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Ivanhoe | Study Guide

Sir Walter Scott

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Ivanhoe | Chapters 9–13 | Summary



Chapter 9

The Disinherited Knight is declared the victor but refuses to reveal his name. This annoys Prince John, who asks his advisers to determine his identity. Waldemar Fitzurse suggests it may be someone who fought with Richard in Palestine. The men make some educated guesses. The Earl of Salisbury is the right height but larger boned. Perhaps the Knight of Gilsland, or maybe even "Richard Coeur-de-Lion himself." The thought terrifies the prince, who calls on his supporters to "stand truly by" him. But Fitzurse reassures him: King Richard is a good three inches taller and twice as broad in the shoulders. The marshals bring the knight forward, and the prince delivers "a short and embarrassed eulogy upon his valour" and gives him the promised warhorse as an award. The mysterious knight does not speak, but bows deeply in response. Then Prince John asks him to choose the Queen of Beauty and of Love. He advises that Fitzurse's daughter is deemed beautiful by his court and hangs the queen's coronet around the tip of the knight's lance. The knight ignores his advice and rides around examining the women among the onlookers.

During the contest Cedric has watched avidly, happy that his two Norman neighbors and Sir Brian have all been defeated. Nearby Isaac has spent his time complaining to Rebecca about how the knight is treating the borrowed horse and armor. Each time he defeats an opponent, Isaac tallies up the value of the fallen knight's horse and armor, which go to the victor.

The knight stops in front of the very gallery where Cedric and Isaac are sitting and, after some deliberation, presents the coronet to Rowena. Prince John invites Rowena to dine with them in Ashby Castle, but Cedric declines for her, saying she doesn't speak Norman French. Cedric places the coronet on Rowena's head. John then invites the Disinherited Knight to dinner, but he also declines, saying he needs to rest up before "to-morrow's encounter." Annoyed, John turns on the green-clad archer he had spoken with earlier in the day and warns him "his skill [had better] prove some apology for his insolence."

Everyone goes home, most to Ashby, either to rented rooms or to the castle. The victorious knight is given his own pavilion by the marshals.

Chapter 10

In his pavilion the Disinherited Knight is attended by "a clownish-looking young man" whose identity is also disguised. The squires of the defeated knights arrive, leading the knights' warhorses, on which the knights' armor has been loaded. The Disinherited Knight says he will give back the spoils of four of the knights and is offered a ransom of 100 zecchins by each squire. He keeps half and asks the squires to use the other half to tip themselves and the various workers at the tournament. To Sir Brian's squire, Baldwin, he says he will not accept anything because their "strife is not ended" until they have also fought on foot with swords. "To this mortal quarrel he has himself defied me, and I shall not forget the challenge," he says. The squire says he must leave the horse and armor because Sir Brian will not use them again, but the knight tells him to keep them himself, saying, "So far as they are mine, I bestow them upon you freely." The knight then addresses his own squire, who turns out to be Gurth, the swineherd. The knight worries that Gurth's "clownish bearing" will give away his identity, but Gurth assures him, "I will never fail my friend for fear of my skin-cutting. I have a tough hide, that will bear knife or scourge as well as any boar's hide in my herd." The knight gives Gurth 10 gold coins and tells him to take the bag of gold to Isaac and let the Jew take what is owed for the horse and armor. Gurth doesn't want to; he's sure Isaac will try to cheat the knight, but he finally agrees to give the old man half of what he asks.

Isaac, Rebecca, and their "retinue" are staying with a wealthy Jewish man who lives outside Ashby. Issac is complaining to his daughter about having been forced to lend Prince John 50 zecchins. Then he complains about how the Gentiles treat the Jews. He starts to complain about having lost a week's income by helping the nameless knight, but admits it might not be lost "for 'tis a good youth." His daughter replies, "Assuredly ... you shall not repent you of requiting the good deed received of the stranger knight." Isaac is still doubtful that a Gentile will repay a Jew if he isn't forced to. However, soon Gurth arrives to do just that. He has brought back the horse and wants to know what the armor costs. Isaac, overjoyed, pours Gurth a cup of fine wine. They haggle a bit, and Gurth pays him 80 zecchins.

