Meaning: “Sad”, “Tumult”
Pronunciation: TRIS-ten, trees-TAWN
Origin: Latin, Old French
Other forms of the name: Drystan, Tristram, Tristen, Tristin, Triston, Drustan, Tristão, Tristán, Trista (female)
The first of my Valentine names. Many people probably know the story of Tristan and Isolde; it was made into a movie starring James Franco and Sophia Myles in 2006.
The story goes that the young Knight Tristan goes to Ireland to fetch Princess Isolde for his Uncle, King Mark, to marry. Along the way the two ingest a love potion that causes them to fall deeply in love with one another. Different stories tell different reasons for the purpose of the love potion, some say that the person who made the potion instructed Isolde to give it to King Mark but she gives it to Tristan instead; others say they ingested it accidentally. Eventually Isolde marries King Mark, but because of the potion Tristan and Isolde seek out each other and have an affair.
The King’s advisors continuously try to have the pair tried for adultery, but they use tricks to keep of the appearance of innocence. Eventually King Mark finds out and resolves to have them punished. There are two different endings to this story.
The first is that Tristan it to be hung at the gallows, and Isolde is to be burned at the stake. However Isolde is instead made to stay in a leper colony. Tristan escapes from the gallows by jumping off of a chapel and saves Isolde. The two run away but are eventually discovered by King Mark. They come to an understanding that Isolde will be spared and so will Tristan if he leaves the country. So he does and marries Iseult of the White Hands, because of her name (which is a form of Isolde) and her beauty.
The other ending states that Tristan is wounded by a poisoned lance while trying to rescue some women and asks his Kahedin to get Isolde as he knows she is the only one who can heal him. He tells Kahedin to put white sails on his ship if has Isolde with him, and black sails if he does not. Tristan’s jealous wife lies to him and tells him that the sails are black and he dies from grief. Isolde arrives to find him dead and dies over his dead body. Two trees, a hazel and a honeysuckle grow on their graves and intertwine their branches. Many times King Mark tries to have the branches cut away, but they always grow back.