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A HISTORY AND GUIDEThe Romance
of Tristan and Iseult
by Joseph Bédier
and Hilaire BelloIn The Fullness of Time
by Vincent NicolosiAVAILABLE NOW
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The Romance of Tristan and Iseult
We believe this Fonthill Press edition of Joseph Bédier’s The Romance of Tristan and Iseult is the most complete version available in the English language to date. And such a volume is long overdue.
Joseph Bédier published Le Roman de Tristan et Iseut in 1900 in Paris. A few years later Hilaire Belloc first introduced the English-speaking world to this marvelous tale with his equally marvelous translation. Or rather, he introduced the English-speaking world to part of this tale. One definite shortcoming of Belloc’s otherwise compelling and exquisite translation is that he omitted so very much; in fact, he omitted, suppressed, four chapters, either in their entirety or in part, along with a scattering of sections, phrases, and single words. Many, if not most, of Belloc’s omissions were inexplicable, if not downright eccentric, though he obviously found other passages indelicate. Decades later, and Paul Rosenfeld restored many of Belloc’s omissions. But most certainly not all. Likewise, where needed, we have made corrections in the text, as when Belloc translates qu’il garnit de froment as “he packed corn” as opposed to “he packed wheat.” (Historically, Tristan of course could not have known anything of corn, for the introduction of maize to the Europeans was centuries away, in November of 1492, when Columbus first visited Cuba.)
One omission in both the early and later English versions was Gaston Paris’s insightful preface, which is as timely today as it was in 1900. In this Fonthill edition we have restored the missing preface. Likewise, we have restored the use of short introductory inscriptions that once preceded each chapter.
We are also pleased to include here Joseph Bédier’s essay “On the Nature of the Legend of Tristan and Iseult.” It appeared after the original volume, though it seems helpful.
We decided early on--guided by Bédier--that this would be a volume for general readers, for lovers of literature, and simply and mostly for lovers; although we have referenced things both preceding and following the Romance, you will not find the text encumbered by footnotes. Vincent Nicolosi, in whose voice Belloc’s suppressed sections now speak, has also written some introductory notes, filling in some areas about the Celts. In all, Fonthill has endeavored to make available, finally, a full and more complete restoration of this most wonderful story, The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, and to do so in an exquisite, archival edition, one very much like the tale itself: digne des âges--worthy of the ages.
William Beckford, Publisher
From the Introduction
The eminent playwright, scholar, and translator Lewis Galantiere said of Tristan and Iseult: “Theirs is incomparably the greatest love story in the world.” And Jean-Charles Payen, renowned scholar of the French Academy, regarded Tristan and Iseult as the most beautiful love story of all time. Certainly, in calamity and ardor this supreme tale of youthful passion and forbidden love ranks with Romeo and Juliet, predating even the source of the play’s provenance by centuries. In epic scope and intensity— spanning years and kingdoms—the legend of Tristan and Iseult, the beautiful and the doomed, stands without parallel. Like Romeo and Juliet this perennial tale is voluptuous and brutal, grave and archetypical, speaking in lovely and charming utterances, everlastingly, across the centuries.
As with so many myths and legends, the origins of Tristan and Iseult* are about as tangible as dreams and have vanished into remote history. Curious leavings remain. To this day the sixth century Tristan Stone stands lonely and weathered in Cornwall, in southwestern England, bearing an inscription now worn to the point of ghostly: Drustans hic iacet Cunomori filius--“Here lies Drustanus son of Cunomorus.” Was this Drustanus the Tristan of legend? Where does myth end and history begin? Did a blurred confluence once exist between the two? Doubtless, the truth will forever remain cloaked in Celtic mist, and mystery becomes the legend. We wonder too at the elusive juncture of folklore and the past, between the mystical and the geographic. Tintagel Castle, seat of King Mark’s court and place of King Arthur’s conception, now stands in windswept ruins on cliffs above the Atlantic, where solitude and evanescence are aspects of earth, sea, and sky. And the Isle of St Samson, where Tristan engaged and slew the Morholt, remains as desolate now as a thousand years ago when these or similar events were dreamed of or somewhat transpired. The twelfth century French poet Béroul, upon whose Tristan Joseph Bédier based much of his Romance, includes various recognizable locations in Cornwall for major and minor events of the story. Oliver Padel, authority on English place names and professor of Celtic studies, cites the wood of Morois--into which the lovers flee in exile--as extant even today, at least in part, as the woodlands hard by the manor of Moresk, in the parish of St Clement. Mr. Padel locates the Ford of Providence (in Béroul le Mal Pas)--where Iseult crosses in the arms of her lover disguised as a pilgrim--appropriately enough, as the village of Malpas, where the rivers Truro and Tresillian converge; and the high hunting grounds known as the White Lands (in Béroul la Blanche Lande) lie to the west. While the Isle of St Samson--where Tristan fights and kills the Morholt--is a goodly distance from Tintagel, nevertheless, many of the riding and walking distances correspond, and in Medieval times two markets selling lavish goods were found across from St Michael’s Mount, to which the hermit Ogrin journeys, on his crutch, to buy exquisite apparel and a palfrey for the Queen’s return to the Court of King Mark, from her exigencies in the wilderness.
