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Before this chapter we get the first six lines of Thomas Warton's 1787 poem "Ode XVIII to a New Year." Like all the other recent chapter epigraphs, this one is also a medieval-themed poem about knights and ladies gathering together. In this case, they are meeting up at a great hall. It's time for a feast.
Prince John holds his feast at the castle at Ashby.
(This is a real place that you can still visit in Leicestershire: Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle, dating from the 12th century.)
The real owner of the castle is in the Holy Land, so Prince John feels free to use it as though it's his own.
The prince doesn't want to offend the Anglo-Saxons because there are so many of them.
He plans to host Cedric and Athelstane in better style than they have ever seen before.
It's unfortunate that Prince John always offends people when he most wants to please them.
After the feast, talk turns to the tournament.
Prince John proposes a toast to Wilfred of Ivanhoe, the tournament winner.
Cedric starts going off on his disobedient son, who went off to the Crusades with Norman King Richard against the orders of his own father.
Prince John pounces on Cedric's anger at his son.
He turns to Reginald Front-de-Boeuf and says: Well, Front-de-Boeuf, why don't you keep Ivanhoe's castle and lands so poor Cedric doesn't have to see his ungrateful son in the neighborhood?
Front-de-Boeuf happily agrees: he wasn't going to give the castle back to a Saxon anyway.
This inspires a whole round of anti-Saxon jokes that really set Cedric's blood boiling.
Cedric accuses Prince John of being a poor host and points out that a Saxon won the tournament that day.
Prince John drinks a toast to Cedric, but Cedric is still riled.
Prince John asks Cedric to pick at least one worthy Norman for them to drink to.
Prince John's advisor, Waldemar Fitzurse, whispers to Cedric that he should choose Prince John.
But Cedric declares that he will drink to King Richard I, "the best and noblest of his race" (14.36).
Prince John is clearly not pleased at this toast, though he doesn't protest aloud.
Cedric and Athelstane leave.
Prince John notices that his other guests leave soon after the Saxons.
Prince John worries that the Normans see him as weak and that this confrontation at his own feast has led them to lose confidence in him.
De Bracy and Waldemar Fitzurse promise to convince the Normans to support Prince John.
Fitzurse worries that Prince John is losing hope in his own rebellion.