*Kenilworth Castle. Castle near the central England village of Kenilworth in Warwickshire. First built in the twelfth century, this castle was given by Queen Elizabeth to Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, and was the scene of his festivities for her in the summer of 1575. Against this background, Scott’s novel presents an intimate portrait of Elizabeth’s personality and her relationships with Sir Walter Raleigh, the earl of Sussex, and other historical figures.
Although Scott takes liberties with historical details about Dudley’s guest list, he is accurate about his architectural and topographical details. He uses the actual castle’s floor plan in his description of the seven acres at Kenilworth and bases his descriptions of its interior on an inventory list from Dudley’s time of the castle’s tableware, furniture, and hangings. The castle’s pageantry becomes one of the vehicles in the book for Scott to present a complete and vibrant picture of Elizabethan society that includes traveling entertainers, court figures, country bumpkins, servants, and others.
When he was asked to write a book on Elizabeth—after his 1820 novel about Scotland’s Queen Mary Stuart, The Abbot—Scott rejected the title of “Armada” suggested by his publisher because such a novel would have required a focus on Elizabeth’s political prowess in the English defeat of the attempted Spanish invasion in 1588. As in his other novels, Scott prefers not to show history in the making during a pivotal historical event, but to present historical figures in the normal course...
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