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Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)

MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Nov 11 - 06:24 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 06:24 PM

Anyone here who's familiar with the fairy tale of Bluebeard will also know the story that Charles Perrault based his tale on the historical figures of Gilles de Rais and Cunmar the Accursed(or Comorre the Cursed). Cunmar the Accursed is said to have killed five wives (the last, Triphine, was killed but then sent back to life again. Anyone who's researched Bluebeard will know what I'm talking about) In researching these legends, I discovered that in one variant of the CTA legend, he's actually forced to wander around the countryside, living an undead existence as a werewolf and eating human flesh as punishment for his cruelty. As soon as I read that, the wheels in my head started turning, and I got an idea for a story based on this aspect of the legend (an idea which I'm not working on for a while for obvious reasons) along the lines of "Evil ruler gets transformed into werewolf as a punishment, then has descendants who are cursed with a longing for human flesh that is very hard to control."

OK. My question is, anyone familiar with the legend or Breton folklore (or just plain Celtic/Western European folklore) know where this belief might have originated? Are there any other stories of evil people being transformed into werewolves? I know (from research into folklore, which is one of my fantasy interests. I got my username from another one) that the Wild Hunt in some versions is led by the Devil and made up of the damned, which means that if you sin when you're alive and you're a Christian, supposedly you'll be forced to join the Hunt (I'm only talking about the Christianised version of the Hunt). But I've never heard of lycanthropy as a punishment for evil in the permanent way, except in this legend. Does that concept (of lycanthropy, werewolfism as a permanent punishment for sin) occur in other stories? And where does it come from anyway? Anyone have a clue?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 06:28 PM

I wish there was an edit button. That was supposed to be a slash after the word "lycanthropy" in brackets.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 08:08 PM

Someone must know... anyone? Refresh.
BTW, I already searched for "Conomor/Comorre/Comor and Trephine/Triphine/Trephina legend werewolf" and "Cunmar the Accursed Bluebeard werewolf" and every other term possible related to this topic, and came up with more variants of the legend, but I don't need the legend anymore. Also most of the sites on the legend rarely talk about the werewolf aspect. I've done some research on werewolves in general and also found out that the French werewolf "loup-garou" is defined as someone under a hereditary curse, and that one cause of the curse is if a person misses Mass for 24 days, and so that's seen as a divine punishment. However, Marina Warner apparently does mention the werewolf aspect.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 10:28 PM

BTW, about the five wives thing: forgot that in one variant of the Cunmar/St. Triphine legend, it's four wives, although there is at least one version where five women were killed before St. Triphine came along. The spirits of the wives in the secret room (who play a "magical helper" role in the story) help our heroine escape the castle by giving her four items- poison, a rope, a horse, and a staff. The four items relate to their deaths: the first wife was poisoned along with her son, the second was strangled with a rope, the third was dragged by a horse, and the fourth was beaten over the head with a staff (yikes!).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 11:02 PM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 11:49 PM

"*Christian* punishment for evil" for the first post. I hate to be posting to my own threads repeatedly..


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 01:05 AM

Anyone know the legend and can possibly answer my question?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Breton legend)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 01:40 AM


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 01:43 AM

Changed the title slightly to make it clearer.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: mayomick
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 05:35 AM

the werewolves of Ossory

http://www.irelandseye.com/aarticles/culture/talk/banshees/werewolf2.shtm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: mayomick
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 05:44 AM

Sorry ,that was part two. A link to the first part of the story of the werewolves of Ossory here :

http://www.irelandseye.com/aarticles/culture/talk/banshees/werewolf.shtm



'The sin which my clan committed has long been forgotten', went on the wolf, 'but the curse is still in force. Every seven years two of us must lose our mortal form to wear the skin of the wild wolf and must live in the deep woods away from the rest of our clan. When the seven years are up we shed our animal form and regain our human shape and two others must take our place. It is a terrible burden,


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 05:44 AM

Mayomick, that's interesting.. thanks.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 05:47 AM

BTW, the concept of an ancestral curse- "sins of the fathers"- is a very common motif in fantasy fiction, particularly in Gothic fiction.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: mayomick
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 06:12 AM

The wolf represents pagan religious practices that were suppressed with the coming of Christianity , perhaps ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 06:20 AM

Yes, but why would a person be transformed into a wolf for being evil? Then again, CTA is described in the legend - and contemporary records- as very cruel and irreligious, although he wasn't a pagan- Wiki even says "The wife-beating giant Cormoran (from "Jack the Giant-Killer", which is probably related to "Jack and the Beanstalk", both are English fairy tales about boys named Jack who kill giants) may also retain a garbled folk memory of the same character".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: mayomick
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 07:37 AM

Evil is the old religion . Those who return to paganism revert to a wild or half-wild form represented by the human/wolf ?