As he's about to leave the house, Gurth meets Rebecca, who gives him 100 zecchins—80 for the knight and 20 for him. Gurth thinks to himself that he needs only one more such gift to buy his freedom. Then he can "take the freeman's sword and buckler, and follow [his] young master to the death, without hiding either [his] face or [his] name."

Chapter 11

Gurth is walking back through the dark night on a lonely road between thick bushes when he is attacked by four robbers. They drag him off the road and into a clearing, where two more men join them. He offers them his own 30 zecchins. They feel the purse and know there is more. He says they are not his to give. He admits that his master is the Disinherited Knight and explains that the money was the ransom for the horses and armor. One of the men wants to know if the ransom was for "the armour and horse of the Templar Brian de Bois-Guilbert," and Gurth explains his master would not take the money. The man wants to know where Gurth has just been and why he's returning from the Jew's with more than he had to start with. Gurth explains that Isaac took 80 for the armor, but returned 100. The men refuse to believe this until they see the silk purse Rebecca gave him. As they are all crowding around the purse, Gurth grabs a quarterstaff from one and whacks their leader on the head. The others recapture Gurth, though. Their leader recovers and says they will not steal from Gurth's master since he is disinherited like they are, earns his money at sword's point like they do, and is the enemy of Sir Brian, whom they fear. He says they will let Gurth off without ransom, too, if he can handle best their champion at quarterstaffs. He faces off against "the Miller"; they are well matched, but Gurth wins in the end. The robbers cheer him and send him off with "his purse and his hide" intact. The Captain sends two of his men with Gurth to see him safely home. As they leave the thicket, two other men speak to his protectors, and Gurth realizes the band is "strong in numbers, and [keeps] regular guards around their place of rendezvous."

The men see him back to an outcrop overlooking the contestants' pavilions and, after warning him to say nothing about them to anyone, leave him there. As soon as he gets back to his own pavilion, he tells the Disinherited Knight everything. The knight is amazed by the generosity shown by Rebecca and by the robbers. When the two men go to sleep, the knight sleeps on a comfortable couch, while Gurth sleeps on a bearskin across the entrance to the tent.

Chapter 12

On the second day of the tournament, about 100 knights are divided into two groups who will first joust against one another and then fight on foot. The Disinherited Knight will lead one group, and Brian de Bois-Guilbert will lead the other. Athelstane is among those fighting with the Templar. He doesn't explain why to Cedric, who tries to dissuade him, but it is because he was jealous when the Disinherited Knight selected Rowena to be the queen of today's proceedings. Now he hopes to "make [the knight] feel the weight of his battle-axe." Prince John has also asked the knights among his followers to join Sir Brian's side. When Rowena arrives, Prince John escorts her to her seat, which is opposite his. The rules of combat are read, which are meant to prevent too much bloodshed. If knights break the rules of the tournament or of chivalry, they will be publicly humiliated.

When the fighting begins, most of the knights' lances break in the first charge, leaving both the mounted and unhorsed knights fighting with swords. It is some time before the Templar and the Disinherited Knight can find and engage each other. Just as they are approaching each other, both Athelstane and Front-de-Boeuf ride toward the Disinherited Knight, one from either side. Shouts from the crowd warn him. Just in time, he reins back his horse and dashes away with all three in pursuit. He is saved by the quality of the horse as he attacks first one and then another, only to rush away before they can return his blows. Prince John's companions ask him to call a halt "to save so brave a knight from the disgrace of being overcome by odds," but the prince refuses. Just then one of the supporters on the side of the Disinherited Knight comes to his aid. He is dressed in black armor, rides a black horse, and carries a black shield with no image on it. His is tall and powerfully built. Until this moment he had not attacked anyone, but only easily defended himself against any opponent. This unwillingness to fight has led people to call him "the Black Sluggard." He easily knocks both Front-de-Boeuf and Athelstane to the ground, and then retreats again. By now Sir Brian's horse has fallen, trapping the Templar's foot in the stirrup. The Disinherited Knight jumps from his horse and demands the Templar yield. To save Sir Brian from this "mortification," the prince calls a halt to the fighting.

