For other uses, see Ivanhoe (disambiguation).
Missing image
Ivanhoe book cover

Ivanhoe is a novel by Sir Walter Scott. It was written in 1820 and set in 12th century England, an example of historical fiction. Ivanhoe is sometimes given credit for helping to increase popular interest in the middle ages in 19th century Europe.

It is the story of one of the remaining Saxon noble families, at a time when the nobility was overwhelmingly Norman. It follows the protagonist, Wilfred of Ivanhoe—a scion of the Saxon family out of favor with his father due to his allegiance to the Norman king Richard I of England—as he comes back from the Crusades. The legendary Robin Hood, under the title of Locksley, is also a character in the story, and the character Scott gave him in Ivanhoe shaped the modern idea of Robin Hood, the cheery noble outlaw.

Ivanhoe himself spends much of the story out of action, having been seriously wounded in the opening chapters. He is nursed by Rebecca, daughter of Isaac the Jew, but there can never be a romance between them, partly because of her religion and partly because Ivanhoe is already betrothed to the Saxon Rowena, his childhood love. However, his great enemy, the Templar Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, finds Rebecca so irresistible that he is prepared to sacrifice everything for her. Many of the book's critics prefer Rebecca as a heroine to the relatively colourless Rowena.

In 1850, the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray wrote a spoof sequel to Ivanhoe called Rebecca and Rowena.

Historical Accuracy

Although the general political events depicted in the novel are relatively accurate - it tells of the period of King Richard's imprisonment in Austria following the crusade and his return to England, the story is heavily fictionalized. Most notably, its depiction of an England in which Saxon and Norman nobles are at odds is highly anachronistic - by the late 12th century, there were no such distinctions among an upper class which generally had a common Norman French culture.


The novel was the basis for three movies, each also titled Ivanhoe, produced in 1913, 1952, and 1982.

The 1952 film starred Robert Taylor as Ivanhoe, Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca, Joan Fontaine as Rowena, George Sanders as Bois-Guilbert, and Sebastian Cabot. It was nominated for three Oscars:

There have also been numerous television adaptations of the novel, including a 1982 television movie starring Anthony Andrews as Ivanhoe, Sam Neill as Sir Brian, Olivia Hussey as Rebecca and Lysette Anthony as Rowena.

A television series based on the character of Ivanhoe was televised in the late 1950s, starring Roger Moore as Ivanhoe. A more recent version of Ivanhoe was released in 1997 as a 6-part, 5-hour series, a co-production of A&E and the BBC. It stars Steven Waddington as Ivanhoe, Ciarán Hinds as Bois-Guilbert, Susan Lynch as Rebecca, and Victoria Smurfit as Rowena. The names "Ivanhoe" and "Rebecca" were used in the television Fantasy series Dark Knight, but the resemblance beyond the names was small.

External links

de:Ivanhoe it:Ivanhoe nl:Ivanhoe


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