The tale, with its roots in the wild borderlands of the world, and in Celtic magic, appears to have spread from Cornwall into Wales and throughout the British Isles, to Brittany and thence through the rest of France, to Germany, and northward into Scandinavia and Europe. Surely the legend arrived on American shores long ago in the anamnesis of early European settlers, though in the New World the tale did not gain much currency until the twentieth century. Along the way, or even from the time of its origins, the legend gleaned or mirrored aspects of the faraway and the not so faraway: Tristan’s early voyage of chance and healing, casting his fate to the sea as he lay dying of the Morholt’s poison, resonates with St Brendan’s voyage, for he yielded sail and rudder to God; the quest for the lady with the golden hair echoes a story in the Welsh Mabinogion, wherein Emperor Maximus dreams of a beautiful maiden and sends envoys in quest of her; and the lovers’ flight into the forest parallels the Old Irish Aitheda. We also see parallels in remote Greek legends, in Perseus and Theseus. Tristan slays a dragon in Ireland and receives from the King his daughter Iseult, and Perseus slays the Gorgon Medusa and then the sea monster about to devour Andromeda, whom he then claims and carries home. After slaying the Minotaur and thus saving the youth of Athens, Theseus, under a curse of forgetfulness and beneath a black sail, returns to Athens, inadvertently issuing false tidings to his father, thereby causing Aegeus to hurl himself into the sea, which now bears his name; centuries and epochs later, upon that cloud-coloured other-sea, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, a sail appears, and deceit and false tidings in turn bring death to Tristan. More subtle parallels exist. Perseus, Theseus, and Tristan are slight of build, but each possesses superhuman strength, skills, and cunning, thus enabling his feats. They seem demigods as much as heroes, and in their legends we perceive an intercourse with the supernatural, the bestowment of divine and marvelous favors.
In his preface to The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, Gaston Paris indicates that the concept of the love potion with its tumultuous results bewildered men and ladies of the Medieval French courts, where ideals regarding love and comportment contrasted sharply with the ferocity and seizure found in the lush passions of this tale. But the Celts--scattered along the outer edges of the world, in their harsh lands of seashores and peninsulas, rocks and highlands--maintained with the forests and the seas an ancient pre-Christian affinity linking them to the great mystery inherent in nature, and thus to the subterranean echelons of the world. In such a people we find an atavistic predisposition to the supernal. In such realms dragons prowl and giants lurk in caves, love gifts arrive from Avalon, and the sea is aware of her mariners, giving no rest to abductors of God’s favored one, the child Tristan. An evil dwarf scatters flour upon a floor and reads immediate goings-on in the stars; thus the heavens are usurped as a celestial, telltale looking glass disclosing amorous escapades transpiring within bedchambers, or within palisades. Amidst these pagan possibilities, the remote and silent God of Abraham and the Church watches, intervening when He sees fit (or not intervening when He sees fit) in the lives and concealments of the adulterous lovers, to whom He extends not simply dispensation, but benediction….
* Elsewhere the lovers’ names have, of course, been variously rendered as Drustanus, Drystan, Tristran, Tristram; and Isolde, Yseult, Isode, Isoude, Eselt, Esyllt, et cetera; Iseult is also the name of the Queen of Ireland, Iseult’s mother (though her name is not actually mentioned in the Bédier version); as well as Iseult of the White Hands, future wife of Tristan.
From the essay
On the Nature of the Legend
of Tristan and Iseult
Wherein the author presents the notion of a single primitive and sovereign French poet--whose name and lyrics have been lost to history--but whose story abides via the words and the telling of others, including his own.
