Little is known about Marie de France, the author of Lais, the Fables and Espurgatoire Saint Patriz. Our investigative reporters at AN Times gathered the following information about the peculiar poet:
Marie was likely born in France but does not live there: Marie gave herself the name “Marie de [of] France” in Fables. It does not make sense for her to say she is “of France” if she currently lives there. The manuscripts of Fables and Espurgatoire can be traced back to institutions in England, so likely she is residing there. We have yet to determine where in France she was born or where she lives in England.
She possibly comes from a privileged background: Marie appears to know much about royal and noble courts. Someone who lived within a court or had entry into one would know enough about court affairs to write stories like Lanval. Additionally, Marie devoted Lais to a particular royal figurehead in her prologue. Many assert that this royal figurehead is King Henry II. Whether she is officially of the elite courts or not, Marie is literate and literacy is equivalent to privilege and prestige.
She may be the bastard half-sister of King Henry II: If this rumor is true, it would explain Marie’s knowledge of court affairs and why she dedicated Lais to him.
Read Marie de France’s prologue to Lais here