Chrétien de Troyes
Chrétien de Troyes (1135?–1185?, was a French poet and trouvère known for his writing on Arthurian subjects, for originating the character of Lancelot. Chrétien's works, including Erec and Enide, Lancelot and Yvain, represent some of the best-regarded of medieval literature, his use of structure in Yvain, has been seen as a step towards the modern novel. Little is known of his life, but he seems to have been from Troyes or at least intimately connected with it. Between 1160 and 1172 he served at the court of his patroness Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of King Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who married Count Henry I of Champagne in 1164, he served the court of Philippe d'Alsace, Count of Flanders. Chrétien's works include five major poems in rhyming eight-syllable couplets. Four of these are complete: Erec and Enide. Yvain is considered Chrétien's most masterful work. Chrétien's final romance was Perceval, the Story of the Grail, written between 1181 and 1190, but left unfinished, though some scholars have disputed this.
It is dedicated to Philip, Count of Flanders, to whom Chrétien may have been attached in his last years. He finished only 9,000 lines of the work, but four successors of varying talents added 54,000 additional lines in what are known as the Four Continuations; the last thousand lines of Lancelot were written by Godefroi de Leigni by arrangement with Chrétien. In the case of Perceval, one continuer says; this has not stopped speculation. There are several lesser works, not all of which can be securely ascribed to Chrétien. Philomela is the only one of his four poems based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Two short-lyric chansons on the subject of love are very his, but the attribution of the pious romance Guillaume d'Angleterre to him is now doubted, it has been suggested that Chrétien might be the author of two short verse romances titled Le Chevalier á l'épée and La Mule sans frein, but this theory has not found much support. Chrétien names his treatments of Ovid in the introduction to Cligès, where he mentions his work about King Mark and Iseult.
The latter is related to the legend of Tristan and Iseult, though Tristan is not named. Chrétien's take on Tristan has not survived, though in the introduction of Cligès, Chrétien himself says that his treatment of Tristan was not well received explaining why it does not survive. Chrétien's works are written in vernacular Old French, although it is marked by traits of the regional Champenois dialect; the immediate and specific sources for his romances are uncertain, as Chrétien speaks in the vaguest way of the materials he used. Geoffrey of Monmouth or Wace might have supplied some of the names, but neither author mentioned Erec, Lancelot and many others who play an important role in Chrétien's narratives. One is left to guess about Latin or French literary originals which are now lost, or upon continental lore that goes back to a Celtic source in the case of Béroul, an Anglo-Norman who wrote around 1150. For his Perceval, the Story of the Grail, the influence of the story is tied to the story of Saint Galgano who died in 1180-1181 and was canonized in 1185: a knight struck by god's vision, planted his sword in the ground that solidified.
However, Chrétien found his sources at hand, without much understanding of its primitive spirit, but appreciating it as a setting for the ideal society dreamed of, although not realized, in his own day. And Chrétien's five romances together form the most complete expression from a single author of the ideals of French chivalry. Though so far there has been little critical attention paid to the subject, it is not inaccurate to say that Chrétien was influenced by the changing face of secular and canonical law in the 12th century; this is relevant for his Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, which makes repeated use of the customary law prevalent in Chrétien's day. William Wistar Comfort praised de Troyes' "significance as a literary artist and as the founder of a precious literary tradition distinguishes him from all other poets of the Latin races between the close of the Empire and the arrival of Dante." Chrétien's writing was popular, as evidenced by the high number of surviving copies of his romances and their many adaptations into other languages.
Three of Middle High German literature's finest examples, Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and Hartmann von Aue's Erec and Iwein, were based on Perceval and Yvain. In the case of Peredur, the connection between the Welsh romances and their source is not direct and has never been satisfactorily delineated. Chrétien has the distinction of being the first writer to mention the Holy Grail and the love affair between Queen Guinevere and Lancelot, subjects of household recognition today. There is a specific Classical influence in Chrétien's romances, the likes of which were "translated into the Old French vernacular dur
Avalon, sometimes written Avallon or Avilion, is a legendary island featured in the Arthurian legend. It first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 1136 pseudo-historical account Historia Regum Britanniae as the place where King Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged and where Arthur was taken to recover from his wounds after the Battle of Camlann. Avalon was associated from an early date with mystical figures such as Morgan le Fay, it is traditionally identified as the former island of Glastonbury Tor. Geoffrey of Monmouth referred to it in Latin as Insula Avallonis in Historia Regum Britanniae. In the Vita Merlini he called it Insula Pomorum the "isle of fruit trees"; the name is considered to be of Welsh origin, derived from Old Welsh, Old Cornish, or Old Breton aball or avallen, "apple tree, fruit tree". It is possible that the tradition of an "apple" island among the British was related to Irish legends concerning the otherworld island home of Manannán mac Lir and Lugh, Emain Ablach, where Ablach means "Having Apple Trees"—derived from Old Irish aball —and is similar to the Middle Welsh name Afallach, used to replace the name Avalon in medieval Welsh translations of French and Latin Arthurian tales.
