Robert de Boron (also spelled in the manuscripts "Bouron", "Beron") was a French poet of the late 12th and early 13th centuries who is most notable as the author of the poems Joseph d'Arimathe, Merlin, and Perceval.


Robert de Boron was from Boron, a village in Burgundy about eighteen kilometers from Montbeliard. From within his works, scholars conclude that he was a noble and had clerical education. Robert de Boron mentions in his poems that he was in the service of Gautier de Montbeliard, the Lord of Montfaucon, who historically embarked on the Fourth Crusade in 1201 and died in the Holy Land in 1212.

Nothing is known about Robert de Boron’s family, except the second author, “Helie de Boron" of the Prose Tristan, who claimed to be Robert de Boron’s nephew. Critics view this as name dropping rather than actual fact.

Robert de Boron’s version of the Holy Grail is the source for almost all of the later legends about the Grail.

Historical References:

Robert de Boron lived during the 12th and 13th centuries and was composing his poems during the Fourth Crusade.


Robert de Boron’s most well-known works are Joseph d’Arimathe and Merlin. Only fragments of de Boron’s poem Merlin survive today.

Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathe is the first literature in which the Holy Grail myth is given a completely Christian role. In Joseph d’Arimathe, the Grail, which is the cup used by Christ during the Last Supper, is used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch the blood of Christ after He was removed from the cross. After the resurrection of the Christ, the Jews wishing to dispel any rumors that He had risen conspired to put Joseph of Arimathea and Nichodemus to death. Joseph of Arimathea is imprisoned in a dungeon sealed with a stone. While he is imprisoned, Jesus appears of Joseph of Arimathea and commands him to be the keeper of the Grail. After Joseph of Arimathea is set free, he keeps the Grail as commanded, until, by Christ’s commandment, the burden of the Grail is given over to Bron, who becomes the Fisher King.

Robert de Boron’s tale of the Grail fundamentally changed the concept of the Grail from a dish, the purpose of which remains unclear, to a Holy object, a relic worthy of protection. Critic Jon Whitman argues that de Boron use the Grail legend to transform his own generation’s political and religious trauma into something spiritually and magically better. The respect which de Boron places towards the Grail he matches in regard to the chalice used to service communion during Mass.

Some readers read within the two poems, Merlin and Joseph, the concept of a battle between Christ and Satan for the souls of men.

Cultural referencesEdit

Robert de Boron appears as the fictional character Boron in Umberto Eco's novel Baudolino.

Robert de Boron is the stage name for a Japanese hip-hop band.


Le Gentil, Pierre. "The Work of Robert de Boron and the Didot Perceval." Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages, A Collaborative History. Ed. R.S. Loomis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959.

Richard W. Barber, “Sanctifying the Grail Hero: Robert de Boron.” The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief. United Kingdom: Penguin Book, LTD, 2004. 39-45. Print

Whitman, Jon. “Transfers of Empire, Movements of Mind: Holy Sepulchre and Holy Grail.” MLN 123.4, (2008): pp. 895-923.

Nitze, William A. “Messire Robert de Boron: Enquiry and Summary.” Speculum, 28.2 (1953), pp. 279-296.

Giffin, Mary E. “A Reading of Robert de Boron.” PMLA, 80.5 (1965), pp. 499-507.