Marie of France, the medieval poet is also known as Marie Countess of Champagne 1145 –1198…. as her married name. She was the elder daughter of Louis VII of France by his first wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Scholars today incorrectly determine that Marie of France, the poet, is another individual and is a different person from Marie of Champagne. This view is held simply because scholars believe the poet Marie of France lived in England simply because she wrote at an undisclosed court and mentions places in England i.e. she employs a Celtic backdrop in her poetry. It is quite ludicrous to think this on such a flimsy premise. Marie of France has half hidden her identity as the author of the Lais just as Henry Blois hid his identity when posing as Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Scholars like Judith. P. Shoaf853 seem to think Marie of France was an English nun. When I explained my reasonings that Marie of France might be the same as Marie of Champagne, I was informed by this pompous patronising breed of Scholar that no ‘amateur proves conventional scholars wrong’. She even continued her effrontery because even to put forward a theory opposing her own was akin ‘to telling the Pope the sun doesn’t rise in the East’.
853Judith. P.P. Shoaf was the moderator of the Arthurnet and still thinks Geoffrey of Monmouth composed the HRB not recognising Henry Blois as the author!!
So, let us see what ill informed conventional wisdom from Shoaf the expert has to offer in her translators note:
Firstly, she states: We know nothing about Marie de France. For various reasons, it’s thought that her twelve Lais date from around 1170, that their author was a woman named Marie.
Shoaf then goes on to tell us: She may have been an aristocratic woman,
her French is “easy” (a widely-read Anglo-Norman literary language) and the poems are relatively short (the longest is only about a sixth as long as the verse romances being written at the same time by Chrétien de Troyes); readers usually seem to have read them in French.
Shoaf then goes on to inform us: Marie’s language is Anglo-Norman, the dialect spoken among the aristocracy of England and large parts of Northern France; she was part of a generation of writers (notable among them Chretien de Troyes) who were in the process of inventing the French verse romance. Marie uses an “historical present” tense often, switching from past to present and back again in a way that is much commoner in French than in English.
Yet with all that said above, and the name of Marie of France to boot; Shoaf thinks that our poet is perhaps a nun, living in England, given that the poet is obviously married by the subjects she covers and writes the best female courtly poetry of her time with studied elegance in verse with story-lines to keep both male and female courtiers entranced. Logically, a nun would hardly write about lusting females at court and illicit affairs of the married. Most of modern scholars believe like Scott that Avalon become part of romance literature after the unearthing of Arthur at Glastonbury in 1189-91. So, Shoaf either forgets this time line citing the 1170’s for Marie of France or is conveniently forgetting Marie’s mention of Avalon. But like all scholars they both forget that Avalon is connected to Glastonbury and King Arthur through Insula pomorum, ABSOLUTELY NOT BY COINCIDENCE linking King Arthur to Avalon and Glastonbury in 1155 and thereby to Henry Blois as abbot there and his link to Marie and her apparent early mention of Avalon.
When about 25 years old c.1164-5…. when Marie of France got married to the eldest of Henry Blois’ nephews by his brother Theobald, Marie (then of Champagne) was involved in writing poems which are directly related to Arthuriana; some of the ideas of which came by way of her husband’s Uncle (Henry Blois) at the same time Chrétien’s work was being composed. Marie’s work mainly embodies love and lust from a female perspective in the chivalric era of Arthuriana when the work of ‘Wace’ had recently become popular on the continent.
Marie’s work was known at the Royal court of King Henry II mainly because Marie’s mother was Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Henry II wife. Marie in one prologue writes: In your honour, most noble and courteous King, to whom joy is a handmaid, and in whose heart all gracious things are rooted, I have brought together these Lays, and told my tales in seemly rhyme. Ere they speak for me, let me speak with my own mouth, and say, “Sire, I offer you these verses. If you are pleased to receive them, the fairer happiness will be mine, and the more lightly I shall go all the days of my life. Do not deem that I think more highly of myself than I ought to think, since I presume to proffer this, my gift.” Hearken now to the commencement of the matter.
