Chrétien de Troyes was a French poet and trouvère who flourished in the late 12th century. Little is known of his life, but he seems to have been from Troyes, or at least intimately connected with it, and between 1160 and 1172 he served at the court of his patroness Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, perhaps as herald-at-arms (as Gaston Paris speculated). His work on Arthurian subjects represents some of the best regarded of medieval literature. His use of structure, particular in Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, has been seen as a step towards the modern novel. Chrétien's writing was very popular, as evidenced by the high number of surviving copies of his romances and their many adaptations into other languages. Three of Middle High German literature's finest examples, Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and Hartmann von Aue's Erec and Iwein, were based on Perceval, Erec, and Yvain; the Three Welsh Romances associated with the Mabinogion, Peredur, son of Efrawg, Geraint and Enid, and Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain are derived from the same trio. Especially in the case of Peredur, however, the connection between the Welsh romances and their source is probably not direct, and has never been satisfactorily delineated. Chrétien also has the distinction of being the first writer to mention the Holy Grail (Perceval) and the love affair between Queen Guinevere and Lancelot (Lancelot), subjects of household recognition even today.
Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart (Chretien de Troyes Romances)by William Comfort, Chr Tien De Troyes, Chretien De Troyes
The romantic poems of 12th-century French poet Chretien de Troyes were of immense influence across Europe - widely imitated, translated, and adapted. Giving rise to a tradition of story-telling that continues to this day, the poems established the shape of the nascent Arthurian legend. This poem was the first to introduce Lancelot as an important figure in the King Arthur legend. "Lancelot" tells of the adulterous relationship between the knight and his mistress, Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. Thematically this poem differs from Chretien's other romances - Lancelot and Guinevere's love is a serious crime against their king, Lancelot casts aside his knightly ideals and reputation for the sake of his beloved, and Arthur is endowed with a weaker personality. Chretien de Troyes is one of the unsung heroes of world literature in general and Arthurian legend in particular. In Perceval he introduced the Grail, a fundamental symbol that fascinated other medieval writers, who expanded on it until the Grail became the defining object of the entire literature. And in Lancelot, Chretien created a story of love and betrayal that achieved almost equal importance with the Grail legend. If you're interested in medieval literature, particularly knightly tales and anything concerned with Arthurian legend, Lancelot is in indispensable read. You won't be disappointed.
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