Medieval Arthurian Legend

Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan

13th century, Middle High German | Middle English translation, 14th century, National Library of Scotland.

Tristan set off once again for Ireland, but this time disguised as a Norman merchant.

Following his return from Ireland, where he disguised himself as the minstrel Tantris, Tristan is welcomed by King Mark who makes him heir to the Cornish throne, since Tristan is his nephew. But the Cornish noblemen become jealous and insist that King Mark takes a wife and produces a proper heir instead. They suggest that Tristan should go once more to Ireland, to fetch back the beautiful young princess Isolde.

So Tristan sets off once again for Ireland – not as the minstrel Tantris returned but this time disguised as a Norman merchant. He rids Ireland of a dragon, and at first the two Isoldes, mother and daughter, do not recognise him as he recovers from these martial exertions. Then, while he is in the bath one day, Queen Isolde discovers some damage to Tristan’s sword that exactly matches the splinter of steel recovered from the head of her brother whom Tristan killed in a fight to free Cornwall from extortion. The Norman merchant, alias the minstrel Tantris, is not the friend that he seems.

Story fragment recounted from: Hatto, A T, 1960, reprinted with revisions, 1967, 2004. Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan. With the surviving fragments of the Tristran of Thomas. Translated from Medieval German and Old French with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. 13. The Splinter, pp 173–83.

See for yourself

Sir Tristrem – TEAMS Middle English texts

Thomas of Britain – Wikipedia

Tristan and Iseult – Wikipedia

Gottfried von Strassburg – Wikipedia

Mark of Cornwall – Wikipedia

Thomas the Rhymer – Wikipedia

Medieval Institute Publications – Alan Lupack (Ed), 1994. Lancelot of the Laik and Sir Tristrem. Middle English text with an introduction.


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