Isabella married twice and both her husbands belonged to families that believed they were connected to Melusine, the fairy woman who was beautiful, full of magic and full of mystery. The Angevins, who became known as the Plantagenets, told the story of an early Count Fulk who had a wife who had borne him four sons. Gossip was that she did not go to church that often and when she did refused to take communion. One Sunday her husband snatched her cloak away as she left and she flew out of the window carrying two of the children with her. The two boys behind carried her demonic blood and so the story of the Devil’s Brood began. King John was descended from her. And he certainly was the least pious of kings, complaining about the length of a sermon and not going to church that often himself.
Isabella’s second husband Hugh Lusignan believed that the castle they lived in had been built for them by Melusine with ‘a mouthful of water and two handfuls of stones’. She had rescued a Lusignan lost in a nearby forest full of lakes and streams, lurking there with a suspiciously dead uncle. She helped cover up any wrong doing and agreed to marry into the family. Children were born, some with strange defects but all loved. She asked never to be seen in her bath but her husband spied on her and betrayed her and there she was with her serpent tail or mermaid body. So she left, flying high over the castle lamenting and weeping.
Isabella heard the story of Melusine in the weaving room for this was a tale told as women spun both threads and tales of magic.
Melusine exists today in a modern logo, that of Starbucks. Look next time at their two tailed mermaid and think about how centuries ago she flew above churches and battlements. Not coffee shops.