All are etymologically related to the Gaulish root *aballo "fruit tree"— and are derived from a Common Celtic *abal- "apple", related at the Proto-Indo-European level to English apple, Russian яблоко, Latvian ābele, et al. According to Geoffrey in the Historia, much subsequent literature which he inspired, Avalon is the place where King Arthur is taken after fighting Mordred at the Battle of Camlann to recover from his wounds. Welsh and Breton tradition claimed that Arthur had never died, but would return to lead his people against their enemies. Historia states that Avalon is where his sword Excalibur was forged. Geoffrey dealt with Avalon in more detail in the Vita Merlini, in which he describes for the first time in Arthurian legend the enchantress Morgan as the chief of nine sisters who rule Avalon. Geoffrey's description of the island indicates, his description of Avalon here, indebted to the early medieval Spanish scholar Isidore of Seville, shows the magical nature of the island: In Erec and Enide by Chrétien de Troyes, the consort of Morgan is the Lord of the Isle of Avalon, Arthur's nephew named Guinguemar.
In Layamon's Brut, Arthur is taken to Avalon to be healed there through means of magic water by a distinctively Anglo-Saxon redefinition of Geoffrey's Morgen: an elf queen of Avalon named Argante. In the narrative of Alliterative Morte Arthure devoid of supernatural elements, it is physicians from Salerno who try, fail, to save Arthur's life in Avalon. Many versions of the Arthurian legend have Morgan and some other magical queens or enchantresses arrive after the battle to take the mortally wounded Arthur from the battlefield of Camlann to Avalon in a black boat. In the Vulgate Cycle, Morgan tells Arthur of her intention to relocate to the isle of Avalon, the place where "the ladies live who know all the magic in the world", shortly before Camlann. In Lope Garcia de Salazar's Spanish summary of the Post-Vulgate Roman du Graal, Morgan uses her magic to hide Avalon in mist. Arthur's fate is left untold. Conversely, Stephen of Rouen's chronicle Draco Normannicus contains a fictional letter from King Arthur to Henry II of England, in which Arthur claims that he has been healed of his wounds and made immortal by his "deathless/eternal nymph" sister Morgan on Avalon, using the island's restorative herbs.
Morgan features as an immortal ruler of a fantastic Avalon, sometimes alongside the still alive Arthur, in some subsequent and otherwise non-Arthurian chivalric romances such as Tirant lo Blanch, as well as the tales of Huon of Bordeaux, where Oberon is a son of either Morgan by name or "the Lady of the Secret Isle", the legend of Ogier the Dane, where Avalon can be described as a castle. In his La Faula, Guillem de Torroella claims to have visited the Enchanted Island and met Arthur, brought back to life by Morgan and they both of them are now forever young, sustained by the Grail. In the chanson de geste La Bataille Loquifer and her sister Marsion bring the hero Renoart to Avalon, where Arthur now prepares his return alongside Morgan, Ywain and Guinevere; such stories take place centuries after the times of King Arthur. Around 1190, Avalon became associated with Glastonbury, when monks at Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have discovered the bones
Sir Lancelot du Lac, alternatively written as Launcelot and other spellings, is one of the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend. He features as King Arthur's greatest companion, the lord of Joyous Gard and the greatest swordsman and jouster of the age – until his adulterous affair with Queen Guinevere is discovered, causing a civil war, exploited by Mordred and brings about the end of Arthur's kingdom, his first appearance as a main character is in Chrétien de Troyes' poem Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, written in the 12th century. His exploits were expanded upon in the Prose Lancelot, further expanded upon for the vast Lancelot-Grail cycle. There and Lady Elaine's son, becomes an more perfect knight. Roger Sherman Loomis suggested that Lancelot is related to either the character Llenlleog the Irishman from Culhwch and Olwen or the Welsh hero Llwch Llawwynnauc via a now-forgotten epithet like "Lamhcalad". Traditional scholars thought that they are the same figure due to the fact that their names are similar and that they both wield a sword and fight for a cauldron in Preiddeu Annwn and in Culhwch.
