The Dragon Prince

In the high Middle Ages, the most renowned tournaments of poetry in all of France were held at the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Celebrated troubadours gathered there to demonstrate their art, and once a year the winner of this poetic joust was announced. On one occasion, the winner was an unknown and very handsome young man, who refused to give his name or say where he came from, despite the entreaties of Eleanor herself. The aura of mystery surrounding the anonymous troubadour, together with his kindness and beauty, soon made him one of the favorites among the ladies of the court.

Griselda, a young and wistful maiden, the youngest daughter of the lord of Foix fell passionately in love with the knight and declared her love for him. Moved by the maiden's entreaties, the troubadour agreed to marry her in secret and take her to his home, but on condition that Griselda should never try to see him other than when he chose, and that she should never try to discover his secret. The lovesick lady promised to comply with this strange condition. It seemed little to ask in exchange for being able to remain with her loved one.

One night. the young Griselda had fallen asleep in the arms of her lover in the castle of Eleanor of Aquitaine where she lived, and on opening her eyes she found herself in an unfamiliar room. It was a luxurious place, adorned with silk and precious stones, and beside her lay her husband smiling benignly at her.

"You are in my house, which belongs to you", said the troubadour. "You may give orders to my servants and do whatever you please. There are stables with horses at your disposal, huntsmen and hawks for hunting, and you may come and go as wish. You are my lady and all that is mine is yours.There are maidens ready to serve you and to carry out your every whim, dancers and musicians to entertain you, jewels and silks to adorn you. If you need anything, tell me and I will give it to you."

"I wish only for the love of my lord", replied the young woman, bewildered."That is good, my love, but do not forget your promise".

Griselda, full of happiness, demonstrated her compliance by flinging herself into arms of her beloved husband. For a while the lady kept her promise and believed she was in paradise. The troubadour knight, who was kind and passionate, spent most of his time with his wife. Occasionally he would disappear into a locked room, and she, faithful to her promise, did not ask him any questions. However; curiosity gradually got the better of her. One day she decided to find out the secret of her knight. She crept up to the door of the forbidden room, which he had left ajar, and spied through the chink. Horrified she watched as the troubadour turned into a huge dragon with green scales and powerful wings. She could not prevent a cry of horror escaping her lips. The dragon prince wheeled round. and saw his terrified wife in the doorway Deeply hurt by this betrayal, the knight bade his servants remove Griselda immediately to the court of Aquitaine, and never again did he return to see her.

The lady could not forget her beloved, and not a day went by without her recalling the months of happiness beside the gentle dragon.

Full of repentance and sadness, she wrote down her adventure; that is how the famous story of the dragon prince has found its way to us.

Story by Montse Sant
Art by Ciruelo