustan, the patron of mariners.

St Gildas built his abbey on the edge of a high, rocky promontory,
the site of an ancient Roman encampment, called Grand Mont, facing
the shore, where the sea has formed numerous caverns in the rocks.
The rocks are composed chiefly of quartz, and are covered to a
considerable height with small mussels. Abélard, on his appointment
to the Abbey of St Gildas, made over to Héloïse the celebrated
abbey he had founded at Nogent, near Troyes, which he called the
Paraclete, or Comforter, because he there found comfort and
refreshment after his troubles. With Nogent he was to leave his
peace. His gentle nature was unable to contend against the coarse
and unruly Breton monks. As he writes in his well-known letter to
Héloïse, setting forth his griefs: "I inhabit a barbarous country
where the language is unknown to me. I have no dealings with the
ferocious inhabitants. I walk the inaccessible borders of the
stormy sea, and my monks have no other rule than their own. I wish
that you could see my dwelling. You would not believe it an abbey. The
doors are ornamented only with the feet of deer, of wolves and bears,
boars, and the hideous skins of owls. I find each day new perils.
I expect at every moment to see a sword suspended over my head."

It is scarcely necessary to outline the history of Abélard. Suffice
it to say that he was one of the most brilliant scholars and
dialecticians of all time, possessing a European reputation in his
day. Falling in love with Héloïse, niece of Fulbert, a canon of
Paris, he awoke in her a similar absorbing passion, which resulted in
their mutual disgrace and Abélard's mutilation by the incensed
uncle. He and his Héloïse were buried in one tomb at the Paraclete.
The story of their love has been immortalized by the world's great
poets and painters.

An ancient Breton ballad on the subject has been spoken of as a "naïf
and horrible" production, in which one will find "a bizarre mixture of
Druidic practice and Christian superstition." It describes Héloïse as
a sorceress of ferocious and sanguinary temper. Thus can legend
magnify and distort human failing! As its presentation is important in
the study of Breton folk-lore, I give a very free translation of this
ballad, in which, at the same time, I have endeavoured to preserve the
atmosphere of the original.


  O Abélard, my Abélard,
  Twelve summers have passed since first we kissed.
  There is no love like that of a bard:
  Who loves him lives in a golden mist!

  Nor word of French nor Roman tongue,
  But only Brezonek could I speak,
  When round my lover's neck I hung
  And heard the harmony of the Greek,

  The march of Latin, the joy of French,
  The valiance of the Hebrew speech,
  The while its thirst my soul did quench
  In the love-lore that he did teach.

  The bossed and bound Evangel's tome
  Is open to me as mine own soul,
  But all the watered wine of Rome
  Is weak beside the magic bowl.


  The Mass I chant like any priest,
  Can shrive the dying or bury the dead,
  But dearer to me to raise the Beast
  Or watch the gold in the furnace red.

  The wolf, the serpent, the crow, the owl,
  The demons of sea, of field, of flood,
  I can run or fly in their forms so foul,
  They come at my call from wave or wood.

  I know a song that can raise the sea,
  Can rouse the winds or shudder the earth,
  Can darken the heavens terribly,
  Can wake portents at a prince's birth.

  The first dark drug that ever we sipped
  Was brewed from toad and the eye of crow,
  Slain in a mead when the moon had slipped
  From heav'n to the fetid fogs below.

  I know a well as deep as death,
  A gloom where I cull the frondent fern,
  Whose seed with that of the golden heath
  I mingle when mystic lore I'd learn.

  I gathered in dusk nine measures of rye,
  Nine measures again, and brewed the twain
  In a silver pot, while fitfully
  The starlight struggled through the rain.

  I sought the serpent's egg of power
  In a dell hid low from the night and day:
  It was shown to me in an awful hour
  When the children of hell came out to play.

  I have three spirits--seeming snakes;
  The youngest is six score years young,
  The second rose from the nether lakes,
  And the third was once Duke Satan's tongue.

  The wild bird's flesh is not their food,
  No common umbles are their dole;
  I nourish them well with infants' blood,
  Those precious vipers of my soul.

  O Satan! grant me three years still,
  But three short years, my love and I,
  To work thy fierce, mysterious will,
  Then gladly shall we yield and die.

  Héloïse, wicked heart, beware!
  Think on the dreadful day of wrath,
  Think on thy soul; forbear, forbear!
  The way thou tak'st is that of death!

  Thou craven priest, go, get thee hence!
  No fear have I of fate so fell.
  Go, suck the milk of innocence,
  Leave me to quaff the wine of hell!

It is difficult to over-estimate the folk-lore value of such a ballad
as this. Its historical value is clearly _nil_. We have no proof that
Héloïse was a Breton; but fantastic errors of this description are so
well known to the student of ballad literature that he is able to
discount them easily in gauging the value of a piece.

In this weird composition the wretched abbess is described as an
alchemist as well as a sorceress, and she descends to the depths of
the lowest and most revolting witchcraft. She practises shape-shifting
and similar arts. She has power over natural forces, and knows the
past, the present, and the things to be. She possesses sufficient
Druidic knowledge to permit her to gather the greatly prized serpent's
egg, to acquire which was the grand aim of the Celtic magician. The
circumstances of the ballad strongly recall those of the poem in which
the Welsh bard Taliesin recounts his magical experiences, his
metamorphoses, his knowledge of the darker mysteries of nature.

_Nantes of the Magicians_

The poet is in accord with probability in making the magical exploits
of Abélard and Héloïse take place at Nantes--a circumstance not
indicated in the translation owing to metrical exigencies. Nantes was,
indeed, a classic neighbourhood of sorcery. An ancient college of
Druidic priestesses was situated on one of the islands at the mouth of
the Loire, and the traditions of its denizens had evidently been
cherished by the inhabitants of the city even as late as the middle of
the fourteenth century, for we find a bishop of the diocese at that
period obtaining a bull of excommunication against the local
sorcerers, and condemning them to the eternal fires with bell, book,
and candle.[53]

The poet, it is plain, has confounded poor Héloïse with the dark
sisterhood of the island of the Loire. The learning she received from
her gifted lover had been her undoing in Breton eyes, for the simple
folk of the duchy at the period the ballad gained currency could
scarcely be expected to discriminate between a training in rhetoric
and philosophy and a schooling in the _grimoires_ and other
accomplishments of the pit.


  [50] Rice Holmes, _Cæsar's Conquest_, pp. 532-536.

  [51] See Rolleston, _Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race_, p. 66.

  [52] See Gomme, _Ethnology in Folk-lore_, p. 94.

  [53] It is of interest to recall the fact that Abélard was born near
       Nantes, in 1079.


Fierce and prolonged has been the debate as to the original birthplace
of Arthurian legend, authorities of the first rank, the 'Senior
Wranglers' of the study, as Nutt has called them, hotly advancing the
several claims of Wales, England, Scotland, and Brittany. In this
place it would be neither fitting nor necessary to traverse the whole
ground of argument, and we must content ourselves with the examination
of Brittany's claim to the invention of Arthurian story--and this we
will do briefly, passing on to some of the tales which relate the
deeds of the King or his knights on Breton soil.

Confining ourselves, then, to the proof of the existence of a body of
Arthurian legend in Brittany, we are, perhaps, a little alarmed at the
outset to find that our manuscript sources are scanty. "It had to be
acknowledged," says Professor Saintsbury, "that Brittany could supply
_no ancient texts whatever_, and hardly any ancient traditions."[54]
But are either of these conditions essential to a belief in the Breton
origin of Arthurian romance?

The two great hypotheses regarding Arthurian origins have been dubbed
the 'Continental' and the 'Insular' theories. The first has as its
leading protagonist Professor Wendelin Förster of Bonn, who believes
that the immigrant Britons brought the Arthur legend with them to
Brittany and that the Normans of Normandy received it from their
descendants and gave it wider territorial scope. The second school,
headed by the brilliant M. Gaston Paris, believes that it originated
in Wales.

If we consider the first theory, then, we can readily see that ancient
_texts_ are not essential to its acceptance. In any case the entire
body of Arthurian texts prior to the twelfth century is so small as to
be almost negligible. The statement that "hardly any ancient
traditions" of the Arthurian legend exist in Brittany is an
extraordinary one. In view of the circumstances that in extended
passages of Arthurian story the scene is laid in Brittany (as in the
Merlin and Vivien incident and the episode of Yseult of the White Hand
in the story of Tristrem), that Geoffrey of Monmouth speaks of "the
Breton book" from which he took his matter, and that Marie de France
states that her tales are drawn from old Breton sources, not to admit
the possible existence of a body of Arthurian tradition in Brittany
appears capricious. Thomas's _Sir Tristrem_ is professedly based on
the poem of the Breton Bréri, and there is no reason why Brittany,
drawing sap and fibre as it did from Britain, should not have produced
Arthurian stories of its own.

On the whole, however, that seems to represent the sum of its
pretensions as a main source of Arthurian romance. The Arthurian story
seems to be indigenous to British soil, and if we trace the origin of
certain episodes to Brittany we may safely connect these with the
early British immigrants to the peninsula. This is not to say,
however, that Brittany did not influence Norman appreciation of the
Arthurian saga. But that it did so more than did Wales is unlikely, in
view of documentary evidence. Both Wales and Brittany, then, supplied
matter which the Norman and French poets shaped into verse, and if
Brittany was not the birthplace of the legend it was, in truth, one of
its cradle-domains.

_The Sword of Arthur_

Let us collect, then, Arthurian incidents which take place in
Brittany. First, Arthur's finding of the marvellous sword Excalibur
would seem to happen there, as Vivien, or Nimue, the Lady of the Lake,
was undoubtedly a fairy of Breton origin who does not appear in
British myth.

For the manner in which Arthur acquired the renowned Excalibur, or
Caliburn, the _Morte d'Arthur_ is the authority. The King had broken
his sword in two pieces in a combat with Sir Pellinore of Wales, and
had been saved by Merlin, who threw Sir Pellinore into an enchanted

"And so Merlin and Arthur departed, and as they rode along King Arthur
said, 'I have no sword.' 'No force,'[55] said Merlin; 'here is a sword
that shall be yours, an I may.' So they rode till they came to a lake,
which was a fair water and a broad; and in the midst of the lake King
Arthur was aware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair
sword in the hand. 'Lo,' said Merlin unto the King, 'yonder is the
sword that I spoke of.' With that they saw a damsel going upon the
lake. 'What damsel is that?' said the King. 'That is the Lady of the
Lake,' said Merlin; 'and within that lake is a rock, and therein is as
fair a place as any on earth, and richly beseen; and this damsel will
come to you anon, and then speak fair to her that she will give you
that sword.' Therewith came the damsel to King Arthur and saluted him,
and he her again. 'Damsel,' said the King, 'what sword is that which
the arm holdeth yonder above the water? I would it were mine, for I
have no sword.' 'Sir King,' said the damsel of the lake, 'that sword
is mine, and if ye will give me a gift when I ask it you, ye shall
have it.' 'By my faith,' said King Arthur, 'I will give you any gift
that you will ask or desire.' 'Well,' said the damsel, 'go into yonder
barge, and row yourself unto the sword, and take it and the scabbard
with you; and I will ask my gift when I see my time.' So King Arthur
and Merlin alighted, tied their horses to two trees, and so they went
into the barge. And when they came to the sword that the hand held,
King Arthur took it up by the handles, and took it with him, and the
arm and the hand went under the water; and so came to the land and
rode forth. King Arthur looked upon the sword, and liked it passing
well. 'Whether liketh you better,' said Merlin, 'the sword or the
scabbard?' 'Me liketh better the sword,' said King Arthur. 'Ye are
more unwise,' said Merlin, 'for the scabbard is worth ten of the
sword; for while ye have the scabbard upon you, ye shall lose no
blood, be ye never so sore wounded; therefore keep well the scabbard
alway with you.'"


Sir Lancelot du Lac, son of King Ban of Benwik, was stolen and brought
up by the Lady of the Lake, from whose enchanted realm he took his
name. But he does not appear at all in true Celtic legend, and is a
mere Norman new-comer.

_Tristrem and Ysonde_

Following the Arthurian 'chronology' as set forth in the _Morte
d'Arthur_, we reach the great episode of Sir Tristrem of Lyonesse, a
legendary country off the coast of Cornwall. This most romantic yet
most human tale must be accounted one of the world's supreme love
stories. It has inspired some of our greatest poets, and moved Richard
Wagner to the composition of a splendid opera.

One of the first to bring this literary treasure to public notice was
Sir Walter Scott, who felt a strong chord vibrate in his romantic soul
when perusing that version of the tale of which Thomas of Ercildoune
is the reputed author. Taking this as the best and most ancient
version of _Tristrem_, we may detail its circumstances as follows:

The Duke Morgan and Roland Rise, Lord of Ermonie, two Cymric
chieftains, had long been at feud, and at length the smouldering
embers of enmity burst into open flame. In the contest that ensued the
doughty Roland prevailed, but he was a generous foe, and granted a
seven years' truce to his defeated adversary. Some time after this
event Roland journeyed into Cornwall to the Court of Mark, where he
carried off the honours in a tourney. But he was to win a more
precious prize in the love of the fair Princess Blancheflour, sister
of King Mark, who grew to adore him passionately.

Meanwhile Duke Morgan took foul advantage of the absence of Roland,
and invaded his land. Rohand, a trusty vassal of Roland, repaired to
Cornwall, where he sought out his master and told him of Morgan's
broken faith. Then Roland told Blancheflour of his plight, how that he
must return to his own realm, and she, fearing her brother Mark,
because she had given her love to Roland without the King's knowledge,
resolved to fly with her lover. The pair left Cornwall hurriedly, and,
reaching one of Roland's castles, were wed there. Roland, however, had
soon to don his armour, for news was brought to him that Duke Morgan
was coming against him with a great army. A fierce battle ensued, in
which Roland at first had the advantage, but the Duke, being
reinforced, pressed him hotly, and in the end Roland was defeated and
slain. Blancheflour received news of her lord's death immediately
before the birth of her son, and, sore stricken by the woeful news,
she named him Tristrem, or 'Child of Sorrow.' Then, recommending him
to the care of Rohand, to whom she gave a ring which had belonged to
King Mark, her brother, to prove Tristrem's relationship to that
prince, she expired, to the intense grief of all her attendants. To
secure the safety of his ward, Rohand passed him off as his own child,
inverting the form of his name to 'Tremtris.' Duke Morgan now ruled
over the land of Ermonie, and Rohand had perforce to pay him a
constrained homage.

When he arrived at a fitting age Tristrem was duly instructed in all
knightly games and exercises by his foster-father, and grew apace in
strength and skill. Once a Norwegian vessel arrived upon the coast of
Ermonie laden with a freight of hawks and treasure (hawks at that
period were often worth their weight in gold). The captain challenged
anyone to a game of chess with him for a stake of twenty shillings,
and Rohand and his sons, with Tristrem, went on board to play with
him. Tristrem moved so skilfully that he overcame the captain, and won
from him, in many games, six hawks and the sum of a hundred pounds.
While the games were proceeding Rohand went on shore, leaving Tristrem
in the care of his preceptor, and the false captain, to avoid paying
what he had lost, forced the preceptor to go on shore alone and put to
sea with the young noble.

The ship had no sooner sailed away than a furious gale arose, and as
it continued for some days the mariners became convinced that the
tempest was due to the injustice of their captain, and being in sore
dread, they paid Tristrem his winnings and set him ashore. Dressed in
a robe of 'blihand brown' (blue-brown), Tristrem found himself alone
on a rocky beach. First he knelt and requested Divine protection,
after which he ate some food which had been left him by the
Norwegians, and started to journey through a forest, in which he
encountered two palmers, who told him that he was in Cornwall. He
offered these men gold to guide him to the Court of the king of the
country, which they willingly undertook to do. On their way the
travellers fell in with a hunting party of nobles, and Tristrem was
shocked to see the awkward manner in which the huntsmen cut up some
stags they had slain. He could not restrain his feeling, and disputed
with the nobles upon the laws of venerie. Then he proceeded to skin a
buck for their instruction, like a right good forester, and ended by
blowing the _mort_ or death-token on a horn.

_Tristrem as Forester_

The nobles who beheld his skill were amazed, and speedily carried the
news to King Mark, who was highly interested. Tristrem was brought to
his presence and told his story, but Mark did not recognize that he
was speaking to his own nephew. The King's favourable impression was
confirmed by Tristrem's skill in playing the harp, and soon the youth
had endeared himself to the heart of the King, and was firmly settled
at the Court.

Meanwhile Rohand, distracted by the loss of his foster-son, searched
for him from one land to another without even renewing his tattered
garments. At last he encountered one of the palmers who had guided
Tristrem to the Court of King Mark, and learned of the great honour
accorded to his ward. At Rohand's request the palmer took him to
Mark's hall; but when Rohand arrived thither his tattered and forlorn
appearance aroused the contempt of the porter and usher and they
refused him entrance. Upon bestowing liberal largess, however, he was
at length brought to Tristrem, who presented him to King Mark as his
father, acquainting him at the same time with the cause of their
separation. When Rohand had been refreshed by a bath, and richly
attired by order of King Mark, the whole Court marvelled at his
majestic appearance.

Rohand, seated by King Mark's side at the banquet, imparted to him the
secret of Tristrem's birth, and in proof showed him the ring given him
by Blancheflour, whereupon Mark at once joyfully recognized Tristrem
as his nephew. Rohand further told of the tragic fate of Tristrem's
parents through the treachery of Duke Morgan, and Tristrem, fired by
the tale of wrong, vowed to return at once to Ermonie to avenge his
father's death.

_Tristrem Returns to Ermonie_

Although applauding his pious intention, Mark attempted to dissuade
his nephew from such an enterprise of peril, until, seeing that
Tristrem would not be gainsaid, the King conferred upon him the honour
of knighthood, and furnished him with a thousand men-at-arms. Thus
equipped, Tristrem set sail for Ermonie, and, safely arrived in that
kingdom, he garrisoned Rohand's castle with his Cornish forces.

He had no intention of remaining inactive, however, and once his men
were cared for, he repaired to the Court of the usurper, Duke Morgan,
accompanied by fifteen knights, each bearing a boar's head as a gift.
But Rohand, apprehending rashness on the part of his foster-son, took
the precaution of following with the Cornish men-at-arms and his own

When Tristrem arrived the Duke was at the feast-board, and he demanded
Tristrem's name and business. Tristrem boldly declared himself, and at
the end of an angry parley the Duke struck him a sore blow. A moment
later swords were flashing, and it might have gone ill with Tristrem
had not Rohand with his men come up in the nick of time. In the end
Duke Morgan was slain and his followers routed. Having now recovered
his paternal domains Sir Tristrem conferred them upon Rohand, to be
held of himself as liege lord, and having done so he took leave of his
foster-father and returned to Cornwall.

_The Combat with Moraunt_

On arriving at the palace of Mark, Tristrem found the Court in dismay,
because of a demand for tribute made by the King of England. Moraunt,
the Irish ambassador to England, was charged with the duty of claiming
the tribute, which was no less than three hundred pounds of gold, as
many of coined silver, as many of tin, and a levy every fourth year of
three hundred Cornish children. Mark protested bitterly, and Tristrem
urged him to bid defiance to the English, swearing that he would
himself defend the freedom of Cornwall. His aid was reluctantly
accepted by the Grand Council, and he delivered to Moraunt a
declaration that no tribute was due. Moraunt retorted by giving
Tristrem the lie, and the champions exchanged defiance. They sailed in
separate boats to a small island to decide the issue in single combat,
and when they had landed Tristrem turned his boat adrift, saying
sternly that one vessel would suffice to take back the victor. The
champions mounted their steeds at the outset, but after the first
encounter Tristrem, leaping lightly from the saddle, engaged his
adversary on foot. The Knight of Ermonie was desperately wounded in
the thigh, but, rallying all his strength, he cleft Moraunt to the
chine, and, his sword splintering, a piece of the blade remained in
the wound.

Tristrem now returned to the mainland, where so great was the joy over
his return that he was appointed heir to Cornwall and successor to
Mark the Good. But his wound, having been inflicted by a poisoned
blade, grew more grievous day by day. No leech might cure it, and the
evil odour arising from the gangrene drove every one from his presence
save his faithful servitor Gouvernayl.

_Fytte the Second_

Fytte (or Part) the Second commences by telling how Tristrem, forsaken
by all, begged King Mark for a ship that he might leave the land of
Cornwall. Mark reluctantly granted his request, and the luckless
Tristrem embarked with Gouvernayl, his one attendant, and his harp as
his only solace. He steered for Caerleon, and remained nine weeks at
sea, but meeting contrary winds he was driven out of his course, and
at length came to the Irish coast, where he sought the haven of
Dublin. On arriving there he feigned that he had been wounded by
pirates, and learning that he was in Ireland, and recollecting that
Moraunt, whom he had slain, was the brother to the Queen of that land,
he thought it wise to assume once more the name of Tremtris.

Soon his fame as a minstrel reached the ears of the Queen of Ireland,
a lady deeply versed in the art of healing. She was, indeed, "the best
Couthe of Medicine"[56] Tristrem had seen, and in order to heal his
wound she applied to it "a plaster kene." Later she invited him to the
Court, where his skill in chess and games astonished every one. So
interested in him did the royal lady become at last that she undertook
to cure him, and effected her object by means of a medicated bath and
other medieval remedies. Then, on account of his fame as a minstrel,
he was given the task of instructing the Princess Ysonde--as the name
'Yseult' is written in this particular version.

This princess was much attached to minstrelsy and poetry, and under
the tuition of Tristrem she rapidly advanced in these arts, until at
length she had no equal in Ireland save her preceptor. And now
Tristrem, his health restored, and having completed Ysonde's
instruction, felt a strong desire to return to the Court of King Mark.
His request to be allowed to depart was most unwillingly granted by
the Queen, who at the leave-taking loaded him with gifts. With the
faithful Gouvernayl he arrived safely in Cornwall, where Mark received
him joyfully. When the King inquired curiously how his wound had been
cured, Tristrem told him of the great kindness of the Irish Queen, and
praised Ysonde so highly that the ardour of his uncle was aroused and
he requested Tristrem to procure him the hand of the damsel in
marriage. He assured Tristrem that no marriage he, the King, might
contract would annul the arrangement whereby Tristrem was to succeed
to the throne of Cornwall. The nobles were opposed to the King's
desires, which but strengthened Tristrem in his resolve to undertake
the embassage, for he thought that otherwise it might appear that he
desired the King to remain unmarried.

_The Marriage Embassy_

With a retinue of fifteen knights Tristrem sailed to Dublin in a ship
richly laden with gifts. Arrived at the Irish capital, he sent
magnificent presents to the King, Queen, and Princess, but did not
announce the nature of his errand. Hardly had his messengers departed
than he was informed that the people of Dublin were panic-stricken at
the approach of a terrible dragon. This monster had so affrighted the
neighbourhood that the hand of the Princess had been offered to anyone
who would slay it. Tristrem dared his knights to attack the dragon,
but one and all declined, so he himself rode out to give it battle. At
the first shock his lance broke on the monster's impenetrable hide,
his horse was slain, and he was forced to continue the fight on foot.
At length, despite its fiery breath, he succeeded in slaying the
dragon, and cut out its tongue as a trophy. But this exuded a subtle
poison which deprived him of his senses.

Thus overcome, Tristrem was discovered by the King's steward, who cut
off the dragon's head and returned with it to Court to demand the hand
of Ysonde. But the Queen and her daughter were dubious of the man's
story, and upon visiting the place where the dragon had been slain,
they came upon Tristrem himself. Their ministrations revived him, and
he showed them the dragon's tongue as proof that he had slain the
dread beast. He described himself as a merchant, and Ysonde, who did
not at first recognize him, expressed her regret that he was not a
knight. The Queen now caused him to be conveyed to the palace, where
he was refreshed by a bath, and the false steward was cast into

Meanwhile the suspicions of the Princess had been aroused, and the
belief grew that this 'merchant' who had slain the dragon was none
other than Tremtris, her old instructor. In searching for evidence to
confirm this conjecture she examined his sword, from which, she found,
a piece had been broken. Now, she possessed a fragment of a
sword-blade which had been taken out of the skull of Moraunt, her
uncle, and she discovered that this fragment fitted into the broken
place in Tristrem's sword, wherefore she concluded that the weapon
must have been that which slew the Irish ambassador. She reproached
Tristrem, and in her passion rushed upon him with his own sword. At
this instant her mother returned, and upon learning the identity of
Tristrem she was about to assist Ysonde to slay him in his bath when
the King arrived and saved him from the infuriated women. Tristrem
defended himself as having killed Moraunt in fair fight, and, smiling
upon Ysonde, he told her that she had had many opportunities of
slaying him while he was her preceptor Tremtris. He then proceeded to
make known the object of his embassy. He engaged that his uncle, King
Mark, should marry Ysonde, and it was agreed that she should be sent
under his escort to Cornwall.

It is clear that the Queen's knowledge of medicine was accompanied by
an acquaintance with the black art, for on the eve of her daughter's
departure she entrusted to Brengwain, a lady of Ysonde's suite, a
powerful philtre or love potion, with directions that Mark and his
bride should partake of it on the night of their marriage. While at
sea the party met with contrary winds, and the mariners were forced to
take to their oars. Tristrem exerted himself in rowing, and Ysonde,
remarking that he seemed much fatigued, called for drink to refresh
him. Brengwain, by a fateful error, presented the cup which held the
love potion. Both Tristrem and Ysonde unwittingly partook of this, and
a favourite dog, Hodain,

  That many a forest day of fiery mirth
  Had plied his craft before them,[57]

licked the cup. The consequence of this mistake was, of course, the
awakening of a consuming passion each for the other in Tristrem and
Ysonde. A fortnight later the ship arrived at Cornwall. Ysonde was
duly wed to King Mark, but her passion for Tristrem moved her to
induce her attendant Brengwain to take her place on the first night of
her nuptials.

Afterward, terrified lest Brengwain should disclose the secret in her
possession, Ysonde hired two ruffians to dispatch her. But the
damsel's entreaties softened the hearts of the assassins and they
spared her life. Subsequently Ysonde repented of her action and
Brengwain was reinstated in full favour.

_The Minstrel's Boon_

An Irish earl, a former admirer of Ysonde, arrived one day at the
Court of Cornwall disguised as a minstrel and bearing a harp of
curious workmanship, the appearance of which excited the curiosity of
King Mark, who requested him to perform upon it. The visitor demanded
that the King should first promise to grant him a boon, and the King
having pledged his royal word, the minstrel sang to the harp a lay in
which he claimed Ysonde as the promised gift.[58] Mark, having pledged
his honour, had no alternative but to become forsworn or to deliver
his wife to the harper, and he reluctantly complied with the
minstrel's demand. Tristrem, who had been away hunting, returned
immediately after the adventurous earl had departed with his fair
prize. He upbraided the King for his extravagant sense of honour, and,
snatching up his rote, or harp, hastened to the seashore, where Ysonde
had already embarked. There he sat down and played, and the sound so
deeply affected Ysonde that she became seriously ill, so that the earl
was induced to return with her to land. Ysonde pretended that
Tristrem's music was necessary to her recovery, and the earl, to whom
Tristrem was unknown, offered to take him in his train to Ireland. The
earl had dismounted from the horse he was riding and was preparing to
return on board, when Tristrem sprang into the saddle, and, seizing
Ysonde's horse by the bridle, plunged into the forest. Here the lovers
remained for a week, after which Tristrem restored Ysonde to her


Not unnaturally suspicion was aroused regarding the relations between
Tristrem and Ysonde. Meriadok, a knight of Cornwall, and an intimate
friend of Tristrem, was perhaps the most suspicious of all, and one
snowy evening he traced his friend to Ysonde's bower, to which
Tristrem gained entrance by a sliding panel. In this a piece of
Tristrem's green kirtle was left, and Meriadok bore the fragment to
the King, to whom he unfolded his suspicions. To test the truth of
these Mark pretended that he was going on a pilgrimage to the Holy
Land, and asked his wife to whose care she would wish to be committed.
Ysonde at first named Tristrem, but on the advice of Brengwain resumed
the subject later and feigned a mortal hatred for her lover, which she
ascribed to the scandal she had suffered on his account. The fears of
the simple Mark were thus lulled to sleep; but those of Meriadok were
by no means laid at rest. On his advice Mark definitely separated the
lovers, confining Ysonde to a bower and sending Tristrem to a
neighbouring city. But Tristrem succeeded in communicating with Ysonde
by means of leafy twigs thrown into the river which ran through her
garden, and they continued to meet.

Their interviews were, however, discovered by the aid of a dwarf who
concealed himself in a tree. One night Mark took the dwarf's place,
but the lovers were made aware of his presence by his shadow and
pretended to be quarrelling, Tristrem saying that Ysonde had
supplanted him in the King's affections. Mark's suspicions were thus
soothed for the time being. On another occasion Tristrem was not so
fortunate, and, being discovered, was forced to flee the country.

_The Ordeal by Fire_

Mark now resolved to test his wife's innocence by the dread ordeal by
fire, and he journeyed with his Court to Westminster, where the trial
was to take place. Tristrem, disguised as a peasant, joined the
retinue, and when the party arrived in the Thames he carried Ysonde
from the ship to the shore. When the moment for the ordeal came the
Queen protested her innocence, saying that no man had ever laid hands
upon her save the King and the peasant who had carried her from the
ship. Mark, satisfied by her evident sincerity, refused to proceed
further with the trial, and Ysonde thus escaped the awful test.

Tristrem then betook him to Wales, and the fame of his prowess in that
land came at length to Cornwall, so that at last his uncle grew heavy
at heart for his absence and desired sight of him. Once more he
returned, but his fatal passion for Ysonde was not abated, and became
at length so grievous to the good King that he banished both of the
lovers from his sight. The two fled to a forest, and there dwelt in a
cavern, subsisting upon venison, the spoil of Tristrem's bow. One day,
weary with the chase, Tristrem lay down to rest by the side of the
sleeping Ysonde, placing his drawn sword between them. Mark, passing
that way, espied them, and from the naked sword inferring their
innocence, became reconciled to them once more. But again suspicion
fell upon them, and again Tristrem was forced to flee.

_Tristrem in Brittany_

After many adventures in Spain Tristrem arrived in Brittany, where he
aided the Duke of that country with his sword. The Duke's daughter,
known as Ysonde of the White Hand, hearing him sing one night a song
of the beauty of Ysonde, thought that Tristrem was in love with her.
The Duke therefore offered Tristrem his daughter's hand, and, in
despair of seeing Ysonde of Ireland again, he accepted the honour. But
on the wedding-day the first Ysonde's ring dropped from his finger as
if reproaching him with infidelity, and in deep remorse he vowed that
Ysonde of Brittany should be his wife in name only.

Now the Duke of Brittany bestowed on Tristrem a fair demesne divided
by an arm of the sea from the land of a powerful and savage giant
named Beliagog, and he warned his son-in-law not to incur the
resentment of this dangerous neighbour. But one day Tristrem's hounds
strayed into the forest land of Beliagog, and their master, following
them, was confronted by the wrathful owner. A long and cruel combat
ensued, and at last Tristrem lopped off one of the giant's feet.
Thereupon the monster craved mercy, which was granted on the condition
that he should build a hall in honour of Ysonde of Ireland and her
maiden, Brengwain. This hall was duly raised, and upon its walls was
portrayed to the life the whole history of Tristrem, with pictures of
Ysonde of Ireland, Brengwain, Mark, and other characters in the tale.
Tristrem, the Duke, Ysonde of Brittany, and Ganhardin, her brother,
were riding to see this marvel when Ysonde confessed to Ganhardin that
Tristrem did not regard her as his wife. Ganhardin, angered,
questioned Tristrem, who concealed nothing from him and recounted to
him the story of his love for the Queen of Cornwall. Ganhardin was
deeply interested, and on beholding the picture of Brengwain in the
newly erected hall he fell violently in love with her.

_The Forest Lovers_

Tristrem now returned to Cornwall with Ganhardin, and encountered
Ysonde the Queen and the fair Brengwain. But one Canados, the King's
Constable, discovered them and carried the ladies back to Court.
Ganhardin made the best of his way home to Brittany, but Tristrem
remained in Cornwall, disguised as a beggar.

Our story now tells of a great tournament at the Cornish Court, and
how Ganhardin hied him from Brittany and rejoined Tristrem. The two
entered the lists and took up the challenge of Meriadok and Canados.
Tristrem, tilting at his old enemy, wounded him desperately. The issue
of the combat between Canados and Ganhardin hung in the balance when
Tristrem, charging at the Constable, overthrew and slew him. Then,
fired with the lust of conquest, Tristrem bore down upon his foes and
exacted a heavy toll of lives. So great was the scathe done that day
that Tristrem and Ganhardin were forced once more to fly to Brittany,
where in an adventure Tristrem received an arrow in his old wound.

_The French Manuscript_

At this point the Auchinleck MS., from which this account is taken,
breaks off, and the story is concluded, in language similar to that of
the original, by Sir Walter Scott, who got his materials from an old
French version of the tale.

We read that Tristrem suffered sorely from his wound, in which, as
before, gangrene set in. Aware that none but Ysonde of Ireland could
cure him, the stricken knight called Ganhardin to his side and urged
him to go with all speed to Cornwall and tell the Queen of his mortal
extremity. He entrusted him with his ring, and finally requested the
Breton knight to take with him two sails, one white and the other
black, the first to be hoisted upon his return should Ysonde accompany
him back to Brittany, the sable sail to be raised should his embassy
fail of success. Now Ysonde of Brittany overheard all that was said,
her jealous fears were confirmed, and she resolved to be revenged upon
her husband.

Ganhardin voyaged quickly to Cornwall, and arrived at the Court of
King Mark disguised as a merchant. In order to speed his mission he
presented rich gifts to the King, and also a cup to Ysonde, into which
he dropped Tristrem's ring. This token procured him a private audience
with the Queen, and when she learned the deadly peril of her lover,
Ysonde hastily disguised herself and fled to the ship with Ganhardin.
In due course the vessel arrived off the coast of Brittany, carrying
the white sail which was to signify to Tristrem that Ysonde was
hastening to his aid. But Ysonde of Brittany was watching, and
perceiving from the signal that her rival was on board she hurried to
her husband's couch. Tristrem begged her to tell him the colour of the
sail, and in the madness of jealousy Ysonde said that it was black,
upon which, believing himself forsaken by his old love, the knight
sank back and expired.

Tristrem had scarce breathed his last when Ysonde entered the castle.
At the gate an old man was mourning Tristrem's death, and hearing the
ominous words which he uttered she hastened to the chamber where the
corpse of him she had loved so well was lying. With a moan she cast
herself upon the body, covering the dead face with kisses and pleading
upon the silent lips to speak. Realizing at last that the spirit had
indeed quitted its mortal tenement, she raised herself to her feet and
stood for a moment gazing wildly into the fixed and glassy eyes; then
with a great cry she fell forward upon the breast of her lover and was
united with him in death.

Other versions of the story, with all the wealth of circumstance dear
to the writer of romance, tell of the grievous mourning made at the
death of the lovers, whom no fault of their own had doomed to the
tyranny of a mutual passion, and it is recounted that even King Mark,
wronged and shamed as he was, was unable to repress his grief at their
pitiful end.

Despite the clumsiness of much of its machinery, despite its tiresome
repetitions and its minor blemishes, this tale of a grand passion must
ever remain one of the world's priceless literary possessions. "Dull
must he be of soul" who, even in these days when folk no longer expire
from an excess of the tender passion, can fail to be moved by the sad
fate of the fair Queen and of her gallant minstrel-knight.

  Swiche lovers als thei
  Never schal be moe.

And so they take their place with Hero and Leander, with Abélard and
Héloïse, with Romeo and Juliet.

It would be unfitting here to tell how mythology has claimed the story
of Tristrem and Ysonde and has attempted to show in what manner the
circumstances of their lives and adventures have been adapted to the
old world-wide myth of the progress of the sun from dawn to
darkness.[59] The evidence seems very complete, and the theory is
probably well founded. The circumstances of the great epic of the
sun-god fits most hero-tales. And it is well to recollect that even if
romance-makers seized upon the plot of the old myth they did so
unconscious of its mythic significance, and probably because it may
have been employed in the heroic literature of "Rome la grant."

_The Giant of Mont-Saint-Michel_

It was when he arrived in Brittany to ward off the projected invasion
of England by the Roman Emperor Lucius that King Arthur encountered
and slew a giant of "marvellous bigness" at St Michael's Mount, near
Pontorson. This monster, who had come from Spain, had made his lair on
the summit of the rocky island, whither he had carried off the Lady
Helena, niece of Duke Hoel of Brittany. Many were the knights who
surrounded the giant's fastness, but none might come at him, for when
they attacked him he would sink their ships by hurling mighty boulders
upon them, while those who succeeded in swimming to the island were
slain by him ere they could get a proper footing. But Arthur,
undismayed by what he had heard, waited until nightfall; then, when
all were asleep, with Kay the seneschal and Bedivere the butler, he
started on his way to the Mount.