Modern scholars are less certain, as the name may have been just an invention by the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes. Another theory is. Lancelot may be a variant of the name Lancelin. Lancelot or Lancelin may instead have been the hero of an independent folk tale which had contact with and was absorbed into the Arthurian tradition; the theft of an infant by a water fairy, the appearance of the hero at a tournament on three consecutive days in three different disguises, the rescue of a queen or princess from an Otherworld prison are all features of a well-known and widespread tale, variants of which are found in numerous examples collected by Theodore Hersart de la Villemarqué in his Barzaz Breiz, by Emmanuel Cosquin in his Contes Lorrains, by John Francis Campbell in his Tales of the West Highlands. In Chrétien de Troyes's earliest known work and Enide, the name Lancelot appears as third on a list of knights at King Arthur's court; the fact that Lancelot's name follows Gawain and Erec indicates the presumed importance of the knight at court though he did not figure prominently in Chrétien's tale.
Lancelot reappears in Chrétien's Cligès, in which he takes a more important role as one of the knights that Cligès must overcome in his quest. It is not until Chrétien's poem Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, that Lancelot becomes the protagonist, it is Chrétien who first gives Lancelot the name Lancelot du Lac, picked up by the French authors of the Lancelot-Grail and by Thomas Malory. He is presented as the most formidable and the bravest knight at King Arthur's court, one whom everyone is forced to describe as uniquely perfect: his deeds are recounted for their uniqueness, not only among living knights but of all men who have lived. However, this supposed saint-like perfection stands at stark contrast with his adulterous relationship with King Arthur's wife Queen Guinevere, which motif too has been introduced in this text, their affair can be seen as parallel to that of Tristram and Iseult, with him identified with the tragedy of chance and human failing, responsible for the downfall of the Round Table.
The theme of Lancelot's adulterous passion for Guinevere is absent from another early work, Lanzelet, a Middle High German epic poem by Ulrich von Zatzikhoven dating from the end of the 12th century. Ulrich asserts that his poem is a translation from an earlier French work, the provenance of, given and which must have differed markedly in several points from Chretien's Le Chevalier de la Charrette. In Lanzelet, the abductor of Ginover is named as King Valerin, whose name does not appear to derive from the Welsh Melwas. Furthermore, her rescuer is not Lancelot, instead, ends by finding happiness in marriage with the fairy princess Iblis, it has been suggested that Lancelot was the hero of a story independent of the adulterous love triangle and very similar to Ulrich's version. If this is true the adultery motif might either have been invented by Chrétien for his Chevalier de la Charrette or been present in the source provided him by his patroness, Marie de Champagne, a lady well known for her keen interest in matters relating to courtly love.
Lancelot is tied to the Christian motifs associated with Arthurian legend. Lancelot's quest for Guinevere in Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart is similar to Christ's quest for the human soul; this becomes intensified. His adventure among the tombs is described in terms that suggest Christ's "harrowing of Hell" and resurrection: he effortlessly lifts the lid off the sarcophagus, which bears an inscription foretelling his freeing of the captives. Lancelot was associated with the Grail Quest, but Chrétien does not include him at all in his final romance Perceval, le Conte du Graal; this story introduces the Holy Grail motif in medieval literature, Perceval is the sole seeker of the Grail in Chrétien's treatment. Lancelot's involvement in the Grail legend is first recorded in the romance Perlesvaus written between 1200 and 1210. Lancelot's character is most developed during the 13th century in the Old French Vulgate Cycle, where he a
Stephen, King of England
Stephen referred to as Stephen of Blois, was King of England from 1135 to his death, as well as Count of Boulogne from 1125 until 1147 and Duke of Normandy from 1135 until 1144. Stephen's reign was marked by the Anarchy, a civil war with his cousin and rival, the Empress Matilda, he was succeeded by Henry II, the first of the Angevin kings. Stephen was born in the County of Blois in central France. Placed into the court of his uncle, Henry I of England, Stephen rose in prominence and was granted extensive lands, he married Matilda of Boulogne, inheriting additional estates in Kent and Boulogne that made the couple one of the wealthiest in England. Stephen narrowly escaped drowning with Henry I's son, William Adelin, in the sinking of the White Ship in 1120; when Henry I died in 1135, Stephen crossed the English Channel and with the help of his brother Henry of Blois, a powerful ecclesiastic, took the throne, arguing that the preservation of order across the kingdom took priority over his earlier oaths to support the claim of Henry I's daughter, the Empress Matilda.
