Sir Tryamour begins, like Octavian, with the theme of infertility. Ardus, King of Aragon, and his wife Margaret desire an heir but are unable to conceive. The king eventually decides to go on crusade in hopes that this act will inspire God to favor them with a child. They conceive Tryamour the night that Ardus takes his crusader vow, and the king departs the next day for the Holy Land.
Marrok, the king’s steward, is ordered to protect the queen and the kingdom, but he attempts to seduce the queen immediately after the king’s departure. Rebuffed by Margaret, Marrok accuses her of adultery once Ardus returns from the Levant. Ardus banishes the queen, and their newborn son is assumed to be a bastard. The remainder of the romance revolves around the misadventures of the Queen, Tryamour, and King Ardus, which culminate in their eventual reunion and reconciliation.
Rather than focus on a crusader’s deeds and accomplishments (as do the majority of recovery romances, such as Guy of Warwick or Sir Isumbras), Sir Tryamour focuses on the fateful events that occur as a result of Ardus’ decision to go on crusade. The romance literalizes the redemptive and healing powers of the vow and penitential journey of a crusader by presenting them as "cures" for infertility. The consequences of Ardus’ departure are severe, however, and as a result they raise questions about the risks of crusading. While hardly critical of the king’s decision, the romance reflects the risks and perils of leaving one’s family and one’s lands in the care of others while journeying on crusade. In this sense, Sir Tryamour shares with Sir Degrevant in its reflection upon the dangers of leaving such precious things in the care of others, even if one’s motivations for such a journey are completely pious.
Cambridge, Cambridge University Library MS Ff. 2.38 (1450–70).
Oxford, Bodleian (Rawlinson) MS (According to Hudson, this is a missing sixteenth-century fragment).
Percy Folio MS (London, British Library MS Addit. 27879) (c. 1650)
Early Printed Editions:
Syr Tryamour. London: R. Pynson, n.d. (early sixteenth century).
Syr Tryamour. London: Wynkyn de Worde, n.d. (c. 1530).
Syr Tryamoure. London: Wyllyam Copland, n.d. (mid-sixteenth century).