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Ivar And Matilda


"In the year 1249 Reginald began to reign on the 6th May, and on the 30th May of the same month was slain by the Knight Ivar and his accomplices."--Chronicon Manniæ. There was a young and gallant knight, named Ivar, who was enamoured of a very beautiful maiden, named Matilda. He loved her ardently, and she reciprocated his affection. From childhood they had been companions, and as they grew up in years, the firmer became they attached to each other. Never, indeed, were two beings more indissolubly bound by the fetters of love than Ivar and Matilda. But storms will overcast the serenest sky. At this period Reginald was King of the Isle of Man; and, according to ancient custom, it was incumbent upon Ivar to present his betrothed at the Court of the Monarch, and obtain his consent, prior to becoming linked in more indissoluble fetters with her. The nuptial day had already been fixed, the feast had been prepared, and it was noised abroad that the great and noble of the Island were to be present at the celebration of the marriage. King Reginald resided in Rushen Castle, in all the barbaric pomp which was predominant in those olden times; and thither Ivar, accompanied by Matilda, proceeded to wait upon him. Dismounting from their horses at the entrance of the keep, they were conducted to the presence of the King. Ivar doffed his jewelled cap, and made obeisance; then, leading forward Matilda, he presented her to him. Reginald was greatly enraptured with the maiden's beauty from the first moment she had met his gaze, and swore inwardly that he would possess her for himself, and spoil the knight of his affianced bride. To carry into effect his wicked purpose, he accused Ivar of pretended crimes; and, ordering in his guards, banished him from his presence; detaining, however, the maiden. Vain would it be to depict Matilda's anguish at this barbarous treatment. Reginald endeavoured to sooth her agitation, but it was to no purpose. He talked to her of his devoted love, but the maiden spurned his impious offers with contempt. Exasperated at her resistance, he had her confined in one of the most solitary apartments in the Castle. In the meantime, Ivar exerted himself to avenge the deep injury which he had received; but Reginald had such despotic sway, that all his endeavours proved abortive. At length he resolved to retire from the world, to assume the monastic habit, and to join the pious brotherhood of the Monastery of St. Mary's of Rushen. The brethren received him with joy, commiserating the bereavement which he had sustained. Ivar was now devoted to acts of piety; but still he did not forget his Matilda. Sometimes he would ascend the Hill, and gaze towards the Castle, wondering if Matilda were yet alive. One day, matin prayers having been offered up, Ivar wandered as usual through the woods, thinking of his betrothed, and bowed down with sorrow. At last he reclined on the grass to rest; when, looking around, he beheld a fissure in a rock which abutted from an eminence immediately opposite. Curiosity induced him to go near; and he discovered that it was the entrance to a subterranean passage. venturing in, he proceeded for some distance. Onward he went, till a great door arrested his progress. After some difficulty it yielded to his endeavours, and he passed through. Suddenly a piercing shriek, which reverberated along the echoing vaults fixed him horror-struck for a moment to the place. It was repeated faintly several times. A faint glimmer of light now broke in upon his path, and he found himself in a vaulted chamber. Passing through it, another cry met his ear; and rushing impetuously forward, he heard a voice in a state of exhaustion exclaim, "Mother of God, save Matilda!" Whilst, through a chink in the barrier, he beheld his long lost love, with dishevelled hair and throbbing bosom, in the arms of the tyrant Reginald. Ivar instantly sprang through the barrier, rushed upon the wretch, and, seizing his sword, which lay carelessly on the table, plunged it into Reginald's bosom. Ivar, carrying Matilda in his arms, continued on through the subterranean passage, which brought them to the sea side where they met with a boat, which conveyed them to Ireland. There they were united in holy matrimony, and passed the remainder of their days in the raptures of a generous love, heightened by mutual admiration and gratitude.

[Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man (1891) by A.W. Moore]



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