The early years of Stephen's reign were successful, despite a series of attacks on his possessions in England and Normandy by David I of Scotland, Welsh rebels, the Empress Matilda's husband, Geoffrey of Anjou. In 1138 the Empress's half-brother Robert of Gloucester rebelled against Stephen, threatening civil war. Together with his close advisor, Waleran de Beaumont, Stephen took firm steps to defend his rule, including arresting a powerful family of bishops; when the Empress and Robert invaded in 1139, Stephen was unable to crush the revolt and it took hold in the south-west of England. Captured at the battle of Lincoln in 1141, Stephen was abandoned by many of his followers and lost control of Normandy. Stephen was freed only after his wife and William of Ypres, one of his military commanders, captured Robert at the Rout of Winchester, but the war dragged on for many years with neither side able to win an advantage. Stephen became concerned with ensuring that his son Eustace would inherit his throne.
The King tried to convince the Church to agree to crown Eustace to reinforce his claim. In 1153 the Empress's son, Henry FitzEmpress, invaded England and built an alliance of powerful regional barons to support his claim for the throne; the two armies met at Wallingford, but neither side's barons were keen to fight another pitched battle. Stephen began to examine a process hastened by the sudden death of Eustace. In the year Stephen and Henry agreed to the Treaty of Winchester, in which Stephen recognised Henry as his heir in exchange for peace, passing over William, Stephen's second son. Stephen died the following year. Modern historians have extensively debated the extent to which Stephen's personality, external events, or the weaknesses in the Norman state contributed to this prolonged period of civil war. Stephen was born in Blois in France, in either 1092 or 1096, his father was Stephen-Henry, Count of Blois and Chartres, an important French nobleman, an active crusader, who played only a brief part in Stephen's early life.
During the First Crusade Stephen-Henry had acquired a reputation for cowardice, he returned to the Levant again in 1101 to rebuild his reputation. Stephen's mother, was the daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, famous amongst her contemporaries for her piety and political talent, she had a strong matriarchal influence on Stephen during his early years. France in the 12th century was a loose collection of counties and smaller polities, under the minimal control of the king of France; the king's power was linked to his control of the rich province of Île-de-France, just to the east of Stephen's home county of Blois. In the west lay the three counties of Maine and Touraine, to the north of Blois was the Duchy of Normandy, from which William the Conqueror had conquered England in 1066. William's children were still fighting over the collective Anglo-Norman inheritance; the rulers across this region spoke a similar language, albeit with regional dialects, followed the same religion, were interrelated.
Stephen had one sister, along with two probable half-sisters. Stephen's eldest brother was William. William was intellectually disabled, Adela instead had the title passed over him to her second son, who went on to acquire the county of Champagne as well as Blois and Chartres. Stephen's remaining older brother, died young in his early teens, his younger brother, Henry of Blois, was born four years after him. The brothers formed a close-knit family group, Adela encouraged Stephen to take up the role of a feudal knight, whilst steering Henry towards a career in the church so that their personal career interests would not overlap. Unusually, Stephen was raised in his mother's household rather than being sent to a close relative. Stephen's early life was influenced by his relationship with his uncle Henry I. Henry seized powe
Percival —or Perceval, Parzival, etc.—is one of King Arthur's legendary Knights of the Round Table. First made famous by the French author Chretien de Troyes in the tale Perceval, the Story of the Grail, he is most well known for being the original hero in the quest for the Grail, before being replaced in literature by Galahad. Chrétien de Troyes wrote the first story of Percival, the Story of the Grail in the late 12th century, his story was allotted to the fictional figure of Peredur son of Efwc in the Welsh adaptation of Chretien's tale titled Peredur, Son of Efrawg. Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, the now-lost Perceval of Robert de Boron are other famous accounts of his adventures. There are many versions of Perceval's birth. In Robert de Boron's account, he is of noble birth, his mother is unnamed but plays a significant role in the stories. His sister is the bearer of the Holy Grail. In the tales where he is Pellinore's son, his brothers are Aglovale and Dornar, by his father's affair with a peasant woman, he has a half-brother named Tor.
