Marie de France and the Trobaritz Marie de France may have been the stage name for a royal in-law of Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was a “trobaritz,” which was the Provencal word for a female troubador. Marie was a northern Frenchwoman whose musical work went international, getting translated into all the really popular languages of Europe, (i.e., Norse, Middle English, and High German). The Lay of the Dolorous Knight” is not a love story, but an ironic moral lesson. The lady involved is totally devoted to “courtly love” but never allows herself to indulge in physical lovemaking. So she treats all her lovers equally, making them all think each is her true choice. Eventually all but one die, with her name on their lips; she nurses the last back to health, but he says if all he is going to get from her is a courteous “Good morning” and “Good evening,” he might as well be dead, too. In other words, the lady was in love with love, but she never really loved any of the men, and the one who is left realizes the relationship is now pointless. The lady doesn’t come off too well here. It appears that Marie would have liked her to give herself to the knight who was left; it would have reflected much more positively on her character. For more information on women in the Middle Ages, see the following books: Cross, Donna Woolfolk. Pope Joan. New York: Ballantine, 1996. Gordon, Mary. Joan of Arc. New York: Penguin Group, 2000. Leon, Vicki. Uppity Women of Medieval Times. Berkeley: Conari Press, 1997. Weir, Alison. Eleanor of Aquitaine. New York: Ballantine Books, 1999. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily