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The Romance of Tristan

The Romance of Tristan

by Béroul

Loyalty Theme

Medieval vassals must be willing to demonstrate their loyalty to their lord with their bodies if necessary. Tristan shows that he's willing to do this when he serves as Mark's champion against Morholt of Ireland. The same is also true of people like Brangain, and Governal, whose obligations as loyal servants require them to sacrifice their bodily safety and integrity for their masters if necessary. Another form of loyalty in The Romance of Tristan is the willingness to defend your friend's good word at sword point. Yseut depends on this when she calls her buddy, King Arthur, to witness her oath of fidelity before Mark and his barons.

Questions About Loyalty

  1. Who is loyal to whom in The Romance of Tristan? How do these characters demonstrate their loyalty?
  2. Who has divided loyalties? How do these characters handle the conflict?
  3. How does Brangain demonstrate her loyalty to Yseut? Governal to Tristan? What do these characters' actions suggest about the obligations of a servant?
  4. How do friends demonstrate their loyalty to one another?
  5. How is loyalty between friends important to the workings of justice in this story?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Servants, knights, friends, and spouses must all offer their bodies as signs of loyalty in The Romance of Tristan.

Yseut's call to her network of friends and allies to witness her oath of faithfulness demonstrates the way in which medieval justice is dependent upon loyalty for its operation.

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