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This is a prose translation of the lais or poems attributed to Marie de France. Little is known of her but she was probably the Abbess of the abbey at Shaftesbury in the late 12th century, illegitimate daughter of Geoffrey Plantagenet and hence the half-sister of Henry II of England. It was to a king, and probably Henry II, that she dedicated these poems of adventure and love which were retellings of stories which she had heard from Breton minstrels. She is regarded as the most talented French poet of the medieval period.
Glyn S. Burgess is currently Professor of French and Head of Department at the University of Liverpool. He has translated 'The Song of Roland' for Penguin Classics and he has published widely on 12th-century courtly literature. Keith Busby is George Lynn Cross Research Professor of French and Director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Oklahoma.