Literature Study GuidesThe Lais Of Marie De France

The Lais of Marie de France | Study Guide

Marie de France

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Marie de France

Years Written

c. 1160–80





At a Glance

The 12th-century poet Marie de France remains a mystery to scholars. Although little information about her life has survived, her witty and complex lais—verse romances—had a strong influence on medieval literature. The lais draw on courtly love traditions and ancient Celtic and Arthurian legends. They present common medieval tales of knights, noble ladies, and the trials of true love, adding a nuanced view of gender and social class dynamics in European courts.

About the Title

The poems in The Lais of Marie de France are known as lais, or lays—short verse romances originating in medieval France. Little is known about their author except her first name and probable country of origin. In the epilogue to her collected Fables, she states, "My name is Marie and I am from France." French literary historian Claude Fauchet (1530–1602) first called her Marie de France ("Marie of France") in 1581 based on this statement.


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