Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ivanhoe Notes: Chapters 25 through 31

Introduction: Three Norman knights. Two beautiful maidens. One desperate father. Here is a brief recap—

1. Isaac of York is the prisoner of Sir Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, who owns Torquilstone Castle,
2. The Lady Rowena is the prisoner of Sir Maurice De Bracy, a mercenary knight in the pay of Prince John,
3. Rebecca is the prisoner of Sir Brian du Bois-Guilbert, a Temple knight…

…and they are all holed up in Torquilstone Castle.

In addition to these prisoners, the Normans have captured Cedric the Saxon, Athelstane of Conyngsburgh and a mysterious sick person.

Wamba the Jester and Gurth the Serf have located the REAL outlaws of the green wood (including Robin of Locksley) and are helping to plan a rescue, along with the Black Knight and the Hermit (who is actually Friar Tuck, one of Robin Hood’s merry men).

What will happen next?

Chapter 25

A note on Thomas a Becket: He was the Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the English church) in the 12th Century. He was foully murdered by the knights of King Henry II (the father of Richard I) after he refused to side with the king against the Pope.

In Henry’s defense, he didn’t actually want Becket killed. When a messenger came to give Henry news of Becket’s doings, Henry is said to have bellowed in a rage, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?!!” and unfortunately, a few of his knights took him seriously. They hunted Becket down and killed him at the very altar of the cathedral. (Holding onto the altar was a sort of ‘base’ or safe sanctuary for a person in trouble with the authorities.)

St. Niobe: A character in Greek mythology. During the Dark Ages, monks and priests preserved and copied ancient Greek and Roman manuscripts. Apparently, the Prior told them a Greek myth, and they thought she was a Catholic saint. According to myth, Niobe was very proud of her fourteen children, and boasted that she was better than a goddess that had only two. The gods slew her children. She wept without ceasing, and was turned to stone.

Apollyon: “the king of the bottomless pit” according to the Book of Revelations.

cartel: a written agreement or challenge between opponents
pax vobiscum: peace be with you

Chapter 26

quidam viator incidit in latrones: A certain man, while traveling, fell among thieves (?) This appears to be a reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan.

quaso, domine reverendissime, pro misericordia vestra: This is something like, “Reverend father, pity a poor lady.”

Chapter 27

the scallop-shell of Campostella: the scallop shell was a heraldry symbol for people who had been on pilgrimage to Campostella. Legend has it that James the son of Zebedee (from the New Testament) is buried in Campostella, Spain.

their war-song of Rollo: Rollo the Viking was the first duke of Normandy.
mangonel: a type of catapult or siege machine
Woden, Hertha, Zenebock, Mista, Skogula: gods and spirits from Norse and Germanic mythology
biggin: a plain, close-fitting cap
Wittenagemotes: groups of wise older men that governed kingdoms in Saxon England and decided who would be king.

For what saith the blessed St. Augustin in his treatise, ‘De Civitate Dei’?: Augustine was one of the first priests of the Catholic church, and he wrote a book called “The City of God”.

The bull of the holy see, ‘si quis, Suadende Diabolo’: A ‘bull’ was a declaration from the Pope. The ‘holy see’ is the Vatican—the home of the Pope. The Latin phrase translates to: “By the persuasion of the Devil”.

Men of Belial: In the Bible, people who were completely given over to folly or godlessness were called ‘sons of Belial’. Belial is another name for Satan.

Seething pitch and oil: Pitch is a tar-like substance, sort of like asphalt. During a siege, boiling pitch mixed with oil would be dumped from the ramparts of a castle onto the soldiers below.

Some hilding fellow must he be: he must be low and contemptible

Chapter 28

Introduction: In this chapter, Sir Walter Scott tells us what happened to Ivanhoe. He also gives us more insight into Rebecca’s character and education.

At one point in this chapter, Rebecca says to Ivanhoe, “Bestow not on me, Sir Knight, the epithet of noble,” and yet her actions are indeed generous and courageous.

Thought question: How does Ivanhoe’s manner toward Rebecca change when he learns she is a Jewess? Does Rebecca’s manner change?

Personally, I get aggravated with Ivanhoe at this point. But, as Scott points out, he is a product of his times. Every era in history AND group in society has its blind spots.

Thought questions: What are our era’s blind spots? How about blind spots in the groups to which we belong?

We learn more about De Bracy’s character when he discovers Ivanhoe in the litter. Scott says, “The ideas of chivalrous honour… never utterly abandoned De Bracy. On the other hand, to liberate a suitor preferred by the Lady Rowena… was a pitch far above the flight of De Bracy's generosity. A middle course betwixt good and evil was all which he found himself capable of adopting…” Yet De Bracy becomes the protector of Ivanhoe and smuggles him into the castle.

Our history must needs retrograde for the space of a few pages: Let’s back up the story a bit.
importunity: a pressing demand or request
hacqueton and his corslet of goodly price: well-made padding and armor
cabalistical art: witchcraft
The fate of Miriam had indeed been to fall a sacrifice to the fanaticism of the times: Rebecca’s teacher in the medical arts had been executed as a witch.
vulnerary remedies: treatments for wounds
Nazarenes: Christians
Lion of Idumea: Idumea was the land of Edom in the Bible.
leech: doctor
the enriched traveler of Juvenal’s tenth satire: Juvenal was a Roman poet from the 1st century. His tenth satire is called “The Vanity of Human Wishes”. In it, he says that the enriched traveler trembles at the shadow of a reed shaking, but the poor traveler whistles in a robber’s face.
reversing Shylock’s position: Shylock was the Jew in The Merchant of Venice.

Chapter 29

Introduction: In this chapter we get a description of the battle, told by Rebecca as she watches from Ivanhoe’s window. Ivanhoe and Rebecca discuss glory, chivalry and nobility, too.

Thought questions: Does Rebecca speak of things she does not know of? What do you think of Ivanhoe’s definition of chivalry?

fetterlock and shacklebolt azure: a lock for a horse’s foot and a bar used for a shackle
En avant: Forward!
Beau-seant: this must have been part of a heraldic symbol
a la rescousse: To the rescue!
Saint John of Acre: the city of Acre in Palestine
assoilize: absolve or forgive
emprize: enterprise or adventure

a second Gideon or a new Maccabeus: Gideon was a judge in the Bible (Judges 6-8) who led an army against the Midianites. Maccabeus was a Hebrew around 150 years before Christ who led a revolt against the Seleucids and was considered one of the greatest heroes of the Jews.

Chapter 30

Introduction: Of all the wicked Norman knights, Front-de-Boeuf seems be the worst. Now he is mortally wounded. As he lies dying, his partners, De Bracy and Bois-Guilbert, argue over what to do next. They go to battle, and Ulrica confronts Front-de-Boeuf with his (and her) wickedness.

bruit: rumor
malapert: offensively bold
parricide: a person who has murdered his father

Chapter 31

mount joye Saint Dennis! a war-cry of the French
Preceptory of Templestowe: a religious house of the Templars
strophes: stanzas containing uneven lines

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