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Ivanhoe | Chapters 34–38 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 34

Prince John and Waldemar Fitzurse are meeting with the prince's supporters in York but cannot proceed with their plans without Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, Maurice de Bracy, or Brian de Bois-Guilbert, who are all important conspirators. They also need Isaac of York's money, but he is missing, too. Soon de Bracy himself arrives and reports to John and Fitzurse that Front-de-Boeuf is dead and the Templar in hiding. What's worse, King Richard is in England. They can't believe it, but he says he was Richard's prisoner. They ask whether he was at the head of an army, but de Bracy says only a few outlaws were with him, though they didn't know he was the king. De Bracy offered the services of his Free Lances to Richard, but he refused them, so de Bracy plans to go to Flanders. He counsels John to escape to France or to his mother's protection.

John and Fitzurse try to convince de Bracy to capture Richard, but he refuses, saying, "this highway practice comes not within my vow." Fitzurse says he'll do it, but de Bracy must stay and guard John. After Fitzurse leaves, the prince tells de Bracy he admires his honesty and that such honesty would make him a good High Marshal. De Bracy realizes John can't be trusted, but nonetheless, he would like to be High Marshal. He leaves, and John meets with Hugh Bardon, his scoutmaster, and asks him to keep an eye on de Bracy. He suspects Maurice will betray him.

Chapter 35

Isaac of York travels to the Preceptory of Templestowe riding a mule, but anxiety and illness overcome him, and he doesn't make it by night. He stops in a small town and stays with a rabbi who knows him well. The rabbi, Nathan Ben Israel, is also a physician and treats his fever. Nathan tells him the Templar grand master, Lucas de Beaumanoir, is currently at Templestowe. Beaumanoir hates Jews as much as he does Saracens. But Isaac says he must go and explains why. Nathan advises him to keep away from Beaumanoir and asks him to come back and let him know how things go.

At the Preceptory Beaumanoir is walking in the garden with Conrade Mont-Fitchet. Beaumanoir is complaining to his friend that the Templars in England do not follow the order's "statutes" and something must be done about it. Mont-Fitchet advises him to be cautious in reforming the order, but the grand master says "it must be sharp and sudden ... or the order ... will be demolished." A squire brings news that a Jew is at the gate asking to speak to Bois-Guilbert. The grand master orders the Jew brought to him and asks his business with Bois-Guilbert. Isaac says he has a letter to the knight from Prior Aymer. The master takes the letter, reads it, and then has Mont-Fitchet read it aloud. In it the prior says he has heard about "Front-de-Boeuf's misfortune" and Bois-Guilbert's escape with Rebecca. He warns Brian that the grand master is on his way to "diminish your mirth, and amend your misdoings." Finally, he says Brian should hold out for a large ransom from Isaac.

The grand master asks Isaac if Rebecca is a healer, and Isaac confirms it proudly. But the grand master is sure she heals using magic. Isaac protests that she uses a medicine given her by "Miriam, a sage matron of our tribe." But Beaumanoir says Miriam was burned at the stake for witchcraft and Rebecca will be, too. He orders Isaac turned out and shot if he tries to come back. He then demands to see the preceptor of Templestowe. "Poor Isaac" returns to Nathan's.

Chapter 36

The preceptor of Templestowe is Albert Malvoisin, the brother of Philip Malvoisin, one of Cedric's neighbors. He is good at covering for himself, and does so now. He allowed the woman to stay there only in order to keep her and Bois-Guilbert separated, he says. He hadn't realized she is a sorcerous, which explains how such a good knight could become "besotted' with her. Neither the grand master nor Mont-Fitchet would want to lose Bois-Guilbert, who has killed 300 Saracens. Beaumanoir orders Malvoisin to "prepare the castle-hall for the trial of the sorceress."

Malvoisin tells Bois-Guilbert what the grand master plans, but that the knight himself will be safe if he renounces her. The knight says Malvoisin must help him take Rebecca someplace safe, but the preceptor refuses and warns the knight the grand master will expel him from the order if he fights this. Malvoisin knows Bois-Guilbert wants to become grand master himself and says he can have all the Jewesses he wants when "the staff is in [his] firm grasp." At length the knight says his friend is right, and the preceptor goes to get the hall ready for the trial. Bois-Guilbert decides to try to save Rebecca but will have revenge if she rejects him again.

Mont-Fitchet finds Malvoisin in the hall and tells him they must make sure there's enough evidence to convict Rebecca. Under no circumstances must Bois-Guilbert be lost to the order. If all goes well, Malvoisin will be made preceptor of a much richer preceptory in Kent. He is to find evidence if he has to bribe people to lie about it. He'll have to hurry, though; the trial is to start at noon. At noon the two men go to Rebecca's room and tell her she is to be tried; she sees this as a way of escaping Bois-Guilbert and goes with them gladly. As they enter the hall, someone passes her a note.

Chapter 37

In the tribunal the members of the Knights Templar are seated according to rank. Local people have also been allowed to attend. Bois-Guilbert, who is a preceptor, is not in his seat, but standing with the knights of the order. Rebecca is directly opposite the grand master, who is the presiding judge. Beaumanoir comments to Mont-Fitchet on how unhappy Bois-Guilbert looks and then begins the trial. He states that Rebecca is "infamous for sortileges and for witcheries" and has "maddened the blood, and besotted the brain" of Bois-Guilbert. Bois-Guilbert would be expelled from the order unless it can be shown that he was under the influence of a spell. Witnesses testify that Bois-Guilbert has acted out of character in his conversations with and defense of Rebecca. When Bois-Guilbert himself is called on, he refuses to reply "to such wild and vague charges" and offers to defend his honor with his sword. The grand master blames Satan for the knight's attitude. A mixture of truth and lies are offered in evidence of her sorcery.

