Marie de France • Writings date between ~1160 and 1215, during the period of Anglo-Norman rule in England. • French but wrote for and probably at the English court. • Wrote a collection of lais (short, verse romances of Celtic origin); animal fables; and a moral, religious tale, St. Patrick’s Purgatory.
Marie de France Me numeraipur remembrance Marie ai nun, si sui de France. Put celestrequeclercplusur prendreientsureusmunlabur, ne voilquesur li le die. (postscript to Marie’s Fables) (I shall name myself for remembrance: Marie is my name, I am from France. It may be that many clerks will take my labour for themselves; I don’t want any of them to claim it.)
Marie de France • Marie was a master storyteller whose finely crafted, remarkably concise and lyrical lais feature complex female protagonists. • Her writings demonstrate knowledge of classical Latin and sophisticated literary skills: so, a highly educated woman.
Lanval • Marie’s is the earliest known version of a story that is retold in the second half of the fourteenth century as Sir Landevaleand again in the early 15th century by Thomas Chestre, as Sir Launfal. • Marie assumes her audience is familiar with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account of King Arthur rule in History of the Kings of Britain (1136). • Her tale shares many elements in common with analogous tales about a knight named Yvain (one of which – The Knight with the Lion – was written by Marie’s contemporary Chrétien de Troye).