Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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ERB Summary Project


ERB (implied)

Henry III — King of England

Simon de Montfort — Earl of Leicester

Sir Jules De Vac

Lady Maud

Prince Richard — (Norman of Torn) (alias, Roger de Conde)

Til, Old (a crone)

Isaac the Jew

Father Claude (a priest)

Red Shandy

John Flory

James Flory

“One-Eye” Kanty

Peter the Hermit

Prince Edward

Bertrade de Montfort

Peter of Colfax

Bishop of Norwich

Mary de Stutevill

Henry de Montfort


Richard de Tany

Joan de Tany

John de Fulm — Earl of Buckingham

Roger Leybourn

Claudia Leybourn

Eleanor — Queen of England

The Outlaw Of Torn

Summarized By

Stan Galloway, Project Editor
David Bruce Bozarth, Managing Editor.


Burroughs' second story (his first was "Under The Moons of Mars" aka "A Princess of Mars") was The Outlaw of Torn. Expressly written at the suggestion of The All-Story editor, Burroughs was disappointed when his manuscript was rejected. Burroughs then submitted Torn to New Story Magazine which printed it in five parts January to May, 1914. The first edition was not published until 1927 (A. C. McClurg, which also reprinted in 1927). Grosset & Dunlap's first reprint (actually second reprint) was 1928.

The Outlaw of Torn, set in 13th century England, was Burroughs' first historical fiction work. His second was I Am A Barbarian, a tale of ancient Rome, which was published after his death in 1950.

— David Bruce Bozarth

Chapter I (Bob Zeuschner)

While wandering through a very ancient monastery in Europe, the author came across this story of Richard, the lost prince of England, buried among mildewed and musty manuscripts. In thirteenth century England, in the palace of Henry III, Henry quarrels with his powerful brother-in-law, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. De Montfort implies that Henry is a coward. Infuriated, an hour later the King takes out his anger on Sir Jules De Vac, the French fencing master of the court. Henry nearly defeats De Vac, but finally the fencing master cleverly disarms the king. Henry insults De Vac, slaps him, and spits upon him. De Vac cannot strike Henry, the king, but he vows to himself to assuage his wounded pride, to find some way to harm not just Henry, but the whole of England.

Chapter II (Bob Zeuschner)

Three days after the king's affront to De Vac, Lady Maud plays a game of catch with the three-year-old Prince Richard in the gardens of the king. De Vac looks down at the two of them from the Armory window which overlooks the garden, and in his mind a fearsome plot takes shape.

Chapter III (Bob Zeuschner)

For a month, De Vac, studies Prince Richard and Lady Maud. He obtains a key to the garden, and arranges with his sister, Til, in the nearby town to hide a bundle in her hovel. He obtains the bundle, poles a skiff up the Thames to the king's garden wall. Lady Maud opens the garden gate to admit her lover while Prince Richard plays. De Vac tries to lure the prince beyond the garden gate. The child screams, and De Vac kills Lady Maud and her friend. An hour later their bodies are discovered, but the prince has disappeared. Two days later De Vac's disappearance is noticed, and the King concludes that De Vac abducted of the King's son. Every child in England is to be examined for the tell-tale birthmark resembling a lily, on the left breast of the child, but the prince is not found. Prince Richard had been a favorite of his uncle, Simon de Montfort, and De Montfort and the king are reconciled as they search England for the kidnaped child.

Chapter IV (Bruce Salen)

Disguised as an old crone, De Vac conceals the child in some old bundles and skiffs down the Thames to a decrepit, unsavory part of London. While hiding under a dock, he hears De Montfort tell his search party that they are going to meet Old Til, who has some important information. De Vac hurries with the prince to the rooms that he has let from Til. Leaving the boy there, he goes to Til's place. Finding her about to leave, he walks with her. As they walk, he slips a dagger into her heart from behind, then sends her lifeless body to the bottom of the Thames, thus removing any hope that the kidnaped prince might be found and saved.

Chapter V (Bruce Salen)

For three years, De Vac -- still disguised as an old woman -- lives with his kidnaped charge in a hovel -- "within a stone's throw of the king's palace." For three years, "she" teaches the boy three things only: French, swordsmanship, and hatred of all things English, especially the English royal house. De Vac then purchases an old castle in Derbyshire called Torn. The boy's education continues with the addition of two new subjects when he reaches ten: horsemanship and English, the latter with a "studied and very marked French accent." After he reaches 15, one day, three armored nights seek shelter at the castle. De Vac offers shelter with considerable reluctance. As De Vac and the boy bring in the meal, the three knights discuss the political unrest in the kingdom, revealing that De Montfort leads those who oppose Henry's extravagant misrule. The knights notice the resemblance of the boy to Prince Edward, Henry's son and heir. They ask him to remove his jerkin, to see if he has the royal birthmark on his left breast. He refuses, and challenges them, one by one, to a duel. All three are summarily dispatched. They now find themselves richer by the three guests' belongings. De Vac gives the boy a name -- Norman of Torn.

