Another Edition of Francophone Legends and Monsters

Written by Jasmine Grace, High School intern

This edition of Francophone Legends and Monsters will feature creatures from Brittany, France, and Lake Memphremagog in Québec. One is said to be beautiful and wise, yet bloodthirsty and dangerous. The other is mysterious and elusive, yet many have spotted him over the years. 


Brittany, France

These creatures are from the Brittany region in France. Korrigans could be compared to fairies or goblins, or maybe dwarves. These spirits are associated with rivers and wells, and like to live near water. They are generally described as small, perhaps two feet tall. They are said to have wings, which are beautiful and delicate like those of a wasp. While you may be imagining a pretty, gentle creature, they are actually quite dangerous. These devious creatures use their beauty to lure unsuspecting men to their deaths. 

Brittany Coast

However, some seek out korrigans, as they are said to be very wise, and are believed to see the future. In addition to the danger of meeting a korrigan, they can be difficult to find, as they are shapeshifters. 

But regardless of their form, these French sprites are rather mysterious. And despite their beauty and wisdom, they are dangerous and to be avoided.  


Lake Memphremagog

On the border between Québec and Vermont, lies Lake Memphremagog. Memphremagog is relatively shallow at both ends (although its deepest point is well over 350 feet). It is bordered on the West by picturesque mountains, and full of over 20 islands. However, there are rumors of a monster in this lake. His name is Memphré. 

Records of sightings go back to the early 1800s. In some years, there were as many as eight instances where Memphré was spotted. According to a 1997 Sherbrooke University study, there have been 215 well-documented sightings of Memphré. 


In 1961, two fishermen saw what they believed to be Memphré when he swam past their boat. The creature was black, they said, and about 40 feet long. It swam partially submerged under the water. 

Then in 1994, four people in two separate boats spotted a similar, or perhaps the same, creature. It was also black, but these folks thought he was closer to 30 feet long, and they spotted three humps on the creature as he swam through the water. 

Whatever Memphré looks like, many over the years have said they’ve seen some part of him, and most agree that he’s dark-colored and serpent-like. 


Life and Legacy of Marquis de Lafayette

Written by Erin Blais, University Intern


Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de Lafayette

You may recognize the name Marquis de Lafayette from the sensational play Hamilton. However, long before he was singing on stage, Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military leader who played an integral role in the American Revolutionary War. He was born on September 6, 1757, in Chavaniac, France. Lafayette was orphaned in his teens and inherited a large fortune that allowed him to live a comfortable and privileged life.  



Lafayette in the Colonies

He had always aspired to be a soldier, and in July of 1777 at the age of 19, Lafayette traveled to Philadelphia to fight in the American Revolutionary War. He was appointed Major General in the Continental Army and served under George Washington. It’s said that Lafayette started out as a pushy and determined teenager but eventually gained the respect and love of Washington. In just a few months, Lafayette was living in Washington’s house, and riding next to him in battle. He even had Washington’s own physician tend to him after he was wounded. They became a surrogate father and son to each other, creating a bond that far surpassed the bond of war.  

Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington at Mount Vernon

After achieving military success, Lafayette went back to France in 1779, where he acted as a diplomat to aid in the conversations between the American Colonies and France as the former asked for troops and supplies for the war. He worked closely with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.  

Lafayette returned to the American Colonies in 1780 and was given command of his own troops in Virginia. He and his troops are remembered for pursuing British Commander Cornwallis, eventually causing his surrender. After that, Lafayette was honored with the nickname “Hero of Two Worlds”.  

After the Revolution

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, written by Marquis de Lafayette

Lafayette returned to France in 1782 as a war hero and honorary citizen of several US states. While in France, he entered the political scene and was elected as a representative to the Estates-General and wrote The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen with help from Thomas Jefferson. He also held the position of Commander of the Guard of Paris. It was in this position that he saved the lives of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette from an invasion in Versailles. He brought them safely to a secure location.    


The Call Back to America

After finally settling down to live the quiet life of a farmer, Lafayette was invited by President James Monroe to travel back to America in 1824. Though he had been out of the political scene for a number of years, he decided to make the trip anyway. A trip that President Monroe said would reinvigorate and reinstall the “spirit of 1776” in the next generation. During this trip, Lafayette visited each of the states (24 at the time) and the grave of George Washington with his son Georges Washington de Lafayette (named after the historic president). He was also the first foreign citizen to address the US House of Representatives.  

Lafayette died on May 20, 1834, and is buried with dirt he collected from Bunker Hill.  

Lafayette Closer to Home

A plaque memorializing Lafayette’s visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire

On September 1, 1824, Marquis de Lafayette visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  The state continues to remember Lafayette with a plaque that marks the location of his visit. It also named Mount Lafayette after him, and celebrates Lafayette Day on May 20 – the anniversary of his death. His name is memorialized and celebrated all over the country with schools, towns, and roads named after him.

On May 20 I encourage you all to think about Lafayette and notice how he continues to live on today, perhaps by watching Hamilton.  I know I will be.