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ARTHURIAN LEGENDS AND THE INFLUENCE OF
FRENCH PROSE ROMANCE
The Grail, Lancelot, Tristan and related manuscripts from the British Library


  • 52 manuscripts from the 12th to the 16th centuries show the evolution of Arthurian prose romance from Celtic legend, to chronicle, to French prose romance, to Malory’s Morte D’Arthur.
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth, Robert Wace, Geffrei Gamar, Chrétien de Troyes, Robert de Boron, William of Malmesbury and Thomas Malory are all represented.
  • We have intentionally chosen a mixture of early and later manuscripts in order to illustrate the constant rewriting, expansion, and recombination of material that was a feature of the myth's development. 

“French romances occupy a central position in the development of medieval European
literature.  Their most popular subject matter by far was the Arthurian legend, which, though it
had its origins elsewhere, was first cast in romance form in France: the Round Table, the
tragic love story of Lancelot and Guinevere, and the notion of the Grail quest were all French
innovations.  So too was the very genre of romance, a sophisticated and complex form that
dramatized quests and tests and explored the connections – and often the conflicts – of love
and adventure.”

Professor Norris J Lacy, Consultant Editor,
Department of French, Penn State University,
Writing in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Romance (ed Krueger)

Manuscript - Thomas Mallory

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