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Considered by some to be the inventor of the medieval French romance, Chrétien de Troyes was certainly a great writer who became instrumental in the elaboration of the Arthurian legend. His patrons seem to have been Marie, the Countess of Champagne, and Philip of Alsace, the Count of Flanders. Precious little else is known about his life, though he evidently came from Troyes.

Chrétien himself tells us that he was a translator of Ovid's works: Les Commandemanz d'Ovide, L'Art d'Amors and Le Mors de l'Espaule. He also composed a romance surrounding the story of Isolde and King Mark. None of these works still exist, although he also mentions the Metamorphosis from Ovid's Philomela story, which survives in a version probably from his hand. In addition, we have two of his brief lyric poems and a controversial romance called Guillaume d'Angleterre (which may have been written by someone else). Chrétien is, however, most famous for his five Arthurian romances, written in octosyllabic couplets: Erec & Enid (1160), Lancelot (c.1162), Cligés (1164), Yvain (c.1170) and the Count of the Grail (also known as Perceval) (1180).


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