Scholars have dated Marie’s works to between about 1160 and 1215. It is probable that the Lais started to be written c.1165 after Marie got married. As we can see by the preamble above, one poem is dedicated to a “noble King” who presumably is her step father. Why would a nun think by giving this gift (even if she had contact with the royal court), that by doing so she might deem that….. I think more highly of myself than I ought to think. This was written by a woman who understands the family feuds between the Blois and Angevin camps. Marie had just married a Blois and Henry Blois and his brother had been against Henry II’s mother, The Empress and the feud over the crown had transpired in the very recent past.
Blois and Angevin camps had been polar opposites during the Anarchy; and now the mother of Marie of France’ (Eleanor of Aquitaine) was married to an Angevin i.e Henry II and Marie to Henry Blois’ nephew. In the dedication cited above, Marie is simply writing to her Mother’s husband in the hope this will amuse his taste and that of his his courtiers; she is in trepidation of how the poem will be received. Poems at court were mainly composed by males and for a male pastime. Marie’s Lais were probably the first time that poems of this high quality had been composed by a female with a female perspective and were read in court. It is no wonder that Marie may have been nervous as to how her poem was to be received.
This is again, a classic case of dimwitted scholars such as Shoaf closing their eyes and steering everyone else in the wrong direction while decreeing in another breath ‘nothing is known of her life’. The blind leading the blind!!!
Marie of France was an older maternal half-sister to the future Richard I of England who was the Count of Poitiers (1169–1196) son of Eleanor of Aquitaine (Marie’s mother) and Henry II of England.
In Marie’s poem, Lanval is a poor knight at King Arthur’s court, mixing with Gawain and Guinevere and a host of others brought to life initially by Henry Blois through his poems read at court and in some part orally transmitted. But, more specifically, Marie of France knows of Avalon and employs the iconic island (first mentioned in the HRB) and she is devising poems about characters that were initiated by Henry Blois while Henry is still alive. We have already covered that Marie’s brother Richard had heard Chrétien’s work before Wauchier and that Wauchier states Bleheris was the source.
It is not by accident that Robert de Boron knew of Chrétien’s work. It is also hardly surprising the author of the Elucidation quotes both a ‘Master Blihis’ and a knight Blihos-Bliheris since we know both of these names are names made up by Henry Blois. We could speculate that it was Henry’s influence which encouraged Marie to feature Avalon as the place of unknown whereabouts:
The Bretons tell that the knight was ravished by his lady to an island, very dim and very fair, known as Avalon.
Marie of France’s material was composed c.1165-70, which has so much in common with what we know Henry Blois was propagating at Marie of Champagne’s court. Most emphatically Marie is not sourcing he iconic element from supposed Breton conteurs while residing in an nunnery in England as proposed by modern scholars. She is using precicely the same gambit as Henry Blois used in the HRB by implying the controversial themes of her poems were not dreamt up from her own imagination but wants us to believe the story-lines came from Breton conteurs and she is just refining the poetry.
Marie’s parents’ marriage was annulled in 1152, and custody of Marie and her sister Alix was awarded to their father, King Louis. So, their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, then re-married King Henry II. In 1160 Marie’s father, King Louis VII also re-married again. He married Adele of Champagne (Henry Blois’ niece) just five weeks after his previous (second) wife, Constance of Castile, died in childbirth.
Queen Adèle (as she became) was the mother of Louis VII’s only son, Philip II, who was Marie’s step brother. Adèle of Champagne (Henry Blois’ niece) was the daughter of Theobald II, Count of Champagne, and was named after her grandmother, Adela of Normandy, (Henry Blois mother).
So, the very clear connection between Marie’s work and that of Henry Blois’ Arthuriana is that Theobald II (Henry Blois’ elder brother), the Count of Champagne’s gave his daughter Adèle (Henry Blois’ niece) to be married to Marie of France’s father King Louis VII. So, Henry Blois’ nephew then married Marie and she became countess of champagne. Of course non of these connections are made by the imperious Shoaf!!! In fact Shoaf, for the most part, like most modern scholars is full of hot air.
In effect, what transpired was a family arrangement. In exchange for Louis VII’s new wife Adèle, two further marriages were arranged. King Louis VII betrothed Marie of France (the poet) and Alix her sister, his two daughters by Eleanor of Aquitaine to Adèle’s brothers, Henry Blois’ nephews. Now, if the HRB is understood to have been composed by Henry Blois the abbot of Glastonbury, then we can see now how Chrétien de Troyes relates to the Grail at the court of Champagne along with Marie also relating to Avalon both eventually connected to Glastonbury by the Abbot of Glastonbury the author of the HRB and the Grail legends.
Even though Marie attended the abbey of Avenay in Champagne to further her education, she still held court with her husband and had a large library at Champagne. It was at this court Chrétien de Troyes heard Henry’s expansion from Arthuriana into Grail lore where both ‘Robert’ and Chrétien derived their material.
So, in 1164, Marie of France, as she was commonly known, married Henry Blois’ nephew Henry Ist Count of Champagne and so they had four children, one of which was also named Marie of Champagne, who died 1204 not long after her mother. Marie of France (the poet) died in 1198 long before her sell by date which modern scholars have come up with for the release of her poems c.1215. They have simply had to move a ‘red line’ of Marie of France’s work until later to fit with rationalisations about where Chretien inter-relates with Marie and Arthuriana…. not realising that all Grail legend has only one initial author. Stupidly, modern scholars believe Chrétien de Troyes is the inventor of the Grail and wrongly assume their concocted deductions of the Grail and Arthuriana having no connection to the abbot of Glastonbury i.e. Henry Blois.
Marie of France was also a patron of literature, including Andreas Capellanus, who served in her court, along with Chrétien de Troyes and Marie may well have been the source or connection to the Grail book which Chrétien suggests came from Philip of Flanders. Philip may also have been the patron of Chrétien while Chrétien was writing his romance ‘Percival and the story of the Grail’. In the opening lines, Chrétien heaps laudatory praise on Philip for having provided him with the book he adapted into the “best tale ever told in a royal court”.
Henry Blois had many royal connections to Flanders, from where the Perlesvaus scripts seem to emanate but also Henry was the great uncle of Philip.
However, a deep relationship existed between Marie and her half-brother the future Richard I of England and his celebrated poem J’a nuns hons pris, lamenting his captivity in Austria (at the time Arthur’s body was dug up at Glastonbury), was dedicated to Marie. (see full connection in the later segment le Mort d’Arthur)
It is in the opening lines of the poem Guigemar that Marie first reveals her name to be Marie; she refers to herself “Marie ai num, si sui de France,” – ‘My name is Marie, and I am from France’. Scholars seem to have assumed she is otherwise a different person from Marie of Champagne because they have determined that she lived in England, not understanding that much of her base material thought to be of Celtic origin was based on her husband’s uncle’s characters and output.
She, like Henry Blois, does not wish her views expressed in some of her Lais to be attached to herself as the new countess of Champagne; so explicitly hides behind her name as she was known before she was married and leaves an indeterminate author as a possibility. Marie from France could be anyone called Marie who is from Ile de France. Before she got married, she was the only ‘Marie of France’ of note.
As Henry Blois had proposed a source book for ‘Geoffrey’s’ work so that should he ever have been found out posing as Geoffrey of Monmouth, the source material appeared to be written by another; so too, Marie claims in the prologues to most of her Lais (too often and with too much ado854) that she has heard the stories she relates in her Lais from Breton minstrels.
5841) Hearken now to the Lay that once I heard a minstrel chanting to his harp. In surety of its truth I will name the city where this story passed.
2) Listen, oh Lordlings, to the words of Marie, for she pains herself grievously not to forget this thing.
3) Now will I tell you a story, whereof the Breton harper already has made a Lay.
4) Now will I rehearse before you a very ancient Breton Lai. As the tale was told to me, so, in turn, will I tell it over again.
5) I will tell you the story of another Lay. It relates the adventures of a rich and mighty baron, and the Breton calls it, the Lay of Sir Launfal.