In all the realm of legends, none is more wonderful than the story of Tristan and Iseult. Long ago, a trouvère, dedicating his words to posterity wrote, in gentle verse:
I have told this tale for those who love, and for none other. May it go down through the ages to those who are thoughtful, to those who are happy, to those who are disillusioned, to those who are full of longings, to those who are joyful, to those who are troubled, to all lovers, everywhere.
More than seven centuries have now passed, and from the time of Gottfried von Strassburg to Richard Wagner, the philtre of love and death has not lost its power to intoxicate the hearts of men. But, strong as is its hold upon men’s hearts and dear as its theme is to poets, the legend of Tristan is none less beautiful in the eyes of the philologist. In this rests the legend’s supreme dignity. Even as it has engendered the birth of noble poems within our own times, so it has further inspired the admirable scholarly works of Gaston Paris, Heinrich Zimmer, and Wolfgang Golther. Among all the problems the legend of Tristan offers to the critic, I choose to treat here the one highest and most delicate: the considerations of its origin and formation.
We suffer no lack of hypotheses and heated discussions that seek to explain in detail the mystery of the legend’s genesis and development. But all critics indiscriminately share one general opinion that dominates and overshadows their varied differences. It is this: born of the “depths of Celtic thought,” the legend of Tristan is not the sudden creation of one man, or of a generation of men; long centuries collaborated in the legend’s formation. The day it crossed the frontiers of its own Celtic country, the very nature of Tristan had already passed through various avatars. Notwithstanding, what the Celts transmitted to the Germano-Roman world was not a wholly organized and determinate legend; it was simply this one central theme: Tristan and Iseult ever bound to each other by the power of love. There were a few lays, that is, short, episodic stories, independent of each other, gravitating around the principal theme, as around a nucleus of crystallization. These lays, these short stories recited to the accompaniment of the harp, the French jongleurs took up and sung in their wanderings.
At first they were content simply to repeat their lays, with passive and delighted docility; soon, however, in their turn, they made bold to imagine analogous stories. These were the French lays, very similar to the Celtic lays, but more intricate, of varied motives, old epic or adventurous themes gleaned from universal folklore and, according to the poet’s caprice, united or disunited, bound together or separate. In the hands of these poets the legend was still a sort of indefinite and movable substance whereon gathered the dust of a hundred contradictory stories. Later, they sought to collect these incongruous lays, to bind them into consecutive narratives, but without success; at this time they united the two oldest of these romances, those of Béroul and Eilhart, under the title of the Version des Jongleurs--a name which in itself implies that the legend, given up to the nomadic poets, retained the alluring freedom and uncertainty of their wandering lives; indeed, in their poems were only large aggregates of related pieces, or, to use the word universally adopted—compilations. And when at length the more thoughtful poets of the court, Thomas and Gottfried von Strassburg, endeavored to introduce in them more order, their efforts met with only partial success; beneath their jointures and their paintings over, beneath the wholly superficial homogeneity of their works, the incoherence of the amalgamated stories is still betrayed. This theory is widely recognized; it is a mere application of one formulated to account for the Homeric poems. Scholars tried to apply the theory likewise to the Germanic epic poems and to the French chansons de geste. But when they sought to apply this theory to the Spanish cantares their efforts met with a dismal failure. Just as the French chansons de geste are, as some still believe, chapelets or bouquets de cantalinas, so the stories of Tristan must be mere collections of lays, French and Celtic. It is doubtful, however, whether this theory--as to the formation of epics and legends by simple, mechanical juxtaposition--is a key that will fit all locks. We wish to reduce the theory to its true value and determine exactly at what point it ceases to be true in the present case. We wish to show that in order to understand the history of the legend of Tristan, we must imagine one great workman instead of the anonymous and almost unconscious activity of several generations of jongleurs, acting by fragmentary inventions and unwittingly collaborating; instead of this indefinite development of the poem from generation to generation, we must picture one sovereign hour, one moment when the man, the individual, appeared, the conscious poet, the Homer who, taking possession of the vague, amorphous formations of earlier times, destined, but for him, to oblivion, laid his law upon them, breathed into them the life of his genius, and alone, the true creator, formed them for the coming ages. We wish to show that underlying all poems of Tristan, there has been one great, single poem from which all others have proceeded. And if our theory prevails, our conclusions--exceeding the legend of Tristan--will themselves contain, perchance, some instruction…
Notes on the Sources
As Monsieur G. Paris has so kindly noted, I have in this work endeavored to avoid a mixture of the ancient and the modern. To elude disparities and anachronisms, to evade ornaments and overstatements and, by dint of historical and critical sympathy, to disallow the imposition of current modes and conceptions upon ancient ways of thinking and feeling; such has been my intention, my endeavor and, alas, doubtless my delusion. My text’s sources are quite mixed, and if I were to indicate each throughout, I would burden this little book with an over encumbrance of footnotes. Nevertheless, I owe the reader these general indications:
The surviving fragments of most of the ancient French poems were published by Francisque Michel as Tristan, recueil de ce qui reste des poèmes relatifs à ses aventures (Paris: Techener, 1835–1839).
