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Love and Marriage in the Breton Lays

Archibald, Elizabeth

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Elizabeth Archibald


Love is usually said to be the central concern of the Middle English Breton lays, as of the French ones. But in fact the English poems pay relatively little attention to romantic love, and are more concerned with identity, family separation and reunion, loyalty and justice. In the French lays, as in French romances, adultery is often accepted, and the happiness of the malmariée put before moral considerations. It is often argued that the English in the Middle Ages were not keen on stories of adultery. There are some striking exceptions – for instance Malory’s focus on Lancelot and Guinevere – but it is certainly not a common theme in the English lays, though it is notable that the two lays by Marie which survive in English versions are both about extra-marital love affairs.


Archibald, E. (2014). Love and Marriage in the Breton Lays. Etudes épistémè,

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Apr 1, 2014
Publication Date Apr 1, 2014
Deposit Date Oct 24, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 31, 2018
Journal Etudes epistémè
Publisher Association Études Épistémè
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Issue 25


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