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Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
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by Sir Walter Scott

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Ivanhoe is a historical novel written by Sir Walter Scott in 1819. Set in 12th-century England, Ivanhoe caused a resurgence in the popularity of the Romantic and Medieval ages. In it Scott recreates the cultural conflict between the Normans and the Saxons, placing fictional characters into real historical events who interact with actual historical figures. This isn't a new concept for us today, but in the early 19th century, when history came to readers as dry facts and figures, this was hot stuff. Other 19th century historians such as Thomas Carlyle would feel the fever for this new kind of historical fiction, embodied in his retelling of the French Revolution.

Ivanhoe is the story of one of the few remaining noble Saxon families amidst a domination of Norman nobility. Wilfred of Ivanhoe has fallen in love with his father's ward, Lady Rowena, and has pledged allegiance for the Norman king Richard The Lionheart; actions which caused Ivanhoe to be disinherited by his father. Ivanhoe battles it out in a tournament for the hand of Lady Rowena, a scene which also features Robin of Locksley, aka Robin Hood, and his "merry men." Placing Robin Hood at this period in history was a coup for Scott, as most believed him to have lived a few centuries later. If you love tales of chivalrous knights, fair damsels, and evil princes, you'll certainly enjoy Scott's Ivanhoe.

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