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ROBERT DE BORON

Despite being famous for his cycle of Arthurian Romances centred around the Holy Grail, next to nothing is known about the Burgundian known as Robert de Boron. His works reveal that he was a poet in the employ of one Gautier, who has been identified as Gautier de Montbeliard, the Lord of Montfaucon. Robert presumably hailed from Boron - a small village about fifteen miles from Montbeliard - where he appears to have been a cleric of some sort. In 1202, his master is known to have taken part in the Fourth Crusade from which he never returned, dying abroad ten years later. So Robert's Arthurian trilogy must have been written in the very late 12th century, probably after the Glastonbury monks' 1191 "discovery" of King Arthur's body, since Robert's 'Vales of Avalon' would seem to be in Somerset. He wrote Le Roman de I'Estoire dou Graal (also called Joseph d'Arimathie), the Merlin and, almost certainly, a version of Sir Percivale's story usually known as the Didot-Perceval after an early owner of the manuscript. They were originally put down in octosyllabic verse but only the first named work and 504 lines of the Merlin survive in this form. Luckily an anonymous admirer transcribed a prose version of each around the 1220s. These were the inspiration for the later Vulgate Cycle of Arthurian tales. Robert was the first to identify Sir Percivale's Grail as the Last Supper vessel used by St. Joseph of Arimathea to collect the blood of Christ from the Cross.

  

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