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July 25, 2014

Eliduc- The Lais of Marie de France- Summary

Eliduc- The Lais of Marie de France- Summary

In Brittany, there lived a knight named Eliduc. No one was as valiant as he was. He was married to a very noble lady by the name of Guildeluec. He loved his wife very much, but things changed when he went into paid military service. His wife remained at home, and he fell in love with the queen Guilliadun.

Eliduc was greatly loved by his king. The king always appointed Eliduc to be the ruler of his land when he was not there. Eliduc was the envy of all the other men at court, and because of this he was accused of many things. The king banished him from court without any formal accusation. Eliduc felt betrayed by the king, because the king ignored his request to hear his defense. Eliduc returned home, and told all of his friends what had happened to him.

Eliduc decided to leave his homeland and go to Logres. He decided that he would leave his wife behind. In Totnes, there were many warring kings. There was one king, who was very old. He only had a daughter, and refused to marry to one of his fellow countrymen. The man, who had been refused, started war against the king. Eliduc heard about this war, and offered to help whichever king was in most need of his help. The king accepted his help, and they prepared lodging for him and his knights for the next month. Eliduc prohibited his men from accepting any gifts or money for the first forty days they were there.

On the third day of Eliduc's stay, their enemies threatened to seize the city. Eliduc quickly armed himself and mounted his horse. In the town, there were forty knights, who decided they were going to join Eliduc. Eliduc asked them if they knew of a place where they could ambush the enemy, and they said that in the woods there was a thicket that their enemy would have to pass through, and there was a narrow path where they would be vulernable. They hid in the bushes and awaited their enemy. When the enemy came through Eliduc and his men quickly overtook them. They took their equipment, and everything else of value. They took prisoner thirty men and went back to their city. The king was very happy. Eliduc split up all of the booty and horses, but gave his share away. Eliduc only kept three horses. The king kept him and his men in service for a year.

The king's daughter heard all the talk about Eliduc, and sent her chamberlain to ask Eliduc to come to her. Eliduc agreed, but took one of his knights with him. He spoke with her according to his breeding. Guilliadun took hold of his hand, and guided him to a bed. They talked about many things. She fell in love with him, but did not tell him then. Eliduc stayed there for a long time. Once back at his lodging, he was upset that he had been there so long and had never met her before. All of a sudden, he remembered his wife and the pledge he had made to her, and he felt very guilty for thinking about Guilliadun in that manner.

The lady decided that she loved Eliduc very much, and she wanted to make him her lover. There would be great benefits for him if he gave himself to her; he could be king. The lady told her chamberlain that she loved Eliduc, and the chamberlain told her to send him one of her rings, girdles, or ribbons. If he is happy about the lady's gifts, and comes to see her, then she will know that he loves her in return. The lady decided to do as her chamberlain had instructed, and sent him a gold ring and one of her girdles. The lady sat in her room nervous about what she had just done. She barely knew anything about him; she did not know if he was noble or not. He wondered if she acted to rashly by sending him these things when they had only just met.

Her chamberlain brought the trinkets to Eliduc, and told him that they were from his lady. Eliduc put the ring on his finger, and put on the girdle. The chamberlain did not say anything else to Eliduc and went back to the lady. She questioned him about his interaction with Eliduc; if he loved her or not. The chamberlain said that he did not press Eliduc for any information, but he was sure that he did love her. The lady decided that she wanted to Eliduc herself how she felt, but she was scared that she would not have the time to do so. Her chamberlain then informed her that her father had retained Eliduc for a whole year; she was very happy to hear this.

Eliduc was confused and torn between his duty to his wife and his feelings for the king's daughter. The lady made him so happy, but he promised his wife before he left that he would love no one else but her. Because of the promise he made to his wife and the fact that he was in the king's service, he vowed he would never ask her for her love. Eliduc decided to go and see the king, and he hoped that he would have the opportunity to speak with the lady as well. When Eliduc arrived the king and his daughter were playing chess; the king told his daughter to show Eliduc immense honor, which made his daughter very happy. Eliduc and the lady went off by themselves. She told him that she loved him, and he could have her if he wanted her. She also told him that she would have no other man. Eliduc told her that he was "grateful" for her love and that it made him very happy. He continued by telling her that he would remain in her country for a year, fulfilling his commitment to the king, and then he would return home. The lady responded by telling him that she hoped that he would change his mind by the end of the year and stay with her. Eliduc went back to his lodgings, and these two spoke often.

Eliduc managed to capture the king's enemy, which freed the king's land. Eliduc was greatly honored for his skill, intelligence, and generosity.