As the three approached the rugged height they beheld a fire blazing
brightly on its summit, and saw also that upon a lesser eminence in
the sea some distance away a smaller fire was burning. Bedivere was
dispatched in a boat to discover who had lit the fire on the smaller
island. Having landed there, he found an old woman lamenting loudly.

"Good mother," said he, "wherefore do you mourn? What has befallen you
in this place that you weep so sorely?"

"Ah, young sir," replied the dame, drying her tears, "get thee back
from this place, I beseech thee, for as thou livest the monster who
inhabits yonder mount will rend thee limb from limb and sup on thy
flesh. But yesterday I was the nurse of the fair Helena, niece to Duke
Hoel, who lies buried here by me."

"Alas! then, the lady is no more?" cried Bedivere, in distress.

"So it is," replied the old woman, weeping more bitterly than ever,
"for when that accursed giant did seize upon her terror did so
overcome her that her spirit took flight. But tarry not on this dread
spot, noble youth, for if her fierce slayer should encounter thee he
will put thee to a shameful death, and afterward devour thee as is his
wont with all those whom he kills."

Bedivere comforted the old woman as best he might, and, returning to
Arthur, told him what he had heard. Now on hearing of the damsel's
death great anger took hold upon the King, so that he resolved to
search out the giant forthwith and slay or be slain by him. Desiring
Kay and Bedivere to follow, he dismounted and commenced to climb St
Michael's Mount, closely attended by his companions.


On reaching the summit a gruesome spectacle awaited them. The great
fire that they had seen in the distance was blazing fiercely, and
bending over it was the giant, his cruel and contorted features
besmeared with the blood of swine, portions of which he was toasting
on spits. Startled at the sight of the knights, the monster rushed to
where his club lay. This purpose Arthur deemed he might prevent, and,
covering himself with his shield, he ran at him while yet he fumbled
for the weapon. But with all his agility he was too late, for the
giant seized the mighty sapling and, whirling it in the air, brought
it down on the King's shield with such force that the sound of the
stroke echoed afar. Nothing daunted, Arthur dealt a trenchant stroke
with Excalibur, and gave the giant a cut on the forehead which made
the blood gush forth over his eyes so as nearly to blind him. But
shrewd as was the blow, the giant had warded his forehead with his
club in such wise that he had not received a deadly wound, and,
watching his chance with great cunning, he rushed in within the sweep
of Arthur's sword, gripped him round the middle, and forced him to the

Iron indeed would have been the grasp which could have held a knight
so doughty as Arthur. Slipping from the monster's clutches, the King
hacked at his adversary now in one place, now in another, till at
length he smote the giant so mightily that Excalibur was buried deep
in his brain-pan. The giant fell like an oak torn up by the roots in
the fury of the winds. Rushing up as he crashed to the earth, Sir
Bedivere struck off the hideous head, grinning in death, to be a show
to those in the tents below.

"But let them behold it in silence and without laughter," the King
charged Sir Bedivere, "for never since I slew the giant Ritho upon
Mount Eryri have I encountered so mighty an adversary."

And so they returned to their tents with daybreak.

_A Doubting Thomas_

It is strange to think that Brittany, one of the cradles of Arthurian
legend, could have produced a disbeliever in that legend so early as
the year of grace 1113. It is on record that some monks from Brittany
journeyed to England in that year, and were shown by the men of Devon
"the chair and the oven of that King Arthur renowned in the stories of
the Britons." They passed on to Cornwall, and when, in the church at
Bodmin, one of their servants dared to question the statement of a
certain Cornishman that Arthur still lived, he received such a buffet
for his temerity that a small riot ensued.[60] Does not this seem to
be evidence that the legend was more whole-heartedly believed in in
the Celtic parts of England, and was therefore more exclusively native
to those parts than to Continental Brittany? The Cornish allegiance to
the memory of Arthur seems to have left little to be desired.

_Arthur and the Dragon_

The manner in which Arthur slew a dragon at the Lieue de Grève, and at
the same time made the acquaintance of St Efflam of Ireland, is told
by Albert le Grand, monk of Morlaix. Arthur had been sojourning at the
Court of Hoel, Duke of Armorica, and, having freed his own land of
dragons and other monsters, was engaged in hunting down the great
beasts with which Armorica abounded. But the monster which infested
the Lieue de Grève was no ordinary dragon. Indeed, he was the most
cunning saurian in Europe, and was wont to retire backward into the
great cavern in which he lived so that when traced to it those who
tracked him would believe that he had just quitted it.

In this manner he succeeded in deceiving Arthur and his knights, who
for days lingered in the vicinity of his cave in the hope of
encountering him. One day as they stood on the seashore waiting for
the dragon a sail hove in sight, and soon a large coracle made of
wicker-work covered with skins appeared. The vessel grounded and its
occupants leapt ashore, headed by a young man of princely mien, who
advanced toward Arthur and saluted him courteously.

"Fair sir," he said, "to what shore have I come? I am Efflam, the
King's son, of Ireland. The winds have driven us out of our course,
and full long have we laboured in the sea."

Now when Arthur heard the young man's name he embraced him heartily.

"Welcome, cousin," he said. "You are in the land of Brittany. I am
Arthur of Britain, and I rejoice at this meeting, since it may chance
from it that I can serve you."

Then Efflam told Arthur the reason of his voyaging. He had been wed to
the Princess Enora, daughter of a petty king of Britain, but on his
wedding night a strong impulse had come upon him to leave all and make
his penitence within some lonely wood, where he could be at peace from
the world. Rising from beside his sleeping wife, he stole away, and
rousing several trusty servitors he set sail from his native shores.
Soon his frail craft was caught in a tempest, and after many days
driven ashore as had been seen.

Arthur marvelled at the impulse which had prompted Efflam to seek
retirement, and was about to express his surprise when the youth
startled him by telling him that as his vessel had approached the
shore he and his men had caught sight of the dragon entering his

At these words Arthur armed himself without delay with his sword
Excalibur and his lance Ron, and, followed by his knights and by
Efflam, drew near the cavern. As he came before the entrance the
dragon issued forth, roaring in so terrible a manner that all but the
King were daunted and drew back. The creature's appearance was
fearsome in the extreme. He had one red eye in the centre of his
forehead, his shoulders were covered with green scales like plates of
mail, his long, powerful tail was black and twisted, and his vast
mouth was furnished with tusks like those of a wild boar.

Grim and great was the combat. For three days did it rage, man and
beast struggling through the long hours for the mastery which neither
seemed able to obtain. At the end of that time the dragon retired for
a space into his lair, and Arthur, worn out and well-nigh broken by
the long-drawn strife, threw himself down beside Efflam in a state of

"A draught of water, fair cousin," he cried in a choking voice. "I
perish with thirst."

But no water was to be found in that place save that of the salt sea
which lapped the sands of Grève. Efflam, however, was possessed of a
faith that could overcome all difficulties. Kneeling, he engaged in
earnest prayer, and, arising, struck the hard rock three times with
his rod. "Our blessed Lord will send us water," he exclaimed, and no
sooner had he spoken than from the stone a fountain of pure crystal
water gushed and bubbled.

With a cry of ecstasy Arthur placed his lips to the stream and quaffed
the much-needed refreshment. His vigour restored, he was about to
return to the dragon's cavern to renew the combat when he was
restrained by Efflam.

"Cousin," said he of Ireland, "you have tried what can be done by
force; now let us see what can be achieved by prayer."

Arthur, marvelling and humbled, sat near the young man as he prayed.
All night he was busied in devotions, and at sunrise he arose and
walked boldly to the mouth of the cavern.

"Thou spawn of Satan," he cried, "in the name of God I charge thee to
come forth!"

A noise as of a thousand serpents hissing in unison followed this
challenge, and from out his lair trailed the great length of the
dragon, howling and vomiting fire and blood. Mounting to the summit of
a neighbouring rock, he vented a final bellow and then cast himself
into the sea. The blue water was disturbed as by a maelstrom; then all
was peace again.

So perished the dragon of the Lieue de Grève, and so was proved the
superiority of prayer over human strength and valour. St Efflam and
his men settled on the spot as hermits, and were miraculously fed by
angels. Efflam's wife, Enora, was borne to him by angels in that
place, only to die when she had joined him. And when they came to tell
Efflam that his new-found lady was no more and was lying cold in the
cell he had provided for her, their news fell on deaf ears, for he too
had passed away. He is buried in Plestin Church, and his effigy,
standing triumphant above an open-mouthed dragon, graces one of its
many niches.

_The Isle of Avalon_

The Bretons believe that an island off Trégastel, on the coast of the
department of Côtes-du-Nord, is the fabled Isle of Avalon to which
King Arthur, sore wounded after his last battle, was borne to be
healed of his hurts. With straining eyes the fisherman watches the
mist-wrapped islet, and, peering through the evening haze, cheats
himself into the belief that giant forms are moving upon its shores
and that spectral shapes flit across its sands--that the dark hours
bring back the activities of the attendant knights and enchantresses
of the mighty hero of Celtdom, who, refreshed by his long repose, will
one day return to the world of men and right the great wrongs which
afflict humanity.


  [54] _The Flourishing of Romance and the Rise of Allegory_, p. 135.

  [55] No matter.

  [56] _I.e._ had the best knowledge of medicine. _Couthe_, from A.S.
       _cunnan_ to know.

  [57] Swinburne, _Tristram of Lyonesse_.

  [58] This incident is common in Celtic romance, and seems to have been
       widely used in nearly all medieval literatures.

  [59] See Rev. Sir G. W. Cox, _Introduction to Mythology_, p. 326 ff.

  [60] See Zimmer, _Zeitschrift für Französische Sprache und Literatur_,
       xii, pp. 106 ff.


The wonderful _Lais_ of Marie de France must ever hold a deep interest
for all students of Breton lore, for though cast in the literary mould
of Norman-French and breathing the spirit of Norman chivalry those of
them which deal with Brittany (as do most of them) exhibit such
evident marks of having been drawn from native Breton sources that we
may regard them as among the most valuable documents extant for the
study and consideration of Armorican story.

Of the personal history of Marie de France very little is known. The
date and place of her birth are still matters for conjecture, and
until comparatively recent times literary antiquaries were doubtful
even as to which century she flourished in. In the epilogue to her
_Fables_ she states that she is a native of the Ile-de-France, but
despite this she is believed to have been of Norman origin, and also
to have lived the greater part of her life in England. Her work, which
holds few suggestions of Anglo-Norman forms of thought or expression,
was written in a literary dialect that in all likelihood was widely
estranged from the common Norman tongue, and from this (though the
manuscripts in which they are preserved are dated later) we may judge
her poems to have been composed in the second half of the twelfth
century. The prologue of her _Lais_ contains a dedication to some
unnamed king, and her _Fables_ are inscribed to a certain Count
William, circumstances which are held by some to prove that she was of
noble origin and not merely a _trouvère_ from necessity.

Until M. Gaston Paris decided that this mysterious king was Henry II
of England, and that the 'Count William' was Longsword, Earl of
Salisbury, Henry's natural son by the 'Fair Rosamond,' the mysterious
monarch was believed to be Henry III. It is highly probable that the
_Lais_ were actually written at the Court of Henry II, though the
'King' of the flowery prologue is hardly reconcilable with the stern
ruler and law-maker of history. Be that as it may, Marie's poems
achieved instant success. "Her rhyme is loved everywhere," says Denis
Pyramus, the author of a life of St Edmund the King; "for counts,
barons, and knights greatly admire it and hold it dear. And they love
her writing so much, and take such pleasure in it, that they have it
read, and often copied. These Lays are wont to please ladies, who
listen to them with delight, for they are after their own hearts."
This fame and its attendant adulation were very sweet to Marie, and
she was justly proud of her work, which, inspired, as she herself
distinctly states, by the lays she had heard Breton minstrels sing,
has, because of its vivid colouring and human appeal, survived the
passing of seven hundred years. The scenes of the tales are laid in
Brittany, and we are probably correct in regarding them as culled from
original traditional material. As we proceed with the telling of these
ancient stories we shall endeavour to point out the essentially Breton
elements they have retained.

_The Lay of the Were-Wolf_

In the long ago there dwelt in Brittany a worshipful baron, for whom
the king of that land had a warm affection, and who was happy in the
esteem of his peers and the love of his beautiful wife.

One only grief had his wife in her married life, and that was the
mysterious absence of her husband for three days in every week. Where
he disappeared to neither she nor any member of her household knew.
These excursions preyed upon her mind, so that at last she resolved to
challenge him regarding them.

"Husband," she said to him pleadingly one day after he had just
returned from one of these absences, "I have something to ask of you,
but I fear that my request may vex you, and for this reason I hesitate
to make it."

The baron took her in his arms and, kissing her tenderly, bade her
state her request, which he assured her would by no means vex him.

"It is this," she said, "that you will trust me sufficiently to tell
me where you spend those days when you are absent from me. So fearful
have I become regarding these withdrawals and all the mystery that
enshrouds them that I know neither rest nor comfort; indeed, so
distraught am I at times that I feel I shall die for very anxiety. Oh,
husband, tell me where you go and why you tarry so long!"

In great agitation the husband put his wife away from him, not daring
to meet the glance of her imploring, anxious eyes.

"For the mercy of God, do not ask this of me," he besought her. "No
good could come of your knowing, only great and terrible evil.
Knowledge would mean the death of your love for me, and my everlasting

"You are jesting with me, husband," she replied; "but it is a cruel
jest. I am all seriousness, I do assure you. Peace of mind can never
be mine until my question is fully answered."

But the baron, still greatly perturbed, remained firm. He could not
tell her, and she must rest content with that. The lady, however,
continued to plead, sometimes with tenderness, more often with tears
and heart-piercing reproaches, until at length the baron, trusting to
her love, decided to tell her his secret.

"I have to leave you because periodically I become a bisclaveret," he
said. ('Bisclaveret' is the Breton name for were-wolf.) "I hide myself
in the depths of the forest, live on wild animals and roots, and go
unclad as any beast of the field."

When the lady had recovered from the horror of this disclosure and had
rallied her senses to her aid, she turned to him again, determined at
any cost to learn all the circumstances connected with this terrible

"You know that I love you better than all the world, my husband," she
began; "that never in our life together have I done aught to forfeit
your love or your trust. So do, I beseech you, tell me all--tell me
where you hide your clothing before you become a were-wolf?"

"That I dare not do, dear wife," he replied, "for if I should lose my
raiment or even be seen quitting it I must remain a were-wolf so long
as I live. Never again could I become a man unless my garments were
restored to me."

"Then you no longer trust me, no longer love me?" she cried. "Alas,
alas that I have forfeited your confidence! Oh that I should live to
see such a day!"

Her weeping broke out afresh, this time more piteously than before.
The baron, deeply touched, and willing by any means to alleviate her
distress, at last divulged the vital secret which he had held from her
so long.

But from that hour his wife cast about for ways and means to rid
herself of her strange husband, of whom she now went in exceeding
fear. In course of time she remembered a knight of that country who
had long sought her love, but whom she had repulsed. To him she
appealed, and right gladly and willingly he pledged himself to aid
her. She showed him where her lord concealed his clothing, and begged
him to spoil the were-wolf of his vesture on the next occasion on
which he set out to assume his transformation. The fatal period soon
returned. The baron disappeared as usual, but this time he did not
return to his home. For days friends, neighbours, and menials sought
him diligently, but no trace of him was to be found, and when a year
had elapsed the search was at length abandoned, and the lady was
wedded to her knight.

Some months later the King was hunting in the great forest near the
missing baron's castle. The hounds, unleashed, came upon the scent of
a wolf, and pressed the animal hard. For many hours they pursued him,
and when about to seize him, Bisclaveret--for it was he--turned with
such a human gesture of despair to the King, who had ridden hard upon
his track, that the royal huntsman was moved to pity. To the King's
surprise the were-wolf placed its paws together as if in supplication,
and its great jaws moved as if in speech.

"Call off the hounds," cried the monarch to his attendants. "This
quarry we will take alive to our palace. It is too marvellous a thing
to be killed."

Accordingly they returned to the Court, where the were-wolf became an
object of the greatest curiosity to all. So frolicsome yet so gentle
was he that he became a universal favourite. At night he slept in the
King's room, and by day he followed him with all the dumb faithfulness
of a dog. The King was extremely attached to him, and never permitted
his shaggy favourite to be absent from his side for a moment.

One day the monarch held a high Court, to which his great vassals and
barons and all the lords of his broad demesnes were bidden. Among them
came the knight who had wed the wife of Bisclaveret. Immediately upon
sight of him the were-wolf flew at him with a savage joy that
astonished those accustomed to his usual gentleness and docility. So
fierce was the attack that the knight would have been killed had not
the King intervened to save him. Later, in the royal hunting-lodge she
who had been the wife of Bisclaveret came to offer the King a rich
present. When he saw her the animal's rage knew no bounds, and despite
all restraint he succeeded in mutilating her fair face in the most
frightful manner. But for a certain wise counsellor this act would
have cost Bisclaveret his life. This sagacious person, who knew of the
animal's customary docility, insisted that some evil must have been
done him.

"There must be some reason why this beast holds these twain in such
mortal hate," he said. "Let this woman and her husband be brought
hither so that they may be straitly questioned. She was once the wife
of one who was near to your heart, and many marvellous happenings have
ere this come out of Brittany."

[Illustration: THE WERE-WOLF]

The King hearkened to this sage counsel, for he loved the were-wolf,
and was loath to have him slain. Under pressure of examination
Bisclaveret's treacherous wife confessed all that she had done, adding
that in her heart she believed the King's favourite animal to be no
other than her former husband.

Instantly on learning this the King demanded the were-wolf's vesture
from the treacherous knight her lover, and when this was brought to
him he caused it to be spread before the wolf. But the animal behaved
as though he did not see the garments.

Then the wise counsellor again came to his aid.

"You must take the beast to your own secret chamber, sire," he told
the King; "for not without great shame and tribulation can he become a
man once more, and this he dare not suffer in the sight of all."

This advice the King promptly followed, and when after some little
time he, with two lords of his fellowship in attendance, re-entered
the secret chamber, he found the wolf gone, and the baron so well
beloved asleep in his bed.

With great joy and affection the King aroused his friend, and when the
baron's feelings permitted him he related his adventures. As soon as
his master had heard him out he not only restored to him all that had
been taken from him, but added gifts the number and richness of which
rendered him more wealthy and important than ever, while in just anger
he banished from his realm the wife who had betrayed her lord,
together with her lover.

_The Were-Wolf Superstition_

The were-wolf superstition is, or was, as prevalent in Brittany as in
other parts of France and Europe. The term 'were-wolf' literally means
'man-wolf,' and was applied to a man supposed to be temporarily or
permanently transformed into a wolf. In its origins the belief may
have been a phase of lycanthropy, a disease in which the sufferer
imagines himself to have been transformed into an animal, and in
ancient and medieval times of very frequent occurrence. It may, on the
other hand, be a relic of early cannibalism. Communities of
semi-civilized people would begin to shun those who devoured human
flesh, and they would in time be ostracized and classed with wild
beasts, the idea that they had something in common with these would
grow, and the belief that they were able to transform themselves into
veritable animals would be likely to arise therefrom.

There were two kinds of were-wolf, voluntary and involuntary. The
voluntary included those persons who because of their taste for human
flesh had withdrawn from intercourse with their fellows, and who
appeared to possess a certain amount of magical power, or at least
sufficient to permit them to transform themselves into animal shape at
will. This they effected by merely disrobing, by taking off a girdle
made of human skin, or putting on a similar belt of wolf-skin
(obviously a later substitute for an entire wolf-skin; in some cases
we hear of their donning the skin entire). In other instances the body
was rubbed with magic ointment, or rain-water was drunk out of a
wolf's footprint. The brains of the animal were also eaten. Olaus
Magnus says that the were-wolves of Livonia drained a cup of beer on
initiation, and repeated certain magical words. In order to throw off
the wolf-shape the animal girdle was removed, or else the magician
merely muttered certain formulæ. In some instances the transformation
was supposed to be the work of Satan.

The superstition regarding were-wolves seems to have been exceedingly
prevalent in France during the sixteenth century, and there is
evidence of numerous trials of persons accused of were-wolfism, in
some of which it was clearly shown that murder and cannibalism had
taken place. Self-hallucination was accountable for many of the cases,
the supposed were-wolves declaring that they had transformed
themselves and had slain many people. But about the beginning of the
seventeenth century native common sense came to the rescue, and such
confessions were not credited. In Teutonic and Slavonic countries it
was complained by men of learning that the were-wolves did more damage
than real wild animals, and the existence of a regular 'college' or
institution for the practice of the art of animal transformation among
were-wolves was affirmed.

Involuntary were-wolves, of which class Bisclaveret was evidently a
member, were often persons transformed into animal shape because of
the commission of sin, and condemned to pass a certain number of years
in that form. Thus certain saints metamorphosed sinners into wolves.
In Armenia it was thought that a sinful woman was condemned to pass
seven years in the form of a wolf. To such a woman a demon appeared,
bringing a wolf-skin. He commanded her to don it, and from that moment
she became a wolf, with all the nature of the wild beast, devouring
her own children and those of strangers, and wandering forth at night,
undeterred by locks, bolts, or bars, returning only with the morning
to resume her human form.

In was, of course, in Europe, where the wolf was one of the largest
carnivorous animals, that the were-wolf superstition chiefly gained
currency. In Eastern countries, where similar beliefs prevailed,
bears, tigers, and other beasts of prey were substituted for the
lupine form of colder climes.

_The Lay of Gugemar_

Oridial was one of the chief barons of King Arthur, and dwelt in
Brittany, where he held lands in fief of that monarch. So deeply was
he attached to his liege lord that when his son Gugemar was yet a
child he sent him to Arthur's Court to be trained as a page. In due
time Arthur dubbed Gugemar knight and armed him in rich harness, and
the youth, hearing of war in Flanders, set out for that realm in the
hope of gaining distinction and knightly honour.

After achieving many valorous deeds in Flanders Gugemar felt a strong
desire to behold his parents once more, so, setting his face homeward,
he journeyed back to Brittany and dwelt with them for some time,
resting after his battles and telling his father, mother, and sister
Nogent of the many enterprises in which he had been engaged. But he
shortly grew weary of this inactive existence, and in order to break
the monotony of it he planned a great hunt in the neighbouring

Early one morning he set out, and soon a tall stag was roused from its
bed among the ferns by the noise of the hunters' horns. The hounds
were unleashed and the entire hunt followed in pursuit, Gugemar the
foremost of all. But, closely as he pursued, the quarry eluded the
knight, and to his chagrin he was left alone in the forest spaces with
nothing to show for his long chase. He was about to ride back in
search of his companions when on a sudden he noticed a doe hiding in a
thicket with her fawn. She was white from ear to hoof, without a
spot. Gugemar's hounds, rushing at her, held her at bay, and their
master, fitting an arrow to his bow, loosed the shaft at her so that
she was wounded above the hoof and brought to earth. But the
treacherous arrow, glancing, returned to Gugemar and wounded him
grievously in the thigh.

As he lay on the earth faint and with his senses almost deserting him,
Gugemar heard the doe speak to him in human accents:

"Wretch who hast slain me," said she, "think not to escape my
vengeance. Never shall leech nor herb nor balm cure the wound which
fate hath so justly inflicted upon thee. Only canst thou be healed by
a woman who loves thee, and who for that love shall have to suffer
such woe and sorrow as never woman had to endure before. Thou too
shalt suffer equally with her, and the sorrows of ye twain shall be
the wonder of lovers for all time. Leave me now to die in peace."

Gugemar was in sore dismay at hearing these words, for never had he
sought lady's love nor had he cared for the converse of women. Winding
his horn, he succeeded in attracting one of his followers to the spot,
and sent him in search of his companions. When he had gone Gugemar
tore his linen shirt in pieces and bound up his wound as well as he
might. Then, dragging himself most painfully into the saddle, he rode
from the scene of his misadventure at as great a pace as his injury
would permit of, for he had conceived a plan which he did not desire
should be interfered with.

Riding at a hand-gallop, he soon came in sight of tall cliffs which
overlooked the sea, and which formed a natural harbour, wherein lay a
vessel richly beseen. Its sails were of spun silk, and each plank and
mast was fashioned of ebony. Dismounting, Gugemar made his way to the
shore, and with much labour climbed upon the ship. Neither mariner nor
merchant was therein. A large pavilion of silk covered part of the
deck, and within this was a rich bed, the work of the cunning
artificers of the days of King Solomon. It was fashioned of cypress
wood and ivory, and much gold and many gems went to the making of it.
The clothes with which it was provided were fair and white as snow,
and so soft the pillow that he who laid his head upon it, sad as he
might be, could not resist sleep. The pavilion was lit by two large
waxen candles, set in candlesticks of gold.

As the knight sat gazing at this splendid couch fit for a king he
suddenly became aware that the ship was moving seaward. Already,
indeed, he was far from land, and at the sight he grew more sorrowful
than before, for his hurt made him helpless and he could not hope
either to guide the vessel or manage her so that he might return to
shore. Resigning himself to circumstances, he lay down upon the ornate
bed and sank into a deep and dreamless slumber.


When he awoke he found to his intense surprise that the ship had come
to the port of an ancient city. Now the king of this realm was an aged
man who was wedded to a young, fair lady, of whom he was, after the
manner of old men, intensely jealous. The castle of this monarch
frowned upon a fair garden enclosed from the sea by a high wall of
green marble, so that if one desired to come to the castle he must do
so from the water. The place was straitly watched by vigilant
warders, and within the wall so carefully defended lay the Queen's
bower, a fairer chamber than any beneath the sun, and decorated with
the most marvellous paintings. Here dwelt the young Queen with one of
her ladies, her own sister's child, who was devoted to her service and
who never quitted her side. The key of this bower was in the hands of
an aged priest, who was also the Queen's servitor.

One day on awaking from sleep the Queen walked in the garden and
espied a ship drawing near the land. Suddenly, she knew not why, she
grew very fearful, and would have fled at the sight, but her maiden
encouraged her to remain. The vessel came to shore, and the Queen's
maiden entered it. No one could she see on board except a knight
sleeping soundly within the pavilion, and he was so pale that she
thought he was dead. Returning to her mistress, she told her what she
had seen, and together they entered the vessel.

No sooner did the Queen behold Gugemar than she was deeply smitten
with love for him. In a transport of fear lest he were dead she placed
her hand upon his bosom, and was overjoyed to feel the warmth of life
within him and that his heart beat strongly. At her touch he awoke and
courteously saluted her. She asked him whence he came and to what
nation he belonged.

"Lady," he replied, "I am a knight of Brittany. But yesterday, or so
it seems to me, for I may have slumbered more than a day, I wounded a
deer in the forest, but the arrow with which I slew her rebounded and
struck me sorely. Then the beast, being, I trow, a fairy deer, spake,
saying that never would this wound be healed save by one damsel in the
whole world, and her I know not where to find. Riding seaward, I came
to where this ship lay moored, and, entering it, the vessel drifted
oceanward. I know not to what land I have come, nor what name this
city bears. I pray you, fair lady, give me your best counsel."

The Queen listened to his tale with the deepest interest, and when
Gugemar made his appeal for aid and counsel she replied: "Truly, fair
sir, I shall counsel you as best I may. This city to which you have
come belongs to my husband, who is its King. Of much worship is he,
but stricken in years, and because of the jealousy he bears me he has
shut me up between these high walls. If it please you you may tarry
here awhile and we will tend your wound until it be healed."

Gugemar, wearied and bewildered at the strange things which had
happened to him in the space of a day, thanked the Queen, and accepted
her kind offer of entertainment with alacrity. Between them the Queen
and her lady assisted him to leave the ship and bore him to a chamber,
where he was laid in a fair bed and had his wound carefully dressed.
When the ladies had withdrawn and the knight was left to himself he
knew that he loved the Queen. All memory of his home and even of his
tormenting wound disappeared, and he could brood only upon the fair
face of the royal lady who had so charmingly ministered to him.

Meanwhile the Queen was in little better case. All night she could not
sleep for pondering upon the handsome youth who had come so
mysteriously into her life, and her maiden, seeing this, and marking
how she suffered, went to Gugemar's chamber and told him in a frank
and almost childlike manner how deeply her mistress had been smitten
with love for him.

"You are young," she said, "so is my lady. Her lord is old and their
union is unseemly. Heaven intended you for one another and has brought
you together in its own good time."

Shortly, after she had heard Mass, the Queen summoned Gugemar into her
presence. At first both were dumb with confusion. At last his passion
urged Gugemar to speak, and his love-words came thick and fast. The
Queen hearkened to them, and, feeling that they rang true, admitted
that she loved him in return.

For a year and a half Gugemar dwelt in the Queen's bower. Then the
lovers met with misfortune.

For some days before the blow fell the Queen had experienced a feeling
of coming evil. So powerfully did this affect her that she begged
Gugemar for a garment of his. The knight marvelled at the request, and
asked her playfully for what reason she desired such a keepsake as a
linen shift.

"Friend," she replied, "if it chance that you leave me or that we are
separated I shall fear that some other damsel may win your love. In
this shift which you give me I shall make a knot, and shall ask you to
vow that never will you give your love to dame or damsel who cannot
untie this knot."

The knight complied with her request, and she made such a cunning knot
in the garment as only she could unravel. For his part Gugemar gave
the Queen a wonderfully fashioned girdle which only he could unclasp,
and he begged her that she would never grant her love to any man who
could not free her from it. Each promised the other solemnly to
respect the vows they had made.

That same day their hidden love was discovered. A chamberlain of the
King's observed them through a window of the Queen's bower, and,
hastening to his master, told him what he had seen. In terrible wrath
the King called for his guards, and, coming upon the lovers unaware,
commanded them to slay Gugemar at once. But the knight seized upon a
stout rod of fir-wood on which linen was wont to be dried, and faced
those who would slay him so boldly that they fell back in dismay.

The King questioned him as to his name and lineage, and Gugemar
fearlessly related his story. The King was incredulous at first, but
said that could the ship be found in which Gugemar had arrived he
would place him upon it and send him once more out to sea. After
search had been made the vessel was found, and Gugemar was placed on
it, the ship began to move, and soon the knight was well at sea.

Ere long the ship came to that harbour whence she had first sailed,
and as Gugemar landed he saw to his surprise one of his own vassals
holding a charger and accompanied by a knight. Mounting the steed,
Gugemar swiftly rode home, where he was received with every
demonstration of joy. But though his parents and friends did
everything possible to make him happy, the memory of the fair Queen
who had loved him was ever with him night and day, so that he might
not be solaced by game or tilting, the chase or the dance. In vain
those who wished him well urged him to take a wife. At first he
roundly refused to consider such a step, but when eagerly pressed by
his friends he announced that no wife should he wed who could not
first unloose the knot within his shift. So sought after was Gugemar
that all the damsels in Brittany essayed the feat, but none of them
succeeded and each retired sorrowfully from the ordeal.

Meanwhile the aged King had set his wife in a tower of grey marble,
where she suffered agonies because of the absence of her lover. Ever
she wondered what had happened to him, if he had regained his native
shore or whether he had been swallowed up by the angry sea. Frequently
she made loud moan, but there were none to hear her cries save
stony-hearted gaolers, who were as dumb as the grey walls that
enclosed her.

One day she chanced in her dolour to lean heavily upon the door of her
prison. To her amazement it opened, and she found herself in the
corridor without. Hastening on impulse, and as if by instinct, to the
harbour, she found there her lover's ship. Quickly she climbed upon
its deck, and scarcely had she done so than the vessel began to move
seaward. In great fear she sat still, and in time was wafted to a part
of Brittany governed by one named Meriadus, who was on the point of
going to war with a neighbouring chieftain.

From his window Meriadus had seen the approach of the strange vessel,
and, making his way to the seashore, entered the ship. Struck with the
beauty of the Queen, he brought her to his castle, where he placed her
in his sister's chamber. He strove in every way to dispel the sadness
which seemed to envelop her like a mantle, but despite his efforts to
please her she remained in sorrowful and doleful mood and would not be
comforted. Sorely did Meriadus press her to wed him, but she would
have none of him, and for answer showed him the girdle round her
waist, saying that never would she give her love to any man who could
not unloose its buckle. As she said this Meriadus seemed struck by her

"Strange," he said, "a right worthy knight dwells in this land who
will take no woman to his wife save she who can first untie a certain
crafty knot in his shift. Well would I wager that it was you who tied
this knot."

When the Queen heard these words she well-nigh fainted. Meriadus
rushed to succour her, and gradually she revived. Some days later
Meriadus held a high tournament, at which all the knights who were to
aid him in the war were to be present, among them Gugemar. A festival
was held on the night preceding the tournament, at which Meriadus
requested his sister and the stranger dame to be present. As the Queen
entered the hall Gugemar rose from his place and stared at her as at a
vision of the dead. In great doubt was he whether this lady was in
truth his beloved.

"Come, Gugemar," rallied Meriadus, "let this damsel try to unravel the
knot in your shift which has puzzled so many fair dames."

Gugemar called to his squire and bade him fetch the shift, and when it
was brought the lady, without seeming effort, unravelled the knot. But
even yet Gugemar remained uncertain.

"Lady," he said, "tell me, I pray you, whether or not you wear a
girdle with which I girt you in a realm across the sea," and placing
his hands around her slender waist, he found there the secret belt.

All his doubts dispelled, Gugemar asked his loved one how she had come
to the tower of Meriadus. When he had heard, he then and there
requested his ally to yield him the lady, but the chieftain roundly
refused. Then the knight in great anger cast down his glove and took
his departure, and, to the discomfiture of Meriadus, all those knights
who had gathered for the tournament and had offered to assist Meriadus
accompanied Gugemar.


In a body they rode to the castle of the prince who was at war with
Meriadus, and next day they marched against the discourteous
chieftain. Long did they besiege his castle, but at last when the
defenders were weak with hunger Gugemar and his men assailed the place
and took it, slaying Meriadus within the ruins of his own hall.
Gugemar, rushing to that place where he knew his lady to be, called
her forth, and in peace brought her back with him to his own demesne,
where they were wed and dwelt long and happily.

There are several circumstances connected with this beautiful old tale
which deeply impress us with a belief in its antiquity. The incident
of the killing of the deer and the incurable nature of Gugemar's wound
are undoubtedly legacies from very ancient times, when it was believed
to be unlucky under certain circumstances to kill a beast of the
chase. Some savage races, such as the North American Indians, consider
it to be most unlucky to slay a deer without first propitiating the
great Deer God, the chief of the Deer Folk, and in fact they attribute
most of the ills to which flesh is heir to the likelihood that they
have omitted some of the very involved ritual of the chase. It will be
remembered that Tristrem of Lyonesse also had an incurable wound, and
there are other like instances in romance and myth.

The vessel which carries Gugemar over the sea is undoubtedly of the
same class as those magic self-propelled craft which we meet with very
frequently in Celtic lore, and the introduction of this feature in
itself is sufficient to convince us of the Celtic or Breton origin of
Marie's tale. We have such a craft in the Grail legend in the _Morte
d'Arthur_, in which Galahad finds precisely such a bed. The vessel in
the Grail legend is described as "King Solomon's Ship," and it is
obvious that Marie or her Breton original must have borrowed the idea
from a Grail source.

Lastly, the means adopted by the lovers to ensure one another's
constancy seem very like the methods of taboo. The knot that may not
or cannot be untied has many counterparts in ancient lore, and the
girdle that no man but the accepted lover may loose is reminiscent of
the days when a man placed such a girdle around his wife or sweetheart
to signify his sole possession of her. If a man could succeed in
purloining a mermaid's girdle she was completely in his power. So is
it with fairies in an Algonquin Indian tale. Even so late as Crusading
times many knights departing to fight in the Holy Land bound a girdle
round their ladies' waists in the hope that the gift would ensure
their faithfulness.

_The Lay of Laustic_

The Lay of Laustic, or the Nightingale, is purely of Breton origin,
and indeed is proved to be so by its title. "Laustic, I deem, men name
it in that country" (Brittany), says Marie in her preface to the lay,
"which being interpreted means _rossignol_ in French and 'nightingale'
in good plain English." She adds that the Breton harper has already
made a lay concerning it--added evidence that the tale is of Celtic
and not of French origin.

In the ancient town of Saint-Malo, in Brittany, dwelt two knights
whose valour and prowess brought much fame to the community. Their
houses were close to one another, and one of them was married to a
lady of surpassing loveliness, while the other was a bachelor. By
insensible degrees the bachelor knight came to love his neighbour's
wife, and so handsome and gallant was he that in time she returned his
passion. He made every possible excuse for seeking her society, and on
one pretext or another was constantly by her side. But he was
exceedingly careful of her fair fame, and acted in such a way that not
the slightest breath of scandal could touch her.