High King of Ireland , Cormac mac Airt and his association with wolves.

http://www.luminarium.org/mythology/ireland/cormacdesc.htm<
Cormac's father was Art,son of Conn who fell in battle with the Picts and Britons at the Plain of the Swine. He gave instructions to his wife Achta before the battle "If things go ill with us in the fight, and I am slain, seek out my faithful friend Luna [sic]who dwells in Corann in Connacht, and he will protect thee till thy son be born . On Achta's journey to Corann the child is born . "Her maid turned the chariot aside into the wild wood , and there, on a couch of twigs and leaves, she gave birth to a noble son."
The mother and her handmaid fall asleep in the wood and the son gets taken by a she-wolf who raises him along with her other whelps . Some years later, Luna goes to the wolf's cave and takes the child home. "And the child they called Cormac, or the Chariot-Child. Now the lad grew up very comely and strong, and he abode with Luna in Connacht, and no one told him of his descent.

Cormac is said to have turned to Christianity some years before his death. One account of his death says he choked on a fish bone, but according to Lebar na h-Uidhre, he was killed by the siabhra, or fairy beings, for abandoning the old religion.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 06:27 PM

That's interesting. But the fact is, lycanthropy could be symbolic of paganism/ the Old Religion in a number of these legends, but it doesn't seem to be symbolic of that in the Cunmar the Accursed legend. Maybe it was shorthand for impiety in general in this specific tale? Sort of saying, "it doesn't matter if you're a pagan or not, if you're not religious, you will revert to the same wild state as a pagan?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 06:32 PM

Any other posters want to talk about this? Does anyone share mayomick's or my ideas?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 06:44 PM

BTW, another interesting thing occurred to me; Cunmar (or Conomor's) motivation for marrying and getting rid of his wives in this legend is the exact opposite of Henry VIII's (another historical monarch who got rid of his wives, as most people would know) historical motivation for doing the same thing; in legend, Cunmar (who was a real person who lived in the 6th century) marries and kills his wives when they are pregnant so that he won't have a son that will overthrow him, fulfilling a prophecy that his firstborn son will kill him. Henry historically married and discarded his wives because of the desire for a male heir.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 07:10 PM

Interestingly, EA Vizetelly, in his 1902 book "Bluebeard: An account of Comorre the Cursed and Gilles de Rais: And summary of tales and traditions" which can be found online, states that "Comor ar Miliguet" (Breton for Comorre the Cursed) was claimed as Bluebeard by older locals in Brittany in the 1900s, and that "until recently (paraphrasing here), people in the area signed (ie crossed) themselves at mention of the miscreant's dreaded name, as one on whom Providence had made a judgement, and being denied entrance to heaven or purgatory, roamed Quencan (near the location of his old castle) in the guise of a wolf, seeking whom he might devour." The reference to "crossing themselves" seems to suggest that Cunmar/Comorre was regarded as a local demon or bogeyman in Brittany, and feared enough that people crossed themselves when mentioning him, at least at the time of Vizetelly's book.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 10:38 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: Darowyn
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 04:23 AM

Many years ago, I remember listening to a play on Radio 3 (it was probably called the Third Programme then) which told a very similar story to the Bluebeard/ family curse theme. It was apparently based on a Welsh legend, though since the languages are similar, it could have been Breton. The main character was called something like Harlevin.
A quick search in the internet suggests a connection between that name and Herluin, which also rings a bell in connection with all the Languedoc and Cathar stories, conspiracy theories and the like.
It might be worth following up.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 06:09 AM