6) The story of their love was bruited so abroad, that the Bretons made a song in their own tongue, and named this song the Lay of the Two Lovers. Etc…
It is not by accident that so few positive indications of her circumstance are given in her poems for this is purposefully hidden. For a woman in the twelfth century to express herself publicly (especially with such avante garde views) was almost impossible, so she hid behind the fact that others composed the themes. This was instigated so that themes feminine could be expressed but seemingly appear to derive from Breton jongleurs. Marie, at times, gets graphic and expresses themes that aristocratic ladies like herself should not have knowledge of.
If she was not wealthy and really was just an ordinary poet squirrelled away in a nunnery in England; how easily she transfers her acclaim for such exquisite poetry to another in obscurity and how intricately she represents the sentiments of the female aristocrat. The obvious reason for being coy or not being explicit about her identity is that the views expressed are not traceable to her and supposedly do not reflect her own experiences or sentiments.
Marie’s adulterous sentiments which pervade her Lais are personal reflections dramatised. It is also probable Marie is trying to rationalise her own mother’s divorce from Louis VII and explores the problems of love in highborn women in loveless marriage, reflecting the modern female sentiments of those of her friends and family.
The Crusades had taken many men from their women for lengthy periods and thus lustful affairs are themes de rigeur. Modern scholars having time on their hands as universities have churned out medievalist students finding no answers historically, have changed Marie’s work into some sort of Gynocentric complex issue…. which it might well be if Marie were a nun in reality. The naval gazing and ridiculous and non existent notions dreamt up by scholars and their students alike so that they can appear to pontificate with authority appear to invent whater notion they wish to compose their thesis on. The same goes for their study of Arthuriana and Grail legend, looked at by some modern scholars as some sort of investigation into the psyche rather than the works of mental release for a bishop continuing to enthral contemporaries with incomparable talent. Henry Blois started in early life with his first foray into romantic literature with Tristan and Isolde and finishing with his epic in old age with with the Robert de Boron Trilogy composed by him using the name of an inferior poet, just as he had done by impersonating the name of Wace for his composition of the Roman de Brut.
However, the Fables, another of Marie’s works, is dedicated to a “Count William”, who may have been either William of Mandeville who grew up with Philip of Flanders or Count William may refer to William Longsword, the illegitimate son of Henry II. As Marie was Henry II’s step daughter through Eleanor of Aquitaine, a dedication to Henry II son is a strong possibility. After all, it was her other half brother Richard who claims to have heard Chrétien’s Le Conte du Graal from Bleheris as it was his favourite story and we know where Chrétien was based and from whom Chrétien received his source material at Marie’s court.
The English poet Denis Piramus mentions in his Life of Saint Edmund the King, written in around 1180 that the Lais of a Marie were popular at court: “And also Dame Marie, who turned into rhyme and made verses of ‘Lays’ which are not in the least true. For these she is much praised, and her rhyme is loved everywhere; for counts, barons, and knights greatly admire it, and hold it dear. And they love her writing so much, and take such pleasure in it, that they have it read, and often copied. These Lays are wont to please ladies, who listen to them with delight, for they are after their own hearts.”
It seems highly improbable an English nun is the source!!!
The presence of an Anglo-Norman dialect in her writings and the survival of many of her texts in England suggest that Marie and Henry Blois may well have promoted (exchanged) each others’ works. Three of the five surviving manuscript copies of the Lais are written in continental French and it seems unfounded for scholars to insist the writer of the Lais is any different from Marie de France, sister of Alix of France and to insist that she was English; Where most of the evidence, even by Shoaf’s reckoning is leaning toward her using her old title before she became married.
One can assume she is highborn by the rationalisation of employing her time to some good purpose rather than succumbing to a life of idleness:
Whoever wants to be safe from vice should study and learn (heed this advice) and undertake some difficult labor; then trouble is a distant neighbor– from great sorrows one can escape. Thus, my idea began to take shape: I’d find some good story or song to translate from Latin into our tongue. (prologue)
The reader might remember ‘Geoffrey’ distancing himself from his work by saying he was merely translating the work and was not the author.
The setting for Marie’s Lais is the Celtic world but this is based initially on the stage set by Henry Blois. Marie reflects the feminine embellishments of Arthurian romances. Henry Blois originally as ‘Geoffrey’ creates the Chivalric Arthur and then post 1158 expanded upon this idea in romance material expressed through Master Blehis etc. orally but essentially in written verse read out at court.
In most of Marie de France’s Lais, love is associated with suffering and most involve an adulterous or improper relationship. Rather than the male orientated jousts, battles of Knights and adventures reflecting the male aspects of the Arthurian stage…. Marie opens up the lot of women in her Lais…. from the feminine aspect set in the same romance era. In Marie’s Lais, love always involves suffering and frequently ends in grief. Just from the prologue above by alluding to ‘escaping sorrows’ it seems her marriage was not perfect.
In Bisclavret and Equitan the adulterous lovers are severely condemned, but there is evidence (based on the personal dramatization of her own lusts) that Marie approved of extramarital affairs in some instances. It is plain that Marie like her mother was lustful. She puts the handsomeness of men on an equal footing as the beauty of women; where women ravish men and yet women have the power to besot men. She knows what it means to lust after men and expresses this appetite in Yonec; yet, more frequently, it is the women in her tales that have power over men through their beauty and condescend to sharing their body to satisfy the male lust; going the whole way!!
If Marie of Champagne’s husband Henry had his attentions elsewhere, surely the pre-occupations of adultery would be a cause for her rationalizing such scenarios in her poetry. However, Henry of Champagne made his court at Champagne one of the most powerful of the era and the Count’s court at Troyes became a renowned literary centre where the likes of Walter Map855 was among those who found hospitality there. The Lancelot prose cycle claims him, “Gauthier Map,” as the author, but scholars have discounted him as dying too early i.e. 1210. Some have conceded that the original is a lost ‘Lancelot’; but ‘Lancelot’ having emanated from Marie’s court authored by Map is certainly possible only if scholars were not intransigent on how they have looked upon the proliferation of Grail material. Red lines and misguided dating and ignorance of the original propagator of Lancelot have led to unfounded deductions.
855As a courtier of King Henry II, Walter Map was sent on missions to Marie of France’s father, Louis VII of France. On this journey, sometimes en route he sojourned with Henry I of Champagne, Marie of France’s husband and obviously attended their court. The French language prose Lancelot cycle claims, Gauthier Map, as the author, though this is contradicted by internal evidence. Modern scholars have done what they always do when setting a priori red lines for themselves decreeing Map could not have written the Lancelot. So, they have come up with the theory that Map wrote an original, ‘lost Lancelot’ romance that was the source for the later cycle. No No No, Henry Blois was responsible for the original Lancelot and Map followed. But How can they get to this conclusion unless they recognise Henry Blois as the originator of Grail lore… but they will not….ever!!!!
As I mentioned before, after the death of Count Thibaut II of Champagne in 1152 (Henry’s brother), Henry Blois would have been like a father figure to Henry of Champagne Marie’s husband. Between Count Henry and his wife, much of the proliferation of Henry Blois’ Grail propaganda can be witnessed to have been perpetuated and embellished as a direct result of their court and the people who frequented it. The Troubadour tradition was throughout the courts of Europe in this era and Henry II and Eleanor were sent poems by Marie. Every Royal court was engaged in listening to stories so Henry Blois fed this interest but a bishop like Henry outwardly could not be associated with such glib pastimes.
Contrary to every scholar’s deduction, the original Tristan and Isolde poem originated with Henry Blois c.1133 in the period when he was constructing the pseudo history for his uncle. This analysis is based upon the common threads of Merlin, Tintagel, Arthur and the chess game, becoming intertwined so easily in later cycles which we know are of Henry Blois origin, but I will cover this in progression.
We know also from John of Cornwall’s rendition of the Merlin prophecies that Henry Blois has been in Cornwall and thus locates Arthur’s battle of Camlann near Tintagel. This of course is conflation from its mention in AC into HRB to add historicity to ‘Geoffrey’s’ story, but what we can see is, as Henry Blois comes under under pressure to distance himself from HRB’s composition, he then places Camlann near Tintagel in John of Cornwall’s set of prophecies, reverting back to the Celtic roots from which his Tristan and Isolde story was based. Thus, where Marie is concerned, we can speculate that her reference to Tristan and Isolde in Chevrefoil is based on her having obtained this story directly from Henry Blois.
