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.
It is not only artists that have taken inspiration from the rich landscapes and unique culture of Brittany; generations of writers and poets have also been stimulated by this enchanting region of France.
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 overview of the wolf and werewolf superstitions in Brittany
Witchcraft in Brittany.
An echo of the region’s Celtic past, sacred springs were commonplace throughout Brittany with miraculous qualities attributed to many and were an important part of daily life even after the Catholic counter-reformation.
One of the most commonly found creatures in the rich canon of Breton folklore are the korrigans; a race of capricious and contradictory magical dwarves.