Analyzing Evidence presents case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence in world history. On this screen, you see writing from a 14th century lai. Lais are short, poetic romances written during the Middle Ages in Western Europe. These stories were written and shared orally among nobility. Click on the image of writing to read an excerpt from the lai entitled Le Fresne. You also see an image of the author, Marie de France. Marie de France (Marie of France) was literate, not uncommon among women of her class, but she was exceptional in part because she claimed authorship of her work.
As you read this story, think about the events and outcomes. What happens in the story? What was expected of noble men and women in the Middle Ages? Why does Le Fresne act the way she does? Is she rewarded for her actions? What does this story tell us about opportunities for women and representations of women in this era?