After the death of his father, Perceval's mother takes him to the forests where she raises him ignorant to the ways of men until the age of 15. However, a group of knights passes through his wood, Perceval is struck by their heroic bearing. Wanting to be a knight himself, the boy leaves home to travel to King Arthur's court. In some versions his mother faints in shock upon seeing her son leave. After proving his worthiness as a warrior, he is knighted and invited to join the Knights of the Round Table. In the earliest story about him, he is connected to the Grail. In Chrétien's Perceval, he meets the crippled Fisher King and sees a grail, not yet identified as "holy", but he fails to ask a question that would have healed the injured king. Upon learning of his mistake he vows to find the Grail castle again and fulfill his quest but Chretien's story breaks off soon after, to be continued in a number of different ways by various authors, such as in Sir Perceval of Galles. In accounts, the true Grail hero is Galahad, the son of Lancelot.
But though his role in the romances had been diminished, Percival remained a major character and was one of only two knights who accompanied Galahad to the Grail castle and completed the quest with him. In early versions, Perceval's sweetheart was Blanchefleur and he became the King of Carbonek after healing the Fisher King, but in versions he was a virgin who died after achieving the Grail. In Wolfram's version, Perceval's son is the Knight of the Swan. In modern times his story has been used in various retellings, including Richard Wagner's 1882 opera Parsifal. Richard Monaco's 1977 book Parsival: Or, a Knight's Tale is a re-telling of the Percival legend. Éric Rohmer's 1978 film Perceval le Gallois is an eccentrically staged interpretation of Chrétien de Troyes's original poem. John Boorman's 1981 film Excalibur in a retelling of Le Morte d'Arthur in which Percival is given a leading role; the 1991 film The Fisher King written by Richard LaGravenese is, in ways, a modern retelling in which the parallels shift between characters, who themselves discuss the legend.
In the comic series based on the cartoon Gargoyles, Peredur fab Ragnal achieves the Holy Grail and becomes the Fisher King. To honor his mentor Arthur, he establishes a secret order who will guide the world to greater prosperity and progress, which becomes the Illuminati. Part of achieving the Grail is the bestowal of immense longevity upon Peredur and his wife, along with certain other members of the order being granted longer lifespans, he is still alive and appears young by 1996, when his organization comes into conflict with the re-awakened Arthur and the other characters of the Gargoyles story. In the 1997 television series Stargate SG-1 Season 10, Episode 11 "The Quest, Part 2", Merlin's memories, possessing Daniel Jackson, state that Cameron Mitchell looks just like Percival, he is the protragonist of the 2000 book Parzival: The Quest of the Grail Knight by Katherine Patterson, based on Wolfram's Parzival. The 2003 novel Clothar the Frank by Jack Whyte portrays Perceval as an ally of Lancelot in his travels to Camelot.
He appears in the French comedy TV series Kaamelott as a main character, portrayed as a clueless yet loyal knight of the Round Table. In the BBC television series Merlin, Percival is a strong commoner. After helping to free Camelot from the occupation of Morgana and their immortal army, he is knighted along with Lancelot and Gwaine, against the common practice that knights are only of noble birth, he is one of the few Round Table knights to survive Arthur's death. Percival is portrayed in the Black Knight as Blaze the Cat. In Philip Reeve's Here Lies Arthur, he appear as Peredur, son of Peredur Long-knife, raised as a woman by his mother, who had lost many sons and her husband to war, he befriends Gwyna/Gwyn. He is one of the few major characters to survive to the end, travels with Gwen as'Peri', his childhood shortened name as a woman, playing a harp to Gwen's stories; the main character of Ernest Cline's 2011 novel Ready Player One names his virtual reality avatar "Parzival" as a reference to Percival and to his role in Arthurian legend.
A version of Percival appears in Season 5 of the American TV series Once Upon A Time in which he acts against Regina without Arthur's consent. Pa
The Fourth Crusade was a Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first conquering the powerful Egyptian Ayyubid Sultanate, the strongest Muslim state of the time. However, a sequence of economic and political events culminated in the Crusader army sacking the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire. In late 1202, financial issues led to the Crusader army sacking Zara, brought under Venetian control. In January 1203, en-route to Jerusalem, the Crusader leadership entered into an agreement with the Byzantine prince Alexios Angelos to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and restore his deposed father as Emperor; the intent of the Crusaders was to continue to Jerusalem with promised Byzantine financial and military aid. On 23 June 1203, the bulk of the Crusaders reached Constantinople, while smaller contingents continued to Acre. After the siege of Zara the pope excommunicated the crusader army.