Their houses were separated by an ancient stone wall of considerable
height, but the lovers could speak together by leaning from their
casements, and if this was impossible they could communicate by
sending written messages. When the lady's husband was at home she was
guarded carefully, as was the custom of the time, but nevertheless she
contrived to greet her lover from the window as frequently as she

In due course the wondrous time of spring came round, with white drift
of blossom and stir of life newly awakened. The short night hours grew
warm, and often did the lady arise from bed to have speech with her
lover at the casement. Her husband grew displeased by her frequent
absences, which disturbed his rest, and wrathfully inquired the reason
why she quitted his side so often.

"Oh, husband," she replied, "I cannot rest because of the sweet song
of the nightingale, whose music has cast a spell upon my heart. No
tune of harp or viol can compare with it, and I may not close my eyes
so long as his song continues in the night."

Now the lady's husband, although a bold and hardy knight, was
malicious and ungenerous, and, disliking to have his rest disturbed,
resolved to deal summarily with the nightingale. So he gave orders to
his servants to set traps in the garden and to smear every bough and
branch with birdlime in order that the bird might speedily be taken.
His orders were at once carried out, and the garden was filled with
nets, while the cruel lime glittered upon every tree. So complete were
the preparations of the serving-men that an unfortunate nightingale
which had made the garden its haunt and had filled it with music for
many a night while the lovers talked was taken and brought to the

Swiftly he bore the hapless bird to his wife's chamber, his eyes
sparkling with malicious glee.

"Here is your precious songster," he said, with bitter irony. "You
will be happy to learn that you and I may now spend our sleeping hours
in peace since he is taken."

"Ah, slay him not, my lord!" she cried in anguish, for she had grown
to associate the bird's sweet song with the sweeter converse of her
lover--to regard it as in a measure an accompaniment to his
love-words. For answer her husband seized the unhappy bird by the neck
and wrung its head off. Then he cast the little body into the lap of
the dame, soiling her with its blood, and departed in high anger.

The lady pitifully raised what was left of the dead songster and
bitterly lamented over it.

"Woe is me!" she cried. "Never again can I meet with my lover at the
casement, and he will believe that I am faithless to him. But I shall
devise some means to let him know that this is not so."

Having considered as to what she should do, the lady took a fine piece
of white samite, broidered with gold, and worked upon it as on a
tapestry the whole story of the nightingale, so that her knight might
not be ignorant of the nature of the barrier that had arisen between

In this silken shroud she wrapped the small, sad body of the slain
bird and gave it in charge of a trusty servant to bear to her lover.
The messenger told the knight what had occurred. The news was heavy to
him, but now, having insight to the vengeful nature of her husband, he
feared to jeopardize the lady's safety, so he remained silent. But he
caused a rich coffer to be made in fine gold, set with precious
stones, in which he laid the body of the nightingale, and this small
funeral urn he carried about with him on all occasions, nor could any
circumstance hinder him from keeping it constantly beside him.

  Wrap me love's ashes in a golden cloth
  To carry next my heart. Love's fire is out,
  And these poor embers grey, but I am loath
  To quench remembrance also: I shall put
  His relics over that they did consume.
  Ah, 'tis too bitter cold these cinders to relume!

  Place me love's ashes in a golden cup,
  To mingle with my wine. Ah, do not fear
  The old flame in my soul shall flicker up
  At the harsh taste of what was once so dear.
  I quaff no fire: there is no fire to meet
  This bitterness of death and turn it into sweet.

_The Lay of Eliduc_

In the tale of Eliduc we have in all probability a genuine product of
native Breton romance. So at least avers Marie, who assures us that it
is "a very ancient Breton lay," and we have no reason to doubt her
word, seeing that, had she been prone to literary dishonesty, it would
have been much easier for her to have passed off the tale as her own
original conception. There is, of course, the probability that it was
so widely known in its Breton version that to have done so would have
been to have openly courted the charge of plagiarism--an impeachment
which it is not possible to bring against this most charming and
delightful poetess.

Eliduc, a knight of Brittany, was happy in the confidence of his King,
who, when affairs of State caused his absence from the realm, left his
trusted adherent behind him as viceroy and regent. Such a man, staunch
and loyal, could scarcely be without enemies, and the harmless
pleasure he took in the chase during the King's absence was construed
by evil counsellors on the monarch's return as an unwarranted licence
with the royal rights of venery. The enemies of Eliduc so harped upon
the knight's supposed lack of reverence for the royal authority that
at length the King's patience gave way and in an outburst of wrath he
gave orders for Eliduc's banishment, without vouchsafing his former
friend and confidant the least explanation of this petulant action.

Dismayed by the sudden change in his fortunes, Eliduc returned to his
house, and there acquainted his friends and vassals with the King's
unjust decree. He told them that it was his intention to cross the sea
to the kingdom of Logres, to sojourn there for a space. He placed his
estates in the hands of his wife and begged of his vassals that they
would serve her loyally. Then, having settled his affairs, he took ten
knights of his household and started upon his journey. His wife,
Guildeluec, accompanied him for several miles, and on parting they
pledged good faith to one another.

In due time the cavalcade came to the seashore and took ship for the
realm of Logres. Near Exeter, in this land, dwelt an aged king who
had for his heir a daughter called Guillardun. This damsel had been
asked in marriage by a neighbouring prince, and as her father had
refused to listen to his proposals the disappointed suitor made war
upon him, spoiling and wasting his land. The old King, fearful for his
child's safety, had shut her up in a strong castle for her better
security and his own peace of mind.

Now Eliduc, coming to that land, heard the tale of the quarrel between
the King and his neighbour, and considered as to which side he should
take. After due deliberation he arranged to fight on the side of the
King, with whom he offered to take service. His offer was gratefully
accepted, and he had not been long in the royal host when he had an
opportunity of distinguishing himself. The town wherein he was lodged
with his knights was attacked by the enemy. He set his men in ambush
in a forest track by which it was known the enemy would approach the
town, and succeeded in routing them and in taking large numbers of
prisoners and much booty. This feat of arms raised him high in the
estimation of the King, who showed him much favour, and the Princess,
hearing of his fame, became very desirous of beholding him. She sent
her chamberlain to Eliduc saying that she wished to hear the story of
his deeds, and he, quite as anxious to see the imprisoned Princess of
whom he had heard so much, set out at once. On beholding each other
they experienced deep agitation. Eliduc thought that never had he seen
so beautiful and graceful a maiden, and Guillardun that this was the
most handsome and comely knight she had ever met.

For a long time they spoke together, and then Eliduc took his leave
and departed. He counted all the time lost that he had remained in the
kingdom without knowing this lady, but he promised himself that now he
would frequently seek her society. Then, with a pang of remorse, he
thought of his good and faithful wife and the sacred promise he had
made her.

Guillardun, on her part, was none the less ill at ease. She passed a
restless night, and in the morning confided her case to her aged
chamberlain, who was almost a second father to her, and he, all
unwitting that Eliduc was already bound in wedlock to another,
suggested that the Princess should send the knight a love-token to
discover by the manner in which he received it whether or not her love
was returned. Guillardun took this advice, and sent her lover a girdle
and a ring by the hands of the chamberlain. On receiving the token
Eliduc showed the greatest joy, girded the belt about his middle, and
placed the ring on his finger. The chamberlain returned to the
Princess and told her with what evident satisfaction Eliduc had
received the gifts. But the Princess in her eagerness showered
questions upon him, until at last the old man grew impatient.

"Lady," he said, somewhat testily, "I have told you the knight's
words; I cannot tell you his thoughts, for he is a prudent gentleman
who knows well what to hide in his heart."

Although he rejoiced at the gifts Eliduc had but little peace of mind.
He could think of nothing save the vow he had made to his wife before
he left her. But thoughts of the Princess would intrude themselves
upon him. Often he saw Guillardun, and although he saluted her with a
kiss, as was the custom of the time, he never spoke a single word of
love to her, being fearful on the one hand of breaking his conjugal
vow and on the other of offending the King.

One evening when Eliduc was announced the King was in his daughter's
chamber, playing at chess with a stranger lord. He welcomed the knight
heartily, and much to the embarrassment of the lovers begged his
daughter to cherish a closer friendship for Eliduc, whom he brought to
her notice as a right worthy knight. The pair withdrew somewhat from
the others, as if for the purpose of furthering the friendship which
the old King so ardently seemed to desire, and Eliduc thanked the
Princess for the gifts she had sent him by the chamberlain. Then the
Princess, taking advantage of her rank, told Eliduc that she desired
him for her husband, and that, did he refuse her, she would die

"Lady," replied the knight, "I have great joy in your love, but have
you thought that I may not always tarry in this land? I am your
father's man until this war hath an end. Then shall I return unto mine
own country." But Guillardun, in a transport of love, told him she
would trust him entirely with her heart, and passing great was the
affection that grew between them.

Eliduc, in spite of his love for the Princess, had by no means
permitted his conduct of the war to flag. Indeed, if anything, he
redoubled his efforts, and pressed the foe so fiercely that at length
he was forced to submit. And now news came to him that his old master,
the King who had banished him from Brittany, was sore bestead by an
enemy and was searching for his former vice-regent on every hand, who
was so mighty a knight in the field and so sage at the council-board.
Turning upon the false lords who had spoken evil of his favourite, he
outlawed them from the land for ever. He sent messengers east and
west and across the seas in search of Eliduc, who when he heard the
news was much dismayed, so greatly did he love Guillardun. These twain
had loved with a pure and tender passion, and never by word or deed
had they sullied the affection they bore one another. Dearly did the
Princess hope that Eliduc might remain in her land and become her
lord, and little did she dream that he was wedded to a wife across the
seas. For his part Eliduc took close counsel with himself. He knew by
reason of the fealty he owed to his King that he must return to
Brittany, but he was equally aware that if he parted from Guillardun
one or other of them must die.

Deep was the chagrin of the King of Logres when he learned that Eliduc
must depart from his realm, but deeper far was his daughter's grief
when the knight came to bid her farewell. In moving words she urged
him to remain, and when she found that his loyalty was proof even
against his love, she begged of him to take her with him to Brittany.
But this request he turned aside, on the plea that as he had served
her father he could not so offend him as by the theft of his daughter.
He promised, however, by all he held most dear that he would return
one day, and with much sorrow the two parted, exchanging rings for

Eliduc took ship and swiftly crossed the sea. He met with a joyous
reception from his King, and none was so glad at his return as his
wife. But gradually his lady began to see that he had turned cold to
her. She charged him with it, and he replied that he had pledged his
faith to the foreign lord whom he had served abroad.

Very soon through his conduct the war was brought to a victorious
close, and almost immediately thereafter Eliduc repaired across the
sea to Logres, taking with him two of his nephews as his squires. On
reaching Logres he at once went to visit Guillardun, who received him
with great gladness. She returned with him to his ship, which
commenced the return voyage at once, but when they neared the
dangerous coast of Brittany a sudden tempest arose, and waxed so
fierce that the mariners lost all hope of safety. One of them cried
out that the presence of Guillardun on board the ship endangered all
their lives and that the conduct of Eliduc, who had already a faithful
wife, in seeking to wed this foreign woman had brought about their
present dangerous position. Eliduc grew very wroth, and when
Guillardun heard that her knight was already wedded she swooned and
all regarded her as dead. In despair Eliduc fell upon his betrayer,
slew him, and cast his body into the sea. Then, guiding the ship with
a seaman's skill, he brought her into harbour.

When they were safely anchored, Eliduc conceived the idea of taking
Guillardun, whom he regarded as dead, to a certain chapel in a great
forest quite near his own home. Setting her body before him on his
palfrey, he soon came to the little shrine, and making a bier of the
altar laid Guillardun upon it. He then betook him to his own house,
but the next morning returned to the chapel in the forest. Mourning
over the body of his lady-love, he was surprised to observe that the
colour still remained in her cheeks and lips. Again and again he
visited the chapel, and his wife, marvelling whither he went, bribed a
varlet to discover the object of his repeated absences. The man
watched Eliduc and saw him enter the chapel and mourn over the body
of Guillardun, and, returning, acquainted his lady with what he had

Guildeluec--for such, we will remember, was the name of Eliduc's
wife--set out for the shrine, and with astonishment beheld the
lifelike form of Guillardun laid on the altar. So pitiful was the
sight that she herself could not refrain from the deepest sorrow. As
she sat weeping a weasel came from under the altar and ran across
Guillardun's body, and the varlet who attended Guildeluec struck at it
with his staff and killed it. Another weasel issued, and, beholding
its dead comrade, went forth from the chapel and hastened to the wood,
whence it returned, bearing in its mouth a red flower, which it placed
on the mouth of its dead companion. The weasel which Guildeluec had
believed to be dead at once stood up. Beholding this, the varlet cast
his staff at the animals and they sped away, leaving the red flower
behind them.


Guildeluec immediately picked the flower up, and returning with it to
the altar where Guillardun lay, placed it on the maiden's mouth. In a
few moments she heard a sigh, and Guillardun sat up, and inquired if
she had slept long. Guildeluec asked her name and degree, and
Guillardun in reply acquainted her with her history and lineage,
speaking very bitterly of Eliduc, who, she said, had betrayed her in a
strange land. Guildeluec declared herself the wife of Eliduc, told
Guillardun how deeply the knight had grieved for her, and declared her
intention of taking the veil and releasing Eliduc from his marriage
vow. She conducted Guillardun to her home, where they met Eliduc, who
rejoiced greatly at the restoration of his lady-love. His wife
founded a convent with the rich portion he bestowed upon her, and
Eliduc, in thankfulness for Guillardun's recovery, built a fair church
close by his castle and endowed it bountifully, and close beside it
erected a great monastery. Later Guillardun entered the convent of
which Guildeluec was the abbess, and Eliduc, himself feeling the call
of the holy life, devoted himself to the service of God in the
monastery. Messages passed between convent and monastery in which
Eliduc and the holy women encouraged each other in the pious life
which they had chosen, and by degrees the three who had suffered so
greatly came to regard their seclusion as far preferable to the world
and all its vanities.

_The Lay of Equitan_

The Lay of Equitan is one of Marie's most famous tales. Equitan was
King of Nantes, in Brittany, and led the life of a pleasure-seeker. To
win approval from the eyes of fair ladies was more to him than
knightly fame or honour.

Equitan had as seneschal a trusty and faithful knight, who was to the
pleasure-loving seigneur as his right hand. This faithful servant was
also captain of Equitan's army, and sat as a judge in his courts. To
his undoing he had a wife, as fair a dame as any in the duchy of
Brittany. "Her eyes," says the old lay, "were blue, her face was warm
in colour, her mouth fragrant and her nose dainty." She was ever
tastefully dressed and courtly in demeanour, and soon attracted the
attention of such an admirer of the fair sex as Equitan, who desired
to speak with her more intimately. He therefore, as a subterfuge,
announced that a great hunt would take place in that part of his
domains in which his seneschal's castle was situated, and this gave
him the opportunity of sojourning at the castle and holding converse
with the lady, with whom he became so charmed that in a few days he
fell deeply in love with her. On the night of the day when he first
became aware that he loved her Equitan lay tossing on his bed, in a
torment of fiery emotion. He debated with himself in what manner he
should convey to his seneschal's wife the fact that he loved her, and
at length prepared a plot which he thought would be likely to

Next day he rose as usual and made all arrangements to proceed with
the chase. But shortly after setting out he returned, pleading that he
had fallen sick, and took to his bed. The faithful seneschal could not
divine what had occurred to render his lord so seriously indisposed as
he appeared to be, and requested his wife to go to him to see if she
could minister to him and cheer his drooping spirits.

The lady went to Equitan, who received her dolefully enough. He told
her without reserve that the malady from which he suffered was none
other than love for herself, and that did she not consent to love him
in return he would surely die. The dame at first dissented, but,
carried away by the fiery eloquence of his words, she at last assured
him of her love, and they exchanged rings as a token of troth and

The love of Equitan and the seneschal's wife was discovered by none,
and when they desired to meet he arranged to go hunting in the
neighbourhood of the seneschal's castle. Shortly after they had
plighted their troth the great barons of the realm approached the
King with a proposal that he should marry, but Equitan would have none
of this, nor would he listen to even his most trusted advisers with
regard to such a subject. The nobles were angered at his curt and even
savage refusal to hearken to them, and the commons were also greatly
disturbed because of the lack of a successor. The echoes of the
disagreement reached the ears of the seneschal's wife, who was much
perturbed thereby, being aware that the King had come to this decision
for love of her.

At their next meeting she broached the subject to her royal lover,
lamenting that they had ever met.

"Now are my good days gone," she said, weeping, "for you will wed some
king's daughter as all men say, and I shall certainly die if I lose
you thus."

"Nay, that will not be," replied Equitan. "Never shall I wed except
your husband die."

The lady felt that he spoke truly, but in an evil moment she came to
attach a sinister meaning to the words Equitan had employed regarding
her husband. Day and night she brooded on them, for well she knew that
did her husband die Equitan would surely wed her. By insensible
degrees she came to regard her husband's death as a good rather than
an evil thing, and little by little Equitan, who at first looked upon
the idea with horror, became converted to her opinion. Between them
they hatched a plot for the undoing of the seneschal. It was arranged
that the King should go hunting as usual in the neighbourhood of his
faithful servant's castle. While lodging in the castle, the King and
the seneschal would be bled in the old surgical manner for their
health's sake, and three days after would bathe before leaving the
chamber they occupied, and the heartless wife suggested that she
should make her husband's bath so fiercely hot that he would not
survive after entering it. One would think that the seneschal would
easily have been able to escape such a simple trap, but we must
remember that the baths of Norman times were not shaped like our own,
but were exceedingly deep, and indeed some of them were in form almost
like those immense upright jars such as the forty thieves were
concealed in in the story of Ali Baba, so that in many cases it was
not easy for the bather to tell whether the water into which he was
stepping was hot or otherwise.

The plot was carried out as the lady had directed, but not without
much misgiving on the part of Equitan. The King duly arrived at the
castle, and announced his intention to be bled, requesting that the
seneschal should undergo the same operation at the same time, and
occupy the same chamber by way of companionship. Then after the leech
had bled them the King asked that he might have a bath before leaving
his apartment, and the seneschal requested that his too should be made
ready. Accordingly on the third day the baths were brought to the
chamber, and the lady occupied herself with filling them. While she
was doing so her lord left the chamber for a space, and during his
absence the King and the lady were clasped in each other's arms. So
rapt were the pair in their amorous dalliance that they failed to
notice the return of the seneschal, who, when he saw them thus
engaged, uttered an exclamation of surprise and wrath. Equitan,
turning quickly, saw him, and with a cry of despair leapt into the
bath that the lady had prepared for the seneschal, and there perished
miserably, while the enraged husband, seizing his faithless wife,
thrust her headlong into the boiling water beside her lover, where she
too was scalded to death.

_The Lay of the Ash-Tree_

In olden times there dwelt in Brittany two knights who were neighbours
and close friends. Both were married, and one was the father of twin
sons, one of whom he christened by the name of his friend. Now this
friend had a wife who was envious of heart and rancorous of tongue,
and on hearing that two sons had been born to her neighbour she spoke
slightingly and cruelly about her, saying that to bear twins was ever
a disgrace. Her evil words were spread abroad, and at last as a result
of her malicious speech the good lady's husband himself began to doubt
and suspect the wife who had never for a moment given him the least
occasion to do so.

Strangely enough, within the year two daughters were born to the lady
of the slanderous tongue, who now deeply lamented the wrong she had
done, but all to no purpose. Fearful of the gossip which she thought
the event would occasion, she gave one of the children to a faithful
handmaiden, with directions that it should be laid on the steps of a
church, where it might be picked up as a foundling and nourished by
some stranger. The babe was wrapped in a linen cloth, which again was
covered with a beautiful piece of red silk that the lady's husband had
purchased in the East, and a handsome ring engraved with the family
insignia and set with garnets was bound to the infant's arm with
silken lace. When the child had thus been attired the damsel took it
and carried it for many miles into the country, until at last she came
to a city where there was a large and fair abbey. Breathing a prayer
that the child might have proper guardianship, the girl placed it on
the abbey steps as her mistress had ordered her to do, but, afraid
that it might catch cold on such a chilly bed, she looked around and
saw an ash-tree, thick and leafy, with four strong branches, among the
foliage of which she deposited the little one, commending it to the
care of God, after which she returned to her mistress and acquainted
her with what had passed.

In the morning the abbey porter opened the great doors of the house of
God so that the people might enter for early Mass. As he was thus
engaged his eye caught the gleam of red silk among the leaves of the
ash-tree, and going to it he discovered the deserted infant. Taking
the babe from its resting-place, he returned with it to his house,
and, awaking his daughter, who was a widow with a baby yet in the
cradle, he asked her to cherish it and care for it. Both father and
daughter could see from the crimson silk and the great signet ring
that the child was of noble birth. The porter told the abbess of his
discovery, and she requested him to bring the child to her, dressed
precisely as it had been found. On beholding the infant a great
compassion was aroused in the breast of the holy woman, who resolved
to bring up the child herself, calling her her niece, and since she
was taken from the ash giving her the name of Frêne.

Frêne grew up one of the fairest damsels in Brittany. She was frank in
manner, yet modest and discreet in bearing and speech. At Dol,
where, as we have read, there is a great menhir and other prehistoric
monuments, there lived a lord called Buron, who, hearing reports of
Frêne's beauty and sweetness, greatly desired to behold her.
Riding home from a tournament, he passed near the convent, and,
alighting there, paid his respects to the abbess, and begged that he
might see her niece. Buron at once fell in love with the maiden, and
in order to gain favour with the abbess bestowed great riches upon the
establishment over which she presided, requesting in return that he
might be permitted to occupy a small apartment in the abbey should he
chance to be in the neighbourhood.

In this way he frequently saw and spoke with Frêne, who in turn fell
in love with him. He persuaded her to fly with him to his castle,
taking with her the silken cloth and ring with which she had been

But the lord's tenants were desirous that he should marry, and had set
their hearts upon his union with a rich lady named Coudre, daughter of
a neighbouring baron. The marriage was arranged, greatly to the grief
of Frêne, and duly took place. Going to Buron's bridal chamber, she
considered it too mean, blinded with love as she was, for such as he,
and placed the wondrous piece of crimson silk in which she had been
wrapped as an infant over the coverlet. Presently the bride's mother
entered the bridal chamber in order to see that all was fitting for
her daughter's reception there. Gazing at the crimson coverlet, she
recognized it as that in which she had wrapped her infant daughter.
She anxiously inquired to whom it belonged, and was told that it was
Frêne's. Going to the damsel, she questioned her as to where she had
obtained the silk, and was told by Frêne that the abbess had given it
to her along with a ring which had been found upon her when, as an
infant, she had been discovered within the branches of the ash-tree.

The mother asked anxiously to see the ring, and on beholding it told
Frêne of their relationship, which at the same time she confessed to
her husband, the baron. The father was overjoyed to meet with a
daughter he had never known, and hastened to the bridegroom to
acquaint him with Frêne's story. Great joy had Buron, and the
archbishop who had joined him to Coudre gave counsel that they should
be parted according to the rites of the Church and that Buron should
marry Frêne. This was accordingly done, and when Frêne's parents
returned to their own domain they found another husband for Coudre.

_The Lay of Graelent_

Graelent was a Breton knight dwelling at the Court of the King of
Brittany, a very pillar to him in war, bearing himself valiantly in
tourney and joust. So handsome and brave was he that the Queen fell
madly in love with him, and asked her chamberlain to bring the knight
into her presence. When he came she praised him greatly to his face,
not only for his gallantry in battle, but also for his comeliness; but
at her honeyed words the youth, quite abashed, sat silent, saying
nothing. The Queen at last questioned him if his heart was set on any
maid or dame, to which he replied that it was not, that love was a
serious business and not to be taken in jest.

"Many speak glibly of love," he said, "of whom not one can spell the
first letter of its name. Love should be quiet and discreet or it is
nothing worth, and without accord between the lovers love is but a
bond and a constraint. Love is too high a matter for me to meddle

The Queen listened greedily to Graelent's words, and when he had
finished speaking she discovered her love for him; but he turned from
her courteously but firmly.

"Lady," he said, "I beg your forgiveness, but this may not be. I am
the King's man, and to him I have pledged my faith and loyalty. Never
shall he know shame through any conduct of mine."

With these words he took his leave of the Queen. But his protestations
had altered her mind not at all. She sent him messages daily, and
costly gifts, but these he refused and returned, till at last the
royal dame, stung to anger by his repulses, conceived a violent hatred
for him, and resolved to be revenged upon him for the manner in which
he had scorned her love.

The King of Brittany went to war with a neighbouring monarch, and
Graelent bore himself manfully in the conflict, leading his troops
again and again to victory. Hearing of his repeated successes, the
Queen was exceedingly mortified, and made up her mind to destroy his
popularity with the troops. With this end in view she prevailed upon
the King to withhold the soldiers' pay, which Graelent had to advance
them out of his own means. In the end the unfortunate knight was
reduced almost to beggary by this mean stratagem.

One morning he was riding through the town where he was lodged, clad
in garments so shabby that the wealthy burgesses in their fur-lined
cloaks and rich apparel gibed and jeered at him, but Graelent, sure of
his own worth, deigned not to take notice of such ill-breeding, and
for his solace quitted the crowded streets of the place and took his
way toward the great forest which skirted it. He rode into its gloom
deep in thought, listening to the murmur of the river which flowed
through the leafy ways.

He had not gone far when he espied a white hart within a thicket. She
fled before him into the thickest part of the forest, but the silvern
glimmer of her body showed the track she had taken. On a sudden deer
and horseman dashed into a clearing among the trees where there was a
grassy lawn, in the midst of which sprang a fountain of clear water.
In this fountain a lady was bathing, and two attendant maidens stood
near. Now Graelent believed that the lady must be a fairy, and knowing
well that the only way to capture such a being was to seize her
garments, he looked around for these, and seeing them lying upon a
bush he laid hands upon them.

The attendant women at this set up a loud outcry, and the lady herself
turned to where he sat his horse and called him by name.

"Graelent, what do you hope to gain by the theft of my raiment?" she
asked. "Have you, a knight, sunk so low as to behave like a common
pilferer? Take my mantle if you must, but pray spare me my gown."

Graelent laughed at the lady's angry words, and told her that he was
no huckster. He then begged her to don her garments, as he desired to
have speech with her. After her women had attired her, Graelent took
her by the hand and, leading her a little space away from her
attendants, told her that he had fallen deeply in love with her. But
the lady frowned and seemed at first offended.

"You do not know to whom you proffer your love," she said. "Are you
aware that my birth and lineage render it an impertinence for a mere
knight to seek to ally himself with me?"

But Graelent had a most persuasive tongue, and the deep love he had
conceived for the lady rendered him doubly eloquent on this occasion.
At last the fairy-woman, for such she was, was quite carried away by
his words, and granted him the boon he craved.

"There is, however, one promise I must exact from you," she said, "and
that is that never shall you mention me to mortal man. I on my part
shall assist you in every possible manner. You shall never be without
gold in your purse nor costly apparel to wear. Day and night shall I
remain with you, and in war and in the chase will ride by your side,
visible to you alone, unseen by your companions. For a year must you
remain in this country. Now noon has passed and you must go. A
messenger shall shortly come to you to tell you of my wishes."

Graelent took leave of the lady and kissed her farewell. Returning to
his lodgings in the town, he was leaning from the casement considering
his strange adventure when he saw a varlet issuing from the forest
riding upon a palfrey. The man rode up the cobbled street straight to
Graelent's lodgings, where he dismounted and, entering, told the
knight that his lady had sent him with the palfrey as a present, and
begged that he would accept the services of her messenger to take
charge of his lodgings and manage his affairs.

The serving-man quickly altered the rather poor appearance of
Graelent's apartment. He spread a rich coverlet upon his couch and
produced a well-filled purse and rich apparel. Graelent at once sought
out all the poor knights of the town and feasted them to their hearts'
content. From this moment he fared sumptuously every day. His lady
appeared whenever he desired her to, and great was the love between
them. Nothing more had he to wish for in this life.

A year passed in perfect happiness for the knight, and at its
termination the King held a great feast on the occasion of Pentecost.
To this feast Sir Graelent was bidden. All day the knights and barons
and their ladies feasted, and the King, having drunk much wine, grew
boastful. Requesting the Queen to stand forth on the daïs, he asked
the assembled nobles if they had ever beheld so fair a dame as she.
The lords were loud in their praise of the Queen, save Graelent only.
He sat with bent head, smiling strangely, for he knew of a lady fairer
by far than any lady in that Court. The Queen was quick to notice this
seeming discourtesy, and pointed it out to the King, who summoned
Graelent to the steps of the throne.

"How now, Sir Knight," said the King; "wherefore did you sneer when
all other men praised the Queen's beauty?"

"Sire," replied Graelent, "you do yourself much dishonour by such a
deed. You make your wife a show upon a stage and force your nobles to
praise her with lies when in truth a fairer dame than she could very
easily be found."

Now when she heard this the Queen was greatly angered and prayed her
husband to compel Graelent to bring to the Court her of whom he
boasted so proudly.

"Set us side by side," cried the infuriated Queen, "and if she be
fairer than I before men's eyes, Graelent may go in peace, but if not
let justice be done upon him."

The King, stirred to anger at these words, ordered his guards to seize
Graelent, swearing that he should never issue from prison till the
lady of whom he had boasted should come to Court and pit herself
against the Queen. Graelent was then cast into a dungeon, but he
thought little of this indignity, fearing much more that his rashness
had broken the bond betwixt him and his fairy bride. After a while he
was set at liberty, on pledging his word that he would return bringing
with him the lady whom he claimed as fairer than the Queen.

Leaving the Court, he betook himself to his lodging, and called upon
his lady, but received no answer. Again he called, but without result,
and believing that his fairy bride had utterly abandoned him he gave
way to despair. In a year's time Graelent returned to the Court and
admitted his failure.

"Sir Graelent," said the King, "wherefore should you not be punished?
You have slandered the Queen in the most unknightly manner, and given
the lie to those nobles who must now give judgment against you."

The nobles retired to consider their judgment upon Graelent. For a
long time they debated, for most of them were friendly to him and
he had been extremely popular at Court. In the midst of their
deliberations a page entered and prayed them to postpone judgment,
as two damsels had arrived at the palace and were having speech with
the King concerning Graelent. The damsels told the King that their
mistress was at hand, and begged him to wait for her arrival, as she
had come to uphold Graelent's challenge. Hearing this, the Queen
quitted the hall, and shortly after she had gone a second pair of
damsels appeared bearing a similar message for the King. Lastly
Graelent's young bride herself entered the hall.

At sight of her a cry of admiration arose from the assembled nobles,
and all admitted that their eyes had never beheld a fairer lady. When
she reached the King's side she dismounted from her palfrey.

"Sire," she said, addressing the King, "hasty and foolish was
Graelent's tongue when he spoke as he did, but at least he told the
truth when he said that there is no lady so fair but a fairer may be
found. Look upon me and judge in this quarrel between the Queen and

When she had spoken every lord and noble with one voice agreed that
she was fairer than her royal rival. Even the King himself admitted
that it was so, and Sir Graelent was declared a free man.

Turning round to seek his lady, the knight observed that she was
already some distance away, so, mounting upon his white steed, he
followed hotly after her. All day he followed, and all night, calling
after her and pleading for pity and pardon, but neither she nor her
attendant damsels paid the slightest attention to his cries. Day after
day he followed her, but to no purpose.

At last the lady and her maidens entered the forest and rode to the
bank of a broad stream. They set their horses to the river, but when
the lady saw that Graelent was about to follow them she turned and
begged him to desist, telling him that it was death for him to cross
that stream. Graelent did not heed her, but plunged into the torrent.
The stream was deep and rapid, and presently he was torn from his
saddle. Seeing this, the lady's attendants begged her to save him.
Turning back, the lady clutched her lover by the belt and dragged him
to the shore. He was well-nigh drowned, but under her care he speedily
recovered, and, say the Breton folk, entered with her that realm of
Fairyland into which penetrated Thomas the Rhymer, Ogier the Dane, and
other heroes. His white steed when it escaped from the river grieved
greatly for its master, rushing up and down the bank, neighing loudly,
and pawing with its hoofs upon the ground. Many men coveted so noble
a charger, and tried to capture him, but all in vain, so each year,
"in its season," as the old romance says, the forest is filled with
the sorrowful neighing of the good steed which may not find its

The story of Graelent is one of those which deal with what is known to
folk-lorists as the 'fairy-wife' subject. A taboo is always placed
upon the mortal bridegroom. Sometimes he must not utter the name of
his wife; in other tales, as in that of Melusine, he must not seek her
on a certain day of the week. The essence of the story is, of course,
that the taboo is broken, and in most cases the mortal husband loses
his supernatural mate.

Another incident in the general _motif_ is the stealing of the
fairy-woman's clothes. The idea is the same as that found in stories
where the fisherman steals the sea-woman's skin canoe as a prelude to
making her his wife, or the feather cloak of the swan-maiden is seized
by the hunter when he finds her asleep, thus placing the supernatural
maiden in his power. Among savages it is quite a common and usual
circumstance for the spouses not to mention each other's names for
months after marriage, nor even to see one another's faces. In the
story under consideration the taboo consists in the mortal bridegroom
being forbidden to allude in any circumstances to his supernatural
wife, who is undoubtedly the same type of being encountered by Thomas
the Rhymer and Bonny Kilmeny in the ballads related of them. They are
denizens of a country, a fairy realm, which figures partly as an abode
of the dead, and which we are certainly justified in identifying with
the Celtic Otherworld. The river which the fairy-woman crosses bears a
certain resemblance to the Styx, or she tells Graelent plainly that
should he reach its opposite bank he is as good as dead. Fairyland in
early Celtic lore may be a place of delight, but it is none the less
one of death and remoteness.

_The Lay of the Dolorous Knight_

Once more the scene is laid in Nantes, and "some harpers," says Marie,
"call it the Lay of the Four Sorrows." In this city of Brittany dwelt
a lady on whom four barons of great worship had set their love. They
were not singular in this respect, as the damsel's bright eyes had set
fire to the hearts of all the youths of the ancient town. She smiled
upon them all, but favoured no one more than another. Out of this
great company, however, the four noblemen in question had constituted
themselves her particular squires. They vied with one another in the
most earnest manner to gain her esteem; but she was equally gracious
to all and it was impossible to say that she favoured any.

It was not surprising, then, that each one of the four nobles believed
that the lady preferred him to the others. Each of them had received
gifts from her, and each cried her name at tournaments. On the
occasion of a great jousting, held without the walls of Nantes, the
four lovers held the lists, and from all the surrounding realms and
duchies came hardy knights to break a spear for the sake of chivalry.

From matins to vespers the friendly strife raged fiercely, and against
the four champions of Nantes four foreign knights especially pitted
themselves. Two of these were of Hainault, and the other two were
Flemings. The two companies charged each other so desperately that the
horses of all eight men were overthrown. The four knights of Nantes
rose lightly from the ground, but the four stranger knights lay still.
Their friends, however, rushed to their rescue, and soon the
challengers were lost in a sea of steel.

Now the lady in whose honour the lists were defended by these four
brave brethren in arms sat beholding their prowess in the keenest
anxiety. Soon the knights of Nantes were reinforced by their friends,
and the strife waxed furiously, sword to sword and lance to lance.
First one company and then the other gained the advantage, but, urged
on by rashness, the four challenging champions charged boldly in front
of their comrades and became separated from them, with the dire result
that three of them were killed and the fourth was so grievously
wounded that he was borne from the press in a condition hovering
between life and death. So furious were the stranger knights because
of the resistance that had been made by the four champions that they
cast their opponents' shields outside the lists. But the knights of
Nantes won the day, and, raising their three slain comrades and him
who was wounded, carried all four to the house of their lady-love.

When the sad procession reached her doors the lady was greatly grieved
and cast down. To her three dead lovers she gave sumptuous burial in a
fair abbey. As for the fourth, she tended him with such skill that ere
long his wounds were healed and he was quite recovered. One summer day
the knight and the lady sat together after meat, and a great sadness
fell upon her because of the knights who had been slain in her cause.
Her head sank upon her breast and she seemed lost in a reverie of
sorrow. The knight, perceiving her distress, could not well understand
what had wounded her so deeply.

"Lady," said he, "a great sorrow seems to be yours. Reveal your grief
to me, and perchance I can find you comfort."

"Friend," replied the lady, "I grieve for your companions who are
gone. Never was lady or damsel served by four such valiant knights,
three of whom were slain in one single day. Pardon me if I call them
to mind at this time, but it is my intention to make a lay in order
that these champions and yourself may not be forgotten, and I will
call it 'The Lay of the Four Sorrows.'"