Thanks for that Dave! Googled "harlevin welsh legend bluebeard" didn't find anything. But did find a listing of a tale called "Luala" which Heidi Anne Heiner on Surlalune fairy tales lists as "from Wales". There is no online version due to copyright restrictions. Searching for "Bluebeard legend Brittany" just turns up the stuff I found before on CTA and de Rais. BTW, can you remember anything of the BBC Radio play's plot? That might help better.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar "the Accursed" (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 06:38 AM

BTW, something else which just occurred to me-- I wonder if this legend about Cunmar the Accursed and St. Triphine (with the werewolf curse) is heard of anywhere outside of France, if it spread beyond France/Brittany to French-influenced areas of the Americas? French settlers in the Americas came from all over France, including Brittany, so it's plausible that Breton colonists may have brought the story where they settled.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 01:17 PM

You might be interested in Marie de France's lai "Bisclavret". I believe it's supposed to be a Breton story-- it tells the story of a virtuous werewolf betrayed by an evil wife (a bit of a reversal from the Bluebeard tale)-- he eventually attacks and mutilates here. Details at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisclavret and you can read the translated text all over the web.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 05:22 PM

Thanks. Anyone Canadian or from/with relatives in Louisiana heard of the saint's legend mentioned in this thread?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 06:38 PM

BTW, the "Bluebeard tale" as such-- "Bluebeard", written by Perrault, as (I believe) part of his 1697 collection, "Contes de Ma Mere L'Oye" (Tales of My Mother the Goose), has no werewolf/supernatural element, unlike the Cunmar the Accursed story. "Bluebeard" shares with CTA legend the element of a young girl marrying a rich man with many previous wives who have all disappeared in mysterious circumstances, whose husband appears like a "nice guy" until he goes away for a time and tells her not to open a certain door. Of course she is overcome by curiosity, opens the door, and is fated for certain death (Unlike Perrault's nameless heroine and motiveless villain, Triphine saves herself and Cunmar has a motive. We never learn what Bluebeard's motives are for doing what he does) until some form of help arrives, but nothing else. Perrault doesn't use the werewolf element; the nameless wife just inherits all the dead husband's money.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 06:52 PM

Actually, anyone else here researched the Perrault tale and its connections to others?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 08:41 PM

BTW, the above "Contes de Ma Mere L'Oye" is the first written collection of "Mother Goose" stories, as most here would know.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 08:55 PM

As part of this, I'll post one fact I found on visiting the Endicott Studio's Journal of Mythic Arts; that until recently, "Bluebeard" was included in collections of fairy tales intended for children. Eventually over the centuries it began to be thought of as an inappropriate story to tell kids. Asking my friends (all in 17-18 age range), I found out they'd never heard of it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Nov 11 - 01:01 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Nov 11 - 05:02 PM

Refresh again


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Nov 11 - 05:20 PM

Anyone have any suggestions or ideas about the significance of this curse motif as "poetic justice", or know the legend? I always thought it was oddly appropriate, when I learnt that "Conomor", or "Cynfawr" in Welsh, means "great dog", that a ruler named this should have a werewolf legend about him. "In the form of a great wolf who can only be overcome by a stab with a knife in the centre of the forehead."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Nov 11 - 08:56 PM

Anyone?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Nov 11 - 09:06 PM

I'm still looking for answers to my question re CTA. And what's the significance, if there is any, to it being the centre of the forehead that has to be stabbed in order to mortally wound him?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Nov 11 - 01:23 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Nov 11 - 05:51 AM

BTW, variants of the legend collected by William Branch Johnson in his 1927 book "Folktales of Brittany" state that CTA's soul was hidden in a hare inside a wolf inside the wolf's brother who lived seven leagues away or in the roots of the box-tree in his castle garden, like Koschei the Deathless in Russian tales, or Voldemort's Horcruxes in Harry Potter.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Nov 11 - 05:31 PM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Nov 11 - 09:01 PM

Anyone still interested in this thread? I'm still looking for answers.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 02:21 AM

Refresh. As Tolkien said about Queen Bertha Broadfoot in his essay "On Fairy-Stories" (I'd recommend reading it if anyone hasn't) this proves that CTA is part of the Cauldron of Story, "waiting for historical figures" (paraphrased) to be mixed in.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: mayomick
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 11:26 AM

I'm still interested Morwen but don't have much to add at the moment . I'd never heard of the Bluebeard connection to this old story before , so thanks for posting .......mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 06:13 PM

