Brittany has the greatest concentration of megalithic sites in the world. These megaliths range from single standing stones to complex alignments stretching for miles and massive man-made tumuli the size of a small hill. Older than the written word, their meanings remain clouded in mystery, shrouded in superstition and folklore.
In France, books of spells, conjurations and natural magic were known as grimoires and in Brittany the most infamous of such works was the Agrippa; a mysterious and massive book widely believed to have been used by priests to harness the elements, evoke demons and foretell the future.
Forecasting the weather has always been one of mankind’s most vital concerns. The observation of weather patterns and their effect on the cultivation of crops gave rise to many popular folk beliefs and superstitions in Brittany.
One of the strongest claims to be the source for the legend of Bluebeard is the 6th century Breton warlord Conomor, popularly remembered as Conomor the Accursed; a tyrant who is reputed to have murdered all his many wives.
The humble honey bee has, from the earliest annals of recorded time, had a close, symbiotic relationship with humanity. Brittany possesses a rich tradition of beliefs and superstitions surrounding bees and beekeeping.
Popular belief in the power of witchcraft survived in Brittany, as elsewhere in France, deep into the last century but the spells and curses of the witch were often as benign as they were malignant.
The 12th century poet Marie de France remains a mystery to us but her writing had a strong and lasting influence on the development of medieval literature. Adapted from traditional Breton folktales, her tales or lais are a veritable treasure of European culture. This is her lai of the werewolf.
One of the world’s most infamous lost cities is said to lie beneath the waves off the west coast of Brittany.This magnificent city was damned and destroyed by the wrath of God and is now said to be home to the mermaids of the coast.
Born into an illustrious and wealthy family, accomplished knight and brother-in-arms to Joan of Arc, Gilles de Rais, was appointed Marshall of France at the age of just 25 but his meteoric rise was matched by a ghastly fall. He is best remembered today as probably one of the most depraved and prolific serial killers in history whose shrine was, for centuries, a site of pilgrimage for expectant mothers.
A brief look at the lives of some of the most notorious pirates and buccaneers from Brittany who pillaged from the Caribbean to the Bay of Bengal.