Eliduc's lord was very sorry that he had banished Eliduc. He sent three messengers to find him, and bring him home. He had been injured, and he was losing all of his land. He exiled all of the men who made him think badly of Eliduc. He needed Eliduc to come home and help him.

Eliduc knew that he had to go home, but there was a part of him that really didn't want to. Eliduc and the king's daughter had an innocent love that was filled with courting and exchanging gifts. She knew nothing of Eliduc's wife. Eliduc decided that he absolutely had to go home. His religion would not recognize a second marriage anyway; so he could never marry the lady. He decided to go to see his lady, tell her about his situation. He would do whatever she wanted him to do.

Eliduc went to the king and told him that his lord needed his help. The king tried to bribe him to stay with many of his possessions and a third of his inheritance. Eliduc turned him down, but said that he would return if the king needed him to. The king gave Eliduc his blessing, and then Eliduc went to see the king's daughter. When he arrived, the lady "greeted him six thousand times" (119). He tried to tell her everything, but she fainted before he could finish. When she came to, she begged him to take her with him. Eliduc told her that she could not come with him, but he would return at a later date of her choosing. With that being settled the couple exchanged rings, and Eliduc left the kingdom.

Eliduc arrived home. He was so sad and downcast that his wife thought that she had done something wrong. He told her that it was not her fault. He also told her that he would have to leave again, because the king needed him. Eliduc set everything, in his lord's kingdom, right again, and then made preparations to return to his beloved. He took two of his nephews, his chamberlain, and his squires with him when he left.

When they arrived, he sent his chamberlain to his beloved. The chamberlain was instructed to bring Guilliadun to the ship that night. He managed to get to her undetected, and they waited 'til dark to escape. Once they reached the ship that night, they set sail. When they were close to port in Eliduc's homeland, the sea became very rough. The mast was broken and the sail was ripped. Everyone was afraid that they were going to shipwreck. One of the sailors yelled out "Lord, you have with you the woman who will cause us to perish. We shall never make land! You have a loyal wife and now with this other woman you offend God and his law...let us cast her into the sea and we shall soon arrive safely" (121). Eliduc became very angry. When Guilliadun heard that Eliduc already had a wife, she fainted. She lay motionless and breathless; everyone thought she was dead. Eliduc pushed the sailor, who had spoken ill of Guilliadun, overboard. He then took control of the helm, and steered them to port. Once there, Eliduc began to think of where he was going to bury his beloved. He decided to have her buried in the chapel near his house. He would have an abbey founded there, filled with holy people, who would pray for his beloved.

When they arrived at the chapel, it was deserted. Eliduc was upset when he discovered that the hermit, who lived there, had died. He laid her in front of the alter, and he vowed to return everyday to pray for her. He was so grief-stricken that he vowed to take his holy orders on the day he buried her. He arrived home, but he was not in a pleasant mood. He was home for two days; he heard mass and went to the chapel to see his beloved.
His wife became very suspicious, and decided to have her husband followed. A servant followed Eliduc to the chapel, listened to what he said to his beloved, and reported back to his lady. She decided that they would go and search the hermitage themselves. She found the girl, who appeared to be dead, and knew why her husband was in such a foul mood. The lady began to cry. Just then, a weasel came out from under the altar and ran over the body. The servant killed it. Another weasel came out from under the altar, and tried to wake up its partner. When it was unable to wake his friend, it went outside. It came back with a red flower, and put it in his friend's mouth. The first weasel recovered. The lady noticed this and told her servant to kill the weasel with the flower in its mouth. She took the flower out of the weasel's mouth and put it into the lady's mouth. Guilliadun woke up. The lady asked Guilliadun who she was and where she came from. Guilliadun told her that she was the daughter of a king in Logres, and a man named Eliduc had brought her here under false pretenses. She thought that he had abandoned her, but the lady told her that he thought she was dead. The lady also told her that Eliduc was her husband. The lady decided to take her home with her. She told the girl that she would release Eliduc from him commitment to her and take her holy orders.

The lady sent a servant to inform her husband what had happened. Eliduc mounted his horse and he came straight home, overjoyed. The lady asked her husband to allow her to leave so that she could serve God. She asked him to give her some of his land; so that she could found an abbey.

Eliduc married his beloved, and they lived very happily together. Eliduc had a church built on the opposite side of his castle. He gave the church most of his land, and all of his gold and silver. When the time came, he went there to serve God. He entrusted his wife to his first wife at her abbey.


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