Of Gottfried of Strasbourg only the name is known. His only securely attributed work is the "Tristan". The date of the work is assumed to have been in ca. 1210. Hints towards such a date come from the novel itself: Gottfried comments on contemporaneous literature and authors in an excursus, which has become known as "Dichterkatalog" (V. 4589ff.).
The "Tristan" is a love story and a novel of world rank, the motifs of which circle around "love" and "suffering" of "noble hearts"; love becomes the central element of religious experience. Gottfried is the first court poet who transferred "the method of allegorical Scriptural interpretation developed from the biblical exegesis onto secular themes and subjects and placed it into the service of courtly interpretation" (Joachim Bumke).
Next to the novels of the ancient world and to the Arthur novels, the "Tristan" and its sequels form the third important complex of the courtly novel. As the first to continue with the story is considered Ulrich von Türheim (died mid 13th century), who came from a family of Swabian ministry officials and whose work picks up where Gottfried had finished the tale. He completed the story with the love death of Tristan and Iseult and continued in a pious-moral vein. Cgm 51 is for both works the oldest preserved manuscript. Each of them has been shortened and was mutilated by loss of sheets. With 30 full-page miniatures, the manuscript offers the most comprehensive and oldest illustrations on Gottfried's "Tristan".