Tristan and Isolde-A Famous Medieval Legend

Tristan and Isolde medieval legend about a tragic love. Famous stories from Middle ages.

Tristan and Isolde Medieval Legend

The legend of Tristan and Isolde became popular during the 12th century through French medieval poetry. The story has been inspired by the legends of Celtic. This legend was a really influential story of love and tragedy between Tristan the Cornish Knight and Isolde, the Irish princess. The legendary story described by each author differs, the plot of the poetry however is the same.

Tristan legend has 2 main traditions. The first tradition is about the French romances of Beroul and Thomas, the two poets belonging to the 12th century. The second tradition came from Prose Tristan which was a bit different from the tale presented by the first two poets. Along with the story, even the spelling of Tristan in many poems was different.

The story sets as Tristan goes back to Ireland to make his Uncle King Mark to marry Isolde after defeating the Irish Knight Morholt.  They take a love potion that makes them fall into love. In some versions of the legend, the effect of the potion is for a lifetime while in others it lasts for 3 years only. In some versions it is said that they take the potion by accident whether in some it is described that the potion is meant for Mark but Isolde gives it to Tristan instead.  Although both fall in love with one another but the princess in the end marries Mark.

King Mark had a love for Tristan and Isolde equally and Tristan had love for Mark as a father too, but each of them used to see bad dreams about their future. The king eventually gets to know about the love affair of the two and tries to catch them red handed.  As a punishment of this affair, Tristan is to be hung to death and Isolde is to be burnt at stake and then taken to Lazar house.  Tristan somehow manages to escape from the gallows to rescue the princess.  They both run and reach a forest where they take refuge.  Then they are again caught by Mark after which Tristan makes an agreement that he will return the princess and will leave the country. He does so and moves to Brittany where he marries Hoel , sister of Sir Kahedin.

The death of Tristan is tragic. He dies by getting wounded by a poison lance while rescuing a young woman. Isolde is the one who can heal him and so he appoints one of his friends to get her. Isolde agrees to come but Tristan’s wife lies that she has refused. Tristan hence dies in the grief that his love has betrayed him. Isolde also dies because of the grief of his death.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *