I watched Isolde’s mother, Queen of Ireland, prepare the philter, as I stood next to Isolde who vented about Tristan, her blonde waves enunciating her words. The queen placed several herbs, flowers, and roots she had collected, some already dried, on the table. I noted rose petals, mandrake,which mimicked the shape of the human form, and the presence of henbane in particular, the latter known to bind a couple together in love and ensure that it lasts. The queen worked efficiently, her deft fingers grinding less than a scruple of dried henbane, and a grain (length) of each of two mandrakes, fastening them together with thread. She placed all of the ingredients in boiling water until they be like gruel and lay it in wine in an earthen pot. She raised her hands, beseeching God to bless this drink to bring Isolde and her husband-to-be much happiness, then covered the vessel to stand for three days and three nights. It stunk like the mud pies Isolde used to make as a child.
Published by Meara Dietrich
Hello, welcome to my blog! I hold an MA in French Literature, and my master's thesis reflected on the realistic aspect of female servants in French literature, one of whom was Brangien, lady-in-waiting to Isolde. The Tristan and Isolde "story" first intrigued me in my undergraduate medieval French literature class and stayed with me. As I developed my graduate thesis, studying the modern French translations of the Tristan and Isolde texts, the latter mostly from the 12th century, I extrapolated what I could from the scant information about Brangien. This felt meaningful yet also dissatisfying. I hunger to know more about Brangien, and since I enjoy creative pursuits, I am currently writing a novella in order to try to answer my own questions. This blog is one way to explore who she could be. I will try to remain true to what I learn(ed) from the Tristan and Isolde texts and to my vision of Brangien (i.e. embellishments will not be found in the original texts), as well as medieval history, as an art, not a science. I am also a knitter so you may see the crafting bug manifest. Please feel free to leave a comment if you like. Thanks! View all posts by Meara Dietrich