The grand master orders Rebecca to unveil herself, and her beauty alone explains Bois-Guilbert's actions. She is invited to speak in her own defense and asks Bois-Guilbert, "Are these things true?" His only answer is "the scroll." She looks at the paper in her hand; in Arabic it reads, "Demand a Champion!" She destroys it before it is seen and demands to be represented by a champion at trial by combat. She removes a glove and throws it down before the grand master.

Chapter 38

Even Beaumanoir is "affected" by Rebecca. He offers her life in a nunnery if she will repent. She stands by her challenge to trial by combat. The grand master names Bois-Guilbert as the Templars' champion and gives Rebecca three days to find someone to fight for her. He tells her, "if thou failest to [find a champion], or if thy champion shall be discomfited by the judgment of God, thou shalt then die the death of a sorceress, according to doom." Rebecca is allowed to use a messenger to communicate with her friends so that they can find a champion for her. Higg, whom Rebecca once healed and who had been forced to testify against her, volunteers, and Rebecca gives him a scroll to take to her father.

As he sets out for York, Higg finds Isaac and Rabbi Ben Samuel waiting by the road for news of the trial and gives Isaac Rebecca's scroll. She says in it that he should contact Ivanhoe because, although he isn't strong enough yet to fight himself, he should be able to find someone who will do it. It is decided that Isaac will talk to Ivanhoe and the rabbi will look for a champion in York who will fight for payment. The two Jews go off in their separate directions, leaving Higg standing there. He thinks they might have at least given him a coin or two. Then he wonders if he was bewitched to run this errand, but as soon as he thinks of Rebecca, he realizes he "would give shop and tools to save her life."

Analysis

When de Bracy tells Fitzurse that King Richard is the Black Knight and is wandering around England on his own, Fitzurse says that "is indeed the fashion of Richard [to] wander in wild adventure, trusting the prowess of his single arm ... while the weighty affairs of his kingdom slumber, and his own safety is endangered." He considers Richard somewhat remiss in his approach to kingship. After all, Richard had barely been crowned when he set off on Crusade. He was known, though, for enjoying partying and showing off his abilities when he felt like it, just as readers have seen in Ivanhoe so far—for example his blasé attitude toward fighting at the tournament, his evening with the friar, and his easy defeat of the friar in a quick challenge. Some of his concerns are echoed by Ivanhoe in Chapter 41, where the narrator says

In the lion-hearted King, the brilliant, but useless character, of a knight of romance, was in a great measure realized and revived ... Accordingly, his reign was like the course of a brilliant and rapid meteor, which shoots along the face of Heaven, shedding around an unnecessary and portentous light, which is instantly swallowed up by universal darkness; his feats of chivalry furnishing themes for bards and minstrels, but affording none of those solid benefits to his country on which history loves to pause, and hold up as an example to posterity.

There were similarities between Richard and the Prince Regent of Scott's day, who would soon become George IV. The vain Prince Regent was famous for his extravagance, and many people in England disapproved. But, perhaps at least in part because he could see himself in the handsome, charming, and unconquerable Richard, George IV loved Ivanhoe and made Scott a baronet.

The hypocrisy of the Templar order, even the grand master, who Scott says "was not originally a cruel or ... severe man," is made very clear in these chapters. The reason for the trial is to make the Templars look less corrupt and to make sure Bois-Guilbert looks innocent of his crimes toward Rebecca. The grand master's only interest is the order's power and reputation, not God. Is this chivalry? Is this Christianity? At Rebecca's trial in Chapter 37 a craftsman, Higg, is called to testify that she used a certain medicine to enable him to walk again. It is implied that because the medicine is unfamiliar to two "mediciners"—a monk and a barber (barbers often performed surgeries)—it must be "unlawful and magical." Then, because it's sinful, the grand master won't return it to Higg, thus ensuring that he won't be able to walk. If he can't walk, he probably can't work, so he will become poor and perhaps starve in the streets.

I tell thee it is better to be bedridden, than to accept the benefit of unbelievers' medicine that thou mayest arise and walk; better to despoil infidels of their treasure by the strong hand, than to accept of them benevolent gifts, or do them service for wages. Go thou, and do as I have said.

But Higg, who is pretty sharp-witted, restates the grand master's fancy words in plain language: "I will tell my two brethren, who serve the rich Rabbi Nathan Ben Samuel, that your mastership says it is more lawful to rob him than to render him faithful service." Higg is a brave man. His words make Beaumanoir angry because they point out his hypocrisy. Nonetheless, Higg remains in the courtroom and becomes Rebecca's messenger in Chapter 38.

Rebecca doesn't see who gave her the scroll advising her to ask for a champion, but it's likely it was Bois-Guilbert. He wouldn't have entrusted the job to anyone else for fear the message wouldn't be delivered. He could have foreseen that he would be tapped by the Templars as their champion, and he must realize the only person she could call on would be Ivanhoe. Does he plan to throw the fight? If so, he will have to do so very carefully, as the grand master will be watching. If it is not a fair fight, Rebecca will die even if Bois-Guilbert dies for her. In fact his willingness to do so will be taken as proof of her sorcery.

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