Although France is the scene of this romance, the hero and several other characters are members of the Scottish guard to the French King. The period is that when chivalry and feudalism are passing away, and the governments becoming centralized, Louis XI of France is, in fact, warring against his most powerful vassal, Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy.
Quentin Durward, a Scotch youth, comes to Tours, where his uncle is a member of the celebrated Scottish bodyguard, and seeks military service. First, however, he meets the pretended merchant, Maitre Pierre, who is actually King Louis himself; and next the young adventurer narrowly escapes hanging for interfering with a public execution. He is enrolled among the guards and finds favor in Louis's eyes by aiding him against the attack of a frenzied boar, in a hunt.
On the same day of the hunt, the Count de Crevecoeur, on behalf of his master, openly renounces allegiance to Louis, and also demands the surrender of Isabelle de Croye, the Duke's ward, who has fled from Burgundy to escape a political marriage ...
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