"Nay, lady," said the knight, "call it not 'The Lay of the Four
Sorrows,' but rather 'The Lay of the Dolorous Knight.' My three
comrades are dead. They have gone to their place; no more hope have
they of life; all their sorrows are ended and their love for you is as
dead as they. I alone am here in life, but what have I to hope for? I
find my life more bitter than they could find the grave. I see you in
your comings and goings, I may speak with you, but I may not have your
love. For this reason I am full of sorrow and cast down, and thus I
beg that you give your lay my name and call it 'The Lay of the
Dolorous Knight.'"

The lady looked earnestly upon him. "By my faith," she said, "you
speak truly. The lay shall be known by the title you wish it to be."

So the lay was written and entitled as the knight desired it should
be. "I heard no more," says Marie, "and nothing more I know. Perforce
I must bring my story to a close."

The end of this lay is quite in the medieval manner, and fitly
concludes this chapter. We are left absolutely in the dark as to
whether the knight and the lady came together at last. I for one do
not blame Marie for this, as with the subtle sense of the fitness of
things that belongs to all great artists she saw how much more
effective it would be to leave matters as they were between the
lovers. There are those who will blame her for her inconclusiveness;
but let them bear in mind that just because of what they consider her
failing in this respect they will not be likely to forget her tale,
whereas had it ended with wedding-bells they would probably have
stored it away in some mental attic with a thousand other dusty


An important department in Breton folk-lore is the hagiology of the
province--the legendary lore of its saints. This, indeed, holds almost
as much of the marvellous as its folk-tales, ballads, and historical
legends, and in perusing the tales of Brittany's saintly heroes we
have an opportunity of observing how the _motifs_ of popular fiction
and even of pagan belief reflect upon religious romance.

Just as some mythology is not in itself religious, but very often mere
fiction fortuitously connected with the names of the gods, so
hagiology is not of sacerdotal but popular origin. For the most part
it describes the origin of its heroes and accounts for their miracles
and marvellous deeds by various means, just as mythology does. It must
be remembered that the primitive saint was in close touch with
paganism, that, indeed, he had frequently to fight the Druid and the
magician with his own weapons, and therefore we must not be surprised
if in some of these tales we find him somewhat of a magician himself.
But he is invariably on the side of light, and the things of darkness
and evil shrink from contact with him.

_St Barbe_

Overlooking the valley of the Ellé, near the beautiful and historic
village of Le Faouet, is a ledge of rock, approached by an almost
inaccessible pathway. On this ledge stands the chapel of St Barbe,
one of the strangest and most 'pagan' of the Breton saints. She
protects those who seek her aid from sudden death, especially death
by lightning. Of recent years popular belief has extended her sphere
of influence to cover those who travel by automobile! She is also
regarded as the patroness of firemen, at whose annual dinner her
statue, surrounded by flowers, presides. She is extremely popular in
Brittany, and once a year, on the last Sunday of June, pilgrims arrive
at Le Faouet to celebrate her festival. Each, as he passes the
belfry which stands beside the path, pulls the bell-rope, and the
young men make the tour of a small neighbouring chapel, dedicated to
St Michel, Lord of Heights. Then they drink of a little fountain
near at hand and purchase amulets, which are supposed to be a
preservative against sudden death and which are known as 'Couronnes
de Ste Barbe.' St Barbe is said to have been the daughter of a pagan
father, and to have been so beautiful that he shut her up in a tower
and permitted no one to go near her. She succeeded, however, in
communicating with the outer world, and sent a letter to Origen of
Alexandria, entreating him to instruct her in the Christian faith, as
she had ceased to believe in the gods of her fathers. Origen
dispatched one of his monks to her, and under his guidance she
became a Christian. She was called upon to suffer for her faith, for
she was brought before the Gallo-Roman proconsul, and, since she
refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, was savagely maltreated, and
sentenced to be beaten as she walked naked through the streets;
but she raised her eyes to heaven and a cloud descended and hid her
from the gaze of the impious mortals who would otherwise have
witnessed her martyrdom. Subsequently she was spirited away to the
top of a mountain, where, however, her presence was betrayed by a
shepherd. Her pagan father, learning of her hiding-place, quickly
ascended the height and beheaded her with his own hand. The legends
of St Barbe abound in strange details, which are more intelligible
if we regard the Saint as being the survival of some elemental
goddess connected with fire. The vengeance of heaven descended upon
her enemies, for both her father and the shepherd who betrayed her
were destroyed, the former being struck by lightning on his
descent from the mountain, and the latter being turned into marble.

The legend of the foundation of the chapel at Le Faouet is illustrative
of the strange powers of this saint. A Lord of Toulboudou, near
Guémené, was overtaken by a severe thunderstorm while hunting. No
shelter was available, and as the storm increased in fury the huntsmen
trembled for their lives, and doubtless repeated with much fervour
the old Breton charm:

  Sainte Barbe et sainte Claire,
  Preservez-moi du tonnerre,
    Si le tonnerre tombe
  Qu'il ne tombe pas sur moi!

which may be roughly translated:

  Saint Barbe the great and sainted Clair,
  Preserve me from the lightning's glare.
  When thunderbolts are flashing red
  Let them not burst upon my head.

The Lord of Toulboudou, however, was not content with praying to the
Saint. He vowed that if by her intercession he was preserved from
death he would raise a chapel to her honour on the narrow ledge of
rock above. No sooner had he made this vow than the storm subsided,
and safety was once more assured. In the ancient archives of Le
Faouet we read that on the 6th of July, 1489, John of Toulboudou
bought of John of Bouteville, Lord of Faouet, a piece of ground on the
flank of the Roche-Marche-Bran, twenty-five feet by sixteen feet, on
which to build a chapel to the honour of St Barbe, and there the
chapel stands to this day.

_How St Convoyon Stole the Relics_

St Convoyon, first Abbot of Redon (or Rodon) and Bishop of Quimper,
was of noble birth. He was born near Saint-Malo and educated at Vannes
under Bishop Reginald, who ordained him as deacon and afterward as
priest. Five clerks attached themselves to him, and the company went
to dwell together in a forest near the river Vilaine, finally
establishing themselves at Redon. The lord of that district was very
favourably inclined toward the monastery and sent his son to be
educated there, and when he himself fell sick and believed his last
hours to be nigh he caused himself to be carried to this religious
house, where his hair was shaven to the monastic pattern. Contrary to
expectation, he recovered, and after settling his affairs at his
castle he returned to Redon, where he died at a later date. St
Convoyon had some difficulty in obtaining confirmation of the grants
given to him by this seigneur. He set out with a disciple named
Gwindeluc to seek the consent of Louis the Pious, taking with him a
quantity of wax from his bees at Redon, intending to present it to the
King, but he was refused admission to the royal presence. But Nomenoë,
Governor of Brittany, visited Redon, and encouraged the Saint to
endeavour once more to obtain the King's sanction, and this time Louis
confirmed the grants.

So the monastery of Redon was built and its church erected, but, as
the chroniclers tell us, "there was no saintly corpse under its altar
to act as palladium to the monastery and work miracles to attract
pilgrims." Convoyon therefore set out for Angers, accompanied by two
of his monks, and found lodging there with a pious man named Hildwall.
The latter inquired as to the object of their visit to Angers, and
with considerable hesitation, and only after extracting a promise of
secrecy, Convoyon confessed that they had come on a body-snatching
expedition. He asked his friend's advice as to what relics they should
endeavour to secure. Hildwall told him that interred in the cathedral
were the bones of St Apothemius, a bishop, of whom nothing was known
save that he was a saint. His bones lay in a stone coffin which had a
heavy lid. Hildwall added that several monks had attempted to steal
the relics, but in vain. Convoyon and his monks bided their time for
three days, and then on a dark night, armed with crowbars, they set
out on their gruesome mission.

They reached the cathedral, entered, and, after singing praises and
hymns, raised the coffin lid. Securing the bones, they made off with
them as quickly as possible, and in due course reached Redon with them
in safety. The reception of the relics was celebrated by the monks
with great pomp and ceremony. Miracles were at once performed, and the
popularity of St Apothemius was firmly established.


When the Bishop of Vannes died, in 837, the see was filled by
Susannus, who obtained it by bribery. Convoyon, grieved and indignant
at the prevalence of corruption in the Church, urged Nomenoë to summon
a council of bishops and abbots and endeavour to put a stop to these
deplorable practices. At this council the canons against simony were
read; but the bishops retorted that they did not sell Holy Orders, and
expected no fees--though they took presents! Susannus was, naturally
enough, most emphatic about this. At length it was decided that a
deputation should be sent to Rome to obtain an authoritative statement
on the point, and that it should consist of Susannus of Vannes, Félix
of Quimper, and Convoyon, who was to carry "gold crowns inlaid with
jewels" as a gift from Nomenoë to the Pope. The decision given by Pope
Leo on the matter is far from clear. The Nantes chronicle asserts that
Leo made Convoyon a duke, and gave him permission to wear a gold
coronet. He also presented him with a valuable gift--the bones of St
Marcellinus, Bishop of Rome and martyr, which Convoyon took back with
him to Redon and deposited in his church there.

On a later day Nomenoë raised the standard of revolt against Charles
the Bald of France--a circumstance alluded to in our historical
sketch. He ravaged Poitou with sword and flame, but respected the
abbey of Saint-Florent, though, to insult Charles, he forced the monks
to place a statue of himself on their tower, with the face turned
defiantly toward France. During Nomenoë's absence the monks sent news
of his action to the hairless monarch, who tore down the statue and
erected a white stone figure "of ludicrous appearance," its mocking
face turned toward Brittany. In revenge Nomenoë burned Saint-Florent
to the ground and carried off the spoils to enrich the abbey of Redon.
The success of the Breton chief forced Charles to come to terms.
Nomenoë and his son, it was agreed, should assume the insignia of
royalty and hold Rennes, Nantes, and all Brittany.

Convoyon, as we have seen, benefited by the spoils won by the Breton
champion. Later, as his abbey at Redon was situated by a tidal river,
and was thus exposed to the ravages of the Normans, he and his monks
moved farther inland to Plélan. There he died and was buried, about
A.D. 868, but his body was afterward removed to Redon, where he had
lived and laboured so long. His relics were dispersed during the
troublous times of the Revolution.

_Tivisiau, the Shepherd Saint_

St Tivisiau, or, more correctly, Turiau, has a large parish, as,
although he was Bishop of Dol, we find him venerated as patron saint
as far west as Landivisiau. He belongs to the earlier half of the
seventh century, and, unlike most other Armorican ascetics, was of
Breton origin, his father, Lelian, and his mother, Mageen, being
graziers on the borders of the romantic and beautiful forest of
Broceliande. The young Tivisiau was set to watch the sheep, and as he
did so he steeped his soul in the beauty of the wonderful forest land
about him, and his thoughts formed themselves into lays, which he sang
as he tended his flock, for, like that other shepherd of old, King
David, his exquisite voice could clothe his beautiful thoughts. The
monastery of Balon stood near the lad's home, and often he would leave
his sheep in the wilderness and steal away to listen to the monks
chanting. Sometimes he joined in the service, and one day the Bishop
of Dol, paying a visit to this outlying portion of his diocese, heard
the sweet, clear notes of the boy's voice soaring above the lower
tones of the monks. Enthralled by its beauty, the Bishop made
inquiries as to who the singer was, and Tivisiau being brought
forward, the prelate asked him to sing to him.


Again and again did he sing, till at last the Bishop, who had lingered
as long as he might in the little out-of-the-world monastery to listen
to the young songster, was obliged to take his departure. The boy's
personality had, however, so won his affection that he arranged with
the monks of Balon that he should take him to Dol, and so it came
about that Tivisiau was educated at that ancient religious centre,
where his voice was carefully trained. The Bishop made him his
suffragan, and, later Abbot of Dol, and when at length he came to
relinquish the burden of his office he named Tivisiau as his

The story provides a noteworthy example of the power exercised in
early times by a beautiful voice. But this love of music and the
susceptibility to the emotion it calls forth are not peculiar to any
century of Celtdom. Love of music, and the temperament that can hear
the voice of the world's beauty, in music, in poetry, in the wild sea
that breaks on desolate shores, or in the hushed wonder of hills and
valleys, is as much a part of the Celt as are the thews and the sinews
that have helped to carry him through the hard days of toil and
poverty that have been the lot of so many of his race in their
struggle for existence--whether in the far-off Outer Isles of the
mist-wreathed and mystic west coast of Scotland, or among the Welsh
mountains, or in picturesque Brittany, or in the distressful,
beautiful, sorrow-haunted Green Isle.

At Landivisiau one finds much exquisite carving in the south porch,
which is all that remains of the early building to show how beautiful
must have been the church to which it belonged. There is also a very
ancient and picturesque fountain, known to tradition as that of St

_St Nennocha_

The legend of Nennocha is held to be pure fable, but is interesting
nevertheless. It tells how a king in Wales, called Breochan, had
fourteen sons, who all deserted him to preach the Gospel. Breochan
then made a vow that if God would grant him another child he would
give to the Church a tithe of all his gold and his lands, and later on
his wife, Moneduc, bore him a daughter, whom they baptized Nennocha.
Nennocha was sent away to a foster father and mother, returning home
at the age of fourteen. A prince of Ireland sought her hand in
marriage, but St Germain, who was then at her father's palace,
persuaded her to embrace the religious life, and the disappointed King
sadly gave his consent. A great multitude assembled to accompany the
maiden in her renunciation of the world, "numbering in its midst four
bishops and many priests and virgins." We are told how they all took
ship together and sailed to Brittany. The Breton king gave the
princess land at Ploermel, and there she founded a great monastery,
where she lived till death claimed her.

_St Enora_

Several old Breton songs tell us the story of St Enora (or Honora),
the wife of Efflam (already alluded to in the chapter on Arthurian
legend), but these accounts vary very considerably in their
details. One account giving us "stern facts" relates how St Efflam
was betrothed for political reasons to Enora, a Saxon princess, and
speaks of how impossible it was to expect that such a union could
prove anything but disastrous when it was not a love match. So,
whether partly to escape from a married life which jarred his
susceptibilities, or entirely on account of his religious asceticism,
Efflam left his wife and crossed to Brittany to lead the life of a
religious hermit. One of the Breton songs gives the beginning of
the story in a much more picturesque way. It relates how Enora,
"beautiful as an angel," had many suitors, but would give her hand to
none save the Prince Efflam, "son of a stranger King." But Efflam,
torn by the desire to lead the religious life, far away from the
world, rose "in the midst of the night, his wedding night," and
crept softly away, no one seeing him save his faithful dog, which
he loved. So he came to the seashore and crossed to Brittany. The
story of his landing and his meeting with Arthur has already been
told, and we have seen how his fate was once more, by divine
agency, linked with that of Enora. The song tells us how the angels
carried the princess over the sea and set her on the door-sill of
her husband's cell. Presently she awoke, and, finding herself there,
she knocked three times and cried out to her husband that she was
"his sweetheart, his wife," whom God had sent. St Efflam, knowing her
voice, came out, and "with many godly words he took her hand in
his." One account says that he sent her to the south of Brittany to
found a convent for nuns, as he wished to devote his life entirely to
the service of God and the contemplation of nature. All versions
agree on the point that he built a hut for her beside his own, and
one story relates how he made her wear a veil over her face and
only spoke to her through the door! But one Breton song with more of
the matter of poetry in it than the rest tells how the little hut
he built for her was shaded by green bushes and sheltered by a
rock, and that there they lived, side by side, for a long and happy
time, while the fame of the miracles they wrought spread through
the land. Then one night some sailors on the sea "saw the sky open
and heard a burst of heavenly music," and next day when a poor woman
took her sick child to Enora to beg for her aid she could get no
response, and looking in she beheld the royal lady lying dead. The
humble place was alight with her radiance, and near her a little boy
in white was kneeling. The woman then ran to tell St Efflam of her
discovery, only to find that he too was lying dead in his cell.

_Corseul the Accursed_

The town of Corseul has sunk into insignificance, and its failure to
achieve prosperity is said to be due to its covert hostility to St
Malo--or, as he is more correctly called, Machutes. Coming to Brittany
on missionary enterprise, the Saint found that Christianity had not
penetrated to the district of Corseul, where the old pagan worship
still obtained. He therefore decided that his work must lie chiefly
among the Curiosolites of that land, and determined that his first
celebration of Easter Mass there should take place in the very centre
of the pagan worship, the temple of Haute-Bécherel. The people of the
district received him coldly, but without open hostility, and he and
his monks prepared for the Christian festival in the pagan shrine, to
find to their dismay that they had omitted to bring either chalice or
wine for the Eucharist. Several of the monks were sent into the town
to buy these, but in all Corseul they could find no one willing to
sell either cup or wine, because of the hostility of the idolatrous
folk of the place. At last the Saint performed a miracle to provide
these necessaries, but he never forgave the insult to his religion,
and while he founded monasteries broadcast over his diocese he avoided
Corseul, and as Christianity became more and more universal the pagan
town gradually paid the penalty of its enmity to the cause of Christ.

_St Keenan_

St Keenan (sixth century) was surnamed Colodoc, or "He who loves to
lose himself," a beautiful epitome of his character. As in so many
instances in the chronicles of Breton hagiology, confusion regarding
St Keenan has arisen among a multiplicity of chronicles. He seems to
have been a native of Connaught, whence he crossed into Wales and
became a disciple of Gildas.

He was told to "go forward" carrying a little bell, until he reached a
place called Ros-ynys, where the bell would ring of itself, and there
he would find rest. He asked Gildas to provide him with a bell, but
the abbot could only supply him with a small piece of metal. Keenan,
however, blessed this, and it grew until it was large enough for a
good bell to be cast from it. Thus equipped, the Saint set out, and
journeyed until he reached an arm of the sea, where he sat down on the
grass to rest. While lying at his ease he heard a herdsman call to his
fellow: "Brother, have you seen my cows anywhere?" "Yes," replied the
other, "I saw them at Ros-ynys." Rejoicing greatly at finding himself
in the vicinity of the place he sought, Keenan descended to the shore,
which has since been called by his name. Greatly athirst, he struck a
rock with his staff, and water gushed forth in answer to the stroke.
Taking ship, he crossed the firth and entered a little wood. All at
once, to his extreme joy, the bell he carried commenced to tinkle, and
he knew he had reached the end of his journey--the valley of Ros-ynys,
afterward St David's.

Later, deciding to cross to Brittany with his disciples, Keenan
dispatched some of his company to beg for corn for their journey from
a merchant at Landegu. They met with a gruff refusal, but the merchant
mockingly informed them they could have the corn if they carried off
the whole of his barge-load. When the Saint embarked the barge broke
its moorings and floated after him all the way! He landed at Cléder,
where he built a monastery, which he enriched with a copy of the
Gospels transcribed by his own hand.

The fatal contest between King Arthur and Modred, his nephew, caused
Keenan to return to Britain, and he is said to have been present at
the battle of Camelot and to have comforted Guinevere after the death
of her royal husband, exhorting her to enter a convent. He afterward
returned to Cléder, where he died. The monastery fell into ruin, and
the place of his burial was forgotten, till one night an angel
appeared in a vision to one of the inhabitants of Cléder and bade him
exhume the bones of the Saint, which he would find at a certain spot.
This the man did, and the relics were recovered. A fragment of them is
preserved in the cathedral of Saint-Brieuc. St Keenan is popularly
known in Brittany as St Ké, or St Quay.

_St Nicholas_

One very interesting and curious saint is St Nicholas, whose cult
cannot be traced to any Christian source, and who is most probably the
survival of some pagan divinity. He is specially the saint of
seafaring men, and is believed to bring them good luck, asking nothing
in return save that they shall visit his shrine whenever they happen
to pass. This is a somewhat dilapidated chapel at Landévennec, of
which the seamen seem to show their appreciation, if one may judge
from the fact that the little path leading up to it is exceedingly
well worn.

_St Bieuzy_

St Bieuzy was a friend and disciple of St Gildas. Flying from England
at the coming of the Saxons, they crossed to Brittany and settled
there, one of their favourite retreats being the exquisite La
Roche-sur-Blavet, where they took up their abode in the shadow of the
great rock and built a rough wooden shelter. The chapel there shows
the 'bell' of St Gildas, and by the river is a great boulder hollowed
like a chair, where Bieuzy was wont to sit and fish. St Bieuzy,
however, possessed thaumaturgical resources of his own, having the
gift of curing hydrophobia, and the hermitage of La Roche-sur-Blavet
became so thronged by those seeking his aid that only by making a
private way to the top of the great rock could he obtain respite to
say his prayers. This gift of his was the cause of his tragic death.
One day as he was celebrating Mass the servant of a pagan chief ran
into the chapel, crying out that his master's dogs had gone mad, and
demanding that Bieuzy should come immediately and cure them. Bieuzy
was unwilling to interrupt the sacred service and displeased at the
irreverence of the demand, and the servant returned to his master, who
rushed into the chapel and in his savage frenzy struck the Saint such
a blow with his sword that he cleft his head in twain. The heroic
Saint completed the celebration of Mass--the sword still in the
wound--and then, followed by the whole congregation, he walked to the
monastery of Rhuys, where he received the blessing of his beloved St
Gildas, and fell dead at his feet. He was buried in the church, and a
fountain at Rhuys was dedicated to him. It is satisfactory to note
that the entire establishment of the murderer of the Saint is said to
have perished of hydrophobia!

_St Leonorius_

St Leonorius, or Léonore (sixth century), was a disciple of St Iltud,
of Wales, and was ordained by St Dubricus; he crossed to Brittany in
early life. The legend that most closely attaches to his name is one
of the most beautiful of all the Breton beliefs, and is full of the
poetry and romance that exist for the Celt in all the living things
around him. The Saint and his monks had worked hard to till their
ground--for the labours of holy men included many duties in addition
to religious ministrations--but when they came to sow the seed they
found that they had omitted to provide themselves with wheat! All
their labour seemed in vain, and they were greatly distressed as to
what they would do for food if they had no harvest to look forward to,
when suddenly they saw, perched on a little wayside cross, a tiny
robin redbreast holding in its beak an ear of wheat! The monks
joyfully took the grain, and, sowing it, reaped an abundant harvest!
Accounts vary somewhat in the details of this story. Some say that the
bird led the monks to a store of grain, and others question the fact
that the bird was a robin, but the popular idea is that the robin
proffered the grain, and so universal and so strong is this belief
that "Robin Redbreast's corn" is a byword in Brittany for "small
beginnings that prosper."

The Saint is said to have possessed the most marvellous attainments.
We are told that he learnt the alphabet in one day, the "art of
spelling" the following day, and calligraphy the next! He is also
said to have been a bishop at the age of fifteen. Tradition avers
that he ploughed the land with stags, and that an altar was
brought to him from the depth of the sea by two wild pigeons to serve
for his ministrations. The circumstance that animals or birds were
employed--predominantly the latter--as the divine means of rendering
aid to the Saint is common to many of these legends. We thus have
saintly romance linked with the 'friendly animals' formula of

_St Patern_

Many quaint and pretty stories are told of the childhood and youth of
St Patern, the patron saint of Vannes. His intense religious fervour
was probably inherited from his father, Petranus, who, we are told,
left his wife and infant son and crossed to Ireland to embrace the
life religious. One day as his mother sat by the open window making a
dress for her baby she was called away, and left the little garment
lying on the sill. A bird flew past, and, attracted by the soft
woollen stuff, carried it off to line its nest. A year later when the
nest was destroyed the dress was discovered as fresh and clean as when
it was stolen--a piece of symbolism foretelling the purity and
holiness of the future saint.

As soon as the child could speak his mother sent him to school. She
hoped great things from the quiet, earnest boy, in whom she had
observed signs of fervent piety. One day he came home and asked his
mother where his father was. "All the other boys have fathers," he
said; "where is mine?" His mother sadly told him that his father,
wishing to serve God more perfectly than it was possible for him to do
at home, had gone to Ireland to become a monk. "Thither shall I go
too, when I'm a man," said Patern, and he made a resolve that when he
grew up he would also enter a monastery. Accordingly, having finished
his studies in the monastery of Rhuys, he set out for Britain, where
he founded two religious houses, and then crossed to Ireland, where he
met his father. Eventually he returned to Vannes, as one of the nine
bishops of Brittany, but he did not agree with his brethren regarding
certain ecclesiastical laws, and at last, not wishing to "lose his
patience," he abandoned his diocese and went to France, where he ended
his days as a simple monk.

There is an interesting legend to account for the foundation of the
church of St Patern at Vannes. We are told how for three years after
Patern left Vannes the people were afflicted by a dreadful famine. No
rain fell, and the distress was great. At length it was remembered
that Patern had departed without giving the people his blessing, and
at once "a pilgrimage set forth to bring back his sacred body, that it
might rest in his own episcopal town." But the body of the blessed
Patern "refused to be removed," until one of the pilgrims, who had
before denied the bishop a certain piece of ground, promised to gift
it to his memory and to build a church on it to the Saint's honour,
whereupon the body became light enough to be lifted from the grave and
conveyed to Vannes. No sooner had the sacred corpse entered Vannes
than rain fell in torrents. Hagiology abounds in instances of this
description, which in many respects bring it into line with

_St Samson_

We have already related the story of Samson's birth. Another legend
regarding him tells how one day when the youths attached to the
monastery where he dwelt were out winnowing corn one of the monks was
bitten by an adder and fainted with fright. Samson ran to St Iltud to
tell the news, with tears in his eyes, and begged to be allowed to
attempt the cure of the monk. Iltud gave him permission, and Samson,
full of faith and enthusiasm, rubbed the bite with oil, and by degrees
the monk recovered. After this Samson's fame grew apace. Indeed, we
are told that the monks grew jealous of him and attempted to poison
him. He was ordained a bishop at York, and lived a most austere life,
though his humanity was very apparent in his love for animals.

He was made abbot of a monastery, and endeavoured to instil
temperance into the monks, but at length gave up the attempt in
despair and settled in a cave at the mouth of the Severn. Then one
night "a tall man" appeared to him in a vision, and bade him go to
Armorica, saying to him--so the legend goes: "Thou goest by the sea,
and where thou wilt disembark thou shalt find a well. Over this
thou wilt build a church, and around it will group the houses forming
the city of which thou wilt be a bishop." All of which came to
pass, and for ages the town has been known as the episcopal city
of Dol. Accompanied by forty monks, Samson crossed the Channel and
landed in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc. One version of the story tells
us that the Saint and numerous other monks fled from Britain to
escape the Saxon tyranny, and that Samson and six of his suffragans
who crossed the sea with him were known as the 'Seven Saints of

_Brittany's Lawyer Saint_

Few prosperous and wealthy countries produce saints in any great
number, and in proof of the converse of this we find much hagiology in
Brittany and Ireland. Let lawyers take note that while many saints
spring from among the _bourgeoisie_ they include few legal men. An
outstanding exception to this rule is St Yves (or Yvo), probably the
best known, and almost certainly the most beloved, saint in Brittany.
St Yves is the only regularly canonized Breton saint. He was born at
Kermartin, near Tréguier, in 1253, his father being lord of that
place. The house where he first saw the light was pulled down in 1834,
but the bed in which he was born is still preserved and shown. His
name is borne by the majority of the inhabitants of the districts of
Tréguier and Saint-Brieuc, and one authority tells us how "in the
Breton tongue his praises are sung as follows:

  N'hen eus ket en Breiz, n'hen eus ket unan,
  N'hen eus ket uer Zant evel Sant Erwan.

This, in French, runs:

  Il n'y a pas en Bretagne, il n'y en a pas un,
  Il n'y a pas un saint comme saint Yves."

He began his legal education when he was fourteen, and studied law in
the schools of Paris, becoming an ecclesiastical judge, and later
(1285) an ordained priest and incumbent of Tredrig. Subsequently he
was made incumbent of Lohanec, which post he held till his death. As a
judge he possessed a quality rare in those days--he was inaccessible
to bribery! That this was appreciated we find in the following _bon

  Saint Yves était Breton,
  Avocat et pas larron:
  Chose rare, se dit-on.

He invariably endeavoured to induce disputants to settle their
quarrels 'out of court' if possible, and applied his talents to
defending the cause of the poor and oppressed, without fee. He was
known as 'the poor man's advocate,' and to-day in the department of
the Côtes-du-Nord, when a debtor repudiates his debt, the creditor
will pay for a Mass to St Yves, in the hope that he will cause the
defaulter to die within the year! St Yves de Vérité is the special
patron of lawyers, and is represented in the _mortier_, or lawyer's
cap, and robe.

St Yves spent most of his income in charity, turning his house into an
orphanage, and many are the stories told of his humanity and
generosity. The depth of his sympathy, and its practical result, are
shown in an incident told us of how one morning he found a poor,
half-naked man lying on his doorstep shivering with cold, having spent
the night there. Yves gave up his bed to the beggar the next night,
and himself slept on the doorstep, desiring to learn by personal
experience the sufferings of the poor. On another occasion, while
being fitted with a new coat, he caught sight of a miserable man on
the pavement outside who was clad in rags and tatters that showed his
skin through many rents. Yves tore off the new coat and, rushing out,
gave it to the beggar, saying to the astonished and horrified tailor:
"There is plenty of wear still in my old coats. I will content myself
with them." His pity and generosity led him to still further kindness
when he was visiting a hospital and saw how ill-clad some of the
patients were, for he actually gave them the clothes he was wearing at
the time, wrapping himself in a coverlet till he had other garments
sent to him from home. He was wont to walk beside the ploughmen in the
fields and teach them prayers. He would sit on the moors beside the
shepherd-boys and instruct them in the use of the rosary; and often he
would stop little children in the street, and gain their interest and
affection by his gentleness.


His shrewd legal mind was of service to the poor in other ways than in
the giving of advice. A story is told of how two rogues brought a
heavy chest to a widow, declaring it to contain twelve hundred pieces
of gold and asking her to take charge of it. Some weeks later one of
them returned, claimed the box, and removed it. A few days later the
second of the men arrived and asked for the box, and when the poor
woman could not produce it he took her to court and sued her for the
gold it had contained. Yves, on hearing that the case was going
against the woman, offered to defend her, and pleaded that his client
was ready to restore the gold, but only to both the men who had
committed it to her charge, and that therefore both must appear to
claim it. This was a blow to the rogues, who attempted to escape, and,
failing to do so, at length confessed that they had plotted to extort
money from the widow, the chest containing nothing but pieces of old

Yves was so eloquent and earnest a preacher that he was continually
receiving requests to attend other churches, which he never refused.
On the Good Friday before his death he preached in seven different
parishes. He died at the age of fifty, and was buried at Tréguier.
Duke John V, who founded the Chapelle du Duc, had a special regard for
Yves, and erected a magnificent tomb to his memory, which was for
three centuries the object of veneration in Brittany.

During the French Revolution the reliquary of St Yves was destroyed,
but his bones were preserved and have been re-enshrined at Tréguier.
His last will and testament--leaving all his goods to the poor--is
preserved, together with his breviary, in the sacristy of the church
at Minihy.

The Saint is generally represented with a cat as his symbol--typifying
the lawyer's watchful character--but this hardly seems a fitting
emblem for such a beautiful character as St Yves.

_St Budoc of Dol_

The legend of St Budoc of Dol presents several peculiar features. It
was first recited by professional minstrels, then "passed into the
sanctuary, and was read in prose in cathedral and church choirs as a
narrative of facts," although it seems curious that it could have been
held to be other than fiction.

A Count of Goelc, in Brittany, sought in marriage Azénor, "tall as a
palm, bright as a star," but they had not been wedded a year when
Azénor's father married again, and his new wife, jealous of her
stepdaughter, hated her and determined to ruin her. Accordingly she
set to work to implant suspicion as to Azénor's purity in the minds of
her father and husband, and the Count shut his wife up in a tower and
forbade her to speak to anyone. Here all the poor Countess could do
was to pray to her patron saint, the Holy Bridget of Ireland.

Her stepmother, however, was not content with the evil she had already
wrought, and would not rest until she had brought about Azénor's
death. She continued her calumnies, and at length the Count assembled
all his barons and his court to judge his wife. The unfortunate and
innocent Countess was brought into the hall for trial, and, seated on
a little stool in the midst of the floor, the charges were read to her
and she was called upon to give her reply. With tears she protested
her innocence, but in spite of the fact that no proof could be brought
against her she was sent in disgrace to her father in Brest. He in
turn sat in judgment upon her, and condemned her to death, the
sentence being that she should be placed in a barrel and cast into the
sea, "to be carried where the winds and tides listed." We are told
that the barrel floated five months, "tossing up and down"--during
which time Azénor was supplied with food by an angel, who passed it to
her through the bung-hole.

During these five months, the legend continues, the poor Countess
became a mother, the angel and St Bridget watching over her. As soon
as the child was born his mother made the sign of the Cross upon him,
made him kiss a crucifix, and patiently waited the coming of an
opportunity to have him baptized. The child began to speak while in
the cask. At last the barrel rolled ashore at Youghal Harbour, in the
county of Cork. An Irish peasant, thinking he had found a barrel of
wine, was proceeding to tap it with a gimlet when he heard a voice
from within say: "Do not injure the cask." Greatly astonished, the man
demanded who was inside, and the voice replied: "I am a child desiring
baptism. Go at once to the abbot of the monastery to which this land
belongs, and bid him come and baptize me." The Irishman ran to the
abbot with the message, but he not unnaturally declined to believe the
story, till, with a true Hibernian touch, the peasant asked him if it
were likely that he would have told 'his reverence' anything about his
find had there been "anything better than a baby" in the barrel!
Accordingly the abbot hastened to the shore, opened the cask, and
freed the long-suffering Countess of Goelc and her son, the latter of
whom he christened by the name of Budoc, and took under his care.

Meantime, the "wicked stepmother," falling ill and being at the point
of death, became frightened when she thought of her sin against
Azénor, and confessed the lies by which she had wrought the ruin of
the Countess. The Count, overcome by remorse and grief, set out in
quest of his wife. Good luck led him to Ireland, where he disembarked
at Youghal and found his lost ones. With great rejoicing he had a
stately ship made ready, and prepared to set out for Brittany with
Azénor and Budoc, but died before he could embark. Azénor remained in
Ireland and devoted herself to good works and to the training of her
son, who from an early age resolved to embrace the religious life,
and was in due course made a monk by the Abbot of Youghal. His mother
died, and on the death of the Abbot of Youghal he was elected to rule
the monastery. Later, upon the death of the King of Ireland, the
natives raised Budoc to the temporal and spiritual thrones, making him
King of Ireland and Bishop of Armagh.

After two years he wished to retire from these honours, but the
people were "wild with despair" at the tidings, and surrounded the
palace lest he should escape. One night, while praying in his
metropolitan church, an angel appeared to him, bidding him betake
himself to Brittany. Going down to the seashore, it was indicated to
him that he must make the voyage in a stone trough. On entering this
it began to move, and he was borne across to Brittany, landing at
Porspoder, in the diocese of Léon. The people of that district drew
the stone coffer out of the water, and built a hermitage and a
chapel for the Saint's convenience. Budoc dwelt for one year at
Porspoder, but, "disliking the roar of the waves," he had his stone
trough mounted on a cart, and yoking two oxen to it he set forth,
resolved to follow them wherever they might go and establish
himself at whatever place they might halt. The cart broke down at
Plourin, and there Budoc settled for a short time; but trouble with
disorderly nobles forced him to depart, and this time he went to
Dol, where he was well received by St Malglorious, then its bishop,
who soon after resigned his see to Budoc. The Saint ruled at Dol
for twenty years, and died early in the seventh century.

Another Celtic myth of the same type is to be found on the shores of
the Firth of Forth. The story in question deals with the birth of St
Mungo, or St Kentigern, the patron saint of Glasgow. His mother was
Thenaw, the Christian daughter of the pagan King Lot of Lothian,
brother-in-law of King Arthur, from his marriage with Arthur's sister
Margawse. Thus the famous Gawaine would be Thenaw's brother. Thenaw
met Ewen, the son of Eufuerien, King of Cumbria, and fell deeply in
love with him, but her father discovered her disgrace and ordered her
to be cast headlong from the summit of Traprain Law, once known as
Dunpender, a mountain in East Lothian. A kindly fate watched over the
princess, however, and she fell so softly from the eminence that she
was uninjured. Such Christian subjects as Lot possessed begged her
life. But if her father might have relented his Druids were
inexorable. They branded her as a sorceress, and she was doomed to
death by drowning. She was accordingly rowed out from Aberlady Bay to
the vicinity of the Isle of May, where, seated in a skin boat, she was
left to the mercy of the waves. In this terrible situation she cast
herself upon the grace of Heaven, and her frail craft was wafted up
the Forth, where it drifted ashore near Culross. At this spot
Kentigern was born, and the mother and child were shortly afterward
discovered by some shepherds, who placed them under the care of St
Serf, Abbot of Culross. To these events the date A.D. 516 is

_'Fatal Children' Legends_

This legend is, of course, closely allied with those which recount the
fate and adventures of the 'fatal children.' Like Œdipus, Romulus,
Perseus, and others, Budoc and Kentigern are obviously 'fatal
children,' as is evidenced by the circumstances of their birth. We
are not told that King Lot or Azénor's father had been warned that if
their daughters had a son they would be slain by that child, but it is
probably only the saintly nature of the subject of the stories which
caused this circumstance to be omitted. Danaë, the mother of Perseus,
we remember, was, when disgraced, shut up in a chest with her child,
and committed to the waves, which carried her to the island of
Seriphos, where she was duly rescued. Romulus and his brother Remus
were thrown into the Tiber, and escaped a similar fate. The Princess
Desonelle and her twin sons, in the old English metrical romance of
_Sir Torrent of Portugal_, are also cast into the sea, but succeed in
making the shore of a far country. All these children grow up endowed
with marvellous beauty and strength, but their doom is upon them, and
after numerous adventures they slay their fathers or some other
unfortunate relative. But the most characteristic part of what seems
an almost universal legend is that these children are born in the most
obscure circumstances, afterward rising to a height of splendour which
makes up for all they previously suffered. It is not necessary to
explain nowadays that this is characteristic of nearly all sun-myths.
The sun is born in obscurity, and rises to a height of splendour at

Thus in the majority of these legends we find the sun personified. It
is not sufficient to object that such an elucidation smacks too much
of the tactics of Max Müller to be accepted by modern students of
folk-lore. The student of comparative myth who does not make use of
the best in all systems of mythological elucidation is undone, for no
one system will serve for all examples.