In August, following clashes outside Constantinople, Alexios was crowned co-Emperor. However, in January 1204, he was deposed by a popular uprising; the Crusaders were no longer able to receive their promised payments from Alexios. Following the murder of Alexios on 8 February, the Crusaders decided on the outright conquest of the city. In April 1204, they plundered the city's enormous wealth. Only a handful of the Crusaders continued to the Holy Land thereafter; the conquest of Constantinople was followed by the fragmentation of the Empire into three rump states centred in Nicaea and Epirus. The Crusaders founded several Crusader states in former Byzantine territory hinged upon the Latin Empire of Constantinople; the presence of the Latin Crusader states immediately led to war with the Byzantine successor states and the Bulgarian Empire. The Nicaean Empire recovered Constantinople and restored the Byzantine Empire in 1261; the Crusade is considered to be one of the most prominent acts that solidified the schism between the Greek and Latin Christian churches, dealt an irrevocable blow to the weakened Byzantine Empire, paving the way for Muslim conquests in Anatolia and Balkan Europe in the coming centuries.
Ayyubid Sultan Saladin had conquered most of the Frankish, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the ancient city itself, in 1187. The Kingdom had been established 88 years before, after the capture and sack of Jerusalem in the First Crusade, a Byzantine holding prior to the Muslim conquests of the 7th century; the city was sacred to Christians and Jews, returning it to Christian hands had been a primary purpose of the First Crusade. Saladin led a Muslim dynasty, his incorporation of Jerusalem into his domains shocked and dismayed the Catholic countries of Western Europe. Legend has it that Pope Urban III died of the shock, but the timing of his death makes that impossible; the crusader states had been reduced to three cities along the sea coast: Tyre and Antioch. The Third Crusade reclaimed an extensive amount of territory for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the key towns of Acre and Jaffa, but had failed to retake Jerusalem; the crusade had been marked by a significant escalation in long standing tensions between the feudal states of western Europe and the Byzantine Empire, centred in Constantinople.
The experiences of the first two crusades had thrown into stark relief the vast cultural differences between the two Christian civilisations. The Latins viewed the Byzantine preference for diplomacy and trade over war as duplicitous and degenerate, their policy of tolerance and assimilation towards Muslims as a corrupt betrayal of the faith. For their part, the educated and wealthy Byzantines maintained a strong sense of cultural and social superiority over the Latins. Constantinople had been in existence for 874 years at the time of the Fourth Crusade and was the largest and most sophisticated city in Christendom. Alone amongst major medieval urban centres, it had retained the civic structures, public baths, forums and aqueducts of classical Rome in working form. At its height, the city held an estimated population of about half a million people behind thirteen miles of triple walls, its planned location made Constantinople not only the capital of the surviving eastern part of the Roman Empire but a commercial centre that dominated trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, China and Persia.
As a result, it was both a rival and a tempting target for the aggressive new states of the west, notably the Republic of Venice. One of the leaders of the Third Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa plotted with the Serbs, Byzantine traitors, the Muslim Seljuks against the Eastern Empire and at one point sought Papal support for a crusade against the Orthodox Byzantines. Crusaders seized the breakaway Byzantine province of Cyprus. Barbarossa died on crusade, his army disintegrated, leaving the English and French, who had come by sea, to fight Saladin. In 1195 Henry VI, son and heir of Barbarossa, sought to efface this humiliation by declaring a new crusade, in the summer of 1197 a large number of German knights and nobles, headed by two archbishops, nine bishops, five dukes, sailed for Palestine. There they captured Sidon and Beirut, but at the news of Henry's death in Messina along the way, many of the nobles and clerics returned to Europe. Deserted by much of their leade
The Lancelot-Grail known as the Vulgate Cycle or the Pseudo-Map Cycle, is a major source of Arthurian legend written in French. It is a series of prose volumes that tell the story of the quest for the Holy Grail and the romance of Lancelot and Guinevere; the major parts are early 13th century, but scholarship has few definitive answers as to the authorship. An attribution to Walter Map is discounted; the Vulgate Cycle perpetuates Christian themes in the King Arthur tradition by expanding on tales of the Holy Grail and recounting the quests of the Grail knights. During this period, material takes on more historical and religious overtones with tales that include the deaths of both Arthur and Merlin, it combines elements of the Old Testament with the story Merlin and Arthur as told by Robert de Boron. The Vulgate Cycle was subject to a 13th-century revision and much added; the resulting text, referred to as the "Post-Vulgate Cycle", was an attempt to create greater unity in the material, to de-emphasise the secular love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere.
