Study Guide

Ivanhoe Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

  • The epigraph to this chapter is from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale," one of his hugely famous Canterbury Tales (1390s). Like the earlier John Dryden epigraphs (which are actually based on Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale"), this passage describes a tournament.
  • The second day of the tournament begins.
  • This is the day of the general battle, when the knights fight in groups against each other.
  • The Disinherited Knight is the leader of one side, having come in first the day before.
  • Bois-Guilbert is the leader of the other side, having come in second the day before.
  • Prince John arrives with his buddies, as do Rowena and Cedric.
  • Cedric's friend Athelstane attaches himself (against all odds) to Bois-Guilbert's party.
  • His reason is that he is jealous that the Disinherited Knight chose Rowena to be tournament Queen the day before. Athelstane believes Rowena is his.
  • Maurice de Bracy and Prince John's other attendants join Bois-Guilbert's band as well.
  • As soon as Rowena is seated on her temporary throne, the heralds announce the rules of the match and the knights file in to the central ring.
  • The battle starts off fast and furious, with the audience watching eagerly.
  • The Disinherited Knight and Bois-Guilbert both keep trying to reach each other, but there are such crowds on the battlefield that they cannot.
  • As people start dropping out of the tournament, the Disinherited Knight and Bois-Guilbert finally face each other.
  • Unluckily for the Disinherited Knight, at just this moment both Reginald Front-de-Boeuf and Athelstane decide to help Bois-Guilbert bring him down.
  • They try to strike at him from both sides, but the audience warns him of the danger.
  • The only thing that saves the Disinherited Knight's life is the strength and agility of his horse, which keeps him away from their sword points. But his horse's maneuvers will only save him for so long.
  • Fortunately, someone from the Disinherited Knight's side intervenes, a man dressed all in black with a black shield.
  • He has multiple nicknames, including the Black Sluggard (a sluggard is a lazy guy) and the Sable Knight ("sable" meaning "black" here). We will call him the Black Knight.
  • He hasn't been participating too actively in the tournament up until now (hence the nickname "sluggard"). But when he sees the Disinherited Knight up against three Normans, he charges to help his captain.
  • The Black Knight knocks out both Reginald Front-de-Boeuf and Athelstane by striking them on the head.
  • The Disinherited Knight charges Bois-Guilbert.
  • Bois-Guilbert's horse has been injured. It collapses under the Disinherited Knight's strength.
  • Prince John signals the end of the battle to save Bois-Guilbert's life.
  • Prince John names the Black Knight the winner of the tournament, even though the Disinherited Knight has defeated six challengers singlehandedly.
  • Weirdly, the Black Knight has completely disappeared from the tournament ground, so Prince John has no choice but to honor the Disinherited Knight.
  • The Disinherited Knight has to kneel before Rowena, as the Queen of the tournament, so she can present him with the ceremonial chaplet (a wreath of flowers).
  • The referees insist that the Disinherited Knight take off his helmet to receive his victory chaplet.
  • He protests, but the referees insist.
  • Once the Disinherited Knight's head is bare, everyone can see that he is a blond guy around 25.
  • Rowena looks startled, but she still crowns him with his victory chaplet.
  • He kisses her hand and then collapses at her feet.
  • The Disinherited Knight is none other than Cedric's long-lost son, Wilfred of Ivanhoe.
  • The referees remove his armor to see that he has a deep wound in his side.

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