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The Romance of Tristan

The Romance of Tristan


by Béroul

The Romance of Tristan Part 14 Summary

The Vindication of Yseut

  • One day, Mark goes hunting with the three wicked barons. They tell Mark that Yseut must clear herself of the charge of adultery, advising him to ask her how she will do so.
  • Annoyed, Mark reminds the barons that Tristan offered to defend himself of the charge and none of them would fight him. He accuses them of trying to shame him and threatens to send for Tristan.
  • The barons are frightened of Tristan. They tell Mark that they only give him advice out of loyalty, but that they will never speak about this issue again.
  • Mark exiles them from his land, saying that he is pained he has banished Tristan for their sake.
  • The barons, Godwin, Ganelon, and Denoalan, leave Cornwall for their well-defended castles.
  • Mark returns to his castle, Tintagel, in a very bad mood. When Yseut sees him, she thinks he has captured Tristan, and faints.
  • Mark explains that he has sent away three of his barons for suggesting that she should clear herself of the charge of adultery.
  • Yseut offers to clear her name in any ordeal Mark's barons propose. She wishes to do so in front of King Arthur and his household so that she will have someone to defend her if anyone accuses her again.
  • She asks Mark to summon everyone in the kingdom to Blanche Lande, which he does for fifteen days hence.
  • Yseut sends a message to Tristan, asking him to dress as a leper and to wait at the end of a bridge over a marsh called Malpas in Blanche Lande.
  • Tristan is supposed to carry a cup and staff, and to beg for alms from passers-by. He is to keep the silver he receives for Yseut until he sees her privately.
  • Tristan promises to be there and not to bathe until he has repaid the barons who have accused her. Not that medieval people are known for bathing that frequently to begin with.
  • The messenger, Perinis, continues on to Caerleon, where he finds King Arthur, at Stirling, with his household and the Round Table.
  • Perinis tells Arthur about Yseut's trial, and that she has asked King Arthur to act as witness and guarantor of her oath, since she has no kinsmen there to do so.
  • Everyone in Arthur's court weeps that Yseut is being asked to do this, and Arthur promises to act as witness and guarantor.
  • Sir Gawain recalls besting Ganelon in a joust once, and he swears to treat him roughly when he meets with him in Cornwall.
  • Sir Griflet tells the king that the three wicked barons have hated the queen for a long time, and promises to lance him in a fight.
  • Sir Evain says that Denoalan delights in making accusations. He swears to tell Mark this and to hang Denoalan if ever he meets with him.
  • Perinis tells Arthur that he is sure the three barons will meet a bad end, since no one ever made a boast in Arthur's court on which they failed to make good.
  • King Arthur tells all his knights to make ready, because they'll be jousting in front of Yseut very soon.
  • Arthur escorts Perinis part of the way home. Along the route, everybody talks about Yseut and the jousting that will soon take place on her account.
  • Arthur tells Perinis to say hi to Yseut and to tell her that he promises to do as she has asked. He also says to remind Yseut of "the throwing spear which was fixed in the post" (a vague allusion to another Tristan poem, whose reference is unclear).

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