The story of Tristan and Iseult, immensely popular as it was, was too genuine - (shall we say too crude?) - to satisfy the taste of the court for which Chretien was writing.
Unfortunately he himself has been wounded in the fight, and that by a poisoned weapon; and none but the queen of 'Ireland, Isolt, or Iseult, possessed the secret of healing.
There he gives himself out for a minstrel, Tantris, and as such is tended and healed by Queen Iseult and her daughter of the same name.
They persuade Mark that he should marry, and Tristan, who has sung the praises of the princess Iseult, is despatched to Ireland to demand her hand, a most dangerous errand, as Gormond, incensed at the death of More)lt, has sworn to slay any Cornish knight who sets foot in Ireland.
The seneschal of the court, a coward who has been watching for such an opportunity, cuts off the dragon's head, and, presenting it to the king, claims the reward, much to the dismay of Iseult and her mother.
This is done in the presence of the court; Tristan is pardoned, formally declares his errand, and receives the hand of Iseult for his uncle King Mark.
Tristan and Iseult set sail for Cornwall, Iseult accompanied by her waiting-woman, Brangaene (who, in some versions, is also a kinswoman), to whose care the queen, skilled in magic arts, confides a love-potion.
Unhappily, on the voyage, by some mistake (accounted for in different ways), Tristan and Iseult drink the love drink, and are forthwith seized with a fatal passion each for the other.
In the poems, Mark is, as a rule, represented in a favourable light, a gentle, kindly man, deeply attached to both Tristan and Iseult, and only too ready to allow his suspicions to be dispelled by any plausible explanation they may choose to offer.
Mark, in one of his fits of jealousy, banishes Tristan and Iseult from the court; the two fly to the woods, where they lead an idyllic life, blissfully happy in each other's company.
After some time, hearing nothing of Queen Iseult, and believing himself forgotten, he weds the duke's daughter, Iseult of the white hand, but weds her only in name, remaining otherwise faithful to Iseult of Ireland.
Ultimately, while assisting his brother-in-law in an intrigue with the wife of a neighbouring knight, Tristan is wounded by a poisoned arrow; unable to find healing, and being near to death, he sends a messenger to bring Queen Iseult to his aid; if successful the ship which brings her is to have a white sail, if she refuses to come, a black.
Iseult of the white hand overhears this, and when the ship returns, bringing Iseult to her lover's aid, either through jealousy or by pure inadvertence (both versions are given), she tells Tristan that the sail is black, whereon, despairing of seeing his love again, the hero turns his face to the wall and dies.
Iseult of Ireland lands to find the city in mourning for its lord; hastening to the bier, she lays herself down beside Tristan, and with one last embrace expires.
Medieval literature abounds in references to Tristan and Iseult, and their adventures were translated into many tongues and are found depicted in carvings and tapestries.
In the German tradition she is die lichte, Iseult of Britanny die schwarze Isolt; it is this latter who is the Celtic princess.
This poem is valuable, as, presuming upon the sufficiency of his disguise, Tristan audaciously gives a resume of his feats and of his relations with Iseult, in this agreeing with the version of Thomas.
In this direction lies Chapelizod, said to take its name from that Iseult whom Tennyson, Matthew Arnold and Wagner made a heroine; beyond which is Lucan connected with the city by tramway.
Finally, the most celebrated love-legend of the middle ages, and one of the most beautiful inventions of world-literature, the story of Tristan and Iseult, tempted two authors, Beroul and Thomas, the first of whom is probably, and the second certainly, Anglo-Norman (see Arthurian Legend; Grail, The Holy; Tristan).
Less fascinating than the story of Tristan and Iseult, but nevertheless of considerable interest, are the two romans d'aventure of Hugh of Rutland, Ipomedon (published by Kdlbing and Koschwitz, Breslau, 1889) and Protesilaus (still unpublished) written about 1185.
The ship that was to bring Iseult to the mortally wounded Tristram was to hoist a white sail if she was on board, a black sail if she was not.