Mick, where'd you hear about Cunmar the Accursed? (I assume that's the old story you're talking about, as that's the only old Celtic story I know of with a connection to Bluebeard). As you know, I am working on a bit of an idea inspired by that story, involving a curse of hunger for human flesh affecting CTA's descendants (sounds like a fantasy/horror movie plot, but isn't.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 12:03 AM

Or am I misunderstanding your post, and you'd actually never heard of the legend at all , or did you just never hear about its connection to Perrault Because your wording made me assume that you had heard of the legend itself, just not its connection to Perrault's story.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 12:05 AM

EDIT: never hear about its connection to Perrault?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 12:08 AM

The edit is for the first sentence of my 29 Nov 12.03 AM post, in which the question mark didn't show up in italics.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: mayomick
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 01:23 PM

Sorry for the confusion Morwen . I had never heard of Cunmar the Accursed before reading your fascinating posts but have known the Bluebeard story since childhood........mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 05:21 PM

Thanks for clarifying that, Mick. None of my friends (and I'm 18 and my friends are all about the same age) have heard of it, and I didn't read it until I was 13. I'm beginning to think the reason for that is because it was left out of recently-published fairytale collections, because the compilers thought it was inappropriate for preschoolers to be reading it. What a shame.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 04:23 AM

Here is a link to the text of the 1902 book mentioned in an earlier post. It mentions the belief that Cunmar The Accursed's curse was to be transformed into a bisclavret, or werewolf who could be killed by a stab from a knife in the forehead in the early parts.Bluebeard: An account of Comorre The Cursed and Gilles De Rais


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 06:54 PM

I mean Bluebeard, of course, not Cunmar the Accursed. BTW, I'm starting to wonder whether some of the animal bridegroom Bluebeard tales, like Mr. Fox, may represent a sort of folk memory of Cunmar the Accursed and his punishment. Mr. Fox is probably an implied lycanthrope. "No-one knew who he was", but he seems to be wealthy and in the rural setting and social circle of the tale, everyone probably knows who everyone else is. Cunmar the Accursed was a descendant of Conan Meriadoc, who came originally from Dumnonia, an ancient British kingdom which covered part of Northern England. Since the Mr. Fox tale is from England, this could fit. It wouldn't be a certainty of course, but seems plausible.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 12:20 AM

Anyone else share my theory about "Mr. Fox"? That's the one with "Be bold, be bold, but not too bold" and "It is not so, it was not so, and God forbid it should be so". Or am I just reading too much into it?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 05:14 PM

About the "implied lycanthrope" about Mr. Fox-- no-one knowing who he is might also be a clue to him being a foreigner of some sort.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 09:45 PM

Or just an outsider to the area where the story's set- which would be anywhere rural and English that it was found. In one variant, the murderous suitor/demon lover is a university student who arrives with a friend to dig the heroine's grave and she sings a song revealing what she saw from a tree. Anyone have ideas on these?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 06:18 PM

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Dec 11 - 05:04 PM

Anyone want to talk about this?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 02:12 AM

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: GUEST,Inanna
Date: 21 Feb 12 - 05:22 AM

http://re-enchantment.abc.net.au/re-enchantment.html

You might want to explore the Bluebeard stuff there, especially the different story variants.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 21 Feb 12 - 10:40 PM

An Encyclopedia of Occultism (a fascinating book) by Lewis Spence has a long article on Werewolf. I've only just skimmed it and I don't know if it addresses the specific things you were asking about, but I did notice that he has a paragraph or two about the popularity of the belief in France.

The book was originally published in Britain in 1920, but there is a recent Dover reprint.

Jon Corelis
Oh, when I was in love with you by A. E. Housman: a musical setting


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Cunmar the Accursed (Brittany)
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 24 Feb 12 - 10:01 AM

I had vaguely remembered a book on this subject when I posted the above, but I couldn't think of the title. I remember now, it's The book of were-wolves by Sabine Baring-Gould, published in the mid-19th century. I've only just glanced through it, but I noticed that it has a long discussion of The Marechal de Retz, who I believe is the same person as Gilles de Rais. You can get a free on line copy from Google Books, and there is also a cheap Dover reprint available from the usual book sellers.

Jon Corelis
Kaleidoscope: Great Poems Set to Music


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