A note on nobility: One synonym for the word, “noble” is the word “magnanimous”. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “magnanimity” as, “That elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.” Cedric uses this word in Chapter 21—- be on the lookout for it!
Literary term-- Romance: Sir Walter Scott calls Ivanhoe a Romance. Nowadays, we have a pretty narrow definition for that word, but in literature, a Romance is a heroic story of mysterious or extraordinary events. It can also be a story that combines elements of joy and sorrow—a tragic-comedy.
Ivanhoe Chapter 19
“Saint George for merry England!” St. George and the Dragon was a popular medieval legend about an Eastern soldier who rescued a maiden by slaying a dragon.
dingle: a small wooded valley or hollow
defile: a narrow pass
embarrassed with baggage: the luggage is hampering his efforts
green cassocks and white visors: green tunics and white masks
vizard: a disguise or mask
reconnoitering: exploring in order to gain information
“Shall we e’en give him leg-bail?” Shall we run away?
errant thieves: roving robbers
halidome: a holy place or thing (literally, “holy-dome”)
Ivanhoe Chapter 20
Prior of Jorvaulx: the holy man who was walking with Sir Brian du Bois-Gilbert in the first or second chapter
calumniator: one who falsely accuses another person of a crime
de profundis clamavi: “from the depths I cried”
matins: late night/early morning prayers
countenance: appearance or facial expression
shaveling: holy man (they shaved the center of their heads, making their hair into a tonsure)
Ivanhoe Chapter 21
Historic note: In this chapter, Cedric mentions his grandfather feasting with Torquil Wolfganger. According to Cedric, Torquil Wolfganger was the Saxon owner of Torquilstone Castle during the time of Harold Godwinson, the last Saxon king.
Harold was advancing against his treacherous brother, Tostig, and the Norwegian king, Harald Hardraada. Cedric tells us that Torquil invited Harold to stay the night at Torquilstone, which invitation was graciously accepted. Also according to Cedric, Harold’s brother Tostig arrived at the castle to confront Harold. The “magnanimous answer” Harold gave his brother was that if he would send the Norwegians home, Harold would forgive him and restore Tostig’s lands and title. Tostig refused to accept these terms.
Torquil Wolfganger and Torquilstone Castle appear to be inventions of Sir Walter Scott. History places the conversation between Harold and Tostig on the battlefield just before the battle commenced.
Harold defeated the Norwegians in Yorkshire, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. (Remember, Ivanhoe takes place in Yorkshire.) Unfortunately, William of Normandy was landing in southern England at the same time.
The King knew that William was planning to invade. William had made Harold swear that he would give the throne of England to William after Edward the Confessor died, but when Edward died, Harold had allowed himself to be crowned by the English council of earls (known as the Witanagemot) who made such decisions.
After the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Harold marched his army south as fast as he could. He was defeated by William at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex. (This battle is depicted in the famous Bayeux Tapestry.) And that is how the Normans came to power in England in 1066 AD/CE, around a hundred years before our story takes place.
Pictures of the Bayeux Tapestry, scene by scene
“…our grand master hath granted me a dispensation.” The head of the Templars has excused Bois-Guilbert from the rule stating that Templars may not marry Jews.
Hardicanute: a Danish king of England who died from drinking too much
Ivanhoe Chapter 22
she is the last of six pledges of her love: Rebecca is the last of Isaac and Rachael’s six children
the blessed rood: crucifix
Ivanhoe Chapter 23
A note on Physiognomy: In an earlier chapter, the Black Knight says he can tell Locksley is a man of good character by looking at his face. Physiognomy, the practice of judging a person’s character by his or her physical features, was a popular practice in Sir Walter Scott’s time. Scott brings up physiognomy again in Chapter 23, when discussing Rowena’s personality.
Another strange practice in the 19th Century was Phrenology, the practice of determining a person’s character by the bumps on his or her head. How does the Bible say we should determine a person’s character?
Industrious Henry: Henry of Huntingdon was a 12th Century English church official who wrote a history of England.
The Saxon Chronicles: A history of the Anglo-Saxons in England begun around the 9th Century and updated into the 12th. (It looks like Scott attributes the writing of the Chronicles to Henry, or else he was quoting Henry while Henry quoted the Chronicles. A bit confusing if you ask me.)
The Wardour Manuscript: This is an imaginary manuscript that Sir Walter Scott made up in order to give his novel an authentic historic flavor. At the beginning of my copy of Ivanhoe, there is a “Dedicatory Epistle” to a Reverend Dry-As-Dust. (He is not real, either.) In this letter, Scott gives a fictitious explanation of the manuscript:
“ …the singular Anglo-Norman manuscript which Sir Arthur Wardour preserves with such jealous care in the third drawer of his oaken cabinet, scarcely allowing anyone to touch it, and being himself unable to read one syllable of its contents.”
(Sir Walter Scott must have been quite a character himself!)
foppery: the clothes of a man preoccupied with his appearance
St. Michael trampling down the Prince of Evil: The archangel Michael trampling the Devil (sometimes pictured as a dragon)
loadstar: a guiding star, especially used in navigation
crowder: a common person
avarice: extreme greed
license: unrestrained freedom or disregard for proper limits
the Empress Matilda: the granddaughter of William the Conqueror, mother of Henry II, and short-lived Queen of England. (She is usually not included in lists of English kings and queens.)
Eadmer: a Saxon historian born shortly before the invasion of William the Conqueror
apocryphal: of questionable authorship or authenticity
Ivanhoe Chapter 24
Damocles at his celebrated banquet: read the short legend here
sybil: a witch
alembic: something that refines or purifies
1. “Both the Saxon chiefs were made prisoners… under circumstances expressive of his character.” How was Cedric made prisoner? What about Athelstane? How did these events express each man’s character?
2. As events proceed, Cedric and Athelstane become aggravated with one another: “It astonishes me, noble Cedric, that you can bear so truly in mind the memory of past deeds, when it appeareth you forget the very hour of dinner.”/”It is time lost to speak to him of aught else but that which concerns his appetite!” Why do Cedric and Athelstane frustrate one another?
3. At this point in the novel, De Bracy and the Templar both have moments of grace in which they either continue down their chosen paths, or choose to change. See if you can pinpoint those two moments. The Templar's is easiest to see- after his moment of grace, good and evil struggle within him for the rest of the novel.
3. Should De Bracy and the Templar trust each other? Why or why not? What does De Bois-Guilbert say when De Bracy accuses him of conspiring to break the rules of his order?