Arthurian Romances c. 1160–80
This portal was curated by:

CHRETIEN DE TROYES

Chrétien de Troyes, (flourished 1165–80), French poet who is known as the author of five Arthurian romances: Erec; Cligès; Lancelot, ou Le Chevalier à la charrette; Yvain, ou Le Chevalier au lion; and Perceval, ou Le Conte du Graal. The non-Arthurian tale Guillaume d’Angleterre, based on the legend of St. Eustace, may also have been written by Chrétien.

Little is known of Chrétien’s life. He apparently frequented the court of Marie, comtesse de Champagne, and he may have visited England.
DATABASES
Chrétien de Troyes, (flourished 1165–80), French poet who is known as the author of five Arthurian romances: Erec; Cligès; Lancelot, ou Le Chevalier à la charrette; Yvain, ou Le Chevalier au lion; and Perceval, ou Le Conte du Graal. The non-Arthurian tale Guillaume d’Angleterre, based on the legend of St. Eustace, may also have been written by Chrétien.

Little is known of Chrétien’s life. He apparently frequented the court of Marie, comtesse de Champagne, and he may have visited England.
Chrétien de Troyes, fl. c. 1160–c. 1181, was the author of five Arthurian romances in verse (Erec et Enide, Cligés, Yvain (Le chevalier au lion), Lancelot (Le chevalier de la charrette), Perceval (Le conte du Graal), and a version of the Philomela story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The tale of Guillaume d’Angleterre has also been attributed to Chrétien with more or less plausibility, as have a number of courtly lyrics. Less credible is the attribution of two shorter Arthurian romances of Gauvain (Gawain), Le chevalier à l’épée and La mule sans frein, the latter by “Paien de Maisières” (pagan from Maisières). The dating and order of Chrétien’s works are based on dedications to patrons and internal evidence; none are dated with precision. Lancelot is dedicated to Marie de Champagne (b. 1145–d. 1198), the daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, and the unfinished Perceval to Philippe d’Alsace, Count of Flanders (b. 1145–d. 1198). Little is known of Chrétien’s life.
Chrétien's works include five major poems in rhyming eight-syllable couplets. Four of these are complete: Erec and Enide (c. 1170); Cligès (c. 1176); Yvain, the Knight of the Lion; and Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, the latter two written simultaneously between 1177 and 1181. Yvain is generally considered Chrétien's most masterful work.[5] Chrétien's final romance was Perceval, the Story of the Grail, written between 1181 and 1190, but left unfinished, though some scholars have disputed this. It is dedicated to Philip, Count of Flanders, to whom Chrétien may have been attached in his last years.
Little concerning the person we call "Chrétien de Troyes" (fl. ca. 1160-1191) can be affirmed with certainty. What we know must largely be inferred from the writings attributed to him. These include five romance narratives written in rhyming octosyllabic couplets during the final third of the 12th century (Érec et Énide [ca. 1165], Cligés [ca. 1176], Le Chevalier de la Charrette (Lancelot), Le Chevalier au Lion (Yvain) [ca. 1177? 1179-80?], and Le Conte du Graal (Perceval) [ca. 1190]); a sixth narrative, Guillaume d'Angleterre, has been attributed to him by some, although many scholars find this doubtful. At least two surviving lyric songs are said to have been composed by him (if so, he is the oldest known trouvère with work closely related to that of the Old Provençal troubadours).

Certain works said by him to belong to his oeuvre--they are listed in the opening verses to Cligés--have not survived; these include, especially, a romance entitled Du roi Marc et d'Iseut la Blonde. One of the Ovidian poems given in the Cligés list appears as part of an early 14th-century compilation called the Ovide moralisé.