Chapter VI (Bruce Salen)

De Vac now trains Norman to use lance and battle-axe, and hones his sword-work. The boy soon surpasses his master in swordsmanship. Norman rides out frequently. He soon knows every bypath within fifty miles of Torn, including the hut of a priest, Father Claude, with whom he begins a friendship. From Claude, Norman learns to speak Latin and to read and write in French, English, and Latin. From the priest, also, he learns to respect the rights of others, to protect the poor and the weak, to honor God, and "to believe that the principal reason for man's existence was to protect woman." During one meeting, six ruffians break into the priest's hut, to rob them. Norman draws his sword, quickly does away with the leader, then single-handedly pursues, disarms, and captures the five followers -- Red Shandy, brothers John and James Flory, One Eye Kanty, and Peter the Hermit. Norman bands them together under his own leadership -- "to protect the poor and the weak, to lay down [their] lives in defence of woman, and to prey upon rich Englishmen and harass the king of England." And so was born the Clan Torn, growing in time to an army of a thousand fighting men -- an army that defied the king, and made De Montfort de facto ruler of England.

Chapter VII (Bob Woodley)

Norman is nineteen. Torn is a reborn castle. Norman is a hero to the local peasants, protecting them from outlaws; his kind treatment of these peasants conflicted sharply with the attitudes of De Vac. Norman queries Claude, as to whether he is the pawn of his father. Claude cautions Norman to keep his visor lowered. A fight and abduction outside interrupt them, and Norman pursues. The abducting knight mistakes Norman for Prince Edward, since he had removed his visor. As he fights, the girl, Bertrade, daughter of De Montfort, watches. She informs Norman of his resemblance to the Prince. He escorts her to the De Stutevill castle. He adopts the alias Roger de Conde. As they converse, he keeps from her his identity, promises her to bring the head of Peter of Colfax, who had ordered her abduction, and obtains her promise that should he, she will always be his friend, regardless. After three days in her company, he departs, unknowingly in love with the girl, and she in turn blows a kiss to the departing outlaw. He does not understand the meaning of his resemblance to the prince.

Chapter VIII (Joe McMahon)

Father Claude visits Castle Torn. He meets Red Shandy and chides him for the attack on the Bishop of Norwich's party. All of the ‘temptations" surrounding the Bishop were confiscated especially his supply of wine which the good Father shares with Shandy. The bishop was sent on his way naked riding backwards on a donkey. The Bishop's retainers were flogged for being in such bad company. De Vac joins them and asks for Norman. Claude tells him that he has saved a girl from the house of De Montfort from the retainers of Peter of Colfax. Shandy leaves and De Vac harangues the priest for giving Norman an education in Latin and chivalry, and religion. He claims these subjects will be of no use to Norman whose future is to stand on the gallows with a rope around his neck. De Vac tells the priest that from now on there will be nothing but hate between them, and the priest states that he does not believe that De Vac is any relation to Norman. De Vac leaves. Norman of Torn enters and the priest scolds him for his life as an outlaw. Norman tells him that he dreams of leaving this life. However, he reminds the priest, that it is too late and the only end will be at the end of a rope. Father Claude advises him to go to France where he will be welcomed in the court of Louis. Norman says that he must remain in England for a time yet.

Chapter IX (Joe McMahon)

Bertrade de Montfort and Mary de Stutevill prepare to part after a three-week visit. They speak often of Roger de Conde (Norman). Bertrade wishes to return home, but Mary is fearful of her meeting The Devil of Torn on the way since there will be only a small escort. Bertrade wishes that Roger would appear to protect her. In Colfax castle Peter meets with De Vac and is told that Bertrade will be on the road tomorrow. De Vac tells him that he will kill the girl if Colfax does not take her. Colfax agrees and later tells his henchman to kill the old man if he shows any sign of treachery. Bertrade leaves with five knights and is soon set upon by Colfax's men. Her escort is killed and she runs away. De Vac pursues, but she strikes a rope across the path and falls apparently lifeless. De Vac marks the heads of the dead knights with the mark of Torn while Bertrade is borne away to Colfax castle. Henry de Montfort searching for his sister comes upon the dead knights and vows vengeance on Norman. Colfax offers Bertrade the choice of becoming his wife or mistress. She refuses and is locked up with an ancient crone to come to her senses. She overpowers the woman and locks herself in the room. Finally she dozes off and the crone opens the door for Colfax. She grossly insults Peter and he drags her out of the room with intentions of rape.

Chapter X (Joe McMahon)

Norman returns to his life of pillage. He is surprised to see Henry de Montfort at his gate under a flag of truce. Henry accuses Norman of kidnaping Bertrade and killing her escort. Norman denies this, saying he does not make war on women. Henry believes Norman. Very shortly Norman sets out with five hundred men toward Colfax castle. By midnight they arrive. Norman knows a secret way into the castle and arrives just as Colfax is dragging Bertrade out of the room. Colfax calls his men and they set upon Norman. He kills them easily and when Colfax tries to stab him in the back, Bertrade throws a stool and knocks Colfax down and the light out. Colfax makes his escape. Norman keeps his visor down and tells Bertrade who he is. She is frightened, but he reassures her. Colfax castle is searched for its owner and then put to the torch but not looted. At the De Montfort castle, Henry accuses Norman of lying and swords are drawn. Bertrade steps between them and explains. Henry steps forward with hand outstretched, but Norman declines from respect for Henry. Bertrade offers her hand and Norman kneels, promising his service forever. As Norman leaves, Henry wonders if they should not have taken his hand.

Chapter XI (Robert Burrows)

Norman, as Roger, visits the De Montfort castle. The conversation is cordial and appreciative; the de Montforts remark how he resembles Prince Edward and Norman of Torn. Norman stays several days and becomes good friends of the family. Bertrade and Norman spend several close conversations together but Norman is having conflicts between his royal breeding and his hatred for the English. As Norman is leaving the castle, he has a close moment with Bertrade and, as they kiss, Norman backs off. Norman tells Bertrade that he can't fall in love with her due to his past, but Bertrade tells him that she loves him and that she will wait. De Montfort overhears their conversation and breaks into the room angrily, saying Bertrade will marry Prince Phillip of France. Norman says diplomatically that he had not asked permission to marry Bertrade. As Norman leaves the castle, Bertrade drops a package to him with an opal ring. They vow their love for each other as Norman kisses the ring and puts in on his finger.

Chapter XII (Robert Burrows)

De Montfort sends Bertrade to France. Norman, realizing his love for Bertrade futile, continues ransacking the English countryside. Norman hopes one day to tell Bertrade his identity. Norman continues meeting with Father Claude. Spizo the Spaniard has been spying on Norman and Claude for De Vac. Spizo reports Norman's plans to visit De Montfort. This angers De Vac. He visits Claude and convinces him to cancel the meeting. Norman takes1000 knights to ransack London. They run into 10 knights and two women. The leading knight, Richard de Tany, says he is riding with his sister, Joan, and a friend, Mary de Stutevill. Norman lets them pass. As Roger, Norman visits the De Tany castle and calls on Joan and Mary. They talk about Roger's love for Bertrade. Norman's conflict with his past haunts him. He stays several days and becomes "friends" with Joan. Joan wants romance. Mary gives warning. Despite soldiers harassing the countryside, Joan wants to go shopping in London! Norman protests to no avail, then accompanies her as protector. A betrayer sends a message to London revealing Roger as Norman. On the way, the party is confronted by a band of men from John de Fulm, the Earl of Buckingham. The party is outnumbered but fights. Mary is ordered to safety. Joan stays behind to intervene on behalf of an unconscious Norman's life. They are taken prisoner to a neighboring castle controlled by de Fulm.

Chapter XIII (Robert Burrows)

Norman, fully armored, awakes in the castle tower. He searches for a way out. Through the tower window he sees a knight chasing after Joan. Norman hears a man approaching his cell. He hides and attacks the man and escapes. Norman proceeds to the room where Joan is and breaks in on De Fulm and Joan fighting. While Norman and De Fulm fight, reinforcements pin Joan and Norman in a corner. Joan remembers a hidden passage in the castle and they escape to the adjacent room which leads to a secret passage. They hide until De Fulm's men search elsewhere. In the dark wait in the passage, Norman and Joan start to get close but Norman is again puzzled over Joan's "friendship" and his love for Bertrade. Joan leads Norman down the secret passage through the castle crypt, and finally outside. Joan becomes afraid, so Norman carries her as they flee to the countryside. Armed men confront them, but Norman finds that they are his own men. He, with his men, return to the De Tany castle, keeping his identity secret. Joan suspects something when he earlier told her he didn't speak English, yet he does when he speaks to Red Shandy. Their arrival at the castle is celebrated, but Norman's stay is short as he wants to confront De Fulm with his men. Joan discovers that Roger de Conde and Norman of Torn are the same.

