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Working paper

First Works of Arthurian Literature in the 12th Century: at the Boundary Between History and Fiction

The paper explores how the authors of the first works of the so-called Arthurian cycle tried to raise the status of their narrative using the Latin rhetorical triad (‘historia’, ‘argumentum’, ‘fabula’). Macrobius, Isidore of Seville, Geoffrey Map were just a few of the authors who used these categories for the analysis of literary works. This reflection on the form and function of the text is also important for the literature written in the vernacular (Wace, Chrétien de Troyes, Guillaume de Lorris, etc.). The paper shows that this intention was one of the reasons for criticism form the so-called “professional historians”, e.g. William of Newburgh, the British historian of the 12th century. First works of Arthurian literature (e.g. The History of the Kings of England by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Le Roman de Brut by Wace) contained specific historiographic claims and downplayed the proportion of invented elements. They could vary depending on the language (Latin and Old French) and the audience for which the texts were written.