Ivanhoe

By Sir Walter Scott Copyright:1819

Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, was written in 1819 and set in 12th Century England. The story centers around Wilfred of Ivanhoe and his experiences on 400px-IvanhoeGraphic1.JPGreturning from the Third Crusade. The book starts out with all the knights in the area preparing for an important tournament at the field of Ashby. Prince John is at the tournament to present the trophies to the top knights and Lady Rowena is also present with her caretaker, Cedric, a popular Saxon ruler in the area. On the first day of the tournament, an unknown masked knight known as Desdichado, or the Disinherited Knight, jousts with and defeats many of the best knights, including the Templar Brian de Bois-Guilbert. As the victor, the Disinherited Knight is the leader of a group of knights in the second day of the tournament, which is a melee. His side is battles against Bois-Guilbert’s side, as Bois-Guilbert was the runner-up in the jousting. Soon though, the Disinherited Knights’ side is suffering and as the Disinherited Knight is about be beaten, a knight named Le Noir Fainéant, or the Black Sluggard, who had stayed to the side the whole battle, rushes to the rescue of Desdichado and after toppling some knights, retreats back to the side. Soon after, Desdichado defeats Bois-Guilberts side. Prince John then has the task of presenting an award to the best knight in his opinion of the melee. Since Prince John was displeased with Desdichado beating the favorite Bois-Guilbert in the jousting he chooses the Black Knight, who saved Desdichado. But the Black Knight cannot be found, and Prince John is forced to award the Disinherited Knight the award. The knight is then forced to unmask himself and is revealed to be the knight Wilfred of Ivanhoe, back from the Crusades. Prince John is now very worried, as he had been planning to usurp the throne of King Richard Coeur-de-Lion, or the Lionheart. But it seemed Richard would return soon, so Prince John would have to act quickly. Ivanhoe is then revealed to be severely wounded and is taken under the care of the Jew Rebecca and her father Isaac of York. Cedric refuses to take care of Ivanhoe as he had stood in the way of Cedric’s plans to marry Rowena to Athelstane, a Saxon royal, therefore recreating the Saxon nobility and creating the chance of having a Saxon king, not a Norman. The third day of the tournament is archery, where a woodsman named Locksley dominates the competition. Afterwards, Cedric and his entourage agree to take Isaac and Rebecca with him to York, unaware that Ivanhoe. In the woods, though, they are captured by Maurice de Bracy, Prince John’s advisor, and are taken to Torquilstone, the castle of the local baron Reginald Front-de-Boeuf. Cedric’s swineherd and jester tell Locksley of what happened and they gather up an army of outlaws. The Black Knight, who had taken residence at a friar’s place, volunteers his assistance in the siege along with the Friar Tuck. Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, meanwhile, plans to execute the prisoners, but he needs a priest to perform the Final Sacrament before their execution. Wamba the Jester comes in disguise as a priest and he goes to the cell of Cedric and Athelstane. There he switches attire with his master Cedric and Cedric walks out of the castle unknown. With Cedric now, Locksley’s army storms the castle, rescuing the prisoners and killing Front-de-Boeuf. De Bracy surrenders to the Black Knight who reveals to him his true identity, while Bois-Guilbert escapes with Rebecca the Jew after seriously wounding Athelstane. Bois-Guilbert runs away to a nearby Templar Preceptory. He is surprised to find that the Grand Master of the Knights Templar is present, who subsequently finds out that he had brought a Jew into the Preceptory, a clear breach of Templar rules. Rebecca is then tried for practicing witchcraft on such a devoted Templar. She is found guilty but pleads for a trial by combat. Her father, Isaac of York is sent to find a knight to fight for her. Meanwhile, Locksley is revealed to be Robin Hood and the Black Knight reveals himself to be King Richard Coeur-de-Lion himself. Word reaches Prince John through De Bracy and John destroys his plans for the throne. Cedric then organizes the funeral for the dead Athelstane. At the funeral, Richard reconciles Cedric with his now healthy son Ivanhoe, convincing Cedric to let Rowena and Ivanhoe marry. Surprisingly, Athelstane appears at the funeral and describes how he was only injured and the money-wanting monks had locked him inside the coffin. Soon after, Isaac of York reaches Ivanhoe and asks him to fight for Rebecca's life. Ivanhoe agrees and rides to the preceptory to joust and battle with Bois-Guilbert.

I was surprised to learn in Ivanhoe that while King Richard Coeur-de-Lion was fighting in the Crusades, the Knights Templar were free to do almost whatever they wanted as there was no one to tell them not to. The Knights Templar became partners with the military leaders like De Bracy and because of this they had all the military might which made them free to do whatever they want. In Ivanhoe there is a strong example of this when Rebecca is tried for witchcraft by the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar think that Richard is still imprisoned in Austria so they try Rebecca unlawfully for witchcraft, thinking they won’t get questioned as they have the military power. But when Richard arrives, the Knights Templar are stunned and he immediately declares it unlawful and silences any other claims the Knights Templar had on why Rebecca should be executed. This definitely makes me want to learn more about King Richard’s return to England and how he did it without anybody noticing. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone in our grade that is a determined reader and enjoys historical fiction. The book is very long and uses very old English, making it a difficult read. Sir Walter Scott entangles fact with fiction so smoothly and seemingly effortlessly that you feel like these events really took place and that all these characters are real. The plot is very thick and the book is very interesting, which is why many of the people in our grade shouldn’t have too much trouble reading Ivanhoe.