Chapter XIV (Deon Beswick)

Norman took 50 men to De Fulm castle, while a thousand more hid nearby. They entered the castle through the secret passage. The castle is deserted, apart from one old man. The man reveals De Fulm has left for Dover. Angered, Norman pursues as far as Kent. Here, a traitorous servant reveals De Fulm is visiting the wife of a baron nearby. Selecting Shandy and eight men, Norman speeds to the place. The servant provides a stealthy entrance. Norman confronts De Fulm over the treatment of Joan de Tany. He then duels with and kills him. At that moment, the lord of the manor, Leybourn, returns home, and thanks Norman for saving his (wife's) honor. The next day, Norman returns to Torn. On the way, he stops a mob from attacking a party. The party thanks him, revealing the woman with them to be the queen. They are shocked to find him the Outlaw of Torn. The Outlaw of Torn and his mother met and parted after twenty years. Two days later Norman detours with Shandy to De Tany castle. A message is delivered to the nearby King's soldiers revealing Norman's plans. Norman waits, unknowing, to meet with Joan, who offers him only friendship. He swears his sword to her service. Norman leaves, dwelling on Bertrade. Joan misdirects the King's troops who come seeking Norman, and weeps that she loves an outlaw to her mother. Finding no solace or hope, she kills herself that night.

Chapter XV (Deon Beswick)

News of Joan's death reaches Norman, whose knights then accompany her body to its crypt. Afterward, the horde of Torn reaches its stronghold. Norman talks to Claude about his concerns The good Father reveals he is meeting De Montfort and others at Leicester castle about an important matter, and not to tell De Vac. Norman continues to pillage the royalists of surrounding counties. He and his men spend the winter in drink and carousing. Claude receives notice from De Montfort, stating his wish to determine the fate of Prince Richard. Spizo sneaks this note to De Vac. A king's messenger arrives for Norman, proclaiming pardon if Norman fights De Montfort and his allies, death if he does not. Norman forces the messenger to eat the message and return to the King. King Henry is outraged. Another message tells of Bertrade's arrival in England. Norman vows to meet her and reveal his identity. De Vac finds out that Claude has not yet revealed his suspicions to Norman and visits the Father that night. Norman and his horde get ready to leave. De Vac tells him Claude has been called away. Norman leaves. De Montfort arrives at the deserted castle and finds the body of Father Claude, and realizes his chance to find the lost prince has slipped away.

Chapter XVI (Deon Beswick)

While Norman of Torn and his men march south toward Dover, De Montfort's army prepares to advance upon Lewes, where King Henry is entrenched. The barons' army reaches a point two miles from the city, unobserved. The King's party has no suspicion that an attack is imminent and has spent the night in drunken revelry. The pickets are captured, but survivors of a foraging party alert the King's troops. Prince Edward's company attacks the Londoners, crushing them, but the left wing of the royalist army, under the King of the Romans and his son, meet a determined resistance at the hands of Henry de Montfort. The central divisions fight, and slowly the royalists advance. Norman's force arrives and turns the tide. De Montfort and Norman meet after defeating the King of the Romans. Norman explains he has aided the fight solely because of his friendship with De Montfort's daughter. Simon is not impressed.

Chapter XVII (Stan Galloway)

Norman's forces do not participate in looting the city. They move on to Leybourn castle and enter secretly. Norman interrupts a banquet and demands Colfax come from the guests and fight him. Norman decapitates him in duel and takes the head with him.

Chapter XVIII (Stan Galloway)

As Norman and his men go to see Bertrade, they stop Prince Philip. They agree to travel together. Norman and his forces stop outside the city where the King is visiting Bertrade's father. Norman asks Philip to bear Bertrade a message. The message asks her to meet with him secretly. Philip also informs King Henry that Norman is camped nearby. De Montfort and the King agree to capture him and hang him. De Vac kills and impersonates Flory, the keeper of Colfax's head, and accompanies Norman to his secret meeting with Bertrade. Norman presents the head to Bertrade and reveals his identity. Bertrade is torn by emotional conflict, giving way to reconciliation, her declaration of love, and a promise to leave with him that night.

Chapter XIX (Stan Galloway)

De Vac eavesdrops on Bertrade's commitment then hurries to betray Norman to the King. De Vac leads the King and De Montfort and 20 fighters to where Norman is waiting for Bertrade. In eluding them, Norman is trapped in the room of Lady de Montfort and the Queen. De Vac denounces him as son. Norman kills three men as they attempt to take him before Bertrade enters and throws herself before Norman. She declares her love before them all and Philip joins her in front of Norman. The men then rush and drag Bertrade and Philip away. De Vac claims the right to kill Norman in a duel. After furious battle, De Vac forces Norman's foot to stumble over a corpse, giving him a blood-letting stab, but in that same fall Norman's blade seriously struck De Vac. De Vac, dying but believing Norman dead, tells the King to find the tell-tale birthmark on Norman's breast. De Vac dies. The King finds the mark. The Queen, grieving, kisses the spot and finds his heart still beating. Norman wakes to find the Queen holding his hand and the King supporting him. After days, Norman recovers fully and is told of his heredity. He goes to Bertrade and asks if she will still have him. Be he "prince or highwayman," she says, she loves him and will marry him.