The Merlin, also called the Merlin en Prose, or Prose Merlin, represents the second part in the five part Lancelot-Grail cycle. The first section of the work recounts the life of Merlin and his efforts to promote the cause of Uther Pendragon, the father of Arthur, followed by Arthur’s ultimate rise to kingship and his coronation. The second section, called variously the Vulgate Suite de Merlin or the Sequal section of the Prose Merlin, describes the events at Arthur’s court after his coronation, which serves as an introduction to the third part of the Lancelot-Grail cycle, entitled the Lancelot en prose. The Vulgate Suite de Merlin must be differentiated from the Suite de Merlin or the Prophesies de Merlin, texts that were also copied in Italy, which treat similar material but which stem from a different textual traditions.
Manuscript witnesses of the Merlin en Prose copied in Italy survive primarily from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and almost always appear as part of a large Arthurian collection, along with one or many other Arthurian texts. When they can be located precisely within Italy, the manuscripts are most often found in the Northern part of the peninsula.
For greater clarification on the Lancelot-Grail cycle, see the Lancelot-Grail Project.
For a specific discussion of the Merlin, Vulgate Suite de Merlin, and the Suite de Merlin, see Prose Merlin: An Introduction.
Chantilly, Musée Condé, ms. 644 (first half 14th)
Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, ms. 2759
Modena, Biblioteca Estense, α.L.9.30 (13th c.)
Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 178 (early 14th)
Tours, Bibliothèque Municipale, ms. 951 (14th)
Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria, ms. 1654 (14th)
Imola, Biblioteca Comunale, ms. 135.A.A 5 no. 9, (14th)