The Legend of Melusina

 

Die Sage von der schönen Melusina

 

Many hundred years ago a noble knight lived in a castle in Körich, a town near Capellen in Luxembourg. His name was Siegfried. He enjoyed going hunting.

One day he lost his way and got into a dark, narrow, wild and overgrown valley. It was the valley of the river Alzette, at the very place where today the suburbs of Luxembourg hug  the rock. 

 

The earl looked up at the lump of rock high above him and saw an old dilapidated Roman castle. Suddenly he heard a wonderful singing from there and he was tempted to go to the old castle. A beautiful virgin was sitting on the ruins of the castle: Melusina, the mermaid of the Alzette.

In the evening the earl fell asleep under a tree.The following morning he was awoken by the singing of the birds. He rode home along the river still thinking of this wonderful appearance.

 The earl couldn’t forget the picture of the pretty virgin and her wonderful singing. So he rode  to this region more often to enjoy her view  and the sound of her voice.

 

Melusina liked his visits and she was fond of the powerfully built young man. One day Siegfried went to her, revealed his love and asked her to become his wife. She was ready to do so, but only under one condition: he should never force her to leave the cliff or demand to see her on the Saturdays when she wished to be alone. The earl promised all this faithfully to her.

Siegfried offered his castle Feulen near Ettelbrück to the abbot of St. Maximin near Trier in exchange for the bare cliffs and the forests surrounding. But he didn’t have the money to build a castle on the cliff and to marry Melusina during the following years. So he made a pact with the devil. The devil offered him to build the castle and to heap wealth and money on him, if he gave him his soul after thirty years.

 

Siegfried agreed and over night there was a wonderful castle on the cliff. Full of pride it looked down into the valley. The earl married the pretty Melusina and they experienced days in happiness and love. His wife gave him seven children.

But on Saturdays Melusina locked herself up in her rooms as it had been arranged. She did this lasting for years and he never asked her about it.

But one day as Siegfried’s friends were around and he told them about her secret. They thought that Melusina may have another lover in her rooms.

Now the knight absolutely wanted to know what his wife was hiding behind the locked door.

On the following Saturday he crept into her rooms.

He heard a roaring and splashing. He looked carefully and curiously through the keyhole and saw his wife sitting in the bath combing her long, blond hair. But how scared was he when he saw that her beautiful legs had turned into an ugly fish tail with which she splashed in the water.

 

The earl cried with horror. At this very moment Melusina sank into the cliff. She was lost for him forever. 

People said that the nurse who looked after the youngest child sometimes recognized a white figure in the room. She came to rock the child. 

Now every seven years Melusina appears in the form of a human being on the cliff to ask the passersby to release her. If this doesn’t succeed  the white figure floats above the town and shouts: ”I won’t return before seven years.” And she disappears again in the rock. 

Therefore being on guard duty at this cliff was a very feared job at the time the town Luxembourg was still a fortress. Even the bravest soldier was afraid to keep watch over the place. 

One night a courageous soldier who had exchanged guard numbers with a comrade was on guard duty between midnight and  two o’clock in the morning. Melusina appeared in front of him in form of a pretty girl and asked him to release her. She said in a heavy voice:” This won’t be impossible. But if you are afraid to do so, you better let it, because I will sink three times deeper into the cliff when you fail.” While saying so there was such a loud howling round the cliff that the soldier thought the whole rock would fall to pieces. The young guard promised Melusina to release her. 

Eight evenings the soldier stood behind the altar on the stroke of midnight, but on the ninth evening he was late. On the way back to the rock he heard a terrible howling and screaming. He was the only one to hear it, nobody except him heard the noise. 

 

One night a courageous soldier who had exchanged guard numbers with a comrade was on guard duty between midnight and  two o’clock in the morning. Melusina appeared in front of him in form of a pretty girl and asked him to release her. She said in a heavy voice:” This won’t be impossible. But if you are afraid to do so, you better let it, because I will sink three times deeper into the cliff when you fail.” While saying so there was such a loud howling round the cliff that the soldier thought the whole rock would fall to pieces. The young guard promised Melusina to release her. 

 During nine successive days he had to stand behind the altar in the Dominican church every evening exactly at midnight - not a minute too early and not a minute too late. After that she would appear to him as a fiery snake with a key in the mouth, she had promised to him. He would have to take the key with his mouth out of her mouth and throw it into the river. Then she would be released and the Roman castle would again stand on the rock as before. 

Eight evenings the soldier stood behind the altar on the stroke of midnight, but on the ninth evening he was late. On the way back to the rock he heard a terrible howling and screaming. He was the only one to hear it, nobody except him heard the noise. 

 

So Melusina hasn’t been released until today.

 

A contribution to the Comenius School Development Project
“Using ICT to support and enhance Teaching and Learning”
Form 5 “Ecole Primaire Erpeldange
Luxembourg
May 2006