Series Waverley Novels
Media type Print (Hardback)
Preceded by The Fair Maid of Perth
Language English, Lowland Scots
Publication date 17 May 1823
Originally published 17 May 1823
Genre Historical Fiction
|Publisher Archibald Constable (Scotland) & Hurst, Robinson (England)|
Adaptations The Adventures of Quentin Durward (1955)
Followed by Ivanhoe, Anne of Geierstein
Similar Works by Walter Scott, Waverley Novels books, Historical novel books
Quentin Durward is a historical novel by Walter Scott, first published in 1823. The story concerns a Scottish archer in the service of the French King Louis XI (1423–1483).
The plot centres on the medieval rivalry between Louis XI of France and Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Louis incites the citizens of Liège to revolt against Charles, and they seize and murder Charles's brother-in-law, Louis de Bourbon, Bishop of Liège, under the command of Louis's ally, William de la Marck, who was hoping to install his son in Louis de Bourbon's place (a real historical event which occurred in 1482).
At the time of the murder, Louis is present in Charles' camp at Peronne, hoping to fool him with a false display of friendship. Charles, however, sees through his mask of deceit, accuses him of instigating the uprising, and has him imprisoned. Louis's superior coolness of mind permits him to allay Charles's suspicions and to regain his liberty. In a sub-plot, the Burgundian heiress Isabelle de Croye takes refuge at Louis's court when Charles attempts to give her hand in marriage to his odious favourite Campo-Basso. Louis, in turn, resolves to give her in marriage to the bandit-captain William de la Marck, and sends her to Flanders under the pretence of placing her under the protection of the Bishop of Liège. She is guarded on her journey by Quentin Durward, an archer, who has left behind poverty in Scotland to join the Archers of Louis's Scottish Guard. Quentin prevents the intended treachery and earns Isabelle's love. Charles, though, promises her in marriage to the Duke of Orléans (heir to the French crown) but she refuses, and, in anger, the Duke promises her to whoever brings him the head of de la Marck. This Quentin does with the help of his uncle, Ludovic Lesley, and wins Isabelle's hand.
The story takes place in the year 1468. The age of feudalism and chivalry was passing away, and the King of France was inciting the wealthy citizens of Flanders against his own rebellious vassal the Duke of Burgundy. Quentin Durward had come to Tours, where his uncle was one of the Scottish body guard maintained by Louis XI, to seek military service, and was invited by the king, disguised as a merchant, to breakfast at the inn, and supplied by him with money. Having narrowly escaped being hanged by the provost-marshal for cutting down Zamet, whom he found suspended from a tree, he was enlisted by Lord Crawford, and learned the history of Jacqueline. In the presence-chamber he was recognised by Louis, and the royal party were preparing for a hunting excursion, when the Count of Crèvecœur arrived with a peremptory demand for the instant surrender of the duke's ward, the Countess of Croye, who had fled from Burgundy with her aunt to escape a forced marriage; and proclaimed that his master renounced his allegiance to the crown of France. In the chase which followed Durward saved the king's life from a boar, for which service Louis, after consulting with his barber, entrusted him with the duty of conducting the Countess and Lady Hameline, ostensibly to the protection of the Bishop of Liege, but really that they might fall into the hands of William de la Marck. After proceeding some distance they were overtaken by Dunois and the Duke of Orléans, who would have seized the countess, but were prevented by Lord Crawford, who arrived in pursuit and made prisoners of them. Then Hayraddin came riding after them, and under his guidance they journeyed for nearly a week, when Quentin discovered that the Bohemian was in league with De la Marck. He accordingly altered their route, and they reached the bishop's castle in safety.
A few days afterwards, however, it was assaulted by the citizens, and Hayraddin having effected Lady Hameline's escape with Marthon, Quentin rushed back to save the countess, and, at Gieslaer's suggestion, Pavilion passed them as his daughter and her sweetheart into the great hall where the outlaw, who was known as the Boar of Ardennes, was feasting with the rioters. The bishop, who was also governor of the city, was then dragged in, and, having denounced his captor, was murdered by a stroke of Nikkel Blok's cleaver. There was a shout for vengeance, but De la Marck summoned his soldiers, upon which Quentin held a dirk at the throat of his son Carl, and exhorted the citizens to return to their homes. With the syndic's help Lady Isabella and her protector reached Charleroi, where she was placed in a convent, while he carried the news to the Duke of Burgundy, at whose court Louis, with a small retinue, was a guest. Charles, in a furious rage, accused the king of being privy to the sacrilege, and caused him to be treated as a prisoner.
At a council the following day he was charged with abetting rebellion among the vassals of Burgundy, and the countess was brought as a witness against him. She admitted her fault, and Quentin Durward was being questioned respecting his escort of her, when a herald arrived with a demand from De la Marck to be acknowledged as Prince-Bishop of Liège, and for the release of his ally the King of France. Louis replied that he intended to gibbet the murderer, and the messenger, who was discovered to be Hayraddin, was sentenced to death, the quarrel between the duke and the king being at the same time adjusted, on the understanding that the Duke of Orléans should marry Lady Isabelle. Crèvecœur, however, interceded for her, and it was arranged that whoever should bring the head of the Boar of Ardennes might claim her hand. Quentin, who had learnt his plans from the Bohemian, advanced with the allied troops of France and Burgundy against his stronghold, and a desperate battle ensued. At length the young Scot was in the act of closing with De la Marck, when Pavilion's daughter implored his protection from a French soldier; and, while placing her in safety, his uncle La Balafré fought the ruffian, and carried his head to the royal presence. Lord Crawford declared him to be of gentle birth, but the old soldier having resigned his pretensions to his nephew, King Louis vouched for Quentin's services and prudence, and the duke being satisfied as to his descent, remarked that it only remained to inquire what were the fair lady's sentiments towards the young emigrant in search of honourable adventure, who, by his sense, firmness and gallantry, thus became the fortunate possessor of wealth, rank and beauty.