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MonkeyNotes-Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
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LITERARY INFORMATION

In the 18th century, there arose a number of historians such as Hume (History of England 1754-62), Robertson (History of Scotland 1759), and Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1776-88). All these writers excited Scott's interest in history. Other interests, such as ancient customs, dress, armor, and dwellings, led to Scott's study of Archaeology, then known as the study of Antiquities.

Scott read the medieval historians and gained an accurate antiquarian knowledge of medieval warfare, heraldry, monastic institutions, and the dress and habits of the Middle Ages. Scott was also interested in old ballads, especially those that related the story of Robin Hood. He blended these things into his historical novel, Ivanhoe, and used as a background the story of Richard the Lion- Hearted and the evil Prince John. It is an attempt to interest nineteenth century readers in a twelfth century world.


Scott takes several liberties in Ivanhoe. For instance, Robin Hood belonged to a later century, while Cedric and Athelstane are also real characters from an earlier period. Edward the Confessor did not leave any descendants. Urfried was a character from several hundred years later. Since Scott was writing fiction rather than history, he used poetic license to blend different periods into the world of Ivanhoe.

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