“The Childhood of Tristan” is a highly abridged abstract of various poems, but mostly from Thomas [of Britain], as he is represented by his numerous traditional and foreign adaptations. “The Morholt Out of Ireland” and “The Quest of the Lady with the Golden Hair” are based on Eilhart vonOberg (Lichtenstein, Strasbourg, 1878). “The Philtre” on the whole follows tradition, especially after Eilhart, though some features are derived from Gottfried von Strasbourg (ed. W. Golther: Berlin and Stuttgart, 1888). “Brangien Delivered to the Serfs” is based on Eilhart. “The Tall Pine- Tree”: in the midst of this chapter, wherein Iseult arrives for her rendezvous under the pine, the story takes up where Béroul’s fragment commences, and we follow him faithfully through: “The Dwarf Frocin”, “The Chantry Leap”, “The Wood of Morois”, “Ogrin the Hermit”, “At the Ford of Providence”--with occasional interpretations, ventured to and fro, according to Eilhart and various traditional sources. “The Ordeal by Iron”: this is a very free summary of the anonymous fragment following the fragment of Béroul. “The Voice of the Nightingale”: inserted according to the didactic poem of the thirteenth century, the Le Domnei des Amanz. “The Faëry Bell”: adapted from Gottfried von Strasbourg. “Iseult of the White Hands”, “Kaherdin”, and “Dinas of Liden”, the episodes of Kaherdin and Tristan as lepers [(sic) pilgrims] are borrowed from Thomas and the rest is treated in general, according Eilhart. “The Madness of Tristan” is a rearrangement of a short French poem that treats the episode independently. “Death” is translated from Thomas; certain episodes are taken from Eilhart and a French romance in prose, contained in manuscript 103 of the Bibliothèque Nationale [Paris].
*In the original “Notes on the Sources,” Joseph Bédier uses chapter numbers with Roman numerals, as opposed to chapter titles, but nowhere—neither in the original French, nor in the subsequent English versions, and neither in the table of contents nor on the chapter title pages—are chapter numbers used; therefore, here the numeration has been removed.
Part the First
I know, he said, when you embark upon that ship,
a storm and a contrary wind shall come upon you.
The Venerable Bede
The Childhood of Tristan
No youth more fortunate of gifts was ever born to woman. In beauty, all about him was exceedingly rare, and he was most exquisite of mind and manners. Alas, fair Fortune likewise marked him for unassailable calamity.
Gottfried von Strassburg
My lords, if you would hear a high tale of love and of death, here is that of Tristan and Queen Iseult; how to their full joy, but to their sorrow also, they loved each other, and how at last they died of that love together upon a single day; she by him and he by her. Long ago, when Mark was King over Cornwall, Rivalen, King of Lyonesse, heard that Mark’s enemies waged war upon him; so he crossed the sea to bring him aid; and so faithfully did he serve with counsel and sword that Mark gave him his sister Blanchefleur, whom King Rivalen loved most marvelously.
He wed her in Tintagel Minster, but hardly was she wed when the news came to him that his old enemy Duke Morgan had fallen on Lyonesse and was wasting town and field. Then Rivalen manned his ships in haste, and took Blanchefleur with him to his far land; but she was with child. He landed below his Castle of Kanoël and gave the Queen in ward to his Marshal Rohalt, and after that set off to wage his war.
Blanchefleur waited for him continually, but he did not return, till she learnt upon a day that Duke Morgan had killed him in foul ambush. She did not weep: she made no cry or lamentation, but her limbs failed her and she grew weak, and her soul was filled with a strong desire to be rid of the flesh. Rohalt tried to soothe her: “Queen,” said he, “nothing can be gained in the laying of grief upon grief. Those who are born, must they not die as well? May God receive the dead and preserve the living!”
But she would not hear. Three days she awaited reunion with her lord, and on the fourth she brought forth a son; and taking him in her arms she said: “Little son, I have longed a while to see you, and now I see you the fairest child ever a woman bore. In sorrow came I hither, in sorrow did I bring you forth, and in sorrow has your first feast day come and gone. And as by sorrow you came into the world, your name shall be called Tristan; that is, child of sorrows.”
