It concerns the life of Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a fictional Saxon knight. Ivanhoe, a chivalrous knight, returns to England after having fought beside Richard the Lion-Heart in the Crusades.
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Disinherited by his father, Cedric, for falling in love with Rowena, who was betrothed to another, Ivanhoe travels in disguise, wins a knightly tournament, and accepts the prize from Rowena. In the end, Ivanhoe and Rowena are united, and they leave England for Spain.
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Sir Walter Scott , Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and biographer who is often considered both the inventor and the greatest practitioner of the historical novel. Novel, an invented prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience, usually through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting.
Within its broad framework, the genre of the novel has encompassed an….
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Romance, literary form, usually characterized by its treatment of chivalry, that came into being in France in the midth century. It follows the Saxon protagonist, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who is out of favour with his father for his allegiance to the Norman king Richard the Lionheart. The story is set in , after the failure of the Third Crusade , when many of the Crusaders were still returning to their homes in Europe.
King Richard, who had been captured by Leopold of Austria on his return journey to England, was believed to still be in captivity. Ivanhoe accompanies King Richard on the Crusades , where he is said to have played a notable role in the Siege of Acre ; and tends to Louis of Thuringia, who suffers from malaria. The book opens with a scene of Norman knights and prelates seeking the hospitality of Cedric.
They are guided there by a pilgrim , known at that time as a palmer. Following the night's meal, the palmer observes one of the Normans, the Templar Brian de Bois-Guilbert, issue orders to his Saracen soldiers to capture Isaac. The palmer then assists in Isaac's escape from Rotherwood, with the additional aid of the swineherd Gurth. Isaac of York offers to repay his debt to the palmer with a suit of armour and a war horse to participate in the tournament at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle, on his inference that the palmer was secretly a knight.
The palmer is taken by surprise, but accepts the offer. The tournament is presided over by Prince John. On the first day of the tournament, in a bout of individual jousting , a mysterious knight, identifying himself only as "Desdichado" described in the book as Spanish, taken by the Saxons to mean Disinherited , defeats Bois-Guilbert. The masked knight declines to reveal himself despite Prince John's request, but is nevertheless declared the champion of the day and is permitted to choose the Queen of the Tournament.
He bestows this honour upon Lady Rowena.
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On the second day, at a melee , Desdichado is the leader of one party, opposed by his former adversaries. Desdichado's side is soon hard pressed and he himself beset by multiple foes until rescued by a knight nicknamed 'Le Noir Faineant' "the Black Sluggard" , who thereafter departs in secret. When forced to unmask himself to receive his coronet the sign of championship , Desdichado is identified as Wilfred of Ivanhoe, returned from the Crusades. This causes much consternation to Prince John and his court who now fear the imminent return of King Richard. Ivanhoe is severely wounded in the competition yet his father does not move quickly to tend to him.
Instead, Rebecca, a skilled healer , tends to him while they are lodged near the tournament and then convinces her father to take Ivanhoe with them to their home in York, when he is fit for that trip. The conclusion of the tournament includes feats of archery by Locksley, such as splitting a willow reed with his arrow. Cedric, Athelstane and the Lady Rowena meet them and agree to travel together. The party is captured by de Bracy and his companions and taken to Torquilstone, the castle of Front-de-Boeuf. The swineherd Gurth and Wamba the jester manage to escape, and then encounter Locksley, who plans a rescue.
The Black Knight, having taken refuge for the night in the hut of local friar , the Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst, volunteers his assistance on learning about the captives from Robin of Locksley. They then besiege the Castle of Torquilstone with Robin's own men, including the friar and assorted Saxon yeomen. Inside Torquilstone, de Bracy expresses his love for the Lady Rowena but is refused.
Brian de Bois-Guilbert tries to seduce Rebecca and is rebuffed. Front-de-Boeuf tries to wring a hefty ransom from Isaac of York, but Isaac refuses to pay unless his daughter is freed. When the besiegers deliver a note to yield up the captives, their Norman captors demand a priest to administer the Final Sacrament to Cedric; whereupon Cedric's jester Wamba slips in disguised as a priest, and takes the place of Cedric, who escapes and brings important information to the besiegers on the strength of the garrison and its layout.
