The Lais of Marie de France

by

Marie de France

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The Lais of Marie de France Characters

Marie de France

Marie is the author of the Lais of Marie de France. In her Prologue, Marie defends her writing by stating that someone who’s gifted with knowledge and eloquence is obligated to share their talent… read analysis of Marie de France

Guigemar

Guigemar, a brave Breton knight, is the protagonist of Marie’s first lay. When Guigemar comes of age, he sets off for Flanders to win fame, and no other knight can equal him in… read analysis of Guigemar

The Young Lady

The young lady is married to the elderly lord and lives a closely guarded, secluded life in the ancient city the lord rules; she can only escape by boat. When Guigemar arrives, she and her… read analysis of The Young Lady

Meriaduc

Meriaduc is the lord of a castle in Brittany. When the young lady appears at his castle, he immediately falls in love with her, but she doesn’t reciprocate. When Meriaduc holds a tournament with his… read analysis of Meriaduc

Equitan

Equitan is the lord of Nantes and a beloved king of Brittany. Equitan is devoted to chivalry and spends much of his time pursuing pleasure. His trusted seneschal conducts much of the business of the… read analysis of Equitan
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The Seneschal

The seneschal works for Equitan, faithfully ruling Equitan’s Breton kingdom on his behalf. The seneschal’s wife, beautiful but ill-fated, begins an affair with Equitan behind the seneschal’s back and plots to murder the… read analysis of The Seneschal

The Seneschal’s Wife

The seneschal’s wife falls in love with Equitan, whom her husband, the seneschal, works for. Like most noblewomen in the Lais, she is described as being beautiful, intelligent, and delightful company. She… read analysis of The Seneschal’s Wife

The Slanderous Wife (Le Fresne’s Mother)

Le Fresne’s mother is described as an arrogant, envious woman. When a neighbor gives birth to twin sons, Le Fresne’s mother is so jealous that she slanders the woman by claiming that she must have… read analysis of The Slanderous Wife (Le Fresne’s Mother)

Le Fresne

Le Fresne is one of the slanderous wife’s twin daughters; she is La Codre’s sister. When Le Fresne is a newborn, her mother abandons her; she is wrapped in a rich brocade and… read analysis of Le Fresne

Gurun

Gurun is a lord who falls in love with Le Fresne. He is so taken with her, in fact, that he determines to patronize and enrich the abbey where she lives so that he… read analysis of Gurun

La Codre

La Codre is Le Fresne’s twin sister and one of the slanderous wife’s daughters. When she grows up, she marries Gurun, lord of a neighboring estate. However, once the long-lost Le Fresne’s… read analysis of La Codre

Bisclavret

Bisclavret is a Breton baron who regularly turns into a werewolf. After Bisclavret’s wife betrays him by making it impossible for him to transform into a human again, he lives in the forest. One day… read analysis of Bisclavret

Bisclavret’s Wife/Ex-Wife

Bisclavret’s wife is, of course, married to Bisclavret. She is a suspicious and discontented spouse. Unaware that Bisclavret is a werewolf, she presses him mercilessly about his whereabouts each week, and when she learns… read analysis of Bisclavret’s Wife/Ex-Wife

Bisclavret’s Wife’s Lover

Bisclavret’s wife’s lover is a knight who unsuccessfully woos Bisclavret’s wife for a long time. But once she rejects her werewolf husband, she responds to the lover’s advances, hoping to gain his help. Accordingly, he… read analysis of Bisclavret’s Wife’s Lover

Lanval

Lanval is a Knight of the Round Table. He’s poor and not originally from Britain, and the other knights regard him as an outsider—perhaps especially because he’s so handsome and chivalrous that he provokes their… read analysis of Lanval

The Fairy Lady

The fairy lady appears mysteriously in an extravagant tent on the meadow where Lanval wanders one day. She is attended by two damsels dressed in purple. The lady offers to become Lanval’s lover and to… read analysis of The Fairy Lady

King Arthur

King Arthur, who features in the story “Lanval,” is the king of Britain and head of a group of knights called The Round Table. He puts Lanval on trial for allegedly insulting his wife, Guinevere… read analysis of King Arthur

Arthur’s Queen

The queen is King Arthur’s wife. When Lanval resists her romantic advances by claiming that even his secret lover’s serving girls are prettier than her, the queen is furious. She accuses Lanval of preferring… read analysis of Arthur’s Queen

The Lord of the Pistrians

In “Les Deus Amanz,” the Lord of the Pistrians is the king of Pistria, a city in Normandy. A widower, he is devoted to his daughter and reluctant to marry her off. So, he comes… read analysis of The Lord of the Pistrians

