The Tale of Melion
I’ve got a treat for you today Dear Readers, a werewolf tale that dates back to the 12th century. The author of the story is unknown, but it originated in Picardy some time between 1190 and 1204 and was told across England by traveling bards. The story tells the tale of Melion, a knight at King Arthur’s court, known throughout the land for his amazing, yet mysterious, hunting skills.
In the story, Melion vows that he will never marry a woman who has loved another man, however, he is unable to find such woman in court. But then one day, while out hunting, he is approached by a stunning lady who announces that she is the daughter of the king of Ireland and that she has loved Melion from afar for years. Finally, after saying she will take no other husband, her father agrees to let her stay in England to marry Melion. Melion agrees and the two of them are married and end up having two children – but the happiness doesn’t last long.
Out hunting again, Melion, his lady and his squire come across a great stag and the lady firmly states that she will eat nothing else but that very stag. Sending his squire away, the knight finally shows is lady the secret behind his legendary hunting skills. If he is touched while naked, by the white stone on a ring he wears, he is transformed into a wolf, and this way he can easily hunt any prey. Only by putting his clothes back on can he return to his human form. His lady then begs him to transform and hunt the stag for her, so he gets naked, uses the stone and is transformed into a wolf.
Unfortunately for poor Melion, his wife instantly takes his clothes, his ring and runs away with the squire, her lover. For quite some time Melion lives in the forest as a wild animal, but, when he hears that his wife has returned to Ireland he manages to sneak aboard a ship headed that way. Sadly, Melion is discovered by the crew and is brutally terrorized by them because of his wolfish form.
Melion finally arrives in Ireland and teams up with other wolves there, and together they attack as many sheep as they can until the Irish king and his knights are forced to hunt them down – all of the wolves, except for Melion, are killed.
Shortly after this, King Arthur arrives with his retinue and takes up residence in an old castle on the very edge of the forest. After hearing that his king was near, Melion goes to meet him. In his wolf form he runs up and licks King Arthur’s stirrup. Surprised by the tame wolf, he accepts the creature into his court. However, among the company, Melion sees the squire who ran away with his wife, and in rage, attacks him. The king is shocked by the behavior of the normally kind wolf and questions (aka tortures) the squire, who eventually confesses all.
The faithless wife is then summoned by her father and brings with her the rings and clothes, which restore Melion’s human form. Once in his knightly form again, Melion considers punishing his wife and squire, however he decides against it and instead goes home to England with the king where he lives a happy life.
And that’s the old tale of the knight Melion, which some of you may have noticed, it VERY similar to the French story of Bisclavret.