Study Guide

Ivanhoe Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

  • 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.

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