Chrestien De Troyes
CHRESTIEN DE TROYES, the most eminent of the early French writers of romance, was born at Troyes in Champagne in the 1 1 th century. Nothing whatever is known of his life ; but from the fact that several of his works are dedicated to Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders, it is conjectured that he was attached to the court of that prince. He was much esteemed and highly praised by his contemporaries, and by the writers of the century following, and not without reason, being a master of style, and possessing in an eminent degree the qualities of invention and conduct, together with great purity and range of thought, and a remarkable knowledge of men and manners. His books, therefore, apart from the interest attached to them as specimens of the mediaeval epic, and by reason of their relation to the rest of the Arthurian literature, and in spite of the difficulties and crudities of the unformed language in which they are written, are still readable, and are rich in instructive details concerning the age that gave them birth. Many romances are attributed to Chrestien des Troyes. Modern criticism has selected, six only as undoubtedly his. These are - (1) Irec et Enide, which contains some seven thousand verses, and which has supplied the materials for one of the legends of Tennyson's Arthurian cycle ; (2) Cliges, or Oliget, a second Round Table romance; (3) Le Chevalier au Lion, containing nearly seven thousand verses, an offshoot of the Arthurian legend, if not absolutely forming part of it ; (4) Guillaume d' Angleterre, a specimen of a more modern style, containing three thousand three hundred verses ; (5) Le Chevalier de ice Charette, a romance of nearly seven thousand verses, written by Chrestien and continued by Godefroid de Laigny, the hero of which is Lancelot du Lac ; and (6) Perceval is Gallois, a poem of twenty thousand verses, begun by Chrestien and continued by Gautier de Denet and by Menassier, - perhaps the earliest instance of that alliance of the Holy Grail and Round Table legends which enjoyed such an immense popularity in the Middle Ages - translations and imitations of which have appeared in English, French, German, Spanish, Flemish, and Icelandic. Two other romances are known to have been written by Chrestien, - Tristan, on is Poi llfarc at la Reine Yseult, and Le Chevalier de l'Epee, but these are wholly lost ; and he is credited with the authorship of six songs and of several Ovidian translations or imitations still unpublished.