Iseult (alternatively Isolde, Yseult, Isode, Isoude, Isotta) is the name of several characters in the Arthurian story of
Tristan and Iseult. The most prominent is Iseult of Ireland, wife of Mark of Cornwalland adulterous lover of Sir Tristan. Her mother, the Queen of Ireland, is also named Iseult. The third is Iseult of the White Hands, the daughter of Hoelof Brittany, sister of Sir Kahedin, and eventual wife of Tristan.
Iseult of Ireland
The Irish princess, Iseult of Ireland (also Iseult the Fair, La Bella Iseult), is the daughter of King Anguish of Ireland and Queen Iseult the Elder. She is a main character in the "Tristan" poems of
Béroul, Thomas of Britain, and Gottfried von Strassburgand in the opera " Tristan und Isolde" by Richard Wagner.
Iseult is first seen as a young princess who heals Tristan from wounds he received fighting her uncle,
Morholt. When his identity is revealed, Tristan flees back to his own land. Later, Tristan returns to Ireland to win Iseult's hand in marriage for his uncle King Mark of Cornwall. She is supposed to marry an evil steward who claims that he has killed a dragon, but when Tristan proves that it was actually he who slew the beast, Iseult's parents agree to marry her to Mark. On the journey back to Cornwall, Iseult and Tristan accidentally drink a love potion prepared for her and Mark by Iseult the elder and guarded by Brangaine, Iseult's lady-in-waiting. The two fall hopelessly in love, and begin an affair that ends when Mark banishes Tristan from Cornwall.
In the verse tradition, the lovers do not meet again until Tristan is on his death bed (see below), but in the later "
Prose Tristan" and works based upon it, Tristan returns from Brittany and they resume their affair. Mark is much less sympathetic in these versions, and the adulterers eventually flee from his wrath. Lancelotgives them refuge in his estate Joyous Garde, and they engage in many further adventures. Additional episodes are integrated into the earlier sections of the narrative as well, including several involving the great Saracenknight Palamedes' unrequited love for Iseult, and in some versions, the two even have children. In the prose versions the lovers' end comes when Mark finds them as Tristan plays the harp for Iseult beneath a tree. The cruel king stabs his nephew in the back, and Tristan, at Iseult's request, fatally crushes his beloved in a tight embrace as his final act.
One of her rumored burial sites is
Chapelizodin Dublin, Ireland.
Iseult of Brittany
After King Mark learns of the secret love affair between Tristan and Iseult, he banishes Tristan to Brittany, never to return to Cornwall. There, Tristan is placed in the care of Hoel of Brittany after receiving a wound. He meets and marries Hoel's daughter, Iseult, because she shares the name of his former lover. They never consummate the marriage because of Tristan's love for Iseult of Ireland.
During one adventure in Brittany, Tristan suffers a poisoned wound that only Iseult of Ireland, the world's most skilled physician, can cure. He sends a ship for her, asking that its crew fly white sails on the return if Iseult is aboard, and black if she is not. Iseult agrees to go, and the ship races home, white sails high. However, Tristan is too weak to look out his window to see the signal, so he asks his wife to check for him. In a moment of jealousy, Iseult of the White Hands tells him the sails are black, and Tristan expires immediately of despair. When the Irish Iseult arrives to find her lover dead, grief overcomes her, and she passes away at his side. This death sequence does not appear in the "Prose Tristan". In fact, while Iseult of the White Hands figures into some of the new episodes, she is never mentioned again after Tristan returns to Cornwall, although her brother Kahedin remains a prominent character.
*Iseult of Ireland (as Isolde) was played by
Sophia Mylesin the 2006 film adaptation, "Tristan & Isolde".
*The Danish adaptation [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126359/|"Isolde"] was directed in 1989 by
Jytte Rexand stars Pia Viethas Isolde.
*Ronan Coghlan (editor) "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends", New York, 1993.
*Norris J. Lacy (editor) "The New Arthurian Encyclopedia", New York: Garland, 1996.
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Iseult — f English: variant of ISOLDE (SEE Isolde), from the medieval French form of the name … First names dictionary
Iseult — [i so͞olt′] n. [Fr] ISOLDE … English World dictionary
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Iseult — noun Etymology: Old French Isolt, Iseut Date: 1796 Isolde … New Collegiate Dictionary
Iseult — /i soohlt /, n. 1. Also, Yseult. German, Isolde. Arthurian Romance. a. the daughter of a king of Ireland who became the wife of King Mark of Cornwall: she was the beloved of Tristram. b. daughter of the king of Brittany, and wife of Tristram. 2.… … Universalium
Iseult — /Isolde/Isolt/Ysolt In Arthurian legend, an Irish princess who falls tragically in love with Tristan, the nephew of a Cornish king. Wagner’s opera is Tristan und Isolde … Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors
Iseult — n. female first name; Isold, Irish princess who was the wife of the king of Cornwall and the lover of Tristan (knight of king of Cornwall) … English contemporary dictionary
Iseult — I•seult or Yseult [[t]ɪˈsult[/t]] n. myt lit. myt lit. a heroine of Arthurian legend, the wife of King Mark of Cornwall and the lover of Tristram … From formal English to slang
Iseult — /iˈzult/ (say ee zoohlt) noun Arthurian Legend 1. the daughter of Angush, king of Ireland, and wife of Mark, king of Cornwall, loved by Tristan. 2. (in another account) the daughter of the king of Brittany, and wife of Tristan. Also, Isolde,… … Australian English dictionary