To those who may object, "Oh, but Kentigern was a _real_ person," I
reply that I know many myths concerning 'real' people. For the matter
of that, we assist in the manufacture of these every day of our lives,
and it is quite a fallacy that legends cannot spring up concerning
veritable historical personages, and even around living, breathing
folk. And for the rest of it mythology and hagiology are hopelessly
intermingled in their _motifs_.

_Miraculous Crossings_

Another Celtic saint besides Budoc possessed a stone boat. He is St
Baldred, who, like Kentigern, hails from the Firth of Forth, and dwelt
on the Bass Rock. He is said to have chosen this drear abode as a
refuge from the eternal wars between the Picts and the Scots toward
the close of the seventh century. From this point of vantage, and
probably during seasons of truce, he rowed to the mainland to minister
to the spiritual wants of the rude natives of Lothian. Inveresk seems
to have been the eastern border of his 'parish.' Tradition says that
he was the second Bishop of Glasgow, and thus the successor of
Kentigern, but the lack of all reliable data concerning the western
see subsequent to the death of Glasgow's patron saint makes it
impossible to say whether this statement is authentic or otherwise.
Many miracles are attributed to Baldred, not the least striking of
which is that concerning a rock to the east of Tantallon Castle, known
as 'St Baldred's Boat.' At one time this rock was situated between the
Bass and the adjacent mainland, and was a fruitful source of
shipwreck. Baldred, pitying the mariners who had to navigate the
Firth, and risk this danger, rowed out to the rock and mounted upon
it; whereupon, at his simple nod, it was lifted up, and, like a ship
driven by the wind, was wafted to the nearest shore, where it
thenceforth remained. This rock is sometimes called 'St Baldred's
Coble,' or 'Cock-boat.' This species of miracle is more commonly
discovered in the annals of hagiology than in those of pure myth,
although in legend we occasionally find the landscape altered by order
of supernatural or semi-supernatural beings.

One rather striking instance of miraculous crossing is that of St
Noyala, who is said to have crossed to Brittany on the leaf of a tree,
accompanied by her nurse. She was beheaded at Beignon, but walked to
Pontivy carrying her head in her hands. A chapel at Pontivy is
dedicated to her, and was remarkable in the eighteenth century for
several interesting paintings on a gold ground depicting this legend.

We find this incident of miraculous crossing occurring in the stories
of many of the Breton saints. A noteworthy instance is that of St
Tugdual, who, with his followers, crossed in a ship which vanished
when they disembarked. Still another example is found in the case of
St Vougas, or Vie, who is specially venerated in Tréguennec. He is
thought to have been an Irish bishop, and is believed to have mounted
a stone and sailed across to Brittany upon it. This particular version
of the popular belief may have sprung from the fact that there is a
rock off the coast of Brittany called 'the Ship,' from a fancied
resemblance to one. In course of time this rock was affirmed to have
been the ship of St Vougas.

_Azénor the Pale_

There is a story of another Azénor, who, according to local history,
married Yves, heritor of Kermorvan, in the year 1400. A popular
ballad of Cornouaille tells how this Azénor, who was surnamed 'the
Pale,' did not love her lord, but gave her heart to another, the Clerk
of Mezléan.

One day she sat musing by a forest fountain, dressed in a robe of
yellow silk, wantonly plucking the flowers which grew on the mossy
parapet of the spring and binding them into a bouquet for the Clerk of

The Seigneur Yves, passing by on his white steed at a hand-gallop,
observed her "with the corner of his eye," and conceived a violent
love for her.

The Clerk of Mezléan had been true to Azénor for many a day, but he
was poor and her parents would have none of him.

One morning as Azénor descended to the courtyard she observed great
preparations on foot as if for a festival.

"For what reason," she said, "has this great fire been kindled, and
why have they placed two spits in front of it? What is happening in
this house, and why have these fiddlers come?"

Those whom she asked smiled meaningly.

"To-morrow is your wedding-day," said they.

At this Azénor the Pale grew still paler, and was long silent.

"If that be so," she said, "it will be well that I seek my marriage
chamber early, for from my bed I shall not be raised except for

That night her little page stole through the window.

"Lady," he said, "a great and brilliant company come hither. The
Seigneur Yves is at their head, and behind him ride cavaliers and a
long train of gentlemen. He is mounted on a white horse, with
trappings of gold."

Azénor wept sorely.

"Unhappy the hour that he comes!" she cried, wringing her hands.
"Unhappy be my father and mother who have done this thing!"

Sorely wept Azénor when going to the church that day. She set forth
with her intended husband, riding on the crupper of his horse. Passing
by Mezléan she said:

"I pray you let me enter this house, Seigneur, for I am fatigued with
the journey, and would rest for a space."

"That may not be to-day," he replied; "to-morrow, if you wish it."

At this Azénor wept afresh, but was comforted by her little page. At
the church door one could see that her heart was breaking.

"Approach, my daughter," said the aged priest. "Draw near, that I may
place the ring upon your finger."

"Father," replied Azénor, "I beg of you not to force me to wed him
whom I do not love."

"These are wicked words, my child. The Seigneur Yves is wealthy, he
has gold and silver, châteaux and broad lands, but the Clerk of
Mezléan is poor."

"Poor he may be, Father," murmured Azénor, "yet had I rather beg my
bread with him than dwell softly with this other."

But her relentless parents would not hearken to her protestations, and
she was wed to the Lord Yves. On arriving at her husband's house she
was met by the Seigneur's mother, who received her graciously, but
only one word did Azénor speak, that old refrain that runs through all
ballad poetry.

"Tell me, O my mother," she said, "is my bed made?"

"It is, my child," replied the châtelaine. "It is next the Chamber of
the Black Cavalier. Follow me and I will take you thither."

Once within the chamber, Azénor, wounded to the soul, fell upon her
knees, her fair hair falling about her.

"My God," she cried, "have pity upon me!"

The Seigneur Yves sought out his mother.

"Mother of mine," said he, "where is my wife?"

"She sleeps in her high chamber," replied his mother. "Go to her and
console her, for she is sadly in need of comfort."

The Seigneur entered. "Do you sleep?" he asked Azénor.

She turned in her bed and looked fixedly at him. "Good morrow to you,
widower," she said.

"By the saints," cried he, "what mean you? Why do you call me

"Seigneur," she said meaningly, "it is true that you are not a widower
yet, but soon you will be."

Then, her mind wandering, she continued: "Here is my wedding gown;
give it, I pray you, to my little servant, who has been so good to me
and who carried my letters to the Clerk of Mezléan. Here is a new
cloak which my mother broidered; give it to the priests who will sing
Masses for my soul. For yourself you may take my crown and chaplet.
Keep them well, I pray, as a souvenir of our wedding."

Who is that who arrives at the hamlet as the clocks are striking the
hour? Is it the Clerk of Mezléan? Too late! Azénor is dead.

"I have seen the fountain beside which Azénor plucked flowers to make
a bouquet for her 'sweet Clerk of Mezléan,'" says the Vicomte Hersart
de la Villemarqué, "when the Seigneur of Kermorvan passed and withered
with his glance her happiness and these flowers of love. Mezléan is in
ruins, no one remains within its gates, surmounted by a crenellated
and machicolated gallery."

There is a subscription at the end of the ballad to the effect that it
was written on a round table in the Manor of Hénan, near Pont-Aven, by
the "bard of the old Seigneur," who dictated it to a damsel. "How
comes it," asks Villemarqué, "that in the Middle Ages we still find a
seigneur of Brittany maintaining a domestic bard?" There is no good
reason why a domestic bard should not have been found in the Brittany
of medieval times, since such singers of the household were maintained
in Ireland and Scotland until a relatively late date--up to the period
of the '45 in the case of the latter country.

_St Pol of Léon_

St Pol (or Paul) of Léon (sixth century) was the son of a Welsh
prince, and, like so many of the Breton saints, he was a disciple of
St Iltud, being also a fellow-student of St Samson and St Gildas. At
the age of sixteen he left his home and crossed the sea to Brittany.
In the course of time other young men congregated round him, and he
became their superior, receiving holy orders along with twelve
companions. Near these young monks dwelt Mark, the King of Vannes, who
invited Pol to visit his territory and instruct his people. The Saint
went to Vannes and was well received, but after dwelling for some time
in that part of the country he felt the need of solitude once more,
and entreated the King that he might have permission to depart and
that he might be given a bell; "for," as the chronicler tells us, "at
that time it was customary for kings to have seven bells rung before
they sat down to meat."

The King, however, vexed that Pol should wish to leave him, refused to
give him the bell, so the Saint went without it. Before leaving Vannes
Pol visited his sister, who lived in solitude with other holy women on
a little island, but when the time came for him to depart she wept and
entreated him to stay, and the Saint remained with her for another
three days. When he was finally taking leave of her, she begged him
that as he was "powerful with God" he would grant her a request, and
when Pol asked what it was she desired him to do, she explained that
the island on which she dwelt was small "and incommodious for landing"
and requested him to pray to God that it might be extended a little
into the sea, with a "gentle shore." Pol said she had asked what was
beyond his power, but suggested that they should pray that her desire
might be granted. So they prayed, and the sea began to retreat,
"leaving smooth, golden sand where before there had been only stormy
waves." All the nuns came to see the miracle which had been wrought,
and the sister of St Pol gathered pebbles and laid them round the land
newly laid bare, and strewed them down the road that she and her
brother had taken. These pebbles grew into tall pillars of rock, and
the avenue thus formed is to this day called 'the Road of St Pol.'
Thus do the peasants explain the Druidical circles and avenue on the

After this miracle Pol departed, and rowed to the island of Ouessant,
and later he travelled through Brittany, finally settling in the
island of Batz, near the small town encompassed by mud walls which has
since borne his name. There he founded a monastery. The island was at
that time infested by a dreadful monster, sixty feet long, and we are
told how the Saint subdued this dragon. Accompanied by a warrior, he
entered its den, tied his stole round its neck, and, giving it to his
companion to lead, he followed them, beating the animal with his
stick, until they came to the extremity of the island. There he took
off the stole and commanded the dragon to fling itself into the
sea--an order which the monster immediately obeyed. In the church on
the island a stole is preserved which is said to be that of St Pol.
Another story tells us how St Jaoua, nephew of St Pol, had to call in
his uncle's aid in taming a wild bull which was devastating his cell.
These incidents remind us of St Efflam's taming of the dragon. St Pol
is one of the saints famous for his miraculous power over wild

The Saint's renown became such that the Breton king made him
Archbishop of Léon, giving him special care and control of the city
bearing his name. We are told how the Saint found wild bees swarming
in a hollow tree, and, gathering the swarm, set them in a hive and
taught the people how to get honey. He also found a wild sow with her
litter and tamed them. The descendants of this progeny remained at
Léon for many generations, and were regarded as royal beasts. Both of
these stories are, of course, a picturesque way of saying that St Pol
taught the people to cultivate bees and to keep pigs.

St Pol's early desire to possess a bell was curiously granted later,
as one day when he was in the company of a Count who ruled the land
under King Childebat a fisherman brought the Count a bell which he had
picked up on the seashore. The Count gave it to St Pol, who smiled and
told him how he had longed and waited for years for such a bell. In
the cathedral at Saint-Pol-de-Léon is a tiny bell which is said to
have belonged to St Pol, and on the days of pardon "its notes still
ring out over the heads of the faithful," and are supposed to be
efficacious in curing headache or earache.

In the cathedral choir is the tomb of St Pol, where "his skull, an
arm-bone, and a finger are encased in a little coffer, for the
veneration of the devout." St Pol built the cathedral at Léon, and was
its first bishop. Strategy had to be resorted to to secure the see for
him. The Count gave Pol a letter to take in person to King Childebat,
which stated that he had sent Pol to be ordained bishop and invested
with the see of Léon. When the Saint discovered what the letter
contained he wept, and implored the King to respect his great
disinclination to become a bishop; but Childebat would not listen,
and, calling for three bishops, he had him consecrated. The Saint was
received with great joy by the people of Léon, and lived among them to
a green old age.

In art St Pol is most generally represented with a dragon, and
sometimes with a bell, or a cruse of water and a loaf of bread,
symbolical of his frugal habits.

_St Ronan_

Of St Ronan there is told a tale of solemn warning to wives addicted
to neglecting their children and "seeking their pleasure elsewhere,"
as it is succinctly expressed. St Ronan was an Irish bishop who came
to Léon, where he retired into a hermitage in the forest of Névet.
Grallo, the King of Brittany, was in the habit of visiting him in his
cell, listening to his discourses, and putting theological questions
to him. The domestic question must have been a problem even in those
days, since we find Grallo's Queen, Queban, in charge of her
five-year-old daughter. Family cares proving rather irksome, Queban
solved the difficulty of her daughter by putting the child into a box,
with bread and milk to keep her quiet, while she amused herself with
frivolous matters. Unfortunately, this ingeniously improvized _crêche_
proved singularly unsuccessful, for the poor little girl choked on a
piece of crust, and when the Queen next visited the child she found to
her horror that she was dead. Terrified at the fatal result of her
neglect, and not daring to confess what had happened, the Queen, being
a woman of resource, closed the box and raised a hue and cry to find
the girl, who she declared must have strayed.

She rushed in search of her husband to St Ronan's cell, and upbraided
the hermit for being the cause of the King's absence. "But for you,"
she declared, "my daughter would not have been lost!" But it was a
fatal mistake to accuse the Saint, or to imagine that he could be
deceived. Sternly rebuking her, he challenged her with the fact that
the child lay dead in a box, with milk and bread beside her! Rising,
he left his cell, and, followed by the agitated royal couple, he led
the way to where the proof of the Queen's neglect and deceit was
found. Small mercy was shown in those days to erring womanhood, and
the guilty Queen was instantly "stoned with stones till she died." The
Saint completed his share in the matter by casting himself on his
knees beside the child, whereupon she was restored to life.

_St Goezenou_

St Goezenou (_circ._ A.D. 675) was a native of Britain whose parents
crossed to Brittany and settled near Brest, where the Saint built an
oratory and cabin for himself. The legend runs that the prince of the
neighbourhood having offered to give him as much land as he could
surround with a ditch in one day, the Saint took a fork and dragged it
along the ground after him as he walked, in this way enclosing a
league and a half of land, the fork as it trailed behind him making a
furrow and throwing up an embankment, on a small scale. This story is
quite probably a popular tradition, which grew up to explain the
origin of old military earthworks in that part of the country, which
were afterward utilized by the monks of St Goezenou.


It is also related of this worthy Saint that he had such a horror of
women that he set up a huge menhir to mark the boundary beyond which
no female was to pass under penalty of death. On one occasion a woman,
either to test the extent of the Saint's power or from motives of
enmity, pushed another woman who was with her past this landmark; but
the innocent trespasser was unhurt and her assailant fell dead.

On one occasion, we are told, Goezenou asked a farmer's wife for some
cream cheeses, but the woman, not wishing to part with them, declared
that she had none. "You speak the truth," said the Saint. "You had
some, but if you will now look in your cupboard you will find they
have been turned into stone," and when the ungenerous housewife ran to
her cupboard she found that this was so! The petrified cheeses were
long preserved in the church of Goezenou--being removed during the
Revolution, and afterward preserved in the manor of Kergivas.

Goezenou governed his church for twenty-four years, till he met with a
violent death. Accompanied by his brother St Magan, he went to
Quimperlé to see the monastery which St Corbasius was building there,
but he began to praise the architecture of his own church, and this so
enraged the master builder that he dropped his hammer on the critic's
head. To add to the grief of St Magan, St Corbasius endeavoured to
appropriate the body of the murdered Saint. He consented, however, to
allow St Magan to have such bones as he was able to identify as
belonging to his brother, whereupon St Magan prayed all night, and
next morning spread a sheet for the bones, which miraculously arranged
themselves into an entire skeleton, which the sorrowing Magan was thus
enabled to remove.

_St Winwaloe, or Gwenaloe_

St Winwaloe, born about 455, was the son of Fragan, Governor of Léon,
who had married a wealthy lady named Gwen. Their son was so beautiful
that they named him Gwenaloe, or 'He that is white.' When the lad was
about fifteen years old he was given to the care of a holy man, with
whom he lived on the islet called Ile-Verte. One day a pirate fleet
was sighted off the coast, near the harbour of Guic-sezne, and
Winwaloe, who was with his father at the time, is said to have
exclaimed, "I see a thousand sails," and to this day a cross which
marks the spot is called 'the Cross of the Thousand Sails,' to
commemorate the victory which Fragan and his son won over the pirates,
who landed but were utterly defeated by the Governor and his
retainers. During the fight Winwaloe, "like a second Moses," prayed
for victory, and when the victory had been won he entreated his father
to put the booty gained to a holy use and to build a monastery on the
site of the battle. This was done, and the monastery was called

Leaving his master after some years, Winwaloe settled on the island of
Sein, but finding that it was exposed to the fury of every gale that
blew from the Atlantic he left it and went to Landévennec, on the
opposite side of the harbour at Brest. There he established a
monastery, gathered round him many disciples, and dwelt there until
his death, many years later. He died during the first week of Lent,
"after bestowing a kiss of peace on his brethren," and his body is
preserved at Montreuil-sur-Mer, his chasuble, alb, and bell being laid
in the Jesuit church of St Charles at Antwerp.

In art St Winwaloe is represented vested as an abbot, with staff in
one hand and a bell in the other, standing beside the sea, from which
fishes arise as if in answer to the sound of his bell.


Distinctive national costume has to a great extent become a thing of
the past in Europe, and for this relinquishment of the picturesque we
have doubtless in a measure to thank the exploitation of remote
districts as tourist and sporting centres. Brittany, however, has been
remarkably faithful to her sartorial traditions, and even to-day in
the remoter parts of the west and in distant sea-coast places her men
and women have not ceased to express outwardly the strong national and
personal individuality of their race. In these districts it is still
possible for the traveller to take a sudden, bewildering, and wholly
entrancing step back into the past.

In Cornouaille the national costume is more jealously cherished than
in any other part of the country, even to the smallest details, for
here the men carry a _pen-bas_, or cudgel, which is as much a
supplement to their attire and as characteristic of it as the Irish
shillelagh is of the traditional Irish dress. Quimper is perhaps
second to Cornouaille in fidelity to the old costume, for all the men
wear the national habit. On gala days this consists of gaily
embroidered and coloured waistcoats, which often bear the travelling
tailor's name, and voluminous _bragou-bras_, or breeches of blue or
brown, held at the waist with a broad leather belt with a metal buckle
and caught in at the knee with ribbons of various hues, the whole set
off with black leather leggings and shoes ornamented with silver
buckles. A broad-brimmed hat, beneath which the hair falls down
sometimes to below the shoulders, finishes a toilet which on weekdays
or work-days has to give place to white _bragou-bras_ of tough
material, something more sombre in waistcoats, and the ever
serviceable sabot.

_Hats and Hymen_

In the vast stretch of the salt-pans of Escoublac, between Batz and Le
Croisic, where the entire population of the district is employed, the
workers, or _paludiers_, affect a smock-frock with pockets, linen
breeches, gaiters, and shoes all of white, and with this dazzling
costume they wear a huge, flapping black hat turned up on one side to
form a horn-shaped peak. This peak is very important, as it indicates
the state of the wearer, the young bachelor adjusting it with great
nicety over the ear, the widower above his forehead, and the married
man at the back of his head. On Sundays or gala-days, however, this
uniform is discarded in favour of a multicoloured and more distinctive
attire, the breeches being of fine cloth, exceedingly full and pleated
and finished with ribbons at the knees, the gaiters and white shoes of
everyday giving place to white woollen stockings with clocks
embroidered on them and shoes of light yellow, while the smock is
supplanted by several waistcoats of varying lengths and shades, which
are worn one above the other in different coloured tiers, finished at
the neck with a turnover muslin collar. The holiday hat is the same,
save for a roll of brightly and many tinted chenille.

Several petticoats of pleated cloth, big bibs or plastrons called
_pièces_, of the same shade as their dresses, and a shawl with a
fringed border, compose the costume of the women. The aprons of the
girls are very plain and devoid of pockets, but the older women's are
rich in texture and design, some of them being of silk and others
even of costly brocade. The women's head-dress is almost grotesque in
its originality, the hair being woven into two rolls, swathed round
with tape, and wound into a coronet across the head. Over this is
drawn tightly a kind of cap, which forms a peak behind and is crossed
in front like a handkerchief. Should widowhood overtake a woman she
relinquishes this _coiffe_ and shrouds her head and shoulders in a
rough black triangular-shaped sheepskin mantle.

The toilette of a bride is as magnificent as the widow's is depressing
and dowdy. It consists of three different dresses, the first of white
velvet with apron of moire-antique, the second of purple velvet, and
the third of cloth of gold with embroidered sleeves, with a _pièce_ of
the same material. A wide sash, embroidered with gold, is used for
looping up all these resplendent skirts in order to reveal the gold
clocks which adorn the stockings. These, and all gala costumes, are
carefully stored away at the village inn, and may be seen by the
traveller sufficiently interested to pay a small fee for the

_Quaint Head-dresses_

Though the dress of the Granville women does not attempt to equal or
rival the magnificence just described, nevertheless it is as quaint
and characteristic. They favour a long black or very dark coat, with
bordering frills of the same material and shade, and their cap is a
sort of _bandeau_, turning up sharply at the ears, and crested by a
white handkerchief folded square and laid flat on top.

In Ouessant the peasant women adopt an Italian style of costume, their
head-dress, from under which their hair falls loosely, being exactly
in almost every detail like that which one associates with the women
of Italy. The costume of the man from St Pol is, like that of the
Granville women, soberer than most others of Brittany. Save for his
buttons, the buckle on his hat, and the clasps of white metal
fastening his leather shoes, his dress, including spencer, waistcoat,
trousers, and stockings, is of black, and his hair is worn falling on
his shoulders, while he rarely carries the _pen-bas_--an indication,
perhaps, of his rather meditative, pious temperament.

At Villecheret the cap of the women is bewilderingly varied and very
peculiar. At first sight it appears to consist of several large sheets
of stiff white paper, in some cases a sheet of the apparent paper
spreading out at either side of the head and having another roll
placed across it; in other cases a ridged roof seems to rest upon the
hair, a roof with the sides rolling upward and fastened at the top
with a frail thread; while a third type of head-dress is of the
skull-cap order, from which is suspended two ties quite twenty inches
long and eight inches wide, which are doubled back midway and fastened
again to the top of the skull-cap. The unmarried woman who adopts this
_coiffe_ must wear the ties hanging over the shoulders.

Originality in head-dress the male peasant leaves almost entirely to
the woman, for nearly everywhere in Brittany one meets with the long,
wide-brimmed, black hat, with a black band, the dullness of which is
relieved by a white or blue metal buckle, as large as those usually
found on belts. To this rule the Plougastel man is one of the
exceptions, wearing a red cap with his trousers and coat of white

At Muzillac, some miles distant from La Roche-Bernard, the women
supplant the white _coiffe_ with a huge black cap resembling the cowl
of a friar, while at Pont l'Abbé and along the Bay of Audierne the cap
or _bigouden_ is formed of two pieces, the first a species of
skull-cap fitting closely over the head and ears, the second a small
circular piece of starched linen, shaped into a three-cornered peak,
the centre point being embroidered and kept in position by a white
tape tie which fastens under the chin. Over the skull-cap the hair is
dressed _en chignon_. The dress accompanying this singular _coiffe_
and _coiffure_ has a large yellow _pièce_, with sleeves to match. The
men wear a number of short coats, one above the other, the shortest
and last being trimmed with a fringe, and occasionally ornamented with
sentences embroidered in coloured wools round the border, describing
the patriotic or personal sentiments of the wearer.

The women of Morlaix are also partial to the tight-fitting _coiffe_.
This consists of five broad folds, forming a base from which a
fan-like fall of stiffened calico spreads out from ear to ear,
completely shading the nape of the neck and reaching down the back
below the shoulders. Many of the women wear calico tippets, while the
more elderly affect a sort of mob-cap with turned-up edges, from which
to the middle of the head are stretched two wide straps of calico,
joined together at the ends with a pin. Most of the youths of Morlaix
wear the big, flapping hat, but very often a black cloth cap is also
seen. This is ridiculous rather than picturesque, for so long is it
that with almost every movement it tips over the wearer's nose. The
tunic accompanying either hat or cap is of blue flannel, and over it
is worn a black waistcoat. The porters of the market-places wear a
sort of smock. The young boys of Morlaix dress very like their elders,
and nearly all of them wear the long loose cap, with the difference
that a tasselled end dangles down the back.

[Illustration: MODERN BRITTANY]

On religious festivals the gala dress is always donned in all
vicinities of Brittany, and the costume informs the initiated at once
in what capacity the Breton is present. For instance, the _porteuses_,
or banner-bearers, of certain saints are dressed in white; others may
be more gorgeously or vividly attired in gowns of bright-coloured silk
trimmed with gold lace, scarves of silver thread, aprons of gold
tissue or brocade, and lace _coiffes_ over caps of gold or silver
tissue; while some, though in national gala dress, will have flags or
crosses to distinguish them from the more commonplace worshipper.

_Religious Festivals_

This dressing for the part and the occasion is interwoven with the
Breton's existence as unalterably as sacred and profane elements are
into the occasions of his religious festivals. A feast day well and
piously begun is interspersed and concluded with a gaiety and abandon
which by contrast strikes a note of profanity. Yet Brittany is quite
the most devotedly religious of all the French provinces, and one may
see the great cathedrals filled to their uttermost with congregations
including as many men as women. Nowhere else, perhaps, will one find
such great masses of people so completely lost in religious fervour
during the usual Church services and the grander and more impressive
festivals so solemnly observed. This reverence is attributed by some
to the power of superstition, by others to the Celtic temperament of
the worshippers; but from whatever cause it arises no one who has
lived among the Bretons can doubt the sincerity and childlike faith
which lies at the base of it all, a faith of which a medieval
simplicity and credence are the keynotes.

_The Pardons_

This pious punctiliousness is not confined to Church services and
ceremonies alone, for rarely are wayside crosses or shrines
unattended by some simple peasant or peasants telling beads or
unfolding griefs to a God Who, they have been taught, takes the
deepest interest in and compassionates all the troubles and trials
which may befall them. Between May and October the religious
ardour of the Breton may be witnessed at its strongest, for during
these months the five great 'Pardons' or religious pilgrimage
festivals are solemnized in the following sequence: the Pardon of the
Poor, at Saint-Yves; the Pardon of the Singers, at Rumengol; the
Pardon of the Fire, at Saint-Jean-du-Doigt; the Pardon of the
Mountain, at Troménie-de-Saint-Renan; the Pardon of the Sea, at

The Pardon of the Poor, the Pardon of the Singers, and the Pardon of
the Sea are especially rigorous and exacting, but the less celebrated
Pardon of Notre Dame de la Clarté, in Morbihan, has an earthly as much
as a celestial object, for while the pilgrimage does homage to the
Virgin it is at the same time believed to facilitate marriage. Here,
once the sacred side of the festival has been duly observed, the young
man in search of a wife circles about the church, closely scrutinizing
all the eligible demoiselles who come within range of his vision. As
soon as he decides which maiden most appeals to him, he asks her
politely if she will accept a gift from him, and at the same time
presents a large round cake, with which he has armed himself for that
occasion. "Will mademoiselle break the cake with me?" is the customary
form of address, and in the adoption or rejection of this suggestion
lies the young peasant's yea or nay.

The Pardon of Saint-Jean-du-Doigt takes place on the 22nd of June, and
is, perhaps, the most solemn of these festivals. During its
celebration the relic of the Saint, the little finger of his right
hand, is held before the high altar of the church by an _abbé_ clad in
his surplice. The finger is wrapped in the finest of linen, and one by
one the congregation files past the _abbé_ for the purpose of touching
for one brief moment the relic he holds. At the same time another
cleric stands near the choir, holding the skull of St Mériadec, and
before this the pilgrims also promenade, reverently bowing their heads
as they go. The devotees then repair to a side wall near which there
is a fountain, the waters of which have been previously sanctified by
bathing in them the finger of St Jean suspended from a gold chain, and
into this the pilgrims plunge their palms and vigorously rub their
eyes with them, as a protection against blindness. This concludes the
religious side of the Pardon, and immediately after its less edifying
ceremonies begin.

The Pardon of the Mountain is held on Trinity Sunday at Troménie.
Every sixth year there is the 'Grand Troménie,' an event which draws
an immense concourse of people from all parts. The principal feature
of this great day from the spectator's point of view is the afternoon
procession. It is of the most imposing description, and all who have
come to take part in the Pardon join it, as with banners flying and
much hymn-singing it takes its way out of the town to wind round a
mountain in the vicinity.

_Barking Women_

In the old days of religious enthusiasm a remarkable phenomenon often
attended these festivals, when excitement began to run high, as it was
certain to do among a Celtic people. This was the barking of certain
highly strung hysterical women. In time it became quite a usual
feature, but now, happily, it is a part of the ceremony which has
almost entirely disappeared. There is a legend in connexion with this
custom that the Virgin appeared before some women disguised as a
beggar, and asked for a draught of water, and, when they refused it,
caused them and their posterity to be afflicted with the mania.

_The Sacring Bell_

Another custom of earlier times was that of ringing the sacring bell.
These bells are very tiny, and are attached at regular intervals to
the outer rim of a wooden wheel, wrongly styled by some 'the Wheel of
Fortune,' from which dangles a long string. In most places the sacring
bell is kept as a curiosity, though in the church of St Bridget at
Berhet the _Sant-e-roa_, or Holy Wheel, is still rung by pilgrims
during Mass. The bells are set pealing through the medium of a long
string by the impatient suppliant, to remind the saint to whom the
_Sant-e-roa_ may be dedicated of the prayerful requests with which he
or she has been assailed.

There are in many of the churches of Brittany wide, old-fashioned
fireplaces, a fact which testifies to a very sensible practice which
prevailed in the latter half of the sixteenth century--that of
warming the baptismal water before applying it to the defenceless head
of the lately born. The most famous of these old fireplaces belong to
the churches of St Bridget in Perguet, Le Moustoir-le-Juch, St Non at
Penmarch, and Brévélenz. In the church at the latter place one of the
pinnacles of the porch forms the chimney to its historic hearth.

_The Venus of Quinipily_

Childless people often pay a visit to some standing stone in their
neighbourhood in the hope that they may thereby be blessed with
offspring. Famous in this respect is the 'Venus,' or _Groabgoard_, of
Quinipily, a rough-hewn stone in the likeness of a goddess. The
letters ...LIT... still remain on it--part of a Latin inscription
which has been thought to have originally read ILITHVIA, "a name in
keeping with the rites still in use before the image," says

_Holy Wells_

The holy well is another institution dating from early days, and there
is hardly a church in Brittany which does not boast one or more of
these shrines, which are in most cases dedicated to the saint in whose
honour the church has been raised. So numerous are these wells that to
name them and dwell at any length on the curative powers claimed for
their waters would fill a large volume. Worthy of mention, however, is
the Holy Well of St Bieuzy, as typical of most of such sacred springs.
It is close to the church of the same name in Bieuzy, and flows from a
granite wall. Its waters are said to relieve and cure the mentally
deranged. Some of the wells are large enough to permit the afflicted
to bathe in their waters, and of these the well near the church of
Goezenou is a good example. It is situated in an enclosure surrounded
by stone seats for the convenience of the devotees who may desire to
immerse themselves bodily in it. Several of these shrines bear dates,
but whether they are genuine is a matter for conjecture.


Every Breton churchyard worthy of the name has its reliquary or
bone-house. There may be seen rows of small boxes like dog-kennels
with heart-shaped openings. Round these openings, names, dates, and
pious ejaculations are written. Looking through the aperture, a
glimpse of a skull may startle one, for it is a gruesome custom of the
country to dig up the bones of the dead and preserve the skulls in
this way. The name upon the box is that once borne by the deceased,
the date that of his death, and the charitable prayer is for the
repose of his soul. Occasionally these boxes are set in conspicuous
places in the church, but generally they remain in the reliquary. In
the porch of the church of St Trémeur, the son of the notorious Breton
Bluebeard, Comorre, there is one of the largest collections of these
receptacles in Brittany. Rich people who may have endowed or founded
sacred edifices are buried in an arched recess of the abbey or church
they have benefited.

_Feeding the Dead_

In some parts of Brittany hollows are found in tombstones above
graves, and these are annually filled with holy water or libations of
milk. It would seem as if this custom linked prehistoric with modern
practice and that the cup-hollows frequently met with on the top of
dolmens may have been intended as receptacles for the food of the
dead. The basins scooped in the soil of a barrow may have served the
same purpose. On the night of All Souls' Day, when this libation is
made, the supper is left spread on the table of each cottage and the
fire burns brightly, so that the dead may return to refresh and warm
themselves after the dolours of the grave.

_The Passage de l'Enfer_

How hard custom dies in Brittany is illustrated by the fact that it is
still usual at Tréguier to convey the dead to the churchyard in a boat
over a part of the river called the 'Passage de l'Enfer,' instead of
taking the shorter way by land. This custom is reminiscent of what
Procopius, a historian of the sixth century, says regarding Breton
Celtic custom in his _De Bello Gothico_. Speaking of the island of
Brittia, by which he means Britain, he states that it is divided by a
wall. Thither fishermen from the Breton coast are compelled to ferry
over at darkest night the shades of the dead, unseen by them, but
marshalled by a mysterious leader. The fishermen who are to row the
dead across to the British coast must go to bed early, for at midnight
they are aroused by a tapping at the door, and they are called in a
low voice. They rise and go down to the shore, attracted by some force
which they cannot explain. Here they find their boats, apparently
empty, yet the water rises to the bulwarks, as if they were crowded.
Once they commence the voyage their vessels cleave the water speedily,
making the passage, usually a day and a half's sailing, in an hour.
When the British shore is reached the souls of the dead leave the
boats, which at once rise in the sea as if unloaded. Then a loud voice
on shore is heard calling out the name and style of those who have

Procopius had, of course, heard the old Celtic myth of an oversea
Elysium, and had added to it some distorted reminiscence of the old
Roman wall which divided Britain. The 'ship of souls' is evidently a
feature of Celtic as well as of Latin and Greek belief.


Calvaries, or representations of the passion on the Cross, are most
frequently encountered in Brittany, so much so, indeed, that it has
been called 'the Land of the Calvaries.' Over the length and breadth
of the country they are to be met at almost every turn, some of them
no more than rude, simple crosses originating in local workshops, and
others truly magnificent in carving and detail. Some of the most
famous are those situated at Plougastel, Saint-Thégonnec, and

The Calvary of Plougastel dates from the early sixteenth century, and
consists of an arcade beneath a platform filled with statues. The
surrounding frieze has carvings in bas-relief representing incidents
in the life of Christ. The Calvary of Saint-Thégonnec represents
vividly the phases of the passion, being really a 'way of the Cross'
in sculpture. It bears the unmistakable stamp of the sixteenth
century. The Calvary of Guimiliau is dated 1580 and 1588. A platform
supported by arches bears the three crosses, the four evangelists, and
other figures connected with the principal incidents in the life and
passion of our Lord. The principal figures, that of Christ and those
of the attending Blessed Virgin and St John, are most beautifully and
sympathetically portrayed. The figures in the representations from the
life of Christ, which are from necessity much smaller than those of
the Crucifixion, are dressed in the costume of the sixteenth century.
The entire Calvary is sculptured in Kersanton stone.

