The Lais of Marie de France

by

Marie de France

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In “Chevrefoil,” Tristram is kicked out of his uncle King Mark’s court because he loves Mark’s queen, Iseult. Depressed, Tristram goes home to his native Wales, but he eventually travels back to Cornwall in hopes of seeing the Queen. One day, after learning from peasants that Iseult will be passing by on her way to a festival, Tristram hides in the woods. While he waits, Tristram whittles a sign into a hazel branch—a honeysuckle vine—since the two plants depend on each other for survival, just like him and Iseult. When Iseult spots the sign, she finds Tristram in the woods, and they enjoy a happy but fleeting reunion. Afterward, Tristram, a skilled harpist, composes the lay “Chevrefoil” in memory of this event.
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Tristram Character Timeline in The Lais of Marie de France

The timeline below shows where the character Tristram appears in The Lais of Marie de France. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
XI. Chevrefoil
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
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Marie has often heard recited the lay called “Chevrefoil,” which concerns Tristram and Queen Iseult and their pure love, which caused them distress and eventually brought about... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
Finally, Tristram leaves Wales for Cornwall, where Iseult lives. He travels secretly through the forest, only emerging... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
...hazel branch and commands her retinue to stop. She ventures into the woods and finds Tristram, and they enjoy a long talk together. The queen tells Tristram how to be reconciled... (full context)