|Grail, has a wide range of lexical
forms: "graal, gréal, gradal, grasal, cratella, grau, grial,
gruau, gresal, grazal, grazaus, sangraal, gral, etc." It
enters art as a Christian symbol from a half a dozen church
wall paintings in Northern Spain. A mysterious serving vessel
whose contents keep the Fisher King alive, the grail shares a key
moment with an equally mysterious bleeding lance in Chrétien de
This is said to be the grail's first literary manifestation. However,
first few lines of Rigaut de Barbezieux's canso:."Atressi
con Persavaus" point to a pre-existing tradition from which
Chrétien may well have taken
this part of his story. The figure of Joseph of Arimathea, briefly
mentioned in the
canonical gospels, is a main character in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus.
In the late 12th century, Robert de Boron gives him the role of
introducing the grail as a chalice-like relic into literature. I was
surprized to find next to nothing in Provençal, only
Hélinand of Froidmont's description of the grail in Chronicon for
Latin, and one parallel in Celtic literature: the Middle Welsh prose Romance of Peredur.
We linked as many manuscript facsimiles containing medieval Gallo-Romance grail stories as we found. We have also included a number of links to critical editions, bibliographies, and the cerfully researched Lancelot-Graal Project at the University of Pittsburgh.
This page is part of the Andy Holt Virtual Library's "Manuscripts of Medieval France with Vernacular Texts", a collection of over 800 links to manuscript facsimiles, including nearly all of the French medieval literarary canon.