After she said these words she kissed him, and immediately she died.
Rohalt, keeper of faith, took the child, but already Duke Morgan’s men besieged the Castle of Kanoël all round about. How could Roholt have waged a long war? There is a wise saying: “Fool-hardy was never hardy,” and he was compelled to yield to Duke Morgan at his mercy: but for fear that Morgan might slay Rivalen’s heir, the Marshal concealed Tristan amongst his own sons.
When seven years passed and the time came to take the child from the women, Rohalt placed Tristan under a good master, the Squire Gorvenal, and Gorvenal taught him in a few years the arts that go with Barony. He taught him the use of lance and sword, and escutcheon and bow, and how to cast stone quoits and to leap wide dykes: and he taught him to hate every lie and felony and keep his given word; and he taught him the various kinds of song and harp-playing, and the hunter’s craft; and when the child rode amongst the young squires you would have said that he and his horse and his armour were one. To see him so noble and so proud, broad in the shoulders, lean of flank, loyal, strong and right, all men glorified Rohalt in such a son. But Rohalt remembering Rivalen and Blanchefleur (of whose youth and grace all this was a resurrection) loved Tristan indeed as a son, but in his heart revered him as his lord.
Now all his joy was snatched from him on a day when certain merchants of Norway, having lured Tristan to their ship, bore him away as a rich prize, though Tristan fought hard, as a young wolf struggles, caught in a snare. But it is a truth well proved, and every sailor knows it, that the sea will hardly bear a felon ship, and gives no aid to rapine. The sea rose and cast a dark storm round the ship and drove it eight days and eight nights hither and yon, till the mariners caught through the mist a coast of awful cliffs and sea-ward rocks whereon the sea would have ground their hull to pieces: then they did penance, knowing that the anger of the sea came of the lad, whom they had stolen in an evil hour, and they vowed his deliverance and made ready a boat to put him, if it might be, ashore. Then the wind and sea fell and the sky shone, and as the ship of Norway grew small in the offing, a gentle tide drew Tristan onward and set the boat upon a beach of sand.
Painfully he climbed the cliff and saw a lonely rolling heath and a forest stretching out and beyond, endlessly away. And he wept, remembering Gorvenal, his father, and the land of Lyonesse. Then the distant cry of a hunt, with horse and hound, came suddenly and lifted his heart, and a tall stag broke cover at the forest edge. The pack and the hunt streamed after it with a tumult of cries and winding horns, but just as the hounds were racing clustered at the haunch, the quarry turned to bay at a stone’s throw from Tristan; a huntsman gave him the thrust, while all around the hunt had gathered and was winding the kill. But Tristan, seeing by the gesture of the huntsman that he made to cut the neck of the stag, cried out: “My lord, what would you do? Is it fitting to cut up so noble a beast like any farm-yard hog? Is that the custom of this country?”
And the huntsman answered: “Fair friend, what startles you? Why yes, first I take off the head of a stag, and then I cut it into quarters and we carry it on our saddle bows to King Mark, our lord: so do we, and so since the days of the first huntsmen have done the Cornish men. If, however, you know of some nobler custom, teach it to us: take this knife and we will learn willingly.” Then Tristan knelt and skinned the stag before he cut it up, and quartered it all in order leaving the crow-bone all whole, as is meet, and putting aside at the end the head, the haunch, the tongue and the great heart’s vein; and the huntsmen and the kennel hinds stood over him with delight, and the Master Huntsman said: “Friend, these are good ways. In what land learnt you them? Tell us your country and your name.”
“Good lord, my name is Tristan, and I learnt these ways in my country of Lyonesse.”
“Tristan,” said the Master Huntsman, “God reward the father that brought you up so nobly; doubtless he is a baron, rich and strong.”
Now Tristan knew both speech and silence, and he answered: “No, lord; my father is a burgess. I left his home unbeknownst upon a ship that trafficked to a far place, for I wish to learn the ways of men in foreign lands. But if you will accept me of the hunt I will follow you gladly and teach you other crafts of venery.”
“Fair Tristan, I marvel there should be a land where a burgess’ son can know what a knight’s son knows not elsewhere, but come with us since you will it; and welcome: we will bring you to King Mark, our lord.”
Tristan completed his task; to the dogs he gave the heart, the head, offal and ears; and he taught the hunt how the skinning and the ordering should be done. Then he thrust the pieces upon pikes and gave them to this huntsman and to that to carry, to one the snout, to another the haunch, to another the flank, and to another the chine; and he taught them how to ride by twos in rank, according to the dignity of the pieces each might bear.