From the view point of Henry Blois, any furtherance of the fictional chivalric Arthur and his knights could only increase the groundswell of interest and further provide an historical backdrop for his chivalric invention of King Arthur resurfacing ‘in reality’ back at Glastonbury. We know he has already planted Arthur’s grave there and Glastonbury is going to become the island of Avalon ‘confirmed’…… and we already know beforehand from two sources that Guinevere and Arthur are going to be found when the grave of King Arthur is eventually unearthed by the Piramides in the graveyard.
What existed once in the seedling or un-expanded text of the Primary Historia…. a brief account of chivalric Arthur (thirty-five years previously) had then blossomed, so that the vestiges of Arthur the Warlord and the Arthur understood in ‘the hope of the Bretons’ had become synthesized and expressed as one with Henry’s fully developed chivalric Arthur.
It seems fairly obvious in Lanval that Marie exposes herself as pretending to source her material from the Breton minstrels when it is obvious she is recounting not only ‘Geoffrey’s’ work but also that of ‘Wace’: King Arthur was staying at Carduel– That King of valiant and courtly estate– His borders there he guarded well against the Pict, against the Scot, who would cross into Logres to devastate the countryside often, and a lot. He held court there at Pentecost,856 the summer feast we call Whitsun, giving gifts of impressive cost to every count and each baron and all knights of the Round Table.
Are we to think this same scene, which opens Chrétien de Troyes romance Le chevalier au lion (Yvain) is found by a nun in England at the same time Chrétien’s work is exposed?
856The only reason ‘Geoffrey’ or rather Henry Blois or as Wace has Arthur holding a court at Whitsun was because he himself had attended his Uncle King Henry Ist feasts and witnessed the jousting events that accompanied them with foreign dignitaries in attendance. It is hardly surprising then that Chrétien hearing the same at the court of Champagne writes: Arthur, the good King of Britain, whose prowess teaches us that we, too, should be brave and courteous, held a rich and royal court upon that precious feast-day which is always known by the name of Pentecost. The court was at Carduel in Wales.
One has to be cognizant of the fact that the Bishop of Winchester is both Wace and Geoffrey of Monmouth and the last grandee of Marie of France’s husband’s forebears; but most importantly, he is the elusive master Blehis who has supplied both Marie and Chrétien with the same material. Obviously, this last passage chimes with Chrétien’s work. Shoaf the self apponted authority just needs to ask herself ‘where is Chrétien based’ i.e at the court of Champagne.
Leogres is Geoffrey’s invention of Arthur’s kingdom (tongue in cheek naming it as if it were the land of the Giants as mentioned in HRB) along with the state fair at Caerleon and Henry Blois is also responsible for the invention of the round table. So, we can see Marie of France carrying out the same ploy as Henry Blois in pretending the source of her material is from elsewhere…. and no doubt it is Henry Blois who advises her to express herself fully under the cloak of secrecy.
Marie of France writing after 1164 (when she became Countess Marie of Champagne) publishes her work under her own former appellation which just so happens to describe any other person called ‘Marie from France’.
In Marie’s lai titled Yonec we could speculate that Henry Blois may well have intoned to Marie that Arthur was in a tomb. Apart from the mound (which can be equated to Glastonbury Tor), her mistreated lady locked in the tower has her lover Knight that is buried in a tomb in an abbey. He is un-named, yet was the king of the country and she is buried beside him at her death. Is this derived from seed material which put Arthur and Guinevere at Avalon in an original Perlesvaus? Do not forget Henry is responsible for the authorship of Perlesvaus before his death in 1171. Arthur’s bones did not surface until after 1189
So from the start of Henry’s conversion of Avalon into Glastonbury c.1157-8 based upon VM’s Insula Pomorum; to a time when Henry is likely to be proliferating this connection to the court of Champagne, which is from 1164 onward, after the marriage of Marie to Henry’s nephew….. we have the most likely 6 years to 1170 that Master Blehis was actively involved in propagating ‘the origins’ of Grail material at the only court known for propagation of Grail literature. Henry had no other family to visit not having children himself, except of course a few Nephews in the ecclesiastical system.