[Illustration: THE SOULS OF THE DEAD]

Whether these and other similar groups are really works of art is
perhaps a matter for discussion, but regarding their impressiveness
there cannot be two opinions. By the bulk of the people they are
held in great reverence, and rarely are they unattended by tiny
congregations of two or three, while on the occasion of important
religious festivals people flock to them in hundreds.


In many of their religious observances the Bretons are prone to
confuse the sacred with the profane, and chief among these is the
wedding ceremony--the customs attendant on which in some ostensibly
Christian countries are yet a disgrace to the intellect as well as the
good feeling of man. In rural Brittany, however, the revelry which
ensues as soon as the church door closes on the newly wedded pair is
more like that associated with a children's party than the recreation
of older people. Should the marriage be celebrated in the morning,
tables laid out with cakes are ranged outside the church door, and
when the bridal procession files out of the church the bride and
bridegroom each take a cake from the table and leave a coin in its
stead for the poor. The guests follow suit, and then the whole party
repairs to the nearest meadow, where endless _ronds_ are begun.

The _rond_ is a sort of dance in which the whole assembly joins
hands and revolves slowly with a hop-skip-and-a-jump step to the
accompaniment of a most wearisome and unvarying chant, the music for
which is provided by the _biniou_, or bagpipe, and the flageolet
or hautboy, both being occasionally augmented by the drum. Before
the ceremony begins the musicians who are responsible for this
primitive harmony are dispatched to summon the guests, who, of
course, arrive in the full splendour of the national gala costume. As
soon as the _ronds_ are completed to the satisfaction of everybody
the custom common to so many countries of stealing the bride away
is celebrated. At a given signal she speeds away from the party,
hotly pursued by the young gallants present, and when she is
overtaken she presents the successful swain with a cup of coffee at a
public _café_. This interlude is followed by dinner, and after that
the _ronds_ are resumed. These festivities, in the case of prosperous
people, sometimes last three days, during which time the guests are
entertained at their host's expense. If the wedding happens to be held
in the evening, dancing is about the only amusement indulged in, and
this follows an elaborate wedding supper. The _biniou_ and its
companions are decidedly _en évidence_, while sometimes the monotony
of the _ronds_ is varied by the _grand rond_, a much more graceful
and intricate affair, containing many elaborate and difficult steps;
but the more ordinary dance is the favourite, probably because of the
difficulties attending the other.

_Breton Burials_

An ancient Breton funeral ceremony was replete with symbolic meaning
and ritual, which have been carried down through the Middle Ages to
the present time. As soon as the head of the family had ceased to
breathe, a great fire was lit in the courtyard, and the mattress upon
which he had expired was burned. Pitchers of water and milk were
emptied, for fear, perhaps, that the soul of the defunct might be
athirst. The dead man was then enveloped from head to foot in a great
white sheet and placed in a description of funeral pavilion, the hands
joined on the breast, the body turned toward the east. At his feet a
little stool was placed, and two yellow candles were lit on each side
of him. Then the beadle or gravedigger, who was usually a poor man,
went round the country-side to carry the news of death, which he
usually called out in a high, piping voice, ringing his little bell
the while. At the hour of sunset people arrived from all parts for the
purpose of viewing the body. Each one carried a branch, which he
placed on the feet of the defunct.

The evening prayer was recited by all, then the women sang the
canticles. From time to time the widow and children of the deceased
raised the corner of the shroud and kissed it solemnly. A repast was
served in an adjoining room, where the beggar sat side by side with
the wealthy, on the principle that all were equal before death. It is
strange that the poor are always associated with the griefs as with
the pleasures of Breton people; we find them at the feast of death and
at the baptism as at the wedding rejoicing.

In the morning the rector of the parish arrived and all retired, with
the exception of the parents, if these chanced to be alive, in whose
presence the beadle closed the coffin. No other member of the family
was permitted to take part in this solemn farewell, which was regarded
as a sacred duty. The coffin was then placed on a car drawn by oxen,
and the funeral procession set out, preceded by the clergy and
followed by the female relations of the deceased, wearing yellow
head-dresses and black mantles. The men followed with bared heads. On
arriving at the church the coffin was disposed on trestles, and the
widow sat close by it throughout the ceremony. As it was lowered into
the tomb the last words of the prayer for the dead were repeated by
all, and as it touched the soil beneath a loud cry arose from the

The Breton funeral ceremony, like those prevalent among other Celtic
peoples, is indeed a lugubrious affair, and somewhat recalls the Irish
wake in its strange mixture of mourning and feasting; but curiously
enough brightness reigns afterward, for the peasant is absolutely
assured that at the moment his friend is placed in the tomb he
commences a life of joy without end.

_Tartarus and Paradise_

Two very striking old Breton ballads give us very vivid pictures of
the Breton idea of Heaven and its opposite. That dealing with the
infernal regions hails from the district of Léon. It is attributed to
a priest named Morin, who flourished in the fifteenth century, but
others have claimed it for a Jesuit father called Maunoir, who lived
and preached some two hundred years later. In any case it bears the
ecclesiastical stamp. "Descend, Christians," it begins, "to see what
unspeakable tortures the souls of the condemned suffer through the
justice of God, Who has chained them in the midst of flames for
having abused their gifts in this world. Hell is a profound abyss,
full of shadow, where not the least gleam of light ever comes. The
gates have been closed and bolted by God, and He will never open them
more. The key is lost!

"An oven heated to whiteness is this place, a fire which constantly
devours the lost souls. There they will eternally burn, tormented by
the intolerable heat. They gnash their teeth like mad dogs; they
cannot escape the flames, which are over their heads, under their
feet, and on all sides. The son rushes at his father, and the daughter
at her mother. They drag them by the hair through the midst of flames,
with a thousand maledictions, crying, 'Cursed be ye, lost woman, who
brought us into the world! Cursed be ye, heedless man, who wert the
cause of our damnation!'

"For drink they have only their tears. Their skins are scorched, and
bitten by the teeth of serpents and demons, and their flesh and their
bones are nothing but fuel to the great fire of Hell!

"After they have been for some time in this furnace, they are plunged
by Satan into a lake of ice, and from this they are thrown once more
into the flames, and from the flames into the water, like a bar of
iron in a smithy. 'Have pity, my God, have pity on us!' they call; but
they weep in vain, for God has closed His ears to their plaints.

"The heat is so intense that their marrow burns within their bones.
The more they crave for pity, the more they are tormented.

"This fire is the anger of God which they have aroused; verily it may
never be put out."

One turns with loathing, with anger, and with contempt from this
production of medieval ecclesiasticism. When one thinks of the
thousands of simple and innocent people who must have been tortured
and driven half wild with terror by such infamous utterances as this,
one feels inclined to challenge the oft-repeated statement concerning
the many virtues of the medieval Church. But Brittany is not the only
place where this species of terrorism was in vogue, and that until
comparatively recent times. The writer can recall such descriptions as
this emanating from the pulpits of churches in Scottish villages only
some thirty years ago, and the strange thing is that people of that
generation were wont to look back with longing and admiration upon the
old style of condemnatory sermon, and to criticize the efforts of the
younger school of ministers as being wanting in force and lacking the
spirit of menace so characteristic of their forerunners. There are no
such sermons nowadays, they say. Let us thank God that to the credit
of human intelligence and human pity there are not!

The opposite to this picture is provided by the ballad on Heaven. It
is generally attributed to Michel de Kerodern, a Breton missionary of
the seventeenth century, but others claim its authorship for St Hervé,
to whom we have already alluded. In any case it is as replete with
superstitions as its darker fellow. The soul, it says, passes the
moon, sun, and stars on its Heavenward way, and from that height turns
its eyes on its native land of Brittany. "Adieu to thee, my country!
Adieu to thee, world of suffering and dolorous burdens! Farewell,
poverty, affliction, trouble, and sin! Like a lost vessel the body
lies below, but wherever I turn my eyes my heart is filled with a
thousand felicities. I behold the gates of Paradise open at my
approach and the saints coming out to receive me. I am received in the
Palace of the Trinity, in the midst of honours and heavenly harmonies.
The Lord places on my head a beautiful crown and bids me enter into
the treasures of Heaven. Legions of archangels chant the praise of
God, each with a harp in his hand. I meet my father, my mother, my
brothers, the men of my country. Choirs of little angels fly hither
and thither over our heads like flocks of birds. Oh, happiness without
equal! When I think of such bliss to be, it consoles my heart for the
pains of this life."


  [61] _Religion of the Ancient Celts_, p. 289.



  ABÉLARD. A Breton monk;
    the story of Héloïse and, 248-253

  ABERLADY BAY. A bay in the Firth of Forth, Scotland, 357

  ABERNETHY. A town in Scotland;
    the Round Tower at, 52

  ABERYSTWYTH. A town in Wales;
    Taliesin buried at, 22

  ADDER'S STONE. A substance supposed to have magical properties,
        employed in Druidic rites, 247;
    Héloïse, represented as a sorceress, said to have possessed,

  ALAIN III. Count of Brittany (Count of Vannes);
    drives back the Northmen, 25

  ALAIN IV (BARBE-TORTE). Arch-chief of Brittany;
    defeats the Northmen, 25-26

  ALAIN V. Duke of Brittany, 27, 28

  ALAIN FERGANT. Duke of Brittany, 30

  ALAIN. Son of Eudo of Brittany, 29

  ALBERT LE GRAND. Monk of Morlaix, 278

  ALCHEMY. The art of;
    the position of, in the fifteenth century, 175;
    Gilles de Retz experiments in, 175-179

  ALGONQUINS. A race of North American Indians;
    mentioned, 302

  ALI BABA. The story of;
    mentioned, 316

  ALL SOULS' DAY. The custom of leaving food for the dead on, 383

  ALOÏDA. A maiden;
    in the ballad of the Marriage-girdle, 234-236

  'ALPINE' RACE. A European ethnological division;
    the Bretons probably belong to, 14, 37 _n._

  AMENOPHIS III. An Egyptian king;
    mentioned, 43

  AMERICA. _See_ United States

  ANGERS. A town in France;
    St Convoyon goes to, to obtain holy relics from the cathedral,

  ANIMALS. Frequently the bearers of divine aid, in legends of the
        saints, 347;
    St Pol noted for his miraculous power over wild beasts, 366

  ANIMISM, 86-87

  ANKOU, THE. The death-spirit of Brittany, 101-102

  ANNAÏK. A maiden;
    in a story of the Marquis of Guérande, 199-202

  ANNE. Duchess of Brittany;
    married to Charles VIII of France, and then to Louis XII, 36;
    the oratory of, in the château of Dinan, 209;
    gives the château of Suscino to John of Châlons, 210

  ANTWERP. The city;
    relics of St Winwaloe preserved in the Jesuit church of St Charles
        at, 371;
    mentioned, 205

  APPLE, THE. Said to have been introduced into Brittany by Telio,

  ARDMORE. A town in Ireland;
    the Round Tower at, 51-52

  AREZ, MOUNTAINS OF. Same as Montagnes d'Arrée, _which see_

  ARGOED. A place in Wales;
    battle of, 22

  ARMAGH. A city in Ireland;
    Budoc made Bishop of, 356

  ARMENIA. The country;
    were-wolf superstition in, 291

  ARMOR ('On the Sea'). The ancient Celtic name for Brittany, 13

  ARMORICA. The Latin name for the country of Brittany, 13, 15;
    Julius Cæsar in, 16;
    two British kingdoms in, 19;
    the first monastery in, founded by Gwénnolé, 185;
    King Arthur hunts wild beasts in, 278;
    St Samson bidden to go to, 349

  ARTHUR, KING. British chieftain, of legendary fame;
    his finding of Excalibur, 256-257;
    his encounter with the giant of Mont-Saint-Michel, 275-277;
    his existence doubted by Bretons in the twelfth century, 278;
    his fight with the dragon at the Lieue de Grève, 278-281;
    carried to the Isle of Avalon after his last battle, 282;
    Gugemar at the Court of, 292;
    his contest with Modred, 344;
    his sister Margawse the wife of King Lot of Lothian, 357;
    mentioned, 64, 66, 173, 212, 224

  ARTHUR. Duke of Brittany, son of Geoffrey Plantagenet;
    murdered by King John of England, 30

  ARTHURIAN ROMANCE. Resemblances in Villemarqué's _Barzaz-Breiz_ to,
    the controversy as to the original birthplace of, 228,
    indigenous to British soil, 255

  ARZ. _See_ Ile d'Arz

  ASH-TREE, THE LAY OF THE. One of the _Lais_ of Marie de France,

  AUCHENTORLIE. An estate in Scotland;
    inscribed stones at, 46

  AUCHINLECK MS. A manuscript containing a version of the story of
        Tristrem and Ysonde, 272

  AUDIERNE, BAY OF. A bay on the Breton coast;
    national costume in the district of, 376

  AULNOY, COMTESSE D'. Noted seventeenth-century French authoress;
    mentioned, 144

  AURAY. A town in Brittany;
    battle at, 35;
    centre from which to visit the megaliths of Carnac, 42

  AVALON, ISLE OF. A fabled island to which King Arthur was carried
        after his last battle, 282

  AVENUE OF SPHINXES. At Karnak, Egypt, 43

  AZÉNOR. Mother of St Budoc of Dol, 354-356

  AZÉNOR THE PALE. A maiden;
    the legend of, 360-364


  BACCHUS. The Greek god of wine;
    mentioned, 189

  BALON. Monastery of;
    St Tivisiau and, 338-339

  BAN. King of Benwik;
    father of Sir Lancelot, 257

  BANGOR TEIVI. A village in Wales;
    Taliesin said to have died at, 22

  BARANTON, THE FOUNTAIN OF. A magical fountain in Broceliande,

  BARD. Singer or poet attached to noble households;
    late survival of the custom of maintaining, 364

  BARKING WOMEN. A phenomenon connected with religious festivals,

  BARON OF JAUIOZ, THE. A ballad, 145-147

  BARRON. A fictitious youth;
    in a story of Gilles de Retz, 178

  BARZAZ-BREIZ ("The Breton Bards"). A collection of Breton ballads
        made by Villemarqué;
    cited (under sub-title, _Chants populaires de la Bretagne_), 57
    criticism of, 211-212

  BASS ROCK. An islet in the Firth of Forth, 359

    I. An island off the coast of Brittany; St Pol settles on,
    II. A town in Brittany, 373

  BAYARD, THE CHEVALIER DE. A famous French knight;
    mentioned, 31

  BEAN NIGHE ('The Washing Woman'). An evil spirit of the Scottish
        Highlands, 100

  BEAUMANOIR. A Breton noble house, 229

  BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. The story of;
    mentioned, 137

  BEAUVAU. Matthew, Seigneur of;
    in the story of the Clerk of Rohan, 190-193

  BEDIVERE, SIR. One of King Arthur's knights;
    accompanies Arthur on his expedition against the giant of
        Mont-Saint-Michel, 275-277

  BEES. Cultivated by the monks of Dol, 19;
    St Pol taught the people to cultivate, 366

  BEIGNON. A town in Brittany, 360

  BELGIUM. Mentioned, 52

  BELIAGOG. A giant;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 271

    mentioned, 195

  BENEDICTION OF THE BEASTS. A festival held at Carnac, 45

  BERHET. A village in Brittany;
    the custom of ringing the sacring bell still observed in the
        church of St Bridget at, 380

  BERRY. John, Duke of;
    mentioned, 145

  BERRY. Caroline, Duchess of;
    imprisoned in the castle of Nantes, 205

  BERTRAND DE DINAN. A Breton knight, 29

  BIEUZY. A town in Brittany;
    the Holy Well of St Bieuzy at, 381

  BIGOUDEN. A cap worn by the women in some parts of Brittany, 376

  BINIOU. A musical instrument resembling the bagpipe;
    one of the national instruments of Brittany, 229;
    played at weddings, 386

  BIRDS. In Breton tradition, the dead supposed to return to earth in
        the form of, 227;
    frequently messengers in ballad literature, 233;
    in the legends of the saints, commonly the bearers of divine aid,

  BISCLAVERET. The Breton name for a were-wolf;
    in the Lay of the Were-wolf, 287-289, 291

  BLACK MOUNTAIN. The name of one of the peaks of the Black Mountains,

  BLACK MOUNTAINS. A mountain chain in Brittany, 196

  BLANCHE OF CASTILE. Mother of Louis IX, 208

  BLANCHEFLOUR. Princess, sister of King Mark, mother of Tristrem;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 258-259, 261

  BLOIS. A famous French château;
    mentioned, 206

  BLOIS, CHARLES OF. Duke of Brittany;
    contests the succession to the duchy, 30-32;
    taken prisoner by Joan of Flanders, 31;
    the marriage of, with Joan of Penthièvre, 32;
    defeated at Auray, 35;
    the château of Suscino taken by, 210

  BLUEBEARD. The villain in the nursery-tale;
    Gilles de Retz identified with, 174, 180;
    the story of, identified with the story of Comorre and Triphyna,

  BLUE CHAMBER. A boudoir in the château of Tourlaville, 209

  BODMIN. A town in Cornwall;
    mentioned, 278

  BOITEUX. A fiend;
    in the story of the Princess Starbright, 123, 124, 125

  BONCOTEST, COLLEGE OF. One of the colleges of the old University of
    Fontenelle at, 229

  BONNY KILMENY. A ballad by James Hogg;
    mentioned, 327

  BOURDAIS, MARC. A peasant, nicknamed Maraud;
    in the story of the Lost Daughter, 75-77

  BOUTEVILLE. John of, Seigneur of Faouet;
    mentioned, 335

  BOY WHO SERVED THE FAIRIES, THE. The story of, 88-95

  BRAN ('Crow'). A Breton warrior;
    the story of, 225-227;
    analogies between the story of, and the poem of _Sir Tristrem_,

  BRENGWAIN. A lady of Ysonde's suite;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 267, 269, 271, 272

  BRENHA, FATHER JOSÉ. A Portuguese antiquary;
    mentioned, 47

  BREOCHAN. A legendary Welsh king, father of St Nennocha, 340

  BRÉRI. A Breton poet, 255

  BREST. A town in Brittany, 354, 368, 371

  BRETON. The language, 15-16

  BRETONS. The race;
    their origin and affinities, 13-15, 17, 37 _n._;
    Bretons join William of Normandy in his expedition against
        England, 29, 232, 233;
    send an expedition to help Owen Glendower, 234;
    defeat the English in a naval battle, 236

  BREVELENZ. A village in Brittany;
    a fireplace in the church of, 381

  BREZONEK. The language spoken by the Bretons, 15-16

  BRIAN. Son of Eudo of Brittany, 29

  BRIDE OF SATAN, THE. The story of, 143-144;
    mentioned, 147

  BRITAIN. Celts flee from, to Brittany, before the Saxon invaders,
        15, 17;
    subject kingdoms of, in Brittany, 19;
    immigrants from, in Brittany, form a confederacy and fight against
        the Franks, 22-23;
    the headquarters of the Druidic cult, 245;
    Arthurian romance indigenous to, 255;
    St Patern founds religious houses in, 348;
    St Samson fled from, to Brittany, 350;
    Procopius' story of the ferrying of the Breton dead over to,

  BRITONS. The race;
    members of, emigrate to Brittany, 15, 17, 22-23;
    carried Arthurian romance to Brittany, 254, 255

  BRITTANY. Divisions and character of the country, 13;
    Julius Cæsar in, 16;
    the Latin tongue did not spread over, 17;
    the origin of the name, 17;
    Nomenoë wins the independence of, 23;
    invaded by Northmen, 25;
    the Northmen expelled from, 26;
    division of, into counties and seigneuries, 27;
    relations with Normandy, 27-30;
    French influences in, 30;
    the War of the Two Joans, 30-31, 35-36;
    annexed to France by Francis I, 36;
    the prehistoric stone monuments of, 37-53;
    the fairies of, 54-95;
    the sprites and demons of, 96-105;
    'world-tales' in, 106-155;
    folk-tales of, 156-172;
    popular legends of, 173-202;
    the châteaux of, 202-210;
    hero-tales of, 211-240;
    sends help to Owen Glendower in his conflict with the English,
    a British army in, 237;
    the black art in, 241-253;
    Arthurian romance in, 254-282;
    Arthur found Excalibur in, 256;
    Tristrem in, 270-271, 272;
    the scene of the _Lais_ of Marie de France, 284;
    the saints of, 332-371;
    many saints in, 350;
    costumes of, 372-377;
    customs of, 378-388;
    religious observance in, 377-378;
    holy wells in, 381-382;
    observances relating to the dead and interments, 382-384,
    Calvaries in, 384-385;
    wedding ceremonies in, 385-386

  BRITTANY, COUNTS AND DUKES OF. _See under_ Alain; Arthur; Blois,
        Charles of; Conan; Dreux; Eudo; Francis; Geoffrey; Hoel; John;
        _and_ Salomon

  BRITTIA. Procopius' name for Britain, 383

  BROCELIANDE. A forest in Brittany, 54-73;
    the shrine of Arthurian story, 55;
    the Korrigan a denizen of, 56;
    the scene of the adventures of Merlin and Vivien, 64;
    the fountain of Baranton in, 70-71;
    lines on, 71;
    in the story of Bruno of La Montagne, 72-73;
    the wood of Helléan a part of, 221;
    mentioned, 338

  BRODINEUF. A Breton château, 207

  BROWNIES. Elfish beings of small size;
    distinct from fairies, 87

  BRUNHILDA. Queen of Austrasia;
    mentioned, 31

  BRUNO OF LA MONTAGNE. The story of, 72-73

  BRUYANT. A friend of Butor of La Montagne;
    in the story of Bruno of La Montagne, 72-73

  BUGELNOZ, or TEUS. A beneficent spirit of the Vannes district,

  BURIAL CUSTOMS. In Brittany, 382-384, 386-388

  BURNS, ROBERT. The poet;
    his use of old songs and ballads, 211;
    mentioned, 241

  BURON. A knight;
    in the Lay of the Ash-tree, 318-320

  BUTOR. Baron of La Montagne;
    in the story of Bruno of La Montagne, 72


  CADOUDAL, GEORGES. A Chouan leader;
    mentioned, 25

  CAERLEON-UPON-USK. A town in Wales;
    Tristrem sails for, 263;
    mentioned, 21

  CÆSAR. _See_ Julius

  CALENDAR, THE. Supernatural beings often associated with, 97

  CALIBURN. A name for Excalibur. _See_ Excalibur

  CALLERNISH. A district in the island of Lewis, Outer Hebrides;
    mentioned, 53

  CALVARIES. Representations of the passion on the Cross;
    common in Brittany, 384-385

  CAMARET. A town in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 41

  CAMELOT. A legendary town in England, the scene of King Arthur's
    the battle at, in which King Arthur was killed, 344;
   mentioned, 64

  CANADOS. King Mark's Constable, in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde,

  CANCOET. A village in Brittany;
    the Maison des Follets at, 49

  CARADEUC. A Breton château, 207

  CARDIGAN BAY. A bay in Wales;
    the site of a submerged city, according to Welsh legend, 187,

  CARDIGANSHIRE. Welsh county;
    mentioned, 22

  CARHAIX. A town in Brittany;
    Comorre the ruler of, 180

  CARNAC. A town in Brittany;
    the megaliths at, 42-45;
    the legend of, 44-45;
    the 'Benediction of the Beasts' at, 45;
    sometimes called 'Ty C'harriquet,' 98;
    its megaliths supposed to have been built by the gorics, 98;
    the gorics' revels around the megaliths of, 99

  CAROLINE. Queen of England, wife of George II;
    mentioned, 196

  CASTLE OF THE SUN, THE. The story of, 131-137

  CATTWG. A town in Wales;
    Taliesin and Gildas said to have been educated at the school of,

  CAYOT DÉLANDRE, F. M. A Breton poet, 43

  'CELTIC.' The term;
    its disputed connotation, 37

  CELTS. The race;
    the Bretons a division of, 14-15;
    Druidism may not have originated with, 245;
    musical and poetic elements in the temperament of, 339

  CHAMBER OF THE BLACK CAVALIER. In the ballad of Azénor the Pale,

  CHAMBORD. A famous French château;
    mentioned, 206

  CHAMP DOLENT ('Field of Woe'). The field in which the menhir of Dol
        stands, 40;
    the battle in, 40

  CHAMPTOCÉ. A Breton château;
    the home of Gilles de Retz, 175, 176, 179-180

  CHANGELINGS. The Breton fairies and, 83

  CHANSONS DE GESTES. Medieval French poems with an heroic theme;
    Villemarqué's work marked by the style of, 224-225

  CHANTS POPULAIRES DE LA BRETAGNE. The sub-title of Villemarqué's
        _Barzaz-Breiz_. _See_ _Barzaz-Breiz_

  CHAPELLE DU DUC. A chapel at Tréguier, built by Duke John V, 353

  CHARLEMAGNE. The Emperor;
    mentioned, 225

  CHARLES I (THE BALD). King of France;
    Nomenoë rises against, 23, 337-338

  CHARLES V. King of France;
    mentioned, 32

  CHARLES VI. King of France;
    mentioned, 174

  CHARLES VIII. King of France;
    Anne of Brittany married to, 36

  CHARLES. A youth;
    in the story of the Princess of Tronkolaine, 115-121

  CHASE, THE. Superstitions of, 301

  CHÂTEAU DES PAULPIQUETS. A name given to a megalithic structure in
        Questembert, 49

  CHÂTEAUX. Of Brittany;
    their rich legendary and historical associations, 202-203;
    stories of, 203-210

  CHÂTEAUBRIAND. François-René-Auguste, Viscount of;
    famous French writer and statesman;
    associated with the château of Comburg, 207

  CHÂTEAUBRIANT. A Breton château, 207

  CHÂTEAUBRIANT. Françoise de Foix, Countess of;
    a story of her relations with King Francis I and her fate, 207;
    the château of Suscino given to, by Francis I, 210

  CHAVEAU-NARISHKINE, COUNTESS. Restored the château of Kerjolet,

  CHILDEBAT. A Breton king, 366;
    and St Pol, 367

  CHRAMNE. Son of Clotaire I, King of the Franks, 40

  CHRISTIANITY. St Samson teaches, in Brittany, 17-19;
    the Curiosolites refuse to receive the teachings of St Malo,

  CHURCH. The early;
    hostility of, to the fairies, 56

  CINDERELLA. The story of;
    mentioned, 144

  CISALPINE GAUL. Roman province;
    had no Druidic priesthood, 245

  CLAIRSCHACH. The Highland harp;
    replaced as the national instrument by the bagpipe, 229

  CLAUDE. Queen of Francis I of France, 36

  CLÉDER. A town in Brittany;
    St Keenan built a monastery at, 344

  CLERK OF ROHAN, THE. The story of, 189-193

  CLISSON. A Breton château, 204-205

  CLISSON, OLIVER DE. A celebrated Breton soldier, Constable of
    fought in the War of the Two Joans, 35, 204;
    and the château of Clisson, 204;
    and the château of Josselin, 205, 206

  CLOTAIRE I. King of the Franks, 40

  COADELAN. The manor of;
    occupied by Fontenelle, 230, 231;
    has gone to decay, 232

  COADELAN, THE LADY OF. Her daughter carried off by Fontenelle,

  COAT-SQUIRIOU, MARQUIS OF. In the story of the Youth who did not
        Know, 106-109

  COCKNO. A place in Scotland;
    inscribed stones at, 47

  COESORON. A river in Brittany, 17

  COÊTMAN. The house of, 204

  COÊTMAN, VISCOUNT OF. A Breton nobleman;
    mentioned, 204-205

  COËTQUEN, TOWER OF. One of the towers in the city wall of Dinan,

  COIFFES. Of Brittany;
    specimens of, in the museum at Kerjolet, 208
    _See_ Head-dress

  COLE, KING. A half-legendary British king;
    mentioned, 173

  COLODOC. A name given to St Keenan. _See_ St Keenan

  COMBAT OF SAINT-CAST, THE. The ballad of, 236-238

  COMBOURG. A Breton château, 207-208;
    Châteaubriand associated with, 208

  COMORRE THE CURSED. The story of, 180-184;
    mentioned, 382

  COMTE DE GABALIS, LE. The Abbé de Villars' work;
    mentioned, 64

  CONAN I. Count of Brittany (Count of Rennes), 27

  CONAN II. Duke of Brittany;
    and Duke William of Normandy, 27-29

  CONAN III. Duke of Brittany, 30;
    patron of Abélard, 248

  CONAN IV. Duke of Brittany, 30

  CONAN. Father of Morvan, 215

  CONCARNEAU. A town in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42;
    the château of Kerjolet in, 208

  CONCORET. A town in Brittany;
    had a reputation as the abode of sorcerers, 242

  CONCURRUS. A village in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42

  CONNAUGHT. An Irish province;
    St Keenan a native of, 343

  CONSTANCE. Daughter of Conan IV of Brittany;
    married to Geoffrey Plantagenet, 30

    cited, 83 _n._

  CORK. A county of Ireland;
    mentioned, 355

  CORNOUAILLE. A district in Brittany;
    the ancient Cornubia, 19;
    formed by immigrants from Britain, 23;
    Azénor the Pale, a ballad of, 360-364;
    distinctive national costume in, 372;
    mentioned, 108

  CORNUBIA. A British kingdom in Armorica, the modern Cornouaille,

  CORNWALL. An English county, anciently a kingdom;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 257-262;
    mentioned, 278

  CORSEUL. A town in Brittany;
    the people of, refuse the teachings of St Malo, 342-343

  CORSTORPHINE. A village near Edinburgh;
    the legend of the building of the church at, 51

  COSTUME. Breton;
    specimens of, in the museum at Kerjolet, 208;
    the faithfulness of the Bretons to their national costume, 372;
    the varieties of, 372-377;
    the costume of Cornouaille, 372;
    of Quimper, 372-373;
    of the workers of the Escoublac district, 373-374;
    of the women of Granville, 374;
    of the women of Ouessant, 374;
    of the men of St Pol, 375;
    of Pont l'Abbé and the Bay of Audierne, 376;
    of Morlaix, 376-377;
    gala dress in Brittany, 377

  CÔTES-DU-NORD. One of the departments of Brittany, 13;
    part of the ancient kingdom of Domnonia, 19;
    mentioned, 41, 88, 167, 282, 351

  COUDRE. A maiden;
    in the Lay of the Ash-tree, 319-320

  COURILS. A race of gnomes peculiar to Brittany, 87, 98-99

  COURONNES DE STE BARBE. Amulets sold at the festival of St Barbe at
        Le Faouet, 333

  COX, REV. SIR G. W. Cited, 275 _n._

  CRAON. The house of, 174

  CRIONS. A race of gnomes peculiar to the ruins of Tresmalouen, 99

  CROMLECH. The term;
    its derivation and significance, 38

  CROSS OF THE THOUSAND SAILS. A monument at Guic-sezne, 370

  CRUSADES. Mentioned, 190

  CULROSS. A town in Scotland;
    St Kentigern born at, 357

  CUP-AND-RING ALTAR. A monument discovered in the Milton of Colquhoun
        district, Scotland, 47

  CUP-AND-RING MARKINGS. Symbols inscribed on megaliths;
    their meaning and purpose, 46-48

  CUPID AND PSYCHE. The story of;
    mentioned, 137

  CURIOSOLITÆ. A Gallic tribe which inhabited Brittany, 16;
   the Curiosolites refuse to receive Christian teaching from St Malo,

  CYMBELINE. A half-legendary British king;
    mentioned, 173


  DAGWORTH, SIR THOMAS. An English knight;
    at the battle of La Roche-Derrien, 31

  DAHUT. Princess, daughter of Gradlon;
    in the legend of Ys, 185, 186

  DANAË. A maiden, in Greek mythology, mother of Perseus;
    mentioned, 358

  DAOINE SIDHE. Irish deities, 87

  DAOULAS. A village in Brittany;
    the statue of the Virgin in the abbey of, adorned with a girdle of
        rubies, 236

  DEAD, THE. In Breton tradition, supposed to return to earth in the
        form of birds, 227;
    food left for, 382-383, 387;
    burial customs, 382-384, 386-388;
    the Breton dead ferried over to Britain, 383-384

  DEATH-BIRD. A bird whose note is supposed to portend misfortune to
        the maiden who hears it, 145, 147

  DEATH-SPIRIT. The Ankou, 101-102

  DEER GOD. A deity of the North American Indians, 301

  DÉLANDRE, CAYOT. _See_ Cayot

  DEMETER. Greek corn goddess;
    mentioned, 59

  DEMON LOVER, THE. A Scottish ballad;
    mentioned, 144

  DEMONS. Of Brittany, 96-105;
    the invariable accompaniment of an illiterate peasantry, 96

  DENIS PYRAMUS. An Anglo-Norman chronicler;
    on the poems of Marie de France, 284

  DESONELLE, PRINCESS. Heroine of _Sir Torrent of Portugal_;
    mentioned, 358

  DEVIL, THE. The erection of the megalithic monuments ascribed to,
    the Teus and, 100
    _See also_ Satan

  DIANA. Roman moon-goddess;
    mentioned, 74

  DIANCECHT. An Irish god;
    mentioned, 247

    I. A town in Brittany, 194, 195, 209
    II. The château of, 209

  DOL. A town in Brittany;
    the menhir near, 18, 39-40, 318;
    St Samson settled near, 18;
    the Northmen defeated by Alain Barbe-torte near, 26;
    the legend of the menhir of, 40;
    Buron lived at, 318;
    St Turiau, or Tivisiau, associated with, 338-339;
    the legend of the founding of, by St Samson, 350;
    the legend of St Budoc of, 353-358

  DOL, BISHOP OF. And St Tivisiau, 338-339

  DOL DES MARCHANDS. The name given to a dolmen near Dol, 48

  DOLMENS. Derivation and meaning of the term, 38;
    purpose of the monuments, 38-39;
    the dolmen-chapel at Plouaret, 41;
    the dolmen at Trégunc, 42;
    the dolmen at Rocenaud, 46;
    cup-and-ring markings upon, 46-48;
    the dolmen at Penhapp, 48;
    the dolmen near the wood of Rocher, 50;
    the dolmen at La Lande-Marie, 51;
    the dolmen of Essé, 53;
    haunted by nains, 96;
    cup-hollows on, may have been intended as receptacles for food for
        the dead, 383

        of the _Lais_ of Marie de France, 328-331

  DOMNONÉE. A county of Brittany, 23
    _See also_ Domnonia

  DOMNONIA. A British kingdom in Armorica, 19, 27
    _See also_ Domnonée

  DOTTIN, GEORGES. Cited, 37 _n._

  DOUARNENEZ, BAY OF. A bay on the Breton coast;
    the city of Ys said to have been situated there, 185

  DRACHENFELS. A famous castle on the Rhine;
    mentioned, 203

  DREUX, PIERRE DE. Duke of Brittany;
    defeats John of England at Nantes, 30

  DREZ, JOB ANN. A sexton;
    in a story of the Yeun, 103-105

  DRUIDISM. In early times, sorcery identified with, 245;
    the question whether Druidism was of Celtic or non-Celtic origin,
    the nature of the practices of, 245-248;
    survival of Druidic spells and ritual, 246;
    an Eastern origin claimed for, 247;
    survivals of the Druidic priesthood, 247;
    a college of Druidic priestesses situated near Nantes, 253;
    mentioned, 53
    _See also_ Druids

  DRUIDS. Origin of the cult, 245;
    the nature of their practices, 245-246;
    in the legend of Kentigern's birth, condemn Thenaw, 357
    _See also_ Druidism

  DUBLIN. The city;
    Tristrem comes to, 263;
    Tristrem's second visit to, 265

  DUBRIC. Archbishop who officiated at the marriage of King Arthur and
        Guinevere, 67

  DU GUESCLIN, BERTRAND. A famous knight, Constable of France;
    helps Charles of Blois in the War of the Two Joans, 31-32;
    a notable figure in Breton legend, 32;
    buried at Saint-Denis, 32;
    the legend of the Ward of, 33-35;
    taken prisoner at the battle of Auray, 35

  DUNGIVEN. A town in Ireland;
    Druidic ritual still observed at, 246

  DUNPENDER. A mountain in East Lothian, now called Traprain Law;
    Thenaw cast from, 357

  DUSII. Spirits inhabiting Gaul, 100

  DYLAN. A British sea-god;
    mentioned, 69

  DYONAS. A god of the Britons;
    Vivien sometimes represented as the daughter of, 69


  EDINBURGH. The city;
    mentioned, 51, 60, 203

  EDMUND. King of East Anglia;
    mentioned, 284

  ELIDUC, THE LAY OF. One of the LAIS of Marie de France, 305-313

  ELLÉ. A river in Brittany, 19, 332

  ÉLORN. A river in Brittany, 19

  ELPHIN. Son of the Welsh chieftain Urien;
    taught by Taliesin, 21

  ELVES. In Teutonic mythology, diminutive spirits;
    the fairy race of Celtic countries may have been confused with,

