Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Dinas of Dinan

Dinasso, Dynas, Tinas

In the Tristan legends, the lord of Dinan and the seneschal (steward) of Cornwall under King Mark. He was a good and loyal friend of Tristan, and counseled Mark to ignore the rumors of Tristan and Isolde’s affair and to keep his friendship with the knight. When Tristan was banished, he assisted the lovers by frequently arranging trysts. His son, Liaz, was a count of Cornwall.

The Prose Tristan and Malory have him playing a very active role against Mark, defecting and organizing a resistance when Tristan is thrown into prison, and eventually freeing Tristan and imprisoning Mark, allowing Tristan and Isolde to flee Cornwall together. Later, when Tristan received a poisoned wound from Mark, he found succor, until he expired, in Dinas’s castle. Dinas organized a second revolt against Mark, which successfully unseated the evil king. La Tavola Ritonda says that he became lord of Cornwall after Mark’s death, but in the Prose Tristan he refuses the position.

According to Malory, Dinas traveled to Camelot, probably after Tristan’s death, and became a Knight of the Round Table, although he left Arthur when Arthur went to war with Lancelot. He fought for Lancelot at the sieges of Joyous Guard and Benoic (Benoye). For his support, Lancelot made him the Duke of Anjou. From what we are told of Dinas, he seems an honorable and capable man.

According to the Tavola Ritonda, after Mark’s death Dinas became the King of Cornwall. He did not, however, have the most enviable love life, if the following is a fair example:

... hunting she slipped down by a towel, and took with her two brachets, and she yede to the knight that she loved, and he her again. And when Sir Dinas came home and missed her paramour and his brachets, then he the more wrother for his brachets than for the lady.

He caught up with them, smote down his rival, and the lady asked to come back to Dinas.

Nay, said Sir Dinas, I shall never trust them that once betrayed me, and therefore, as ye have begun, so end, for I will never meddle with you. And so Sir Dinas departed, and took his brachets with him, and so rode to his castle.

The Italian La Vendetta Che Fe Messer Lanzelloto de la Morte di Miser Tristano, uniquely, names Dinas as the brother of Sir Sagremor (Sagramore).

Dinas’s name may have originally been a place name.

Tristan | Béroul, late 12th century
Tristrant | Eilhart von Oberge, 1170-1190
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200-1210
Prose Tristan | 1230-1240
La Tavola Ritonda | 1325-1350
La Vendetta Che fe Messer Lanzelloto de la Morte di Miser Tristano | 14th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470

Dinas is the Welsh word for ‘fortress’.