Continental Grail material’s attachment to Glastonbury could only emanate from Henry given that it is so associated with Arthur, Joseph, and Melkin’s prophecy. Now, if you are a scholar in the long established tradition of picking a corner of expertise and holding to it no matter what evidence is put before you (even advocating 1170 and all the rest of the observations made by Shoaf above) you would never see the wood for the trees even if they fell on you; and God forbid that a scholars ego is dented.
Thus, we have Shoaf the Arthurian aficionado likening herself to the infallible pope and my theory on who might be the real Marie of France is summarily dismissed; likened to Gallileo telling the Pope the sun doesn’t rise in the East (her words). Henry Blois is Master Blehis and Marie of Champagne is one and the same with Marie of France. Gallileo was ordered to abandon his opinion and arrested, but he was right. Scholarship has become the Church of the Matter of Britain refusing to go against dogma and misleading students even today.
One wonders where they have put their heads. Carley refuses to see the Prophecy of Melkin as a real document and the source of the Grail; Crick thinks Geoffrey of Monmouth is a real person; Cunliffe does not even mention the real location of Ictis in his book about Ictis; Shoaf will not get a grasp on who Marie of France really was; even if you made her read her own biography of Marie. She will remain ignorant like the pope. Lagorio, who thinks that Joseph lore at Glastonbury is a chance event and R.S Loomis, after questioning why Avalon came to be identified with Glastonbury, tells us it is not the scheming of an Angevin King or the cupidity of Glastonbury Monks but it all rests on the mistaken logic of a Breton minstrel; and to heap coals on the state of ignorance in Arthurian scholarship and the authorship and dating of the texts of the HRB today states: Robert (of Gloucester)died in 1147 and Alexander in 1148 and thereafter a dedication to either would have no point. This is the stupidity of Loomis!!!! If the two hundred years of scholars’ empirical construct of our three genres of work under investigation were a plane, not only would it not fly, it would not hold together on the ground. None of the present theory on Arthuriana , Grail Legend or Glastonbury lore makes any sense put forward by these inept dullards.
Marie of France expressed in her poetry what transpired around her and what she had seen of her mother’s own love life (who was known to be highly sexed). Marie captivates the female court audience with adulterous affairs, women of high stature like her mother who seduced other men, women seeking escape from a loveless marriage. Marie wrote Lais expressing her own risqué sentiments that were contrary to the traditions of the Church, and marriage and therefore…. the Lais are posited as stories having been told by others i.e. Breton minstrels: This adventure chanced in Brittany, and in remembrance thereof the Bretons made a Lay, which I heard sung by the minstrel to the music of his rote.
The ploy is that what is expressed cannot be accounted as the feelings and views of Marie of Champagne, but the stories and the avant-garde views appear to originate with minstrels: Many a one, on many a day, the minstrel has chanted to my ear. I would not that they should perish, forgotten, by the roadside. In my turn, therefore, I have made of them a song, rhymed as well as I am able, and often has their shaping kept me sleepless in my bed.
To the pretentious Shoaf I would say the chance of it happening on many a day that a minstrel chanted into a nun’s ear…. just shows Shoaf rightly expresses that she herself has no idea of the identity of Marie of France.
Again, another example of obfuscation is found in Bisclavret where Marie re-affirms the lais are not of her imagination: Some time later (not very long, I think, unless I heard it wrong), The King went riding in the wood….
There is no proper way that a woman could express the feelings of lust and love in beguiling circumstances and be the respectable wife of a Count, daughter of a King and not be accused of ‘owning’ much of the emotional impropriety witnessed in her poetry. The only way of expressing herself is to disown the origin of composition and the provenance of the material avowing (too frequently) that the tales derive from Breton conteurs.
