Near Soumont-Saint-Quentin, a village in the departement Calvados, 9 km north of the city Falaise, lived the count of Quesnay. He had a beautiful castle, fruitful land, and everybody respected him. he had a fair daughter, the charming Lucia. The elegancy of Lucia (and her wealth) attracted a lot of knights, that hoped to get invitations to the castle of Quesnay.
Lucia loved heroic epic. One day a troubadour came to the castle. He was young and handsome, tall and strong, and around 25 years old. After the servants had cleared the table he offered to sing a lovesong. Lucia asked for a heroic epic instead and the bard arose, tuned his lute and sang a song about a knight.
“Who has travelled through the brown Provence and the golden Bourgogne, the bellicose Flanders and rough Brittany, without even once asking for mercy? The valiant black knight, the knight of the lions.
Who has destroyed the most lances and unsaddled the most enemies in twenty jousts and many an encounter? The valiant black knight, the knight of the lions.
Who has never betrayed his beliefs, never won by deception, never fled, never gave up, never kneeled in front of his peers? The valiant black knight, the knight of the lions.
And nevertheless he strays around, melancholic and musing by day; sleeping in the shadow of huge solitary trees at night, having painful dreams, the valiant black knight, the knight of the lions.
He is woeful, woeful to the bottom of his heart and his state will persist until he finds a soul that matches his soul, the woeful, valiant black knight, the knight of the lions.”
The people applauded him and the count asked him to stay some days, but he answered, that he wanted to continue his journey on the next morning.
On the next morning a handmaid of Lucia asked him to come to Lucia’s rooms. He went there and kneeled in front of Lucia. She asked him to stand up and asked if he had sung about a real knight or invented the story. He answered, that the knight of lions exists and that she will meet him soon, because on his search for the most beautiful belle he would most likely drop by at the castle of Quesnay. Lucia blushed and gave him a gold piece.
Some time later the count of Quesnay held a tournament. The winner would get Lucia as wife, after one probationary year. Most of the celibate knights of Normandy prepared themselves for the tournament.
The tournament was a feast for the senses. The plain around the castle was full of tents and carts. Lots of visitors were standing at the palisades, two referees sat on their horses, armoured cap-a-pie, on both ends of the tournament field. On the galleries sat the noblemen. Lucia sat between her parents. Finally the heralds declared the rules of the tournament, trumpets resounded, fourty knights stormed the arena on horseback.
Finally only one knight sat in his saddle in the arena, that was full of blood and debris of arms. His weapons were black and his shield wore three golden lions. The audience shouted: “Honour be to the knight of the lions”. They brought the knight to Lucia, he kneeled in front of her and his knave lifted his helmet. It was the troubardour. Lucia gave him the blessed sash, as a promise of marriage. The count announced the victory of the knight of the lions. The knight said he would return after one year to marry the lovely Lucia.
Some months later it was deadly silent in the castle of Quesnay. Why? Satan had abducted Lucia. He made advances to her, promised her the throne in hell, the reign over the whole world, jewellery and diamonds. Lucia refused to accept anything. The devil gnashed his teeth in anger and menaced her with thousandfold tortures. She hoped to escape and was unimpressible.
And really, after a drinking bout the devil was so tired, that he fell asleep and Lucia snuck out of hell. She could already see the castle of Quesnay when a thunderstorm began. The ground opened and out of an abyss craggy mountains ascended. One of the mountains opened up and out of it stepped Satan. He saw Lucia and threw some rocks at her. When he heard a loud voice behind him: “Bloody Satan, leave that girl alone, I dare you.” The devil turned around and saw a knight with three golden lions on his shield, he asked: “are you ready to die?” Lucia recognized the knight and thanked God. The blessed sash was attached to the sleeve of the knight. The devil saw the blessed sash and took fright. He fled into hell.
Thereupon Lucia and the knight of the lions married and they lived happily ever after.
The castle of Quesnay has vanished ages ago, but the mountain out of which the devil appeared is still existing. On the ground of a narrow gorge runs a torrent, the Laizon. There is a bridge and a washhouse and the ruin of a mill. Rocks lie around as if they were fallen from the sky. That’s the gorge of the devil.
Les Légendes Normandes, by Louis Bascan, a collection of Norman legends of older sources, reprint of 1929, published by “les Editions du Bastion”, 1999, ISBN=2745500503, page 84-95, (French)
La Brèche au Diable (French)
La brèche au Diable