  EMERALD COAST, THE. A district in the southern portion of Brittany,

    I. The country;
      loses its ancient British name, which becomes that of Brittany,
      Bretons who accompanied William the Conqueror receive land in,
      Bretons invade, from Wales, 234;
      claimed as the birthplace of Arthurian romance, 254;
      King Arthur moves against the Emperor Lucius' threatened
        invasion of, 275;
      the existence of King Arthur credited in, in the twelfth
        century, 278;
      Marie de France lived in, 283
    II. The State;
      supports John of Montfort's claim to Brittany, 31

  ENORA. _See_ St Enora

  EQUITAN, THE LAY OF. One of the _Lais_ of Marie de France,

  ERDEVEN. A town in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42

  ERMONIE. A mythical kingdom, in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde;
    Roland Rise, Lord of, 258;
    Duke Morgan becomes Lord of, 259;
    Tristrem returns to, 261

  ERNAULT, E. Cited, 16 _n._

  ERYRI, MOUNT. King Arthur slew the giant Ritho upon, 277

  ESCOUBLAC. A town in Brittany, 373

  ESSÉ. A village in Brittany;
    the dolmen of, 53

  ESTAING, PIERRE D'. A French alchemist;
    mentioned, 175

  ÉTANG DE LAVAL. A lake, supposed to cover the site of the submerged
        city of Ys, 185

  ETHWIJE. Wife of Geoffrey I of Brittany, 196, 198

  EUDO. Count of Brittany, son of Geoffrey I, 27, 29

  EUFUERIEN. King of Cumbria, 357

  EVEN THE GREAT. Breton leader;
    defeats the Norsemen at the battle of Kerlouan, 225, 227

  EWEN. Son of Eufuerien, King of Cumbria, 357

  EXCALIBUR. King Arthur's miraculous sword;
    given to Arthur in Brittany, 256-257;
    Arthur kills the giant of Mont-Saint-Michel with, 277;
    mentioned, 280

  EXETER. The city;
    mentioned, 307


  FABLES. Of Marie de France, 283

  FAIRIES. Credited with the erection of the megalithic monuments,
    magically imprisoned in dolmens, trees, and pillars, 52;
    the fairy lore of Brittany bears evidence of Celtic influence,
    the fairies of Brittany hostile to man, 54, 55-56, 85;
    the Church the enemy of, 56;
    what derived from, in folk-lore, 73-74;
    the varying conceptions of, 73;
    the Bretons' ideas of, 74-75;
    the fairies of the _houles_, 75, 88;
    the fairies' distaste for being recognized, and stories
        illustrating this, 82;
    bestow magical sight, 82-83;
    and changelings, 83;
    prone to take animal, bird, and fish shapes, 83-84;
    probable reasons for the fairies' malevolence, 85-86;
    origin of the fairy idea, 85-87;
    may have originally been deities, 87;
    in Brittany, conceived as of average mortal height, 87;
    the _Margots la fée_, a variety of, 88;
    a story illustrating fairy malevolence, 88;
    the fairy-woman in the Lay of Graelent, 322-328

  FAIRYLAND. Graelent enters, 326;
    identified with the Celtic Otherworld, 327;
    a place of death and remoteness, 328

  FAIRY-WIFE. A folk-lore _motif_, 327

  FALCON, THE. A ballad, 196-198

  FARMER, CAPTAIN GEORGE. Commander of the _Quebec_;
    in a Breton ballad, 238

  FAYS. _See_ Fairies

  FEBRUARY. The month;
    personified in the story of Princess Starbright, 128-129

  FÉLIX. Bishop of Quimper, 337

  FEUILLET, OCTAVE. A French novelist;
    mentioned, 206

  FINETTE CENDRON ('Cinderella'). Mme d'Aulnoy's story of;
    mentioned, 144

  FINISTÈRE. One of the departments of Brittany, 13;
    part of the ancient kingdom of Domnonia, 19;
    mentioned, 41, 49, 180

  FIONS. A name sometimes given to the fairies in Brittany, occurring
        also in Scottish and Irish folk-lore, 74

  FIRE-GODDESS. St Barbe probably represents the survival of a, 334

  FIREPLACES in Breton churches, 380-381

  FISHERMAN AND THE FAIRIES, THE. The story of, 80-83

  FLAMEL, NICOLAS. A French alchemist;
    mentioned, 175

  FLANDERS. The country;
    Gugemar in, 292;
    mentioned, 145

  FOLK-TALES. Of Brittany, 156-172

  FONTENELLE, GUY EDER DE. A Breton leader, associated with the
        Catholic League, 229-232

  FÖRSTER, PROFESSOR WENDELIN. And the origin of Arthurian romance,

  FORTH. A river in Scotland;
    mentioned, 357

  FORTH, FIRTH OF. Mentioned, 356, 359

  FOSTER-BROTHER, THE. The story of, 167-172

  FOUCAULT, JEAN. A Breton peasant;
    a story of, 244

  FOUGÈRES. A town in Brittany;
    had a reputation as the dwelling-place of sorcerers, 242

  FOUQUET, NICOLAS. A French statesman;
    imprisoned in the castle of Nantes, 205

        of the _Lais_ of Marie de France, 328-331

  FRAGAN. Governor of Léon, father of St Winwaloe, 370

    I. The country;
      manners and fashions of, spread in Brittany, 30;
      the were-wolf superstition prevalent in, 291
    II. The State;
      intervenes in the conflict between Brittany and Normandy, 30;
      Brittany annexed by, under Francis I, 36

  FRANCIS I. King of France;
    annexes Brittany to France, 36;
    and Françoise de Foix, the Countess of Châteaubriant, 207;
    gives the château of Suscino to Françoise de Foix, 210

  FRANCIS I. Duke of Brittany, 36

  FRANKS. The people;
    exercised a nominal suzerainty over Brittany, 23;
    Morvan fights with, 216-221;
    "Morvan will return to drive the Franks from the Breton land,"

  FRANKS, KING OF THE. In Villemarqué's _Barzaz-Breiz_;
    and Morvan's fight with the Moor, 218-220;
    Morvan fights with, 220-221;
    the character drawn in the style of the _chansons de gestes_,

  FREDEGONDA. Queen of Neustria;
    mentioned, 31

  FRÉMIET, EMMANUEL. A French sculptor;
    mentioned, 206

  FRÊNE. A maiden;
    in the Lay of the Ash-tree, 318-320

  FULBERT. A canon of Notre-Dame, Paris, uncle of Héloïse, 249;
    mutilated Abélard, 250

  FUNERAL CUSTOMS AND CEREMONIES. In Brittany, 382-384, 386-388


  GAIDOZ, H. Cited, 212 _n._

  GANHARDIN. Brother of Ysonde of the White Hand;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 271-272, 273

    mentioned, 237

  GARGANTUA. A mythical giant;
    the erection of the megalithic monuments ascribed to, 49

  GARLON, THE CLERK OF. In a legend of the Marquis of Guérande,

  GAVR'INIS ('Goat Island'). An island in the Gulf of Morbihan;
    the tumulus at, 48;
    nains' inscriptions on the megaliths of, 98

  GAWAINE, SIR. One of King Arthur's knights;
    mentioned, 357

  GEBER. An Arabian alchemist;
    mentioned, 175

  GEOFFREY I. Duke of Brittany, 27;
    in the legend of the Falcon, 196

  GEOFFREY II (PLANTAGENET). Duke of Brittany, 30

  GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH. An English chronicler;
    the presentation of Vivien in his work, 69;
    and the presentation of Merlin, 70;
    acknowledged a Breton source for his work, 255

  GILDAS. A British chronicler;
    fellow-pupil with Taliesin at the school of Cattwg, 21;
    St Keenan associated with, 343;
    St Bieuzy a friend and disciple of, 345;
    the bell of, in the chapel at La Roche-sur-Blavet, 345;
    St Bieuzy dies in the presence of, 346;
    St Pol of Léon a fellow-student of, 364

  GIRALDUS CAMBRENSIS. A Welsh chronicler;
    and the legend of the submerged city, 187

  GIRDLE. Superstition of the, 302

  GLAIN NEIDR. The sea-snake's egg or adder's stone, used in Druidic
        rites, 247;
    Héloïse, represented as a sorceress, said to have possessed,

  GLASGOW. The city;
    mentioned, 357, 359

  GOELC. A seigneury of Brittany;
    a Count of, the father of St Budoc of Dol, 354, 355

  GOEZENOU. A village in Brittany;
    the cheeses petrified by St Goezenou preserved in the church of,
    holy well at, 382

  GOIDELIC DIALECT. A Celtic tongue, 15

  GOLDEN BELL, CHÂTEAU OF THE. In the story of the Youth who did not
        Know, 111-114

  GOLDEN BELL, PRINCESS. In the story of the Youth who did not Know,

  GOLDEN HERB. A plant supposed in Druidical times to possess magical
        properties, 247-248

  GOMME, SIR G. L. Cited, 173, 247 _n._

  GORICS. A race of gnomes peculiar to Brittany, 87, 98-99

  GOULVEN. A village in Brittany;
    historical tablet in the church of, 225

  GOUVERNAYL. Servitor to Tristrem;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 263, 264

  GRADLON MEUR. A ruler of Ys;
    in the legend of the city, 185-186;
    the statue of, at Quimper, 188-189;
    supposed to have introduced the vine into Brittany, 189

  GRAELENT, THE LAY OF. One of the _Lais_ of Marie de France,

  GRAIL. Legend of the;
    a parallel incident in the Lay of Gugemar and, 301-302

  GRALLO. King of Brittany;
    and St Ronan, 367

  GRAND MONT. An eminence upon which St Gildas built his abbey, 249

  GRAND TROMÉNIE. The special celebration of the Pardon of the
        Mountain held every sixth year, 379-380

  GRANVILLE. A town in Brittany;
    women's costume in, 374

  GRIFESCORNE. King of the Demons;
    in the story of the Youth who did not Know, 111, 114

  GROABGOARD. An image at Quinipily, 381

  GROTTES AUX FÉES. Name given to the megalithic monuments by the
        Bretons, 48, 49

  GUÉMENÉ. A town in Brittany, 334

  GUÉRANDE. A town in Brittany, 198

  GUÉRANDE. Louis-François, Marquis of;
    the story of, 199-202

  GUERECH. Count of Vannes;
    in the story of Comorre the Cursed, 180-181, 183, 184

  GUGEMAR, THE LAY OF. One of the _Lais_ of Marie de France,

  GUIC-SEZNE. A town in Brittany, 370

  GUILDELUEC. Wife of Eliduc, 306-313

  GUILLARDUN. A princess;
    in the Lay of Eliduc, 307-313

  GUILLEVIC, A. Cited, 16 _n._

  GUIMILIAU. A town in Brittany;
    the Calvary at, 384-385

  GUINDY. A river in Brittany, 167, 220

  GUINEVERE. King Arthur's Queen;
    mentioned, 67;
    comforted by St Keenan after Arthur's death, 344

  GUINGAMP. A town in Brittany, 229

  GWEN. Mother of St Winwaloe, 370

  GWENALOE ('He that is white'). The Breton name for St Winwaloe,

  GWENN-ESTRAD. A place in Wales;
    battle of, 22

  GWENNOLAÏK. A maiden of Tréguier;
    in the story of the Foster-brother, 167-172

  GWÉNNOLÉ. A holy man;
    in the legend of the city of Ys, 185, 186

  GWEZKLEN. The Breton name for Du Guesclin, 32
    _See_ Du Guesclin

  GWINDELUC. A monk, a disciple of St Convoyon, 335

  GWYDDNO. Twelfth-century Welsh bard;
    relates the story of the submerged city, 188


  HAINAULT. A Belgian province;
    mentioned, 328

  HARP, THE. Not now popular in Brittany, but in ancient times one of
        the national instruments, 228-229

  HATCHET OF BRITTANY, THE. An appellation of Morvan, 221

  HAUTE-BÉCHEREL. A town in Brittany;
    pagan temple at, 342

  HEAD-DRESS. Of the women of the Escoublac district, 374;
    of the women of Ouessant, 374;
    of the women of Villecheret, 375;
    of the men of Brittany, does not vary much, 375;
    headgear of the men of Plougastel, 375;
    of the women of Muzillac, 376;
    of the women of Pont l'Abbé and the Bay of Audierne, 376;
    of the women of Morlaix, 376
    _See also_ COIFFES

  HEAVEN. An old Breton conception of, 388, 390-391

  HELENA, LADY. Niece of Duke Hoel I of Brittany;
    carried off by the giant of Mont-Saint-Michel, 275, 276

  HELL. In the story of the Bride of Satan, 144;
    an old Breton conception of, 388-389

  HELLÉAN, WOOD OF. A former part of the forest of Broceliande, 221,

  HELOÏSE. An abbess, beloved of Abélard;
    the story of Abélard and, 248-253;
    in a Breton ballad represented as a sorceress, 250-253

  HÉNAN. Manor of, in Brittany, 364


  HENNEBONT. A Breton château, 206

  HENRY II. King of England, 30;
    identified as the king to whom Marie of France dedicated her
        _Lais_, 284

  HENRY III. King of England;
    mentioned, 284

  HENRY IV. King of France;
    and Fontenelle, 231-232;
    mentioned, 204

  HENWG. A Welsh bard;
    said to be the father of Taliesin, 21

  HERSART DE LA VILLEMARQUÉ, VICOMTE. Writer on Breton legendary
    his poem on Nomenoë, 23;
    his ballad of Alain Barbe-torte, 25-27;
    and a story of the Clerk of Rohan, 190 _n._;
    his _Barzaz-Breiz_, 211-212;
    stories from his _Barzaz-Breiz_, 212-237;
    indications of the source of his matter, 224-225;
    and the story of Fontenelle, 230;
    and the story of the Combat of Saint-Cast, 237;
    on the story of Azénor the Pale, 363, 364;
    cited, 57 _n._, 65 _n._, 184 _n._, 247

  HERVÉ. Son of Kyvarnion;
    the story of the wolf and, 22;
    mentioned, 390

  HIGHLANDERS. Scottish;
    in the story of the Combat of Saint-Cast, 237

  HIGHLANDS. Scottish;
    beliefs in, respecting stones, 52-53;
    the 'Washing Woman' of, 100

  HILDWALL. A pious man of Angers;
    St Convoyon lodges with, 336

  HODAIN. A dog;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 267

  HOEL I. Duke of Brittany, 275, 276, 278

  HOEL V. Duke of Brittany, 30

  HOLGER. A half-mythical Danish hero;
    mentioned, 212

  HOLMES, T. RICE. Cited, 245 _n._

  HOLY LAND. _See_ Palestine

  HOULES. Caverns;
    the Bretons suppose fairies to inhabit, 75

  HUON DE MÉRY. A thirteenth-century writer;
    on the fountain of Baranton, 71

  HURLERS, THE. A Cornish legend;
    mentioned, 44


  IBERIANS. A non-Aryan race, supposed to have inhabited Britain;
    held by Rhys to be the originators of Druidism, 245

  IDA. King of Bernicia;
    mentioned, 21, 22

  ILE D'ARZ. An island off the coast of Brittany;
    megaliths in, 48

  ILE-DE-FRANCE. A French province;
    Marie of France said to have been a native of, 283

  ILE AUX MOINES. An island in the Gulf of Morbihan;
    megalithic monuments in, 48

  ILE DE SEIN. An island off the Breton coast, 63;
    St Winwaloe settled on, 371

  ILE-VERTE. An island off the Breton coast;
    St Winwaloe lived on, 370

  ILLE-ET-VILAINE. One of the departments of Brittany, 13, 39,

  INVERESK. A village in Scotland;
    mentioned, 359

  IOUENN. A young man;
    in the story of the Man of Honour, 147-155

  IRELAND. Markings on the megalithic monuments in, 46;
    the legend of the submerged city in, 187;
    the harp anciently the national instrument of, 229;
    Tristrem in, 264, 265-267;
    Petranus, father of St Patern, goes to, 347;
    St Patern meets his father in, 348;
    many saints in, 350;
    Azénor and Budoc in, 355-356;
    Budoc made King of, 356;
    late survival of the custom of keeping domestic bards in, 364

  IRELAND, KING OF. In the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 265, 266

  IRELAND, QUEEN OF. In the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 264-267

  IRMINSUL. A Saxon idol;
    probable connexion between the menhir and the worship of, 18

  ISIDORE OF SEVILLE. A Spanish ecclesiastic and writer;
    mentioned, 100


  JANUARY. The month;
    personified, in the story of the Princess Starbright, 128-129

  JARGEAU. A town in France;
    the battle of, 174

  JAUDY. A river in Brittany, 31, 167

  JAUIOZ. A seigneury in Languedoc;
    the story of Louis, Baron of, 145-146

  JEANNE DARC. The French heroine;
    mentioned, 174;
    the play or mystery of, 175

  JOAN OF FLANDERS. Wife of John of Montfort;
    in the War of the Two Joans, 31

  JOAN OF PENTHIÈVRE. _See_ Penthièvre

  JOB THE WITLESS. In the story of the Foster-brother, 169

  JOHN (LACKLAND). King of England;
    mentioned, 30

  JOHN III. Duke of Brittany, 30

  JOHN IV. Duke of Brittany
    _See_ Montfort, John of

  JOHN V. Duke of Brittany, son of the famous John of Montfort,
    and Gilles de Retz, 179;
    built a magnificent tomb for St Yves, 353

  JOHN. Duke of Châlons;
    the château of Suscino given to, 210

  JOSSELIN. A Breton château, 205-206

  JOYOUS GARDEN. A garden raised by enchantment by Merlin to please
        Vivien, 66;
    mentioned, 67, 69

  JUD-HAEL. A Breton chieftain;
    the vision of, 20-21

  JUDIK-HAEL. A Breton chieftain, son of Jud-Hael, 21

  JULIUS CÆSAR. On the Druids of Gaul, 245


  KADO THE STRIVER. A Breton peasant, leader of a revolt, 197-198

  KARNAK. A village in Egypt;
    mentioned, 43

  KARO. Son of a Breton chieftain;
    in a story of Nomenoë, 23-25

  KAY, SIR. King Arthur's seneschal, 275

  KENNEDY. A character in a Highland tale, 51

  KERGARIOU, COMTE DE. And the story of Fontenelle, 230

  KERGIVAS. A place in Brittany;
    the cheeses petrified by St Goezenou preserved in the manor of,

  KERGOALER, COUÉDIC DE. Captain of the _Surveillante_;
    in a Breton ballad, 238

  KERGONAN. A village in the Ile aux Moines;
    megaliths at, 48

  KERIDWEN. A fertility goddess who dwelt in Lake Tegid, Wales;
    mentioned, 59

  KER-IS. A name of the city of Ys, 185
    _See_ Ys

  KERJOLET. A Breton château, 208

  KERLAZ. A village in Brittany, 232

  KERLESCANT. A village in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42

  KERLOUAN. A town in Brittany;
    battle at, between Norsemen and Bretons, 225;
    the oak on the battlefield at, 227

  KERMARIO. A village in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42

  KERMARTIN. A village in Brittany;
    St Yves born at, 350

  KERMORVAN. A place in Brittany;
    Yves the Seigneur of, in the ballad of Azénor the Pale, 360-363

  KERODERN, MICHEL DE. A Breton missionary, 390

  KEROUEZ. An old château;
    in the story of the Seigneur with the Horse's Head, 137

  KERSANTON. A place in Brittany;
    stone from, forms the Calvary of Guimiliau, 385

  KERVRAN. A village in Brittany;
    the warrior Bran taken prisoner at, 225

  KING OF THE ANTS. In the story of the Princess of Tronkolaine,
        118, 119, 120

  KING OF THE BIRDS. In the story of the Youth who did not Know,
        111, 113

  KING OF THE FISHES. In a tale from Saint-Cast, 84-85;
    in the story of the Youth who did not Know, 110, 114

  KING OF THE LIONS. In the story of the Princess of Tronkolaine,
        118, 119, 120

  KING OF THE SPARROW-HAWKS. In the story of the Princess of
        Tronkolaine, 118, 119

  KIPLING, RUDYARD. Quoted, 86

  KORRIGAN, THE. A forest fairy;
    a denizen of Broceliande, 56;
    in the story of the Seigneur of Nann, 57-58;
    associated with water, an element of fertility, 59;
    an enchantress, 60;
    in the story of the Unbroken Vow, 62-63;
    desired union with humanity, 64;
    mentioned, 69, 98

  KYVARNION. A British bard, father of Hervé, 22


  LADY OF LA GARAYE, THE. Poem by Mrs Norton;
    quoted, 194, 195, 196

  LADY OF THE LAKE. In Arthurian legend, Vivien;
    foster-mother of Lancelot, 69, 257;
    of Breton origin, 256;
    gives Arthur the sword Excalibur, 256-257
    _See also_ Vivien

  LA GARAYE. A Breton château, near Dinan;
    the story of the Lady of, 195

  LAILOKEN. A character in early British legend;
    mentioned, 70

  LAIS. Of Marie de France;
    their value in the study of Breton lore, 283;
    date and other circumstances of their composition, 283-284;
    stories from, 284-289, 292-331

  LAKE OF ANGUISH, THE. A lake in Hell;
    in the story of the Bride of Satan, 144;
    in the story of the Baron of Jauioz, 146

  LA LANDE MARIE. A place in Brittany;
    the dolmen at, 51

  LANCELOT, SIR. One of the Knights of the Round Table, son of King
        Ban of Benwik;
    stolen and brought up by Vivien, 257;
    does not appear in Celtic legend, 257;
    mentioned, 64, 69

  LANDÉVENNEC. A town in Brittany;
    a chapel of St Nicholas at, 345;
    a monastery built at, by St Winwaloe, 371

  LANDIVISIAU. A town in Brittany, 338;
    fine carvings in the church of, 339-340

  LANDEGU. A village in Cornwall;
    St Keenan at, 344

  LANGOAD. A town in Brittany, 198

  LANGUAGE. Brezonek, the tongue of the Bretons, 15;
    the old Breton tongue closely similar to Welsh, 15;
    the Latin tongue did not spread over Brittany, 17

  LARGOET. A Breton château, 206

  LA ROCHE-BERNARD. A town in Brittany, 376

  LA ROCHE-SUR-BLAVET. A place in Brittany;
    a retreat of Gildas and St Bieuzy, 345

  LA ROCHE-DERRIEN. A place in Brittany;
    battle at, 31

  LA ROCHE-JAGU. A Breton château, 203-204

  LA ROSE. A young man;
    in the story of the Magic Rose, 156-162

  LATIN. The language;
    did not spread over Brittany, 17

  LAUSTIC, THE LAY OF. One of the _Lais_ of Marie de France,

  LAVAL, GILLES DE. _See_ Retz

  LAVAL, JEAN DE. Governor of Brittany, 207;
    married to Françoise de Foix, Countess of Châteaubriant, 207

  LAY OF THE WERE-WOLF, THE. One of the _Lais_ of Marie de France,

  LEAGUE, THE. A Catholic organization formed against the Huguenots,
        205, 206;
    Fontenelle associated with, 229

  LE BRAZ, ANATOLE. Cited, 102, 184 _n._

  LE CLERC, L. Cited, 16 _n._

  LE CROISIC. A town in Brittany, 373

  LE FAOUET. A village in Brittany;
    the chapel of St Barbe near, 332-333, 334-335

  LEGEND. The meaning of the term, 173

  LE GOFF, P. Cited, 16 _n._

  LE GRAND, A. Cited, 184 _n._

  LÉGUER. A town in Brittany, 220

  LÉGUER, LAKE OF. In the story of the Princess Starbright, 121,

  LELIAN. Father of St Tivisiau, 338

  LE MOUSTOIR-LE-JUCH. A village in Brittany;
    fireplace in the church of, 381

  LEO IV. Pope;
    Nomenoë sends gifts to, 337;
    and St Convoyon, 337

    I. A county of Brittany, 23, 143, 212, 225, 226, 229,
        356, 367, 388
    II. The see of;
      given to St Pol, 367

  LE ROUZIC, ZACHARIE. A Breton archæologist;
    mentioned, 45

  LEWIS. An island in the Outer Hebrides;
    mentioned, 53

  LEYDEN, JOHN. A Scottish poet and Orientalist;
    his treatment of legendary material, 211

  LÉZAT. A town in Brittany;
    had a reputation as the abode of sorcerers, 242

  LEZ-BREIZ, MORVAN. _See_ Morvan

  LIEUE DE GRÈVE. A place in Brittany;
    Arthur's fight with the dragon of, 278-281

  LIVONIA. The country;
    were-wolf superstition in, 290

  LLANVITHIN. A village in Wales;
    mentioned, 21

  LOC-CHRIST. Monastery of, built under the persuasion of St Winwaloe,

  LOCMARIA. A place in Brittany, 199

  LOCMARIAQUER. A town in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42

  LOGRES. An ancient British kingdom;
    in the Lay of Eliduc, 306-311

  LOGUIVY-PLOUGRAS. A town in Brittany, 137

  LOHANEC. A village in Brittany;
    St Yves incumbent of, 351

  LOHENGRIN. A knight, in German legend;
    mentioned, 137

  LOIRE. The river;
    mentioned, 16, 174, 253

  LOIRE-INFÉRIEURE. One of the departments of Brittany, 13

  LONDON. The city;
    mentioned, 31, 99

  LONG MEG. A Cumberland legend;
    mentioned, 44

  LONGSWORD, WILLIAM. Earl of Salisbury;
    identified as the nobleman to whom Marie of France dedicated her
        _Fables_, 284

  LORELEI. A water-spirit of the Rhine;
    mentioned, 64

  LORGNEZ. A Frankish chieftain;
    Morvan fights with, and slays, 217-218

  LOST DAUGHTER, THE. The story of, 75-80

  LOT. King of Lothian, grandfather of St Kentigern, 357

  LOTHIAN. A district in Scotland, formerly a kingdom;
    mentioned, 357, 359

  LOTHIAN, EAST. A county of Scotland;
    mentioned, 357

  LOUDÉAC. An _arrondissement_ of Brittany, 88

  LOUGH NEAGH. A lake in Ireland;
    according to Irish legend, the site of submerged city, 187

  LOUIS I (THE PIOUS). King of France;
    places the native chieftain Nomenoë over Brittany, 23;
    St Convoyon visits, to obtain confirmation of grants, 335

  LOUIS IX. King of France;
    mentioned, 208

  LOUIS XI. King of France;
    mentioned, 36, 205

  LOUIS XII. King of France;
    Anne of Brittany married to, 36

  LOUIS XV. King of France;
    honours the Count of La Garaye, 195

  LOUIS. Baron of Jauioz;
    the story of, 145-147

  LOUVRE, THE. A palace in Paris;
    mentioned, 206

  LUCIUS. Roman consul, sometimes referred to as Emperor;
    King Arthur moves against, 275

  LUZEL, F. M. His _Guerziou Breiz-Izel_, mentioned, 211

  LYONESSE. A legendary kingdom near Cornwall, 257


  MACCULLOCH, J. R. Cited, 59 _n._, 70, 102, 188 _n._, 189
        _n._, 381

  MACCUNN, HAMISH. Composer;
    mentioned, 145

  MACHUTES. _See_ St Malo

  MACPHERSON, JAMES. A Scottish poet;
    mentioned, 23, 211

  MACRITCHIE, D. Cited, 74

  MAC-TIERNS ('Sons of the Chief'). A name given to Brian and Alain,
        sons of Count Eudo, 29

  MAGEEN. Mother of St Tivisiau, 338

  MAGIC. _See_ Sorcery

  MAGIC ROSE, THE. The story of, 156-162

  MAHĀBHĀRATA. A Hindu epic;
    mentioned, 52

  MAISON DES FOLLETS. A name given to a megalithic structure at
        Cancoet, 49

  MAMAU, Y. Welsh deities, 87

  MAN OF HONOUR, THE. The story of, 147-155

  MARAUD. A peasant;
    in the story of the Lost Daughter, 75-77

  MARCH. The month;
    personified in the story of Princess Starbright, 128-129

  MARGAWSE. Sister of King Arthur, wife of King Lot of Lothian, 357

  MARGOTS LA FÉE, LES. Fairies which inhabit large rocks and the
        moorlands, 88

  MARGUERITE. A maiden, avenged by Du Guesclin, 33-35

  MARIE DE FRANCE. A twelfth-century French poetess;
    acknowledged Breton sources for her work, 255, 283;
    the _Lais_ and _Fables_ of, 283-284;
    personal history, 283;
    stories from the _Lais_, 284-331;
    and the Lay of Laustic, 302;
    and the Lay of Eliduc, 305-306;
    and the Lay of the Dolorous Knight, 328, 330-331

  MARK. King of Cornwall;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 258-274

  MARK. King of Vannes;
    and St Pol of Léon, 364

  MAROT, CLAUDE TOUSSAINT. Count of La Garaye;
    the story of, 194-196

  MARRIAGE. Costume of the bride in the Escoublac district, 374;
    the Pardon of Notre Dame de la Clarté made the occasion of
        betrothals, 378;
    wedding customs, 385-386

  MARRIAGE-GIRDLE, THE. The ballad of, 234-236

  MARSEILLES. The city;
    mentioned, 195

  MATSYS, QUENTIN. A Flemish painter;
    the well of, at Antwerp, 205

  MATTHEW. Seigneur of Beauvau;
    in the story of the Clerk of Rohan, 189-193

  MAUNOIR. A Jesuit Father, 388

  MAURON. A town in Brittany;
    battle at, 31

  MAY, ISLE OF. An island in the Firth of Forth, 357

  MAYENNE. Charles de Lorraine, Duke of;
    one of the leaders of the Catholic League, 229

  MEGALITHS. The derivation and meaning of the terms 'menhir' and
        'dolmen,' 37-38;
    nature and purpose of the monuments, 38-39;
    the menhir of Dol, and its legend, 39-41;
    the chapel-dolmen at Plouaret, 41;
    the megaliths at Camaret, 41;
    at Penmarch, 41;
    at Carnac, 42-45;
    the tumulus at Mont-Saint-Michel, 45;
    the dolmen at Rocenaud, 46;
    'cup-and-ring' markings, 46-48;
    the gallery of Gavr'inis, 48;
    the megaliths of the Ile aux Moines and the Ile d'Arz, 48;
    folk-beliefs associated with the monuments, 48-53;
    tales connected with them, 52;
    the question of the date of their erection, 53;
    the nains' inscriptions upon, 97-98;
    the megaliths of Carnac supposed to have been built by the gorics,
    _See also_ Menhir _and_ Dolmens

  MELUSINE. A fairy, in French folk-lore;
    mentioned, 327

  MENAO. A place in Wales;
    battle of, 22

  MÉNÉAC. A town in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42

  MENHIR. A megalithic monument, 18;
    the menhir of Dol, 18, 39-40;
    probably connected with pillar-worship and Irminsul-worship, 18
    derivation and meaning of the term, 38;
    purpose of the monuments, 38-39

  MERIADOK. A Cornish knight;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 269, 272

  MERIADUS. A Breton chieftain;
    in the Lay of Gugemar, 299-301

  MERLIN. An enchanter, in Arthurian legend;
    meets Vivien in Broceliande, and is afterward enchanted by her
        there, 65-69;
    his relationship with Vivien as presented in Arthurian legend,
    the varying conceptions of, 70;
    the typical Druid or wise man of Celtic tradition, 70;
    protects Arthur in his combat with Sir Pellinore, 256;
    and Arthur's finding of Excalibur, 256-257

  MEZLÉAN. A place in Brittany, 362, 363;
    the Clerk of, in the ballad of Azénor the Pale, 361-363

  MILTON OF COLQUHOUN. A district in Scotland;
    inscribed stones found in, 47

  MINIHY. A town in Brittany;
    St Yves' will and breviary preserved in the church of, 353

  MODRED, SIR. Nephew of King Arthur;
    his contest with the King, 344

  MONCONTOUR. A village in Brittany, 242

  MONEDUC. Mother of St Nennocha, 340

  MONTAGNES D'ARRÉE, or AREZ. A mountain chain in Brittany;
    the Yeun in, 102;
    mentioned, 235

  MONTALEMBERT, COMTE DE. His _Moines d'Occident_, cited, 19

  MONTFORT, JOHN OF. Duke of Brittany (John IV);
    disputes the succession to the Dukedom, 30-32, 35-36;
    captures the château of Suscino, 210;
    mentioned, 204

  MONTMORENCY. The house of;
    mentioned, 174

  MONTREUIL-SUR-MER. A town in the Pas-de-Calais, France;
    St Winwaloe's body preserved at, 371

    I. A tumulus, 45-46
    II. An island off the coast of Brittany, 45 _n._;
      King Arthur's fight with the giant of, 275;
      mentioned, 103

  MOOR, THE. In a story of Morvan;
    Morvan's fight with, 218-220;
    the character of, probably drawn from Carlovingian legend, 225

  MOORS, THE. Mentioned, 225

  MOORE, THOMAS. The poet;
    quoted, 187

  MORAUNT. An Irish ambassador at the English Court;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 262-263, 264, 266

    I. One of the departments of Brittany, 13, 48, 49;
      the nains' inscriptions on the megaliths of, 98;
      the Pardon of Notre Dame de la Clarté held in, 378
    II. An inland sea or gulf in the south of Brittany, (Gulf of
    naval battle between the Romans and Veneti probably took place in,
    mentioned, 48

  MORGAN, DUKE. A Cymric chieftain;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 258-259, 261-262

  MORIN. A priest, 388

  MORLAIX. A town in Brittany;
    the castle of, haunted by gorics, 99;
    the teursts of the district of, 100;
    in the story of the Youth who did not Know, 106, 107, 108,
    national costume in, 376-377

  MORTE D'ARTHUR. Malory's romance;
    the presentation of Vivien in, 69;
    Arthur's finding of Excalibur related in, 256;
    incident in, paralleled in the Lay of Gugemar, 301-302;
    mentioned, 257

  MORVAN LEZ-BREIZ. A famous Breton hero of the ninth century, 212;
    stories of, 212-224;
    tradition that he will return to "drive the Franks from the Breton
        land," 224

  MOURIOCHE, THE. A malicious demon, 101

  MÜLLER, W. MAX. Mentioned, 358

  MURILLO. A celebrated Spanish painter;
    paintings by, in the château of Caradeuc, 207

  MUT. An Egyptian goddess;
    mentioned, 43

  MUZILLAC. A town in Brittany;
    head-dress of the women of, 376


  NAINS. A race of demons;
    their character, 96-98;
    guardians of hidden treasure, 99

  NAMNETES. A Gallic tribe which inhabited Brittany, 16

  NANN, THE SEIGNEUR OF. The story of, 57-59

  NANTES. A city in Brittany;
    in a ballad, represented as the scene of magical exploits of
        Abélard and Héloïse, 253;
    traditionally associated with sorcery, 253;
    Equitan the King of, 313;
    the scene of the Lay of the Dolorous Knight, 328;
    Nomenoë obtains possession of, 338;
    mentioned, 17, 30, 168, 169, 170, 180, 337

  NANTES. The castle of, 205

  NEOLITHIC AGE. The race which built the stone monuments of Brittany
        probably belonged to, 37 _n._

  NÉVET. Forest of, in Léon, 367

  NÉVEZ. A town in Brittany, 190

  NEW CALEDONIA. An island in the Pacific;
    markings on the megalithic monuments in, 46-47

  NICOLE, THE. A mischievous spirit, 100-101

  NIGHTINGALE, THE LAY OF THE. One of the _Lais_ of Marie de France,

  NIGHT-WASHERS. A race of supernatural beings, 100

  NIMUE. A name under which Vivien, the Lady of the Lake, appears in
        some romances, 69;
    mentioned, 256
    _See_ Vivien

  NOGENT. Sister of Gugemar, 292

  NOGENT-SUR-SEINE. A town in France;
    the abbey at, founded by Abélard, and made over by him to Héloïse,
    Abélard and Héloïse buried at, 250

  NOLA. A youth;
    in the story of the Foster-brother, 170-171

  NOMENOË. A Breton chieftain, afterward King of Brittany;
    rises against Charles the Bald and defeats him, 23, 337-338;
    a story of, 23-25;
    and St Convoyon, 335, 336, 337;
    sends gifts to Pope Leo IV, 337;
    burns the abbey of Saint-Florent, 337

  NORMANDY. The duchy;
    early relations of Brittany with, 27-30

  NORMANS. The Bretons rise against, 196-198;
    spread the Arthur legend, 254, 255;
    mentioned, 338

  NOROUAS. Personification of the north-west wind;
    a story of, 163-167

  NORTHMEN, NORSEMEN. Invade Brittany, 25;
    defeated by Alain Barbe-torte and expelled from Brittany,
    the battle of Kerlouan between the Bretons and, 225

  NORTH-WEST WIND, THE. Personification of;
    a story of, 163-167

  NORTON, MRS. An English poetess;
    her _Lady of La Garaye_, quoted, 194, 195, 196