What seems evident is that Marie did hear Breton Jongleurs and to my mind where Chaitivel and Laustic are concerned, an original lai existed. In Chaitivel, Marie tackles every women’s dilemma (as western propriety dictates only one suitor), by having four lovers all at once…. and desire fulfilled from four loves. In others, obviously, the material came from Henry to her and mixes with her own input at the same time as Chrétien.
The Lais also exhibit the idea of a stronger female role and power, which is exactly as Henry Blois viewed women…. as his own mother was the power broker of the Blois region. Henry Blois encouraged Marie and propagated her poems in Britain; and at her court, his own seedlings of the Grail legends were born, coalesced and initially propagated through conteurs reading aloud Henry’s output. We are reliably informed by experts that the essence of Marie’s stories is of Celtic (rather than of Breton) origin when neither is categorically true.
Marie of Champagne was the former Marie of France. It seems only fair to propose that she and Henry Blois knew each other well as she feels at liberty to use what is an Arthurian background to convey her feminine sentiments by using icons and characters which in all likelihood came from the uncle of her Husband…. just as Chrétien’s work is seen above from the same source at the same court in the same era. That Marie uses Avalon as a mystical island where Lanval lands on the lady’s palfrey, and the two ride together to Avalon…. an island, very dim and very fair, known as Avalon and are never seen again…. indicates that the man who invented Avalon as this mystical isle has encouraged her to write the Lais and she understands his symbolism.
Marie is concerned with affairs of the heart (female and male love) and it is obviated on the one side by the content of Marie of France’s Lais; on the other there is clear evidence that Countess Marie of Champagne is the same person because Marie is called to judge (as an authority) the affairs of love, clearly indicated by the following letter from a certain noble women A and Count G:
To the illustrious and wise woman M. Countess of Champagne, the noble woman A. and Count G. send greeting and whatever in the world is more pleasing.
Ancient custom shows us plainly, and the way of life of the ancients demands, that if we are to have justice done we should seek first of all in the place where Wisdom is clearly known to have found a home for herself and that we should seek for the truth of reason at its source, where it is abundant, rather than beg for its decisions where it flowers scantily in small streams. For a great poverty of possessions can scarcely offer to anyone a wealth of good things or distribute an abundance of fertility. Where the master is oppressed by great want it is wholly impossible for the vassal to abound in wealth.
Now on a certain day, as we sat under the shade of a pine tree of marvellous height and great breadth of spread, devoted wholly to love’s idleness and striving to investigate Love’s mandates in a good-tempered and spirited debate, we began to discern a twofold doubt, and we wearied ourselves with laborious arguments as to whether true love can find any place between husband and wife and whether jealousy flourishing between two lovers ought to be approved of. After we had argued the matter back and forth and each of us seemed to bolster up his position with reasonable arguments, neither one would give in to the other or agree with the arguments he brought forward. We ask you to settle this dispute, and we have sent you both sides of the question in detail, so that after you have carefully examined the truth of it our disagreement may be brought to a satisfactory end and settled by a fair decision. For knowing clearly and in manifest truth that you have a great abundance of wisdom and that you would not want to deprive anyone of justice, we believe that we will in no wise be deprived of it; we most urgently implore Your Excellency’s decision, and we desire with all our hearts, begging you most humbly by our present address, that you will give continued attention to our case and that Your Prudence will render a fair decision in the matter without making any delay in giving the verdict.
Now, why would this man and woman the noble woman A. and Count G. be appealing to someone other than the person renowned for their lais, to pronounce a judgement on who might be wrong or right before either end up like one of Marie’s ill fated protagonists.
In all Marie’s lais, it is that sole endeavour which the listener, hearing the words, subconsciously carries out while wrested in thought; i.e. making judgements upon whether the characters have received justice for their deeds or how they were wronged in love. Marie’s lais are about the pitfalls of relationships and love, so who better for the noble woman A. and Count G to go to for advice.
That nothing is known of Marie of France is ridiculous. Marie of France is the same person as Marie of Champagne. My message back to the imperious Judy is that the earth revolves around the sun in truth as proposed by Glileo but as far as she is an expert on Marie or King Arthur, Shoaf can ‘shove it where the sun don’t shine’, east or west!!!