- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted January 2, 2007
Sir Walter Scott, father of the historical novel, never perfectly resolved the difference between history and fiction. Indeed, he once said that history was half fiction. We read his tales primarily for their plots and characters, not for minute historical accuracy. But his two novels of Duke Charles of Burgundy, namely QUENTIN DURWARD and ANNE OF GEIERSTEIN, can inspire us to reach for real history books of the same era. *** QUENTIN DURWARD's pivotal year is 1468 in France. We learn of the recent inventions of printing, spectacles and playing cards. Louis XI is King of France, Mephistopheles in morals, cynicism and politics. But wildly superstitious withal: he made the Virgin Mary a countess and a colonel in his Scotch guards. *** Twenty year old Quentin Durward leaves Scotland after the rival Ogilvies wipe out most of his highland family in Glen of the Midges. He finds fortune in his uncle's company of Scottish Archers who guard King Louis XI of France. To this he is helped by a disguised King Louis. Louis assigns Quentin (whose horoscope parallels his own) to escort 16 year old Countess Isabelle to a new refuge with the Prince Bishop of Liege. Isabelle had sought refuge with the King of France when the King's vassal, Charles the Bold of Burgundy had tried to force her to marry his Italian corps commander Campo Basso (who, like Charles, will reappear in ANNE OF GEIERSTEIN). *** Louis XI, an evil, superstitious worldly wise monarch is just the man France needs in the year 1468. The English have been driven out. But the feudal barons want to disintegrate France. Louis strives to weaken them. Towards Charles Louis XI's strategy includes inciting rebellion in Charles's rich cities of Flanders. Lurking in the background and named 300 or more times in the novel is William de la Marck, the 'Wild Boar of Ardennes,' a nobleman gone wrong who leads mercenary freebooters and terrorizes the low countries. *** Louis tries to arrange that the Wild Boar kidnap Countess Isabelle en route to Liege. But Quentin learns what is afoot and prevents that. The novel ends with Louis in the power of his enemy Charles and forced to join in the assault of Liege, whose Bishop the Wild Boar has assassinated. Louis had agreed reluctantly that whichever person killed la Marck would win the hand of the fair Isabelle. Quentin Durward came close, but broke off single combat to save a Flemish maiden who had befriended Isabelle. Meanwhile his uncle finished off the Wild Boar. Quentin's uncle then conceded the hand of Isabelle to his nephew, preventing Isabelle from joining an Ursuline convent. -OOO-Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.