I am fond of legends, sagas and myths about Brittany. This time I will tell you the sad but beautiful story of Tristan and Isolde. A long time ago…
The story starts with King Mark of Cornwall. The mighty man has a cousin named Tristan One day Tristan is ordered to travel to beautiful Ireland. He is told to guide the daughter of the Irish King, named Isolde, to Cornwall. You can probably guess the reason. King Mark wants to marry her. On their way both Tristan and Isolde accidentally drink a love potion which is meant for Mark and Isolde. Well, the inevitable happens, Tristan and Isolde fall in love. However, the engagement with King Mark is a fact and Isolde marries him. But the special drink still has its effect. Tristan and Isolde meet regularly. The advisers of King Mark try to be smart and to sue the lovers for adultery, but they fail. Eventually, it is King Mark who discovers the adultery of Tristan and Isolde. He is furious and condemns Tristan to death by hanging. Isolde is sent to a leper colony. You do not expect it, but the story ends well… for the moment. Tristan escapes and rescues Isolde. They flee and after a couple of days they make peace with King Mark. Isolde returns to her husband and Tristan leaves for Brittany. He marries Isolde with the White Hands, daughter of King Hoël of Brittany and sister of Kahedin.
The years go on …but then the story continues. Tristan is fatally wounded by a poisoned spear, thrown by the jealous King Mark. On his deathbed Tristan asks Kahedin to visit Isolde in Cornwall and bring her back to Brittany. Only Isolde can heal the dying Tristan. Kahedin agrees. The men come up with a plan. If Kahedin returns with white sails, then Isolde will be with him. If he returns with black sails, then Isolde will still be in Cornwall. However, Isolde with the White Hands discovers the plan. She is very jealous and tells her husband, Tristan, that Kahedin has come back with black sails. Tristan dies of grief. Isolde comes ashore and hears about the bad news. She also dies, driven mad by the loss of her lover. Tristan and Isolde are buried side by side. On the graves nowadays we see a hazel and honeysuckle. Their branches are connected with each other. This is the sign that Tristan and Isolde can’t be separated by anybody or anything, ever.
What a romantic story, isn’t it? Today we hear very little of these stories. Love potions, we have to laugh about it. All the ‘Tristans and Isoldes’ of our time are looking for love on the electronic highway, they’ve got electronic vibes. Think of Facebook, Hyves or all kinds of dating sites. Are they bored with each other? No problem at all… just push the delete button on the tablet or pc. I am really glad that the hazel and honeysuckle are still connected.