The abduction and grail romances as literary sources for the fifth and sixth centuries
The objective of the following thesis is to demonstrate the conceivability that the various romances relating to King Arthur may be used to reconstruct some of the many Welsh literary sources that have been lost to us over the past fifteen centuries. To do this, I will examine two stories written by one of the earliest and the most influential of all the Arthurian romance writers, Chrétien de Troyes. These are the abduction of Guinièvre and the grail. The Preface and Introduction will explain the broad assumptions upon which I base my present volume. First, that there was a British Heroic Age between the fifth and early seventh centuries. Second, that it did produce several literary works of historical value. My theory is that some of these literary sources were at one point written and, though badly marred by progressive influences, have survived in the form of romances. If this theory is correct, the study of all extant early variations of what is essentially one story should reveal a series of independent connections to the Dark Age British. In addition, there is a high probability that this story will be able to be seen in the context of fifth or sixth-century British culture. This is what will be attempted with the abduction and grail narratives. In the second chapter I will summarize the influences of the known sources of Chrétien de Troyes in writing Le Chevalier de la Charrette. This will have two purposes. First, it will serve to point out the degree of influence Chrétien's patron had on him. Second and what is more important, this will lead to the conclusion that Chrétien's primary importance to the stories is his creative manipulation of his knowledge and sources around his patrons' desires; he has not simply invented any aspect of the Matter of Britain.