Sir Walter Scott's Birthday
“For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.” ~ Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, 1819
First published in 1819, it represented a shift by Scott away from fairly realistic novels set in Scotland in the comparatively recent past, to a somewhat fanciful depiction of 12th century medieval England. The novel has been credited with increasing interest in romance and medievalism. The story follows the Saxon protagonist, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who is out of favour with his father for his allegiance to the Norman king Richard the Lionheart. Along with other characters, the legendary Robin Hood (as the Earl of Locksley) and his cohorts Friar Tuck and Allan-a-Dale also appear in this story. This novel is also credited with popularizing the Scottish phrase "caught red-handed" which refers to someone caught in the act of committing some crime, and has its origins in bloody deeds such as poaching or murder!
August 15th is the birthday of famed novelist, Sir Walter Scott. There are several official tartans associated with this Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet.
The Ivanhoe tartan, by Carol A.L. Martin, was inspired "by the novel by the same name by Sir Walter Scott about a knight in Saxon England in 1194 - a rather dark period of history."
Ivanhoe is the story of one of the few remaining Saxon noble families at a time when the nobility in England was overwhelmingly Norman. It follows the Saxon protagonist, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who is out of favour with his father for his allegiance to the Norman king Richard the Lionheart. The story is set in 1194, after the failure of the Third Crusade, when many of the Crusaders were still returning to their homes in Europe. King Richard, who had been captured by Leopold of Austria on his return journey to England, was believed to be still in captivity.
Interestingly, the legendary Robin Hood, under the name of Locksley, is also a character in the story, as are his "merry men". The character that Scott gave to Robin Hood in Ivanhoe helped shape the modern notion of this figure as a cheery noble outlaw.
Other major characters include Ivanhoe's intractable father, Cedric, one of the few remaining Saxon lords; various Knights Templar, most notable of which is Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Ivanhoe's main rival; a number of clergymen; the loyal serfs Gurth the swineherd and the jester Wamba, whose observations punctuate much of the action; and the Jewish moneylender, Isaac of York (who is equally passionate about his people), and his beautiful daughter, Rebecca. The book was written and published during a period of increasing struggle for the emancipation of the Jews in England, and there are frequent references to injustices against them.
For more about the novel, click the painting of "The Queen of the Tournament: Ivanhoe" by Frank William Warwick Topham (1838 - 1924).