The besiegers storm the castle. The castle is set aflame during the assault by Ulrica, the daughter of the original lord of the castle, Lord Torquilstone, as revenge for her father's death. Front-de-Boeuf is killed in the fire while de Bracy surrenders to the Black Knight, who identifies himself as King Richard and releases de Bracy. The Lady Rowena is saved by Cedric, while the still-wounded Ivanhoe is rescued from the burning castle by King Richard.
In the fighting, Athelstane is wounded and presumed dead while attempting to rescue Rebecca, whom he mistakes for Rowena. Following the battle, Locksley plays host to King Richard. In the meantime, Bois-Guilbert rushes with his captive to the nearest Templar Preceptory, where Lucas de Beaumanoir, the Grand Master of the Templars , takes umbrage at Bois-Guilbert's infatuation and subjects Rebecca to a trial for witchcraft. At Bois-Guilbert's secret request, she claims the right to trial by combat ; and Bois-Guilbert, who had hoped for the position, is devastated when the Grand-Master orders him to fight against Rebecca's champion.
Rebecca then writes to her father to procure a champion for her. Cedric organises Athelstane's funeral at Coningsburgh , in the midst of which the Black Knight arrives with a companion. Cedric, who had not been present at Locksley's carousal, is ill-disposed towards the knight upon learning his true identity; but Richard calms Cedric and reconciles him with his son.
During this conversation, Athelstane emerges — not dead, but laid in his coffin alive by monks desirous of the funeral money. Soon after this reconciliation, Ivanhoe receives word from Isaac beseeching him to fight on Rebecca's behalf. Ivanhoe, riding day and night, arrives in time for the trial by combat, but horse and man are exhausted, with little chance of victory. The two knights make one charge at each other with lances, Bois-Guilbert appearing to have the advantage.
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However, Bois-Guilbert, a man trying to have it all without offering to marry Rebecca, dies of natural causes in the saddle before the combat can continue. Fearing further persecution, Rebecca and her father plan to leave England for Granada. Before leaving, Rebecca comes to bid Rowena a fond farewell on her wedding day. Ivanhoe and Rowena marry and live a long and happy life together. Ivanhoe's military service ends with the death of King Richard. Dedicatory Epistle: An imaginary letter from the Rev.
He wishes to provide an English counterpart to the preceding Waverley novels, in spite of various difficulties arising from the chronologically remote setting made necessary by the earlier progress of civilisation south of the Border.
Gurth the swineherd and Wamba the jester discuss life under Norman rule. Aymer and Bois-Guilbert discuss the beauty of Cedric's ward Rowena and are redirected, this time correctly, by a palmer [Ivanhoe in disguise]. In the morning he offers to protect Isaac from Bois-Guilbert, whom he has overheard giving instructions for his capture. Isaac mentions a source of horse and armour of which he guesses the palmer has need. He instructs his attendant, Gurth in disguise, to convey money to Isaac to repay him for arranging the provision of his horse and armour.
Gurth does so, but Rebecca secretly refunds the money.
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Locksley [Robin Hood] triumphs in an archery contest. Cedric finds Athelstane unresponsive to his attempts to interest him in Rowena, who is herself only attracted by Ivanhoe. Wamba helps Gurth to escape again. De Bracy mounts his attack, during which Wamba escapes. He meets up with Gurth and they encounter Locksley who, after investigation, advises against a counter-attack, the captives not being in immediate danger. At Copmanhurst he meets the Black Knight who agrees to join in the rescue.
On arrival at Torquilstone castle Cedric laments its decline. The narrator refers the reader to historical instances of baronial oppression in medieval England. Rebecca impresses Bois-Guilbert by her spirited resistance to his advances. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Sir Walter Scott , Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and biographer who is often considered both the inventor and the greatest practitioner of the historical novel.
Historical novel, a novel that has as its setting a period of history and that attempts to convey the spirit, manners, and social conditions of a past age with realistic detail and fidelity which is in some cases only apparent fidelity to historical fact. The work may deal with actual historical….