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July 25, 2014

Laustic- The Lais of Marie de France- Summary

Laustic- The Lais of Marie de France- Summary

In St Malo, there were two knights, who lived in adjoining houses. The houses were only separated by a high stone wall. One of the knights was married to a woman, who was the epitome of decorum. The other knight was known for his valor and sill. He attended many tournaments, and was generous to all. He was not married, but he was in love. He pledged his love to his neighbor's wife, and she pledged hers in return. They made sure to conceal their love from everyone; they did not want to be suspected of anything inappropriate. They could not even be alone together, because the lady was well guarded. They had to be satisfied with standing at their windows, looking and talking to one another. They would occasionally toss each other gifts.

They carried on loving each other for a long time. One summer everything changed. The lady was in the habit of getting up in the middle of the night to speak with her beloved. The lady's husband was greatly disturbed by her constant absence from their bed, and he asked her why she left their bed every night. The lady replied that she got up to listen to the nightingales sing. This irritated her husband, and so he devised a plan to get rid of the nightingale in the garden. The next day, he had all of the servants construct traps to ensnare the bird, in the garden. When the bird was caught, it was taken straight to the knight. The knight took the still alive bird, and went immediately to his lady's room. He told her that she would not be awakened by the nightingale any longer. She asked him what he meant by that, and the knight broke the bird's neck with his bare hands right in front of her. He then threw the nightingale's dead body at the lady, its blood spattering all over her. The lady was so sad. She could never again stand at the window at night and speak with her beloved. She did not want her beloved to think that she had changed her mind about him; so she decided to send him the bird. She wrapped the bird in a piece of samite, which had gold embroidery on it, and had the bird delivered with a message to her beloved. The knight had a gold box with pricey jewels constructed, and in it he placed the nightingale. He carried around that box with him for the rest of his life.


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