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July 25, 2014

Chaitivel- The Lais of Marie de France- Summary

Chaitivel- The Lais of Marie de France- Summary

In Nates, there lived a beautiful and noble lady. Every man that saw her fell in love with her, and so she was courted by many men. She didn't want to refuse any suitors, because they might retaliate. She tried to satisfy each of her lovers as best she could. In Brittany, there were four handsome and valiant knights. All four of these knights were in love with the lady, and did many deeds to win her affection. The lady could not choose between these four knights, and she did not want to lose any of them by choosing one. None of them knew how successful each of his fellow knights was with the lady, and they all wore tokens of her love. One Easter, there was a tournament taking place in Nates. The night before the tournament was supposed to begin, a fight broke out. The lady watched the fight from a tower. She still could not make up her mind, which one of the knights was the best.

The next day, the tournament began. The four knights did very well in the tournament. After the tournament was over for the day, the four knights went off by themselves, which was a huge mistake. Three of knights were killed and the other one was injured in his thigh. Those who had injured the knights were very sorry that they had killed the three knights, because they had not intended to do so. The slain knights were put on their shields and carried to their beloved's city. The lady blamed herself for their deaths, saying if she had not made them compete for her love they would have still been alive. She had the three dead knights buried, and nursed the other knight back to health.

The lady decided that she was going to write a lay about her tragedy; so that people would remember her grief. She wanted to name it The Four Sorrows, but her one remaining knight told her that she should name it The Unhappy One. He told her name it that, because he "cannot experience the joy of a kiss or an embrace or of any pleasure other than conversation. You cause me to suffer a hundred such ills and death would be preferable for me" (108). He wants her to name the lay after him. The lady agreed to the knight's request.


The Lais of Marie de France. Trans. Glyn S. Burgess. New York: Penguin, 1999.