The Info List - Brocéliande

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is a legendary forest in France that first appears in literature in 1160, in the Roman de Rou, a verse chronicle written by Wace.[1] Brocéliande
is a notable place of legend because of its uncertain location, unusual weather, and its ties with Arthurian Romance, most notably a magical fountain and the tomb of the legendary figure Merlin.[2]


1 Location 2 Medieval historical accounts 3 Arthurian legend 4 Modern fiction 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

Location[edit] Early source works provide unclear or conflicting information on the exact location of Brocéliande; different hypotheses exist to locate Brocéliande
on the map.

According to Wace, Brocéliande
is in Brittany. In modern times, Brocéliande
is most commonly considered to be Paimpont forest
Paimpont forest
in Brittany. Some scholars think that Brocéliande
is a mythological place and has never existed.[3] Jean Markale notes that while the forest itself is legendary, it is part of the "remainder of the immense forest that covered the entire center of Brittany
until the High Middle Ages."[4] He goes on to point out that the notion of a magical forest in France has its roots in the writings of Lucan
who describes a numinous, magical forest full of ominous happenings in Gaul.[5]

Medieval historical accounts[edit] First mention:

is a land of peoples with many legends according to the Roman de Rou, which covers the history of the Dukes of Normandy from the time of Rollo of Normandy
Rollo of Normandy
to the battle of Tinchebray. Wace numbers the Bretons from Brocéliande, about whom there are many legends, along with the Breton knights: "ceux de Brecheliant (sic) dont les Bretons disent maintes légendes..."[6] Wace
also gives the name of the fountain of Barenton: "La fontaine de Berenton/sort d'une part lez le perron..." Wace
describes how hunters scoop water from the fountain and wet a stone in order to summon rain. He also mentions rumors of fairies and magic; he travels to Brittany
in search of these marvels, but finds nothing notable.[2]

is briefly mentioned in one historical text:

in Bertran de Born's 1183 poem dedicated to Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany
– the duke to whom Brocéliande

Brocéliande's unusual weather alone is noted in a handful of texts:

in Giraldus Cambrensis's c. 1185 expeditionary account, Topographia Hibernica. in Alexandre Neckham's c. 1195 work on nautical science, De naturis rerum. in William the Breton's c. 1215 poem Philippide.[7]

Arthurian legend[edit] Earliest appearances:

in the 1170s, Chrétien de Troyes
Chrétien de Troyes
mentions the forest of Brocéliande in his Arthurian romance, Le Chevalier au lion. While in Brocéliande, Yvain pours water from a spring into a stone, causing a violent storm to erupt. This in turn summons the knight Esclados le Ros who defends the forest.[2] in Jaufré, the Arthurian romance of unknown authorship composed in Catalonia, the forest of Brocéliande
is near King Arthur's palace and the site of a mill where King Arthur
King Arthur
battles a strange bull-like animal. The dating of Jaufré is debated and may have been written as early as 1183 or as late as 1225-1228.[8] in the late 12th or early 13th century, Robert de Boron associates the wizard Merlin
with Brocéliande
in his poem Merlin, also known as the Estoire de Merlin, or the Vulgate or Prose Merlin. in the early 13th century, Brocéliande
appears in context with archangels and Arthurian Knights in the medieval poet Huon de Méry's allegorical poem Tournoiement Antecrist.