  N'OUN DOARE. A youth;
    in the story of the Youth who did not Know, 106-115

  NUTT, A. Cited, 99 _n._, 254


  OBERON. King of the fairies;
    mentioned, 74

  ŒDIPUS. King of Thebes;
    mentioned, 357

  OGIER THE DANE. One of the paladins of Charlemagne;
    entered Fairyland, 326

  OLAUS MAGNUS. A sixteenth-century Swedish ecclesiastic and writer;
    mentioned, 290

  ORIDIAL. Father of Gugemar, 292

  ORIGEN. One of the Fathers of the early Church;
    and St Barbe, 333

  ORLÉANS. The city;
    the siege of (1428-29), 174;
    the play or mystery of, on Jeanne Darc, 175;
    mentioned, 229

  OSISMII. A Gallic tribe which inhabited Brittany, 16

  OSSIAN. A semi-legendary Celtic bard and warrior;
    mentioned, 211

  OSSORY. A district in Ireland;
    emigration from, to Brittany, 22

  OTHERWORLD. The Celtic, 171-172;
    Fairyland identified with, 327

  OUESSANT. An island off the coast of Brittany;
    St Pol in, 365;
    the costume of the women of, 374-375

  OUST. A river in Brittany, 205

  OWAIN. A Welsh chieftain, son of Urien;
    Taliesin the bard of, 22

  OWEN GLENDOWER. A Welsh chieftain;
    the Bretons send an expedition to help, in his conflict with the
        English, 234


  PALESTINE. Mentioned, 145, 190, 269, 302

  PARACLETE ('Comforter'). Name given by Abélard to his abbey at
        Nogent, 249;
    Abélard and Héloïse buried at, 250

  PARDONS. Religious pilgrimage festivals of the Bretons, 378-380

  PARIS. The city;
    mentioned, 108, 109, 112, 113, 114, 116, 117, 118,
        119, 120-121, 156, 157, 158, 195, 208, 229,
        230-231, 351

  PARIS, GASTON. A noted French philologist;
    claims that Arthurian romance originated in Wales, 254;
    identifies the persons to whom Marie de France dedicated her
        _Lais_ and _Fables_, 284

  PASSAGE DE L'ENFER. An arm of the sea over which the Breton dead
        were supposed to be ferried, 383

  PATAY. A village in Loiret, France;
    the battle of, 174

  PAVIA. A city in Italy;
    Francis I of France taken prisoner at, 207

  PELLINORE, SIR. One of the Knights of the Round Table;
    Arthur broke his sword in combat with, 256

  PEMBROKESHIRE. Welsh county;
    St Samson a native of, 17

  PENATES. Household gods of the Romans;
    mentioned, 53

  PEN-BAS. A cudgel carried by the men of Cornouaille, 372;
    rarely carried by the men of St Pol, 375

  PENHAPP. A village in the Ile aux Moines;
    dolmen at, 48

  PENMARCH. A town in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 41;
    Ty C'harriquet near, 49;
    a fireplace in the church of St Non at, 381

  PENRAZ. A village in the Isle of Arz;
    megaliths at, 48

  PENTECOST. A Jewish festival;
    mentioned, 324

  PENTHIÈVRE. A former county of Brittany, 27, 205

  PENTHIÈVRE. Joan of;
    wife of Charles of Blois, 30;
    in the War of the Two Joans, 31;
    her marriage to Charles, 32

  PENTHIÈVRE. Stephen, Count of, 208

  PERCIVAL. Hero of _Percival le Gallois_;
    analogy between his flight and that of Morvan, 224

  PERCIVAL LE GALLOIS. Arthurian saga;
    mentioned, 224

  PÈRE LA CHIQUE. An old man;
    in the story of the Magic Rose, 159-160, 162

  PERGUET. A village in Brittany;
    the fireplace in the church of St Bridget at, 381

  PERSEUS. A mythical Greek hero;
    mentioned, 357, 358

  PERTHSHIRE. Scottish county;
    the 'Washing Woman' in, 100

  PETRANUS. Father of St Patern, 347

  PHILIP VI. King of France;
    mentioned, 30

  PICTS. The race;
    Celts flee from Britain to Brittany, to escape, 17;
    the legend that they built the original church of Corstorphine,
        near Edinburgh, 51;
    "wee fouk but unco' strang," 99

  PIGS. St Pol taught the people to keep, 366

  PILLAR-WORSHIP. Probable connexion of the menhir with, 18 _n._

  PILLARS. Tales of spirits enclosed in, 52

  PLACE OF SKULLS, THE. In the story of the Bride of Satan, 144

  PLÉLAN. A town in Brittany;
    St Convoyon removes to, from Redon, 338

  PLESTIN-LES-GRÈVES. A town in Brittany;
    St Efflam buried in the church of, 281

  PLOERMEL. A town in Brittany;
    St Nennocha founded her monastery at, 340

  PLOUARET. A town in Brittany;
    the dolmen-chapel at, 41

  PLOUBALAY. A town in Brittany;
    in the story of the Fisherman and the Fairies, 81

  PLOUBER. A town in Brittany, 199, 202

  PLOUGASTEL. A town in Brittany;
    the costume of the men of, 375;
    the Calvary of, 384

  PLOUHARNEL. A village in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42

  PLOURIN. A village in Brittany;
    St Budoc lived at, 356

  POITOU. A former county of France;
    ravaged by Nomenoë, 337;
    mentioned, 176

  POMPONIUS MELA. A Roman geographer;
    quoted, 63

  PONT L'ABBÉ. A town in Brittany;
    national costume in, 376

  PONT-AVEN. A village in Brittany, 364

  PONTIVY. A town in Brittany;
    chapel to St Noyola at, 360

  PONTORSON. A town in Brittany, 275

  POOR, THE. Regard paid to, at Breton festivals and ceremonies,

  PORSPODER. A town in Brittany;
    St Budoc lands at, and dwells in, 356

  POULDERGAT, MANNAÏK DE. The bride-to-be of Silvestik, 232

  PRAGUE. Capital of Bohemia;
    mentioned, 203

  PRELATI. An alchemist of Padua, employed by Gilles de Retz, 176,

  PRINCESS STARBRIGHT, THE. The story of, 121-131;
    mentioned, 153

  PRINCESS OF TRONKOLAINE, THE. The story of, 115-121

  PROCOPIUS. A Byzantine historian;
    on a Breton burial custom, 383-384

  PROP OF BRITTANY, THE. Name given to Morvan, chieftain of Léon,
    stories of, 212-224


  QUEBAN. Wife of King Grallo;
    St Ronan discovers her fault, 368

  QUEBEC, THE. A British vessel;
    her fight with the _Surveillante_, 238-240

  QUEEN ANNE'S TOWER. Name of the keep of the château of Dinan, 209

  QUESTEMBERT. A town in Brittany;
    the Château des Paulpiquets at, 49

  QUIBERON. A town in Brittany, 46

  QUIMPER. A city in Brittany;
    St Convoyon Bishop of, 335;
    national costume in, 372-373;
    mentioned, 186, 188

  QUIMPER, COUNT OF. In a story of Morvan, 213, 216

  Quimperlé. A town in Brittany;
    the château of Rustefan near, 208;
    St Goezenou killed at the building of the monastery at, 370


  RAMA. A hero in Hindu mythology;
    mentioned, 52

  RĀMĀYANA. A Hindu epic;
    mentioned, 52

  RAOUL LE GAEL. A Breton knight, 29

  RAVELSTON QUARRY. A quarry near Edinburgh;
    mentioned, 51

  REDON or RODON. A town in Brittany;
    the abbey of: founded by St Convoyon, 335-336;
    the bones of St Apothemius carried to, 336;
    the bones of St Marcellinus carried to, 337;
    Nomenoë takes spoil from the Abbey of Saint-Florent to, 337;
    St Convoyon removes from, 338;
    St Convoyon buried at, 338

  REDONES. A Gallic tribe which inhabited Brittany, 16

  REGINALD. Bishop of Vannes, 335, 336

  REID, GENERAL JOHN. The composer of _The Garb of Old Gaul_, 238


  RELIGION. Brittany the most religious of the French provinces,
    the religious element in the Breton character, 377-378

  RELIQUARIES. In Brittany, 382

  REMUS. In Roman legend, brother of Romulus;
    mentioned, 358

  RENAISSANCE ARCHITECTURE. References to, 205, 206, 209

  RENÉ. Constable of Naples, 190

  RENNES. A city in Brittany;
    the scene of Nomenoë's vengeance, 23-25;
    the Counts of, gain ascendancy in Brittany, 27;
    the marriage of Charles of Blois and Joan of Penthièvre at, 32;
    Robert the sorcerer dwelt in, 242;
    Nomenoë obtains possession of, 338;
    mentioned, 17, 181, 195

  RESTALRIG. A village near Edinburgh;
    the well of St Triduana at, 59-60

  RETIERS. A town in Brittany the Roches aux Fées at, 51

  RETZ, or RAIS. A district in Brittany, 23, 174

  RETZ, CARDINAL DE. A French politician and writer;
    imprisoned in the castle of Nantes, 205

  RETZ, GILLES DE. A Breton nobleman;
    a story of, 173-180;
    the identification of, with Bluebeard, 174, 180

    mentioned, 188, 195, 338, 353, 369

  REVUE CELTIQUE. Cited, 212 _n._

  RHEINSTEIN. A famous castle on the Rhine;
    mentioned, 203

  RHINE. The river;
    mentioned, 203

  RHUYS. _See_ St Gildas de Rhuys

  RHYS, SIR JOHN. And the origin of Druidism, 245;
    mentioned, 70

  RICHARD II. Duke of Normandy;
    mentioned, 196

  RICHELIEU, CARDINAL. A famous French statesman;
    the château of Tonquédec demolished by order of, 204

  RIEUX, JEAN DE. Marshal of Brittany;
    leader of the expedition to help Owen Glendower, 234

  RITHO. A giant whom King Arthur slew, 277

  ROAD OF ST POL, THE. Name given by Breton peasants to a megalithic
        avenue, 365

  ROBERT I. Duke of Normandy, 28

  ROBERT. A sorcerer who dwelt in Rennes, 242-243

  ROBERT DE VITRY. A Breton knight, 29

  ROCENAUD. A village in Brittany;
    dolmen at, 46

  ROCEY. The house of, 174

  ROCHE-MARCHE-BRAN. A rocky hill;
    the chapel of St Barbe built on, 335

  ROCHER, THE WOOD OF. The dolmen near, 50

  ROCHERS. A Breton château;
    Mme Sévigné associated with, 208

  ROCHES AUX FÉES. Name given to the megalithic monuments by the
        Bretons, 49;
    near Saint-Didier-et-Marpire, 50;
    in Rhetiers, 51;
    supposed to be the meeting-place of sorcerers, 243

  ROCKFLOWER. A fairy maiden;
    in a tale from Saint-Cast, 83

  RODRIGUEZ, FATHER. Mentioned, 47

  ROE. A river in Ireland;
    Druidic ritual associated with, 246

  ROGER. An English knight;
    in the legend of the Ward of Du Guesclin, 33-35

  ROHAN. The house of, 206

  ROHAN. Alain, Viscount of, 189

  ROHAN. Jeanne de, daughter of Alain de Rohan;
    in the story of the Clerk of Rohan, 189-193

  ROHAND. A vassal of Roland;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 258-259, 260-261, 262

  ROLAND, SIR. A knight;
    in the story of the Unbroken Vow, 60-63

  ROLAND RISE. A Cymric chieftain, Lord of Ermonie;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 258-259, 261

  ROLLESTON, T. W. Cited, 246

  ROLLO. A famous Norse leader, first Duke of Normandy;
    mentioned, 28

  ROMANS, THE. In Brittany, 16

  ROME. The city;
    mentioned, 196, 337

  ROMULUS. In Roman legend, the founder of Rome;
    mentioned, 357, 358

  RON. The name of King Arthur's lance, 280

  ROND. A dance performed at weddings, 385-386

  ROSAMOND. Mistress of Henry II of England (Rosamond Clifford, 'the
        Fair Rosamond');
    mentioned, 284

  ROS-YNYS. A place in Wales, afterward St David's;
    a story of St Keenan and, 343-344

  ROUND TOWER. At Ardmore, Ireland, 51;
    at Abernethy, Perthshire, 52

  RUMENGOL. A village in Brittany;
    the Pardon of the Singers held at, 378


  SACRING BELLS. The use of, an old Breton custom, 380

  ST ANNE. A Breton saint;
    Morvan prays to, 216-217;
    Morvan rewards with gifts, 218;
    Morvan gives praise to, for his victory over the Moor, 220;
    frees Morvan from his burden, 224;
    mentioned, 146

  SAINTE-ANNE-LA-PALUD. A village in Brittany;
    the Pardon of the Sea held at, 378

  ST APOTHEMIUS. St Convoyon steals the bones of, from Angers
        Cathedral, and takes them to Redon, 336

  ST AUGUSTINE. Archbishop of Canterbury;
    mentioned, 100

  ST BALDRED. A Celtic saint, 359-360

  ST BALDRED'S BOAT. A rock in the Firth of Forth;
    the legend of, 359

  ST BARBE. A Breton saint, 332-335

  SAINTE-BARBE. A village in Brittany;
    megaliths at, 42

  ST BIEUZY. A Breton saint, 345-346;
    the Holy Well of, at Bieuzy, 381

  ST BRIDGET. An Irish saint;
    Azénor prays to, and is helped by, 354;
    church of, at Berhet, the custom of ringing the sacring bell
        survives in, 380;
    church of, at Perguet, the fireplace in, 381

    I. An _arrondissement_ of Brittany, 88, 350
    II. A town in Brittany;
      a relic of St Keenan preserved in the cathedral of, 344

  SAINT-BRIEUC, BAY OF. A bay on the Breton coast;
    the Nicole of, 100;
    mentioned, 18, 350

  ST BUDOC. A Breton saint;
    the legend of, 353-356

  SAINT-CAST. A village in Brittany;
    in the story of the Lost Daughter, 75;
    a story from, 84;
    the story of the Combat of, 236-237;
    mentioned, 83

  ST CECILIA'S DAY. Ceremonies in honour of King Gradlon on, 189

  ST CHARLES. Jesuit church of, at Antwerp;
    relics of St Winwaloe preserved at, 371

  ST CONVOYON. A Breton saint, 335-338

  ST CORBASIUS. A Breton saint;
    kills St Goezenou, 370

  ST CORNELY. A Breton saint, the patron of cattle;
    in a legend of Carnac, 44-45

  ST DAVID'S. A city in Wales, originally called Ros-ynys;
    in a story of St Keenan, 344

  SAINT-DENIS. A famous abbey, in the city of Saint-Denis, in France;
    Du Guesclin buried in, 32

  SAINT-DIDIER. A village in Brittany;
    the Roches aux Fées near, 50

  ST DUBRICUS. A British saint;
    mentioned, 346

  ST DUNSTAN. A British saint, called St Goustan in Brittany,

  ST EFFLAM. A Breton saint;
    and King Arthur's encounter with the dragon of the Lieue de Grève,
    the story of St Enora and, 340-342;
    mentioned, 366

  ST ENORA, or HONORA. A Breton saint;
    the story of Efflam and, 279, 281, 340-342

  SAINT-FLORENT. A town in France;
    Nomenoë and the abbey of, 337

  ST GALL. A famous monastery in Switzerland;
    mentioned, 247

  ST GERMAIN. A French saint, Bishop of Paris;
    the exchange of wax for wine between St Samson and, 19;
    persuades Nennocha to embrace the religious life, 340

  ST GILDAS. A British saint;
    in the story of Comorre the Cursed, 181, 183-184;
    founded the abbey of St Gildas de Rhuys, near Vannes, 248-249

  ST GILDAS DE RHUYS. An abbey near Vannes;
    founded by St Gildas, 248-249;
    Abélard appointed abbot of, 248;
    St Bieuzy died and was buried at, 346;
    St Patern educated at, 348

  ST GOEZENOU. A Breton saint, 368-370

  ST GOUSTAN. The Breton name of St Dunstan, 249

  ST HENWG. _See_ Henwg

  ST HONORA, or ENORA. _See_ St Enora

  ST ILTUD. A Welsh saint;
    in a legend of St Samson, 349;
    St Pol a disciple of, 364;
    mentioned, 346

  ST IVES. _See_ St Yves

  SAINT-JACUT-DE-LA-MER. A village in Brittany;
    in the story of the Fisherman and the Fairies, 80, 84

  ST JAOUA. A Breton saint, 366

  SAINT-JEAN-DU-DOIGT. A village in Brittany;
    the Pardon of the Fire held at, 378, 379

  ST JOHN. A Breton saint, 197

  ST KADO. A Breton saint;
    mentioned, 197

  ST KÉ, or ST QUAY. Popular name in Brittany for St Keenan, 344

  ST KEENAN. A Breton saint, 343-344

  ST KENTIGERN, or ST MUNGO. Patron saint of Glasgow;
    the legend of, 356-357;
    mentioned, 70, 359

  ST LAZARUS. The Order of;
    Louis XV sends to the Count of La Garaye, 195

  ST LEONORIUS, or LÉONORE. A Breton saint, 346-347

  ST LOUIS. _See_ Louis IX

  ST MAGAN. A Breton saint, brother of St Goezenou, 370

  ST MALGLORIOUS. A Breton saint, 356

  ST MALO, or MACHUTES. A Breton saint;
    the people of Corseul hostile to the teachings of, 343

  SAINT-MALO. A town in Brittany;
    the scene of the Lay of Laustic, 302;
    St Convoyon born near, 335;
    mentioned, 230

  SAINT-MALO, BAY OF. The Nicole of, 100-101

  ST MARCELLINUS. Bishop of Rome;
    the bones of, given to St Convoyon by Pope Leo IV, and taken by
        him to Redon, 337

  ST MÉRIADEC. A Breton saint;
    his skull used in the ritual of the Pardon of Saint-Jean-du-Doigt,

  ST MICHAEL. The archangel;
    chapel of, on the tumulus of Mont-Saint-Michel, 46;
    the child Morvan thinks he has seen, 213;
    Morvan thinks a knight more splendid than, 214

  ST MICHEL. A Breton saint, 'Lord of Heights';
    a chapel of, near Le Faouet, 333

  ST MUNGO. _See_ St Kentigern

  ST NENNOCHA. A Breton saint, 340

  ST NICHOLAS. A Breton saint;
    probably the survival of a pagan divinity, 345

  ST NICOLAS DE BIEUZY. Church of, in Bieuzy, 180

  ST NON. A Breton saint;
    a fireplace in the church of, at Penmarch, 381

  ST NOYALA. A Breton saint, 360

  ST PATERN. A Breton saint, 347-349

  ST POL, or PAUL. Of Léon;
    a Breton saint, 248, 364-367

  SAINT-POL-DE-LÉON. A town in Brittany;
    the bell of St Pol in the cathedral of, 367;
    St Pol buried in the cathedral of, 367;
    the cathedral of, built by St Pol, 367;
    costume of the men of, 375;
    mentioned, 237, 365, 366

  ST ROCH. A Breton saint;
    shrine of, at Auray, 42;
    and the markings on the dolmen at Rocenaud, 46

  ST RONAN. A Breton saint, 367

  ST SAMSON. A British saint;
    settles in Brittany, 17-19;
    St Gildas the friend of, 248;
    stories of, 349-350;
    St Pol of Léon a fellow-student of, 364

  ST SERF. A Scottish saint, abbot of Culross, 357

  SAINT-THÉGONNEC. A town in Brittany;
    the Calvary at, 384

  ST TIVISIAU, or TURIAU. A Breton saint, 338-339;
    the fountain of, at Landivisiau, 340

  ST TREMEUR. A Breton saint, son of Comorre;
    the reliquary in the church of, 382

  ST TRIDUANA. Guardian of a well at Restalrig, near Edinburgh,

  ST TRIPHYNE. A Breton saint;
    wife of Comorre, 180
    _See_ Triphyna

  ST TUGDUAL. A Breton saint;
    founded the church of Tréguier, 167;
    made a miraculous crossing to Brittany, 360

  ST TURIAU. _See_ St Tivisiau

  ST VOUGAS, or VIE. A Breton saint, 360

  ST WINWALOE. A Breton saint, 370-371

  ST YVES, or YVO. Brittany's favourite saint, 350-353

  SAINT-YVES. A village in Brittany;
    the Pardon of the Poor held at, 378

  SAINTS. Stories of, an important element in Breton folk-lore,
    the primitive saint driven to use methods similar to those of the
        pagan priests around him, 332;
    tales of the Breton saints, 332-371;
    the product of poor countries rather than of prosperous ones,

  SAINTSBURY, G. E. B. Cited, 254

  SALOMON III. Count of Brittany;
    drives back the Northmen, 25

  SANT-E-ROA ('Holy Wheel'). Apparatus of the sacring bell;
    at the church of St Bridget, Berhet, 380

  SATAN. A story of, 143-144;
    Gilles de Retz seeks association with, 177-179;
    in an old Breton conception of Hell, 389
    _See also_ Devil

  SAXONS. The race;
    Celts flee from Britain to Brittany to escape, 15, 17

  SCOTLAND. Markings on the megalithic monuments in, 46-47;
    the harp formerly the national instrument of, 229;
    claimed as the birthplace of Arthurian romance, 254;
    late survival of the custom of keeping domestic bards in, 364;
    mentioned, 52

  SCOTS. The race;
    Celts flee from Britain to Brittany to escape, 17

  SCOTT, SIR WALTER. The novelist;
    his treatment of legendary matter, 211;
    one of the first to bring the story of Tristrem to public notice,
    continued the story of Tristrem beyond the point at which the
        Auchinleck MS. breaks off, 272

  SEA OF DARKNESS, THE. In the story of the Castle of the Sun, 132

  SEA-SNAKE'S EGG. _See_ Adder's Stone

  SÉBILLOT, PAUL. Cited, 52, 212 _n._;
    mentioned, 74;
    and the story of the Combat of Saint-Cast, 237 _n._

  SEIGNEUR WITH THE HORSE'S HEAD, THE. The story of, 137-143

  SEIGNEUR OF NANN, THE. The story of, 57-59

  SEIN. _See_ Ile de Sein

  SERIPHOS. An island in the Ægean Sea to which Danaë was carried;
    mentioned, 358

  SEVEN SAINTS OF BRITTANY. St Samson and six others who fled with him
        from Britain, 350

  SEVEN SLEEPERS, THE. Seven Christian youths of Ephesus who hid to
        escape persecution and slept for several hundreds of years;
    an altar to, in the dolmen-chapel at Plouaret, 41

  SEVERN. The river;
    mentioned, 349

  SÉVIGNÉ, MME DE. A famous French epistolary writer;
    sojourned in the castle of Nantes, 205;
    wrote many of her letters from the château of Rochers, 208

  SHARPE, CHARLES KIRKPATRICK. An antiquary and writer, friend of Sir
        Walter Scott;
    his treatment of legendary material, 211

  SHEWALTON SANDS. A place in Scotland;
    inscribed stones found at, 47

  SHIP, THE. A rock off the coast of Brittany, said to have been the
        vessel of St Vougas, 360

  SHIP O' THE FIEND, THE. Orchestral work by Hamish MacCunn;
    mentioned, 145

  SHIP OF SOULS. A feature in Breton folk-belief, 384

  SIGHT, MAGICAL. Bestowed by fairies, 82-83

  SILVESTIK. A young Breton who followed in the train of William the
        Conqueror to England;
    the story of, 232-233

  SIMROCK, C. J. Cited, 83

  SKYE. An island off the west coast of Scotland;
    the 'Washing Woman' in, 100

  SLIEVE GRIAN. A mountain in Ireland;
    mentioned, 52

  SMALL, A. Cited, 52


  SONG OF THE PILOT, THE. A Breton ballad, 238-240

  SORCERY. Belief in, prevalent in Brittany, 241-243;
    in ancient times, identified with Druidism, 245

  SOUTH-WEST WIND, THE. Personification of, in a wind-tale, 163

  SOUVESTRE, ÉMILE. A French novelist and dramatist;
    mentioned, 180

  SPAIN. Tristrem in, 270;
    the giant of Mont-Saint-Michel came from, 275

  SPENSER, EDMUND. The poet;
    mentioned, 56

  STONES. Folk-tales and beliefs connected with, 52-53

  STYX. In Greek mythology, a river of the underworld;
    mentioned, 327

  SUN, THE. Personified in the story of the Princess of Tronkolaine,
   the story of Tristrem and Ysonde claimed as a sun-myth, 274-275;
   personified in the 'fatal children' stories, 358

  SUN-PRINCESS. A story of the search for, 121-131

  SUROUAS. Name of the south-west wind;
    in a wind-tale, 163

  SURVEILLANTE, LE. A Breton vessel;
    her fight with the British ship _Quebec_, 238-240

  SUSANNUS. Bishop of Vannes, 336-337

  SUSCINO. A Breton château, 209-210

  SWINBURNE, Algernon. The poet;
    quoted, 267


  TADEN. A village in Brittany;
    the Count and Countess of La Garaye buried at, 195

  TALIESIN ('Shining Forehead'). A British bard;
    and the vision of Jud-Hael, 20-21;
    early years, 21;
    the bard of Urien and Owain-ap-Urien, 22;
    death of, 22;
    probably sojourned in Brittany, 22;
    acquainted with black art, 252

  TAM O' SHANTER. The character in Burns's poem;
    mentioned, 244

  TANTALLON CASTLE. A famous ruin in Scotland;
    mentioned, 359

  TARTARY. The country;
    mentioned, 115

  TEGID, LLYN. A lake in Wales (Lake Bala);
    the dwelling-place of Keridwen, a fertility goddess, 59

  TELIO. A British monk, associated with St Samson;
    said to have introduced the apple into Brittany, 18

  TEURSTA POULICT. A variety of the teursts taking animal shape,

  TEURSTS. A race of evil spirits, 100

  TEUS, or BUGELNOZ. A beneficent spirit of the district of Vannes,

  THENAW. Mother of St Kentigern, 357

  THIERRY, J. N. A. A French historian;
    quoted, 17

        Scottish poet;
    his version of the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 258 _et seq._;
    visited Fairyland, 326;
    mentioned, 64, 255, 327

  THOUARS, CATHERINE DE. Wife of Gilles de Retz, 174

  THOUARS, GUY DE. A French knight;
    married to Constance of Brittany, 30

  TIBER. The river;
    mentioned, 358

  TINA. A maiden;
    in the story of the Baron of Jauioz, 145-147

  TITANIA. Queen of the fairies;
    mentioned, 74

  TONQUÉDEC. A Breton château, 204

  TOPOGRAPHY OF IRELAND. A work by Giraldus Cambrensis;
    cited, 187

  TORRENT OF PORTUGAL, SIR. A fifteenth-century English metrical
    mentioned, 358

  TOULBOUDOU. A seigneury near Guémené, 334

  TOULBOUDOU, John, Lord of;
    builds the chapel of St Barbe at Le Faouet, 334-335

  TOUR D'ELVEN. A keep of the château of Largoet, 206

  TOURLAVILLE. A Breton château, 208-209

  TOWER OF LONDON, THE. Charles of Blois confined in, 31;
    the name of, occurs frequently in Celtic and Breton romance, 99

  TRAPRAIN LAW. A mountain in East Lothian, formerly called
    Thenaw cast from, 357

  TREASURE, J. P. Cited, 16 _n._

  TREDRIG. A village in Brittany;
    St Yves the incumbent of, 351

  TREES. Tales of spirits enclosed in, 52

  TRÉGASTEL. A town on the Breton coast;
    an island near believed by the Bretons to be the fabled Isle of
        Avalon, 282

  TRÉGUENNEC. A village in Brittany;
    St Vougas associated with, 360

    I. A former county of Brittany, 27, 350
    II. A town in Brittany;
      St Yves buried at, 353;
      a burial custom of, 383;
      mentioned, 167, 168, 237, 350

  TRÉGUNC. A town in Brittany;
    dolmen at 42

  TREMALOUEN. A hamlet in Brittany;
    ruins at, haunted by courils, 99

  TREMTRIS. Inverted form of Tristrem's name given him by Rohand to
        secure his safety, 259;
    Tristrem assumes the name in Ireland, 264, 266

  TRÉPASSÉS, BAY OF. A bay on the Breton coast, 185

  TRÈVES. A village in Brittany;
    had a reputation as the abode of sorcerers, 242

  TRIDWAN. _See_ St Triduana

  TRIEUX. A river in Brittany, 203, 204

  TRIPHYNA (ST TRIPHYNE). A maiden, married to Comorre, 180-184

  TRISTREM, SIR ('Child of Sorrow'). One of the Knights of the Round
        Table, son of Blancheflour;
    the story of, and Ysonde, 257-275;
    mentioned, 301

  TRISTREM, SIR. An ancient metrical romance;
    incidents in, paralleled in the story of Bran, 227-228;
    date of composition of, 228;
    had a Breton source, 255;
    Sir Walter Scott one of the first to bring Thomas the Rhymer's
        version of, to public notice, 258;
    Thomas the Rhymer's version of, recounted, 258-272;
    Scott's continuation of the Auchinleck MS., 272-274;
    the story of Tristrem and Ysonde claimed as a sun-myth, 274-275

  TROGOFF. The château of;
    in the legend of the Ward of Du Guesclin, 33-35

  TROLLOPE, T. ADOLPHUS. Quoted, 179-180

  TROMÉNIE-DE-SAINT-RENAN. A town in Brittany;
    the Pardon of the Mountain held at, 378, 379

  TROYES. A city in France;
    Abélard's abbey of Nogent near, 249

  TUGDUAL SALAÜN. A peasant of Plouber, composer of a ballad on the
        Marquis of Guérande, 199, 202

  TY C'HARRIQUET ('The House of the Gorics')
    I. A name given to a megalithic structure near Penmarch, 49
    II. A name applied to Carnac, 98

  TY EN CORYGANNT. A name given to a megalithic structure in Morbihan,


  UNBROKEN VOW, THE. A story of Broceliande, 60-63

  UNITED STATES, THE. The Bretons aid, in the War of Independence,

  URIEN. A Welsh chieftain;
    Taliesin the bard of, 21, 22


  VAL-ÈS-DUNES. A place in Brittany;
    Alain, Count of Brittany, defeated in battle at, 28

  VALLEY OF BLOOD. A place in hell;
    in the story of the Baron of Jauioz, 146

    I. A former county of Brittany;
      mentioned, 23, 180
    II. The city;
      the dialect of, 16 _and n._;
      the ancient city of the Veneti, 17;
      the Teus or Bugelnoz of, 100;
      in the story of Comorre the Cursed, 183;
      the château of Suscino near, 209;
      the abbey of St Gildas near, 248;
      St Convoyon educated at, 335;
      St Patern the patron saint of, 347;
      St Patern Bishop of, 348;
      the legend of the founding of the church of St Patern at,
      St Pol of Léon in, 364

  VENETI. A Gallic tribe which inhabited Brittany, 16, 17

  'VENUS, THE.' An image at Quinipily, 381

  VILAINE. A river in Brittany, 335

  VILLARS, ABBÉ DE. A French priest and writer;
    cited, 64

  VILLECHERET. A village in Brittany;
    the head-dress of the women of, 375

  VILLEMARQUÉ. _See_ Hersart de la Villemarqué

  VINE, THE. Said to have been introduced into Brittany by Gradlon,

  VIRGIN MARY, THE. In a Breton legend, 380

  VITRÉ. A Breton château, 208

  VIVIEN. An enchantress, in Arthurian legend;
    meets Merlin in Broceliande, and afterward enchants him there,
    as presented in Arthurian legend and in other romances, 69;
    may be classed as a water-spirit, 69;
    the probable purpose of the story of Merlin and, in Arthurian
        legend, 70;
    of Breton origin, and does not appear in British myth, 256;
    gives Arthur the sword Excalibur, 256-257;
    Sir Lancelot stolen and brought up by, 257


  WACE. A twelfth-century Anglo-Norman poet;
    quoted, 54;
    and the fountain of Baranton, 71

  WAGNER, RICHARD. The composer;
    mentioned, 258

  WALES. Legend of the submerged city in, 187, 188;
    the harp anciently the national instrument of, 229;
    Bretons send an expedition to, to help Glendower, 234;
    claimed as the birthplace of Arthurian romance, 254;
    helped the development of Arthurian romance, 255;
    Tristrem sojourns in, and wins fame there, 270;
    mentioned, 59, 343

  WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, AMERICAN. Bretons take part in, against
        England, 238

  WAR OF THE TWO JOANS, THE. A war waged for the succession to the
        Dukedom of Brittany, 31-32, 35-36

  WARD OF DU GUESCLIN, THE. A Du Guesclin legend, 33-35

  WASHING WOMAN, THE. An evil spirit of the Scottish Highlands, 100

  WEDDING CUSTOMS. In Brittany, 385-386
    _See also_ Marriage

  WELLS, HOLY. In Brittany, 381-382

  WELSH. The language;
    the Breton tongue akin to, 15

  WERE-WOLF. A man transformed into a wolf;
    the prevalence, origin, and forms of the superstition, 289-292;
    a were-wolf story, 284-289

  WESTMINSTER. The city;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, Ysonde carried to, for trial,

  WEXFORD. A county of Ireland;
    emigration from, to Brittany, 22

  WHEEL OF FORTUNE, THE. A name wrongly given to part of the apparatus
        of the sacring bell, 380

  WHITE CHURCH. A church in Tréguier;
    in the story of the Foster-brother, 170, 171

  WILLIAM II. Duke of Normandy (William the Conqueror);
    Conan II of Brittany and, 27, 28-29;
    Bretons accompany, on his expedition against England, 232,

  WILLIAM, COUNT. The name of the nobleman to whom Marie of France
        dedicated her Fables, identified with Longsword, Earl of
        Salisbury, 283-284

  WINDS, THE. Play a large part in Breton folk-lore, 162;
    a wind-tale, 163-167

  WINE. St Germain exchanges for wax from the monks of Dol, 19;
    a wine festival in honour of King Gradlon, 189

  WOMEN. In early communities, magical power often the possession of,
    generally the conservators of surviving Druidic tradition, 247;
    St Goezenou's antipathy to, 369;
    costume of the women of Brittany--_see_ Costume _and_ Head-dress

  WOOD OF CHESTNUTS. Mentioned in a story of Morvan, 217


  YEUN, THE. A morass of evil repute, 102-103;
    a story of, 103-105

  YORK. The city, in England;
    St Samson ordained at, 349

  YOUDIC, THE. A part of the Yeun peat-bog, 103;
    a story of, 103-105

  YOUGHAL. A town in Ireland;
    Azénor and the infant Budoc washed ashore at, 355;
    Budoc becomes abbot of the monastery at, 356

  YOUGHAL, ABBOT OF. In the legend of St Budoc, 355, 356

  YOUTH WHO DID NOT KNOW. The story of, 106-115

  YS, or IS. A submerged city of legend;
    the legend of, 184-188;
    such a legend common to several Celtic races, 187;
    Giraldus Cambrensis and the legend of, 187-188

  YSEULT. _See_ Ysonde

  YSONDE, or YSEULT. Daughter of the King of Ireland;
    some incidents in her story paralleled in the ballad of Bran,
    the story of Tristrem and, 257-274;
    the story of Tristrem and, claimed as a sun-myth, 274-275

  YSONDE OF THE WHITE HAND. Daughter of Hoel I, Duke of Brittany;
    in the story of Tristrem and Ysonde, 271, 273

  YVES. Husband of Azénor the Pale, 361-363

  YVON. A youth;
    in the story of the Castle of the Sun, 131-137

  YVONNE. A maiden;
    in the story of the Castle of the Sun, 131-137

  ZIMMER, H. Cited, 278

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber Notes

Typographical inconsistencies have been changed and are listed below.

Hyphenation has been standardized.

Otherwise, archaic spelling and the author's punctuation style have
been preserved.

Passages in italics indicated by _underscores_.

Transcriber Changes

The following changes were made to the original text:

  Page 113: Added quote ("What do you desire? You have only to speak
            and it shall be =brought."=)

  Page 121: Was 'litle' (You can restore me permanently to my human
            shape if you choose to show only a =little= perseverance
            and courage.)

  Page 206: Added apostrophe (in Octave =Feuillet's= _Roman d'un jeune
            Homme pauvre_)

  Page 227: Added quote (for when you die you will at least end your
            days in =Brittany."=)

  Page 267: Was 'attendent' (her passion for Tristrem moved her to
            induce her =attendant= Brengwain to take her place)

  Page 357: Was 'Eufeurien' (Thenaw met Ewen, the son of =Eufuerien=,
            King of Cumbria, and fell deeply in love with him)

  Footnote 38: Was 'Legende' (_La =Légende= de la Mort_)

  Index: Was 'bulit' (the chapel of St Barbe =built= on, 335)

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