The Betrothed (1825 novel)

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The Betrothed
Betrothed 1825.jpg
Author Sir Walter Scott
Country Scotland
Language English
Series Tales of the Crusaders
Genre Historical novel
Publisher Archibald Constable and Co.
Publication date
22 June 1825
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN NA

The Betrothed is an 1825 novel by Sir Walter Scott. It is the first of two Tales of the Crusaders, the second being The Talisman.

Parts of the novel were incorporated into Francesco Maria Piave's libretto for Giuseppe Verdi's 1857 opera, Aroldo, itself a re-working of an earlier Verdi opera, Stiffelio.

Plot introduction[edit]

The action takes place in the Welsh Marches during the latter part of the reign of Henry II, after 1187. Eveline, the 16-year-old daughter of Sir Raymond Berenger, is rescued from a Welsh siege by the forces of Damian Lacy. She is betrothed to his uncle Sir Hugo, who leaves on a crusade. Rebels led by Ranald Lacy attempt to kidnap her, and Damian fights them off, but a confused sequence of events convinces the King that she and her beloved are in league against him.

Plot summary[edit]

Baldwin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had exhorted the Britons, and the Anglo-Normans who were settled on the borders of the Welsh principalities, to lay aside their feuds and join in the third Crusade. Accordingly, Gwenwyn, the Prince of Powys-land, and Sir Raymond Berenger, the Knight of Garde Doloureuse, had accepted each other's hospitality, and Gwenwyn, at the suggestion of his chaplain, had arranged to divorce his wife Brengwan, in order that he might marry Sir Raymond's daughter Eveline. In reply to his proposal, however, a messenger brought a letter stating that she was promised to Sir Hugo de Lacy, the Constable of Chester. This being taken by the Welsh as an affront, the call to war was sung by the bards, the Norman castle was attacked, and its owner slain in a combat with his would-be son-in-law. Nerved by the presence of Eveline on the battlements, and supplied with food by a ruse of her father's vassal the Flemish weaver, the garrison, assisted by the military predilections of their chaplain, held out until Damian Lacy arrived with a large force, when the brave but unarmoured Britons were repulsed, and their prince Gwenwyn was killed.

View from Corn Du, Powys

Having granted an interview to her deliverer, Eveline was escorted by her suitor the Constable, and a numerous retinue, to her aunt's nunnery at Gloucester. On her way thither she passed a night at the house of a Saxon kinswoman, the Lady of Baldringham, where she occupied a haunted chamber, and saw the ghost of an ancestor's wife, who foretold that she would be

Widowed wife, and married maid,
Betrothed, betrayer, and betrayed.

During her visit to the abbess she was formally espoused to Sir Hugo; but the archbishop having the next day commanded him to proceed to Palestine for three years, he offered to annul their engagement. Eveline, contrary to her aunt's advice, promised to await his return; and it was arranged that she should reside in her castle, with Rose and Dame Gillian as her attendants, and Damian as her guardian. Wearied with her monotonous life during this seclusion, she was induced one day to join in a hawking expedition unaccompanied by her usual escort, and was seized by rebels secretly instigated by Ranald Lacy. In attempting to rescue her Damian was severely wounded, and she insisted on nursing him in the castle, while Amelot led his men-at-arms in pursuit of the outlaws, whose disaffection had reached the king's ears, with a rumour that Damian was their captain. Sir Guy Monthermer was, accordingly, sent to demand admittance to Garde Doloureuse, where he was reported to be concealed; and when Eveline ordered the portcullis to be dropped against him, a herald proclaimed her, and all who aided and abetted her, as traitors.

The constable and his squire, who were supposed to be dead, returned from Syria, disguised as palmers, just as the royal troops, headed by Prince Richard, had occupied the castle, Eveline at the same time being sent to a convent, and Damian consigned to a dungeon. Having learnt the ill news from old Raoul and his wife, Sir Hugo made his way towards King Henry's camp, near which, surrounded by an assembly of spectators, Ranald Lacy, who by false representations had obtained a grant of Eveline's forfeited lands, and assumed his kinsman's dress and title, was about to present a royal charter of immunities to a procession of the Flemish settlers. Cadwallon, the Welsh bard, had, however, attached himself to Sir Hugo as a Breton minstrel, in order that he might avenge the death of Gwenwyn; and mistaking Ranald for the returned constable, suddenly sprang behind him as he leant forward in his saddle, and stabbed him in the back. Sir Hugo now made himself known, and was welcomed by the king, the assassin was executed, and, convinced that his betrothed's love had been given to Damian, the old Crusader resigned her to him, and consoled himself by taking part in the subjugation of Ireland.

List of characters[edit]

  • Gwenwyn, the Prince of Powys-land
  • Brengwan, his wife
  • Father Einion, his chaplain
  • Cadwallon, his principal bard
  • Caradoc of Menwygent, another bard
  • Jorworth ap Jevan, a messenger
  • Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Sir Raymond Berenger, of Garde Doloureuse
  • Eveline Berenger, his daughter
  • The Benedictine Abbess at Gloucester, his sister
  • Father Aldrovand, his chaplain
  • Dennis Morolt, his squire
  • Reinold, his butler
  • Raoul Gillian, his huntsman
  • Dame Gillian, his wife
  • Sir Hugo de Lacy, Constable of Chester
  • Damian Lacy, his nephew, the beloved of Eveline
  • Ranald Lacy, their kinsman
  • Philip Guarine, Sir Hugo's squire
  • Amelot, Damian Lacy's page
  • Ralph Genvil, his banner-bearer
  • William Flammock, a Flemish weaver
  • Rose Flammock, his daughter, and Eveline's waiting-maid
  • Ermingarde, the Lady of Baldringham
  • Berwine, her housekeeper
  • Hundwolf, her steward
  • Sir Guy Monthermer, in command of the King's troops
  • King Henry II of England
  • Prince Richard and Prince John, his sons

Critical reaction[edit]

Scott himself was pessimistic about the success of the book, and his biographer has written: "The Betrothed was clearly composed in a somnolent if not stertorous condition, and would score high marks in a competition to decide which was the dreariest and stupidest book ever produced by a writer of genius.".[1] James Ballantyne was not keen on the work either.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pearson, Hesketh. Walter Scott: His Life and Personality, p. 54

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from the revised 1898 edition of Henry Grey's A Key to the Waverley Novels (1880), now in the public domain.