The Lais of Marie de France

by

Marie de France

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Lais of Marie de France can help.

The Seneschal Character Analysis

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 seneschal. Constantly absorbed in kingdom business, the seneschal remains oblivious. However, when he interrupts his wife and Equitan having sex, he furiously throws his wife into the boiling bath she’d intended for him.

The Seneschal Quotes in The Lais of Marie de France

The The Lais of Marie de France quotes below are all either spoken by The Seneschal or refer to The Seneschal. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
).
II. Equitan Quotes

Because you are a powerful king and my husband is your vassal, you would expect, as I see it, to be the lord and master in love as well. Love is not honourable, unless it is based on equality. A poor man, if he is loyal and possesses wisdom and merit, is of greater worth and his love more joyful than that of a prince or king who lacks loyalty. If anyone places his love higher than is appropriate for his own station in life, he must fear all manner of things.

Related Characters: The Seneschal’s Wife (speaker), Equitan, The Seneschal, Marie de France
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

His evil plan rebounded on him, whereas the seneschal was safe and sound. […] Seizing his wife immediately, [the seneschal] tossed her head first into the bath. Thus they died together, the king first, then the woman with him. Anyone willing to listen to reason could profit from this cautionary tale. Evil can easily rebound on him who seeks another’s misfortune.

Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Lais of Marie de France LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Lais of Marie de France PDF

The Seneschal Character Timeline in The Lais of Marie de France

The timeline below shows where the character The Seneschal appears in The Lais of Marie de France. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
II. Equitan
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
...war going on, Equitan spends all his time hunting and pursuing other pleasures. A trusted seneschal governs his territory for him. (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
The seneschal’s wife is beautiful but will one day bring misfortune on the kingdom. Hearing of her... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Virtue, Vice, and Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
...with grief, staying up all night berating himself for falling in love with his faithful seneschal’s wife. Yet it seems to him that if the seneschal’s wife had no lover, that... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
...of a fever. Not realizing that his wife is the cause of Equitan’s distress, the seneschal sends her to cheer up their ailing guest. Equitan takes this opportunity to confess his... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
The seneschal’s wife thinks that if Equitan “had [his] way” with her, he’d soon abandon her—and even... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
...a rich prince, even if she lacks material riches herself. Equitan offers himself to the seneschal’s wife, telling her to regard him as her vassal and promising to do whatever she... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
...everyone he is being bled and needs his privacy; nobody dares enter his bedchamber. The seneschal is oblivious, focused on carrying out court business, but other courtiers gossip about the king’s... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Virtue, Vice, and Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
Comforted by this, the seneschal’s wife says that if Equitan promises not to abandon her and will give her his... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Virtue, Vice, and Justice Theme Icon
Several weeks later, Equitan carries out the plan, arranging to be bled at the seneschal’s castle as a precaution against illness. The seneschal agrees to join the king for a... (full context)