For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday I have chosen Marie of France, Countess of Champagne! This will be a very brief post about this French princess who became a Countess. Marie was the daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII of France. She would be married off the the Duke of Champagne.
It is greatly remembered how much she was her mother’s daughter! Much like her iconic mother, Marie had a court of love. She believed in the tenets of courtly love, and insisted that her courtiers live by these rules.
One of the most important things Marie did for history, was to be the patroness of great poets. She supported both Chretien de Troyes and Andreas Capellanus. The Art of Courtly Love, that great manifesto on the way to live the life of courtly love, was written at her court. Most exciting for me is that Chretien de Troyes wrote his Arthurian Romances there as well!
Historically it is said that Marie commissioned Chretien to write the stories of Arthurian legend. It was her that wanted Lancelot and Guinevere to be lovers, and Chretien apparently was unhappy with this edict! However, he still wrote the story as such, and we got one of the greatest historical love triangles in literature!
She lived by the tenets of courtly love herself. One of the primary tenets is that love and marriage are mutually exclusive. This means that love cannot exist within marriage. That is unsurprising given the time that she lived in, and that nobles were married off at a young age in arranged marriages. The love that they were able to find was outside of marriage.
It is this free love mindset that makes her fitting within the femme fatale theme. She was openly supporting freedom to love, and even have extramarital affairs centuries ago. This would make her centuries ahead of the free love hippie movement of the 1960s!
Some scholars have even theorized that she was the one to actually write some of the great Arthurian literature that was written in her court! We do not know how that would have worked, but it was not common for women to write at that time. Since it was uncommon in this theory she would have hidden to pretend men wrote the works instead. We do know with certainty that she was the one to come up with certain plots that she insisted upon having written into the works of Chretien de Troyes, so this theory is not much of a stretch! I hope that you have liked this very brief Femme Fatale Friday post about Marie Duchess of Champagne. I also hope you will join me next week. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Marie. I found the image on https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q466283.
- The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus
- Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes