Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ivanhoe Notes: Chapters 12 through 18

(Find previous notes here)

Chapter 12

Introduction: The tournament continues, with the addition of a mysterious Black Knight, or Noir Faineant. (This actually means, “The Black Sluggard”.)

palisade: a fence of pales (stakes)
vanquished: defeated in battle
derision: ridicule, mockery
the tale was found exactly complete: they had the same number of knights on each side
“Laissez aller!” No holding back!
the spears were…lowered and placed in the rests: the knights set their spears into grooves on the horses’ armor that keep the spears steady and well-aimed.
endeavoring to extricate themselves from the tumult: trying to get out of the fight
springal: something like a catapult
casque: helmet
gorge: throat

Ivanhoe Ch. 13

"What think ye of the doctrine the learned tell us of innate attractions and antipathies?" Do you think we can perceive that a person is a friend or enemy even if we don’t see the face of the person?

Front-de-Boeuf must prepare to restore his fief of Ivanhoe: While Ivanhoe was at the Crusade, the Prince had taken his land and given it to Front-de-Boeuf. Now he will have to restore it. (Ivanhoe is the name of the estate. The man referred to as “Ivanhoe” is Wilfred of Ivanhoe.)

The audience were too much interested in the question not to pronounce the Prince’s assumed right altogether indubitable: The people were receiving unlawful benefits from the Prince too, so they praised him for taking land from an absent knight and giving it to a present knight, rather than pointing out that he had no right to do so.

"She seems a minor, and must therefore be at our royal disposal in marriage." It appears from this quote that the ruler of England could use his power to insist that young ladies marry certain men. I could not find any information to verify this. Prince John offers Rowena in marriage to Maurice De Bracy. Rowena knows nothing about this.

celerity: swiftness
billet: a note
mummery: play-acting

Ivanhoe Ch. 14

The great numbers of the Anglo-Saxons must necessarily render them formidable in the civil commotions which seemed approaching: The Anglo-Saxons are so numerous that if they decide to revolt, it will be difficult to subdue them.

While their manners were thus the object of sarcastic observation, the untaught Saxons unwittingly transgressed several of the arbitrary rules established for the regulation of society: The Normans watched to see if they could make fun of the Saxons for breaking random Norman rules of feast etiquette. The Saxons, who did not know any better, definitely broke some rules.

Conclamatum est, poculatum est: We have drunk and we have shouted (?)
purveyors: managers, stewards
objurgation: rebuke, scolding
simnel bread and wastel cakes: bread prepared by boiling (like bagels) and cakes made of the finest flour
surfeit: overindulgence
beccaficos: a type of small bird
abstemiousness: temperance, restraint
ague: a fever with shivering and alternating hot and cold spells

Ivanhoe Chapter 15

"Is Richard’s right of primogeniture more decidedly certain than that of Robert of Normandy, the Conqueror’s eldest son? And yet… his second and third brothers were successively preferred to him by the voice of the nation." Although the firstborn son of the king was traditionally the heir to the throne in England, usually the approval of the nobles was sought as each new king was crowned. Fitzurse is suggesting that the barons could legitimately overthrow Richard by supporting Prince John’s claim to the throne.

a deadly feud rose up between the tribe of Benjamin and the rest of the Israelitish nation: This episode from Hebrew history is found in Judges 20-21. Compare the Bible account to De Bracy’s narration!

cabal: a group of people plotting something sinister
kirtle: a man’s tunic or coat
Free Companions: mercenaries-- knights who follow the ruler that pays them the most money
all the chivalry of that tribe: all the men of valor

Ivanhoe Ch. 16

A note on hermits and friars: Friars were monks who had taken a vow of poverty and wandered as beggars. It was against the rules of their order to accept money, but they could accept food and clothing. Hermits (also called anchorites) were monks that lived completely alone and devoted themselves to fasting and prayer. They also took a vow of poverty, and subsisted on the gifts of local residents. Both friars and hermits were generally thought to be wise and learned.

Yet his purpose was baffled by the devious paths through which he rode: He couldn’t get very far because the roads were bad.

assailed the door of the hermitage with the butt of his lance: knocked on the door

It has pleased Our Lady and St. Dunstan to destine me the object of those virtues, instead of the exercise thereof: I am in need of food and shelter myself.

St. Dunstan: An Anglo-Saxon monk and archbishop from around the 10th Century. Before he became archbishop, he lived as a hermit, studying, doing handicrafts and playing the harp. One tale told of St. Dunstan is that when he was tempted by the devil, he responded by seizing the devil’s face with fire tongs.

a parish pinfold begirt by its large hedge: a pinfold was a place used to stable stray animals until they could be returned to their owners.

monastic austerity or… ascetic privations: severe self-denial such as monks might practice

More Old Testament references (find these episodes of OT history in the Bible):

1. "…even as the pulse and water was blessed to the children Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego…"
2. "From the scissors of Dalilah…"
3. "…and the tenpenny nail of Jael…"
4. "…to the scimitar of Goliath."

hostelry: inn
crag: a jagged mass of rock jutting upward or outward
pater: the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father which art in Heaven…)
ave: the “Hail, Mary” (Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee)
credo: this might be the Apostle’s Creed (We believe in one God, the Father, Almighty…) or the Nicene Creed (I believe in God the Father, Almighty…)
morass: an area of low-lying, soggy ground
ford: a shallow place in a river or creek where a person can wade across
precipice: a cliff with a vertical face
parched pease: parched peas (as in, ‘pease porridge hot/pease porridge cold/pease porridge in the pot nine days old!’)
horn of the urus: the horn of a wild ox
“Waes hael” a greeting wishing good health (“Wassail!” literally, “Be hale!”)
“Drinc hael” the reply, also wishing good health (literally, “Drink and be hale!”)
lay: the song of a minstrel

Ivanhoe Ch. 17

A note on minstrelsy: Minstrels were wandering singers who told stories through their songs. Many of the tales were well-known and passed down from generation to generation.

At the beginning of this chapter, the Knight and the Friar discuss what kind of songs they are going to sing, using foreign terms. In medieval Normandy and France, ‘yes’ was oui, the poets were called minstrels, and their songs lais, or lays; in the south of France and into Italy, the ‘yes’ was oc, the poets troubadours, and the songs sirvente; in (Saxon) England, the songs were called ballads. ‘Yes’ was yes, and, as far as I can tell, the poets were also called minstrels in Old England.

If you would like to read more ballads, try A Taste of Chaucer by Anne Malcolmson (some of Chaucer’s tales are based on popular ballads of the times) or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Burton Raffel.

exceptis excepiendis: (Latin) with the proper or necessary exceptions

Unlike old Ariosto, we do not pique ourselves upon continuing uniformly to keep company with any one of our drama: The author has stepped outside the narrative to comment on the way he is writing, saying he does not mind leaving the Friar and the Knight ‘frozen in time’, so to speak, while he tells what has been going on with other characters. Ariosto was an Italian poet of the 16th Century who apparently never let his narrative about one set of characters run ahead of another, as Scott has done here. (In the next chapter, Scott leaves the Black Knight and the Friar about to answer the door, and heads all the way back to the end of the tournament in order to tell us what happened to others…)

Ivanhoe Ch. 18

Introduction: This chapter does not further the plot much, but it does give us plenty of insight. Cedric’s thoughts, decisions and actions are especially noteworthy. Also, pay attention to Gurth—he seems to be a rather insignificant character, but will eventually have his part to play.

omens: a sign that is supposed to indicate future good or evil. The Saxons were Christian, but added these ancient superstitions to their Christian beliefs.
glaive: broadsword
brown-bill: halberd (a sort of spear with a curved, double ax-head near the pointy end)
weal: the general good
gyves: shackles

Thought questions:

1. How does Prince John try to gain popularity? Should he be doing this? Why is it so difficult for him to win the approval of the people?

2. What is Waldemar Fitzurse plotting? What is De Bracy plotting? (My, there sure is a lot of plotting going on.) He claims to behave “like a true knight”. Is he a true knight?

3. Earlier, Rowena is cut off by Cedric as she says, “If, to maintain the honor of ancestry, it is sufficient to be wise in council and brave in execution, to be boldest among the bold, and gentlest among the gentle, I know no voice, save his father’s…” How do you think she might have finished the sentence? What do you think of Cedric's decisions and actions?

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