At the end of the fourteenth century Jean d’Arras rewrote a popular folktale. The tale told how Mélusine, a fairy who was serpent from the navel down every Saturday, married a knight and founded the fortress of Lusignan. In his introduction to the tale Jean d’Arras presents the ideas of four authority figures to convince the reader that fantastical things are possible and that his work should be taken seriously. These authority figures are David, Aristotle, Paul and Gervaise de Tilbury. It is the contention of this thesis that Jean d’Arras presents these figures in his introduction to provide context and serve as doubles for characters in the narration as well as convince the reader to take the work seriously. Through his allusion to Tilbury, Jean d’Arras establishes a context and a doubling for the story-line which he so repetitiously tells. Through his allusion to David we see a doubling for Raymondin, who in fact bears the name of earthly king, a position which David held in archetype. Through his allusion to Paul we see a doubling for Geoffrey à la grande dent, enfant terrible who becomes a responsible leader. And finally we suggest that Aristotle is a type for Jean d’Arras himself, who is presenting to his reader a methodical study of the telos of earthly kings. The thesis contains a discussion of these four individuals, how they were viewed in the late fourteenth-century and what the implications are for reading the text with them in mind. When viewed in the light of these comparisons the text can be seen, not only as a fantastical story, but as political commentary. Jean d’Arras glorifies the Duke of Berry, his patron, by connecting him to a supernatural being, but he also suggests throughout the narration, that the true justification for nobility and political power is not a supernatural connection, but a practical ability to deal with earthly affairs.



College and Department

Humanities; French and Italian



Date Submitted


Document Type





Jean d'Arras, Mélusine, Jean de Berry, Hundred Years War, 1400 century literature, Gervase of Tilbury, Ottia Imperialia, King David, Saint Paul the Apostle, Aristotle