Robert de Boron

Robert de Boron
(fl. 1180–1190)
   As in so many cases in the Middle Ages, practically nothing is known about this important Old French poet.Robert de Boron only mentions his own name and the name of a companion or his lord, Gautier de Montbéliard, in the epilogue to his Joseph d’Arimathie (Joseph of Arimathea), also called Roman de l’estoire dou Graal (ROMANCE of the quest of the Grail). Boron is located in northern Franche-Comté (south of Champagne and Alsace). Gautier is known to have gone on a Crusade in 1201, and stayed in Palestine until his death in 1212. Robert composed his grail romance under the influence of CHRÉTIEN DE TROYES’s Conte du Graal (The story of the Grail, also called PERCEVAL) sometime after 1180, but some scholars date the work to the early 1190s. Joseph d’Arimathie consists of 3,500 octosyllabic (eight-syllable) verses and relates the history of the HOLY GRAIL, connecting it with the Last Supper and Christ’s descent from the cross. In particular here Joseph, one of Pontius Pilate’s soldiers and a secret follower of Christ, is said to have collected Christ’s blood and arranged the interment of the body.When Joseph is imprisoned because the body has vanished, Christ appears and comforts him with the holy vessel, the Grail. Joseph was the first to establish the motif of the Grail society and its function to send out representatives into the world to bring help wherever needed. Later Joseph’s brotherin-law, Bron, the Rich Fisher, takes the Grail to England, which provides the narrative basis for the combination of the eucharistic character of the Grail with the world of King ARTHUR and the sorcerer Merlin. The only truly common element of Robert’s romance and Chrétien’s Conte du Graal consists of this figure, whom the latter calls riche roi Pescheor (rich Fisher King). Since clever business-oriented monks of Glastonbury claimed in 1191 that they had discovered King Arthur’s grave in valle Avaloniae juxta Glastoniam (“in the vale of Avalon near Glastonbury”), Robert’s reference to the “Vales of Avalon” to which the figure Petrus in his Estoire moves is often interpreted as an indication that the romance can be related to the area of Somerset. Joseph d’Arimathie concludes with some comments by the narrator about further adventures that he would relate in Latin if he were to find time. Robert’s romance has survived in only one manuscript (B.N. fr. 20047), which continues with a fragmentary text of a Merlin romance (504 verses). A later writer created a prose adaptation of Joseph where the history of the Grail and the history of Britain are intimately intertwined. This literary myth obviously appealed to the audience, demonstrated by 46 surviving manuscripts and some fragments. Two manuscripts contain a prose romance, the so-called Didot-Perceval, which draws from narrative allusions in Robert’s Joseph and logically concludes the trilogy. Robert was the first to inject Christian theology into the Grail myth, identifying the Grail with Christ’s cup of the Last Supper and thus outlining the translatio (transfer) of the most sacred Christian reliquary to the medieval West. His greatest contribution to the history of Arthurian romance literature was that he inspired many subsequent writers of the VULGATE CYCLE to pursue the religious interpretation of the King Arthur and the Grail myth.
   ■ Bryant, Nigel, trans. Merlin and the Grail: Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, Perceval. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2001.
   ■ O’Gorman, Richard. “The Middle French Redaction of Robert De Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 122 (1978): 261–285.
   ■ ———.“Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie and the Evolving Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception,” Romance Notes 37, no. 1 (1996): 23–30.
   ■ Rittey, Joanne. Amplification as Gloss in Two Twelfth-Century Texts: Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie and Renaut de Beaujeu’s Li Biaus Descouneüs. New York: Lang, 2002.
   ■ Robert de Boron. Le roman du Graal. Edited by Bernard Cerquiglini. Paris: Union Générale d’Editions, 1981.
   Albrecht Classen

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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  • Robert de Boron — (also spelled in the manuscripts Bouron , Beron ) was a French poet of the late 12th and early 13th centuries, originally from the village of Boron, in the present arrondissement of Montbéliard. He was the author of two surviving poems in… …   Wikipedia

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  • Robert De Boron — ▪ French poet Boron also spelled  Borron   flourished 13th century       French poet, originally from the village of Boron, near Delle. He was important for his trilogy of poems (Joseph d Arimathe, Merlin, Perceval). It told the early history of… …   Universalium

  • Robert de Borron — Robert de Boron Robert de Boron ou Robert de Borron (fin du XIIe siècle début du XIIIe siècle) né à Boron (Territoire de Belfort), est un clerc ou un chevalier[1] de Franche Comté. . C’est un écrivain français du XIIe siècle, auteur… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Boron (disambiguation) — Boron is a chemical element.Boron can also refer to: * Boron, California, a census designated place in California * Boron, Territoire de Belfort, a commune département in France * Robert de Boron, medieval poet * Boron Oil, a subsidiary and brand …   Wikipedia

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