It omits all of the Vulgate's Lancelot Proper section, but includes characters and scenes from the Prose Tristan. This version of the cycle was one of the most important sources of Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur; the work is traditionally divided into three main sections. The last was the first to be written, starting in the 1210s; the first two came around the 1230s. The Vulgate Estoire del Saint Grail, about Joseph of Arimathea and his son Josephus bringing the Holy Grail to Britain. Written in French prose c. 1220–1235. The Vulgate Merlin or Estoire de Merlin, about Merlin and the early life of Arthur, it is a redaction of the Prose Merlin. Written in French prose c. 1220-1235, can be divided into: The Vulgate Merlin propre from Robert de Boron's poem Merlin. The Vulgate Suite du Merlin, adding more of Arthur's and Gawain's early adventures, it is four times longer than the first part. The Prose Lancelot, the longest section, making up half of the entire cycle, it concerns the adventures of Lancelot and the other Knights of the Round Table, written in French prose c.
1215–1230. It can be divided into: The Vulgate Lancelot propre about the life of Lancelot and his affair with Guinevere; the Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal about the Grail Quest and its completion by Galahad. The Vulgate Mort Artu, about the king's death at the hands of Mordred and the collapse of the kingdom; some categorizations have either the Mort or both the Queste and the Mort regarded as separate sections independent of the Lancelot. The entire work was soon followed by the Post-Vulgate Cycle, a work based on the Vulgate Cycle but differing from it in many respects; the Lancelot-Graal Project website lists close to 150 manuscripts in French, some fragmentary, such as British Library Additional MS 10292-4, containing the entire cycle. The earliest copies are of French origin and date from 1220–1230, soon after the estimated date of composition of the work. Numerous copies were produced in French throughout the remainder of the 13th, 14th and well into the 15th centuries in France and Italy, as well as translations into other European languages.
Some of the manuscripts are beautifully illuminated: British Library Royal MS 14 E III, produced in Northern France in the early 14th century contains over 100 miniatures with gilding throughout and decorated borders at the beginning of each section. It was once owned by King Charles V of France. Other manuscripts were made for less wealthy owners and contain little or no decoration, for example British Library MS Royal 19 B VII, produced in England in the early 14th century, with initials in red and blue marking sections in the text and larger decorated initials at chapter-breaks. Few copies of the entire Lancelot-Grail Cycle survive; because it was so vast, copies were made of parts of the legend which may have suited the tastes of certain patrons. For instance, British Library Royal 14 E III contains the sections which deal with the Grail and religious themes, omitting the middle section, which relates Lancelot's chivalric exploits. Penguin Classics published a translation into English by Pauline Matarasso of the Queste in 1969, followed in 1971 with a translation by James Cable of the Mort Artu.
H. Oskar Sommer published the entire Vulgate Cycle in seven volumes in the years 1908-1916; the base text used was the British Library Additional mss. 10292-10294. It is however not a critical edition, but a composite text, where variant readings from alternate manuscripts are unreliably demarcated using square brackets. Sommer's has been the only complete cycle published. Sommer, Heinrich Oskar. Lestoire del Saint Graal; the Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances. 1. Sommer. Lestoire de Merlin. Ib. 2. Sommer. Le livre de Lancelot del Lac. ib. 3. Sommer. Le livre de Lancelot del Lac. ib. 4. Sommer. Le livre de Lancelot del Lac. ib. 5. Sommer. Les aventures ou la queste del Saint Graal. La mort le roi Artus. Ib. 6. Sommer. Supplement: Le livre d'Artus, with glossary. Ib. 7. Sommer. Index of names and places to volumes I-VII. Ib. 8. The first full English translations of the Vulgate and Post-Vulgate cycles were overseen by Norris J. Lacy. Volumes 1–4 contain the Vulgate Cycle proper. Lacy, Norris J.. Lancelot–Grail: The Old French Ar