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The epigraph for Chapter 7 comes from John Dryden's poem "Palamon and Arcite." This poem is based on Geoffrey Chaucer's "Knight's Tale," one of the Canterbury Tales. In these particular lines, we get a description of knights coming together for a tournament.
Here we get a fairly heavy historical background chapter.
England is not in good shape in the late 12th century.
King Richard I (also known as Richard the Lionhearted or Richard Coeur-de-Lion) is being held for ransom by Leopold V, Duke of Austria.
In his absence, Richard's younger brother Prince John has allied with Philip II, King of France.
Prince John is trying to keep Richard I out of England for as long as he can.
He wants to build up his support in the kingdom so that he can eventually steal the throne from his brother.
Prince John doesn't bother to keep the peace or hold proper trials.
England is full of people recently returned from the Crusades, who have become used to violence and theft. This lawlessness is a real problem.
But even though things aren't going well in England, the rich and poor alike all enjoy the spectacle of a tournament.
Bois-Guilbert gets the best tent at the tournament, in honor of his reputation as a great knight.
Next to him are Reginald Front-de-Boeuf and Philip de Malvoisin, as well as a bunch of other Norman knights.
Outside this central space are crowds of people gathered to watch the tournament.
There is a special platform with a throne for La Royne de las Beaulté et des Amours, the Queen of Beauty and Love. (Sounds to us kind of like a homecoming queen or beauty pageant winner.)
Isaac is in the crowd, as is Prior Aymer.
The Knights Templar and Hospitallers are both arranged around Prince John.
Because Richard's crusade was unsuccessful in winning back Jerusalem from Saladin, the Muslim leader, these knights have abandoned him in favor of his younger brother.
Prince John is also at the tournament, looking cheerful.
A yeoman (which is a free man, as opposed to a peasant or a serf) insults Prince John by referring to William II, an unlucky Norman king who died from an arrow to the chest.
This guy may not seem significant now, but keep an eye out – he returns later.
Prince John spots a lovely woman, richly dressed: it's Isaac's daughter, Rebecca.
He sees that she is Jewish and that her father is one of the Jews with whom he is currently negotiating for money.
Prince John approaches Isaac to compliment Rebecca's beauty.
John insists that the Saxons sitting in the gallery make way for Isaac and Rebecca.
The Saxons, especially Cedric, seem put out to have to share space with two Jews.
It looks like things are going to come to violence between the Saxons and the Normans.
Wamba intervenes by jumping in front of Isaac and showing him a piece of boar meat he had been saving for the tournament.
Seeing this pork product (which is unclean according to Jewish law), Isaac jumps back and falls down the stairs.
The Saxons and the Normans both laugh cruelly at him, which lowers the Saxon/Norman tension. (They've become temporarily united in their bullying and shared sense of superiority.)
Prince John demands a handful of coins from Isaac, then just steals his whole purse.
Prince John leaves Isaac behind to be mocked by everyone around him.