The Lord of the Pistrians’ Daughter

In “Les Deus Amanz,” the Lord of the Pistrians’ daughter is devoted to her father, the lord of the Pistrians. He is reluctant to marry her off, requiring suitors to successfully carry her up… read analysis of The Lord of the Pistrians’ Daughter

The Young Man

The young man falls in love with the lord of the Pistrians’ daughter. Instead of eloping, they agree to obtain a strengthening potion from the young woman’s aunt. This will allow the young man… read analysis of The Young Man

The Lady of Caerwent

The lady of Caerwent is married to the wealthy lord of Caerwent. She’s much younger than him and very beautiful, so he keeps her locked up in a tower. After seven years of confinement… read analysis of The Lady of Caerwent

Muldumarec

Muldumarec, king of Caerleon, is a handsome knight who appears to the lady of Caerwent in the form of a hawk. He can transform between man and bird at will. He even assumes the lady’s… read analysis of Muldumarec

Yonec

Yonec is the son of Muldumarec and the lady of Caerwent, conceived during their brief affair. Though the tale “Yonec” is named for him, he appears only briefly in the story. When Yonec grows… read analysis of Yonec

The Lord of Caerwent

The lord of Caerwent is a wealthy, elderly British lord who marries the lady of Caerwent in hopes of having an heir. He’s very jealous of her youth and beauty, though, and keeps her locked… read analysis of The Lord of Caerwent

The Married Lady

In “Laüstic,” the married lady is the wife of a knight in St. Malo. She starts a love affair with a neighboring bachelor knight, talking with him through her window in the middle of… read analysis of The Married Lady

The Bachelor Knight

In “Laüstic,” the bachelor knight, who lives in the region of St. Malo, begins an affair with a married lady, the wife of the fellow knight next door, talking with her through his window… read analysis of The Bachelor Knight

Milun

Milun is a Welsh knight who’s renowned throughout Europe for his skill. He and the damsel fall in love and begin meeting in secret. After the damsel becomes pregnant with their child, he helps smuggle… read analysis of Milun

The Damsel

The damsel is a nobleman’s daughter who falls in love with Milun. A resourceful young woman, she initiates their relationship by sending the knight a message. After their secret meetings lead to her pregnancy… read analysis of The Damsel

Milun’s Son

Milun’s son is born in secret after Milun and the damsel have an affair. As an infant, he’s taken to Northumbria to be raised by his aunt, the damsel’s rich sister. When he grows up… read analysis of Milun’s Son

The Indecisive Lady

In “Chaitivel,” the indecisive lady lives in the city of Nantes in Brittany. She is so beautiful and charming that she’s irresistible to knights. In fact, four knights woo her, and instead of settling on… read analysis of The Indecisive Lady

The Wounded Knight

In “Chaitivel,” the wounded knight is one of the indecisive lady’s four wooers and the only one who survives deadly fighting during a tournament at Nantes. The knight is badly injured, and the lady… read analysis of The Wounded Knight

Tristram

In “Chevrefoil,” Tristram is kicked out of his uncle King Mark’s court because he loves Mark’s queen, Iseult. Depressed, Tristram goes home to his native Wales, but he eventually travels back to Cornwall in… read analysis of Tristram

Iseult

In “Chevrefoil,” Iseult is a queen, married to King Mark of Cornwall but in love with Tristram. On her way to a festival, she sees Tristram’s honeysuckle symbol on a hazel branch and finds… read analysis of Iseult

Eliduc

Eliduc is a brave Breton knight who is married to Guildelüec. Though the King of Brittany loves Eliduc, he banishes the knight from court on the basis of a jealous rumor. Then Eliduc travels… read analysis of Eliduc

Guildelüec

Guildelüec is the wise and noble wife of Eliduc. She is sensitive and perceptive, especially where Eliduc is concerned. When she notices that Eliduc is disappearing into the forest every day, she takes matters… read analysis of Guildelüec

Guilliadun

Guilliadun is a princess, daughter of a king near Exeter in England. She falls passionately in love with Eliduc, a knight in her father’s service. Unaware that he’s already married to Guildelüec, she… read analysis of Guilliadun
Minor Characters
The Elderly Lord
The elderly lord is the ruler of the ancient city to which Guigemar travels. Jealous of his beautiful wife, a young lady, the lord keeps her imprisoned and closely guarded until she abandons him by escaping and reuniting with Guigemar in Brittany.
The Maiden Companion
The maiden is the elderly lord’s noble and intelligent niece. She lives with the young lady as a companion in her imprisonment and does anything she can to support the lady’s love affair with Guigemar.
Gawain
Gawain is a Knight of King Arthur’s Round Table along with Lanval.