Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ivanhoe Notes: Chapters 5 through 11

(This is the second installment of my Ivanhoe reading guide. First post here.)

Chapter 5

Poetry: This chapter’s poetry is from The Merchant of Venice, a play by Mr. William Shakespeare that deals with greed and mercy. One of the main characters in the play, Shylock, is the historic stereotype of a Jew. (A stereotype is a generally held belief about a specific type of person, which is usually too general to be true for everyone of that type.) Many people during the Middle Ages and for some time afterward believed that all Jews were just like Shylock.

Read a retelling of The Merchant of Venice

OR a simpler retelling.

The treatment of Jews in the Middle Ages: “[The Jewish race], during those dark ages, was alike detested by the credulous and prejudiced vulgar, and persecuted by the greedy and rapacious nobility…” (Ivanhoe, Chapter 5) During Medieval times, the Jews were kicked out of Israel and scattered throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Everywhere they went, they were despised and persecuted. England was no different. Many Jews were moneylenders. It was one of the few jobs open to them.

poniard: dagger
The Pilgrim: the Palmer from the previous chapter
Knights Hospitallers: An order of Knights in the Holy Land
guerdon: reward
Palestine: the Holy Land (the Middle East)
I will be his surety that he meets you: The Pilgrim (Palmer) is giving a pledge that Ivanhoe will meet de Bois-Guilbert on the field of battle if/when he comes back from Palestine.
paternoster: the Lord’s prayer
he underlies the challenge: he is subject to (must submit to) the challenge
the exchequer of the Jews: at this time in England, Jews were required to pay money at regular intervals, simply because they were Jews.

Ivanhoe, Chapter 6

solere chamber: a loft or upper room
benison: blessing
whose good-will you probably have the means of securing: you probably have money you can exchange for protection
certes: certainly
ambuscade: ambush
Norman, Saxon, Dane and Briton: the four main races of people in Medieval England.
bills of exchange: the Medieval version of a check—a note that orders the bank to pay money out of your account to the holder of the check.
avarice: greed
gyves: shackles
hurly-burly: disorderly outburst
Gramercy: great thanks

Ivanhoe, Chapter 7

Introduction, OR Prince John plots to gain power: Prince John, the brother of King Richard, is doing everything he can to keep Richard imprisoned by Philip, the king of France. He is also gathering supporters among the English nobles just in case Richard dies, so that he can be the next king. (He isn’t in line to be the next king, because his and Richard’s oldest brother, Geoffrey, left a son named Arthur. Arthur is supposed to be king after Richard.)

At this time, several sorts of people inhabit England:

1) powerful people who have abused their power while Richard is gone,
2) lawless people just back from the Crusades, who gained more skill in robbing and plundering while there, and hope to stir up trouble now that they are back in England,
3) outlaws-- people frustrated enough to go outside the law for justice. These vigilantes occupy the forests and wastes, stirring up trouble for the sheriffs and magistrates.
4) regular folks, both rich and poor, powerful and weak.

The duke of Austria has captured Richard for the king of France. At this time, Western Europe was divided into little kingdoms and duchies each ruled by a different feudal lord, although the kings of France and England had rule over several. (Richard, in addition to being king of England, was duke of Normandy and lord of several other areas in Europe.) As duke of Normandy, King Richard was the vassal (servant) of the King of France, BUT as King of England he was a fellow sovereign. A little confusing, but there it is.

Also, the Templars and Knights Hospitallers (Knights of St. John) were on the side of the king of France and hostile toward King Richard.

Geography: This historical map of Europe shows where everything was located--

OR a less detailed map.

Poetry: Palamon and Arcite is a translation of The Knight’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the Canterbury Tales.

laced the helm: connected his helmet to his shoulder armor with laces
buckler: a small round shield
courser: a swift, strong horse
yeomen: servants
subaltern oppression: cruel exercise of authority by a person of lower rank than the actual leader
all who had reason to dread the resentment of Richard for criminal proceedings during his absence: all the barons who had done illegal things while Richard was gone and were not looking forward to facing him on his return
lists: the jousting arena
pursuivants: attendants similar to heralds
out-heroding the preposterous fashion of the time: going beyond even the excessive fashion of the time
caracole: a half-turn performed by a horse and rider
libertine: a person who acts without moral restraint
Bride of the Canticles: the bride in the Old Testament Song of Solomon, who was ‘black but comely’
Mammon of unrighteousness: ill-gotten wealth

Chapter 8

Introduction, OR The Five Points of Chivalry: Knights were expected to embody the virtues of friendship, generosity, chastity, courtesy and piety. (These points of chivalry are detailed in the romance poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written in the 1300s and translated in our time by several authors. If you would like to read it, the AO website recommends Burton Raffel’s version.) As you read the next few chapters, think about whether the knights and nobles in Ivanhoe exhibit these qualities.

cap-a-pie: from head to foot
escutcheon: a shield or shield-shaped emblem bearing a coat of arms
“Cave, Adsum”: “Beware-- I am present”

Chapter 9

donative: donation or gift
John of Anjou: Anjou was territory in France that Prince John had inherited from his father, Henry II.
outrecuidance: presumption
menials: domestic servants

Chapter 10

barbed steed: a horse in armor
zecchin: a gold coin from the Venetian Republic (Venice)
moiety: half
necromancers and cabalists: practitioners of magic and secret arts

Chapter 11

errant: roving
merk: an old Scottish silver coin
St. Nicholas’ clerks: robbers
visors: masks
quarter-staff: a pole six to eight feet long


Consider making these helpful lists:

1. Characters we have met so far in the story.
2. Synonyms for the word, “noble”.
3. Antonyms for the word, “noble”.

Thought Question:

A noble person might be a person with a fancy title and position, or it might mean someone with high moral character. What is high moral character?

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