So they took the road and spoke together, till they came upon a great castle and round it fields and orchards, and living waters and fish ponds and plough lands, and many ships lay anchored in the haven, for that castle stood high above the sea. It was well walled against assault and all engines of war, and its keep, which the giants of old had built long ago, was compact of great stones, like a chessboard of vert and azure.
And when Tristan asked its name: “Good liege,” they said, “we call it Tintagel.”
And Tristan cried out: “Tintagel! Blessed be thou of God, and blessed be they that dwell within thee.” (Therein, my lords, had Rivalen taken Blanchefleur to wife, though their son knew it not.)
When they came before the keep the horns brought the barons to the gates and King Mark himself. And when the Master Huntsman had told him all the story, and King Mark marveled at the good order of the cavalcade, and the cutting of the stag, and the high art of venery in all, yet most he wondered at the stranger boy, and still gazed upon him, troubled and wondering whence came his tenderness, and his heart would answer him nothing; but, my lords, it was blood that spoke, and the love he had long since borne his sister Blanchefleur.
That evening, when the boards were cleared, a singer out of Wales, a master, came forward among the barons in Hall and sang a harper’s song, and as this minstrel touched the strings of his harp, Tristan who sat at the King’s feet, spoke thus to him: “Oh master, that is the first of songs! The Bretons of old wove it once to chant the loves of Graëlent. And the melody is rare and rare are the words: master, your voice is subtle: harp us that well.”
But when the Welshman had sung, he answered: “Boy, what do you know of the craft of music? If the burgesses of Lyonesse teach their sons harp--play also, and rotes and viols too, rise, and take this harp and show your skill.”
Then Tristan took the harp and sang so well that the barons softened as they heard, and King Mark marveled at the harper from Lyonesse whither so long ago Rivalen had taken Blanchefleur away.
When the song ended, the King was silent a long space, but he said at last: “Son, blessed be the master that taught thee, and blessed be thou of God: for God loves good singers. Their voices and the voice of the harp enter the souls of men and wake dear memories and cause them to forget many a mourning and many a sin. For our joy did you come to this roof, stay near us a long time, friend.”
And Tristan answered: “Very willingly shall I serve you, sire, as your harper, your huntsman and your liege.”
And so he did, and for three years a mutual love grew in their hearts. By day Tristan followed King Mark at pleas and in saddle; by night he slept in the royal room with the counsellors and peers, and if the King were sad, Tristan would harp to him to soothe his care. The barons also cherished him, and (as you shall learn) Dinas of Lidan, the seneschal, beyond all others. And more tenderly than the barons and than Dinas, did the King love him. But Tristan could not forget, neither Rohalt his father, nor his master Gorvenal, nor the land of Lyonesse.
My lords, a teller that would please, should not stretch his tale too long, and truly this tale is so various and so high that it needs no straining. Then let me shortly tell how Rohalt himself, after long wandering by sea and land, came into Cornwall, and found Tristan, and showing the King the garnet that once was Blanchefleur’s, said: “King Mark, here is your nephew Tristan, son of your sister Blanchefleur and of King Rivalen. Duke Morgan holds his land most wrongfully; it is time such land came back to its rightful lord.”
And Tristan (in a word) when his uncle had armed him knight, crossed the sea, and was hailed of his father’s vassals, and killed Rivalen’s slayer and was reseized of his land.
Then remembering how King Mark could no longer live in joy without him, and as the nobility of his nature ever revealed to him the wisest course, he summoned his council and his barons and said: “Lords of the Lyonesse, I have retaken this place and avenged King Rivalen by the help of God and of you. Thus I have rendered to my father what is his by right. But two men, Rohalt and King Mark of Cornwall, nourished me, an orphan, and a wandering boy. So should I call them also fathers. To those, too, must I not also render what is due them? Now a free man has two possessions thoroughly his own, his body and his land. To Rohalt then, here, I will release my land. Do you hold it, Father, and your son shall hold it after you. But my body I give up to King Mark. I shall leave this country, dear though it be, and in Cornwall I shall serve King Mark as my lord. Such is my judgment, but you, my lords of Lyonesse, are my lieges, and owe me counsel; if then, some one of you will counsel me another way, let him rise and speak.”
But all the barons praised him, though they wept; and taking with him Gorvenal only, Tristan set sail for King Mark’s land…