By the timeframe of 1230–1240, the forest of Brocéliande
is established as part of Arthurian legend, having appeared in multiple writings. Brocéliande
continues to appear throughout the Arthurian canon, in works such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson's 19th century poem Idylls of the King and 20th century works including Edwin Arlington Robinson's 1917 poem Merlin
and Alan Seeger's 1916 poem Brocéliande. Jean Lorrain wrote the play Brocéliande
(1898), in which the love between Myrddhin (Merlin) and Viviane (Nimue/ Elaine) is treated. As in many of the earlier Arthurian works, Brocéliande
is the location where Vivien entraps Merlin
inside an oak tree.[2] Modern fiction[edit] Brocéliande
serves as the location of Robert Holdstock's fantasy novel Merlin's Wood. It is mentioned repeatedly in Andre Norton's Here Abide Monsters using the formula 'Avalon, Tara, Brocéliande, Carnac'. The name was an inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional realm of Beleriand in Middle-earth. The name Broseliand was used in the early sketches of The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion
(1926 to 1930). It is also the setting of Tolkien's poem The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun.[9] Several of the short stories of Sylvia Townsend Warner's collection Kingdoms of Elfin (many of which appeared in The New Yorker
The New Yorker
in the 1970s) are set in Brocéliande
or mention it, among several other enchanted forests where Townsend's Elfin folk live. It appears in the movie Robin Hood (2010, directed by Ridley Scott) as the place where Robert Loxley is ambushed by the French. In Michael Swanwick's The Dragons of Babel, Broceliande is a train station where a bomb was dropped in a war between two kingdoms. Vanni Santoni's novel Terra Ignota - il Risveglio features a magic forest named Brocéliande. Sarah Singleton's book The Poison Garden features a magic garden called Broceliande. Cassandra Clare's series "The Mortal Instruments" features a forest named Brocelind in the fictional Shadowhunter nation of Idris. Broceliande is the name of a forest in Joan Aiken's young adult novel "The Stolen Lake" which, despite taking place in a fictionalized version of South America, has a strong Arthurian themes. In Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian trilogy The Warlord Chronicles, Broceliande is one of two British (Celtic) kingdoms that form modern-day Brittany, the other being Armorica. The ABC television series Once Upon a Time features Brocéliande
in the season 5 episode "Siege Perilous" as the location of a magical toadstool needed for a potion to free the sorcerer Merlin
from his imprisonment in a tree. The lake in the center of Brocéliande
is filled with possessed suits of armor known as Phantom Knights. The Witcher
The Witcher
novel series by Andrzej Sapkowski
Andrzej Sapkowski
features an ancient forest inhabited by magical beings known as Brokilon to humans and Brokiloén in the Elven language. Notes[edit]

^ « Mil chent et soisante anz out de temps et d'espace/puiz que Dex en la Virge descendi par sa grace/quant un clerc de Caen, qui out non Mestre Vace/s'entremist de l'estoire de Rou et de s'estrasce/qui conquist Normendie, qui qu'en poist ne qui place/contre l'orgueil de France, qui encor les menasce/que nostre roi Henri la congnoissë et sace. » ^ a b c d Lupack, Alan. The Oxford guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend, (New York, NY: Oxford University Press USA, 2007), page 437. ^ Pelan, Margaret, "L'influence de Wace
sur les romanciers français de son temps", p. 56, cité par A.-Y. Bourgès ^ Markale, Jean Merlin: Priest of Nature, (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1995), page 121. ^ Markale, Jean Merlin: Priest of Nature, (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1995), pages 120-121. ^ "e cil devers Brecheliant/donc Breton vont sovent fablant/une forest mult longue e lee/qui en Bretaigne est mult loee" ^ "Brecelianensis monstrum admirabile fontis" ^ Eckhardt, Caroline D. (May 2009). "Reading Jaufré: Comedy and Interpretation in a Medieval Cliff-Hanger". The Comparatist. 33: 40.  ^ Tolkien, JRR. as his horse bore him o'er the land to the green boughs of Broceliande,, (Welsh Review, 1945).


Eckhardt, Caroline D. (May 2009). "Reading Jaufré: Comedy and Interpretation in a Medieval Cliff-Hanger". The Comparatist 33: 40-62. Lupack, Alan (2007). The Oxford guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend
(1st paperback ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 0-19-921509-X.  Markale, Jean (1995). Merlin: Priest of Nature (1st English translated ed.). Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International. ISBN 0-89281-517-5. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Brocéliande.

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Brocéliande.

French studies concerning Brocéliande
as a place:

Broceliande as Broualan near Dol, « Thèse Kerfontaine » Broceliande in the Maine, « Thèse Payen-Bertin » Broceliande as Paule, near Carhaix, «Thèse JC Even»https://web.archive.org/web/20110714034723/http://marikavel.com/broceliande/broceliande.htm

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