Prince John, claiming that the Disinherited Knight's side would have lost if not for the Black Sluggard's intervention, awards the black-armored knight "the honour of the day." But the Black Knight cannot be found, so the prince is forced to name the Disinherited Knight "champion of the day." As he kneels to receive the Chaplet of Honor from Rowena, the marshals say his head must be bare and remove his helmet. He is about 25, blonde, and "pale as death," and his face is streaked with blood. Rowena gasps and begins to tremble, but places the chaplet on his head. She adds these words to the formal phrases, "And upon brows more worthy could a wreath of chivalry never be placed!" The young knight kisses her hand, then falls forward at her feet. Cedric rushes toward his son, but the marshals are faster. They remove his armor and find that the tip of a lance has "inflicted a wound in his side."

Chapter 13

Prince John is not pleased to learn the champion is Ivanhoe. King Richard had given Ivanhoe the lands bordering his father's estate, but in the absence of both Richard and Ivanhoe, John gave the lands to Front-de-Boeuf. Fitzurse returns with the news that Ivanhoe is badly wounded; he admires Lady Rowena for "suppress[ing] her sorrow with such dignity of manner." When he hears that she is a Saxon heiress, John suggests de Bracy marry her, and de Bracy says he would be glad to if "the lands are to [his] liking." Prince John sends his seneschal to invite Rowena and Cedric to dinner.

Just then a French messenger brings the prince a sealed note that reads, "Take heed to yourself for the Devil is unchained!" John goes pale. They decide they must bring all the prince's supporters together as soon as possible. For that reason they bring forward the archery contest to the afternoon and plan to leave in the morning.

The heralds announce the archery contest, but the green-clad yeoman is not among the eight contestants. John finds him and asks why not. He says he and the others are probably not used to shooting at the same targets and that the prince might not "relish the winning of a third prize by one who has unwittingly fallen under [his] displeasure." When asked his name, the man answers, "Locksley." John says that if Locksley wins, he'll add extra money to the prize, but if he loses, he'll have him whipped with bowstrings. If he refuses to contend, his bow and arrows will be broken. Locksley has no choice but to agree. The other archers shoot, and Hubert—Malvoisin's huntsman—wins. Locksley agrees to be matched against Hubert, but says he will shoot two arrows at a target of Hubert's choosing as long as Hubert will shoot one at a target of his choosing. Hubert's first arrow is off center. Locksley's first is two inches nearer the center. Hubert's next arrow lands dead center. Locksley's arrow splits it. Then Locksley cuts a slender willow wand and sticks it in the ground at the far end of the field. Hubert knows he cannot hit the wand, so refuses to try. Locksley splits the wand. Prince John asks him to join his guard, but Locksley refuses, saying, "I have vowed, that if ever I take service, it should be with your royal brother King Richard." He also gives his 20 coins to Hubert, saying Hubert would have hit the wand had he tried. Then he blends with the crowd and disappears.

Prince John sends his chamberlain to Isaac, who is to send him 2,000 crowns before sunset.


Readers' suspicion that the Disinherited Knight is Ivanhoe is proved correct in Chapter 12, but it appears he has been so badly wounded he is likely to die. Prince John is ready to have his own doctor tend to Ivanhoe, though it is unlikely the knight would survive that. The prince considers the young Saxon his enemy since he supports King Richard and would probably ask his doctor to help Ivanhoe die rather than recover. Fortunately, Ivanhoe's family and friends have already taken him out of harm's way.

In Chapter 12, however, a new mystery knight appears: the Black Knight (called the Black Sluggard for his lazy ways during the competition). He seems to be an even greater fighter than Ivanhoe, but he is also even less willing to let his identity be known. He doesn't speak to anyone and disappears before the winner is announced. Earlier, when Prince John speculated that the Disinherited Knight might be his brother Richard, John's supporters told him the knight was too small and that anyway, the king is being held captive. The Black Knight is much larger than Ivanhoe; what's more, the Prince learns at the end of Chapter 13 that the king is now free. Could the Black Knight be Richard? That would explain all the secrecy as well as why he rode so quickly to Ivanhoe's aid.

These chapters are full of surprises. The "clownish" goatherd Gurth turns out to be a painfully honest man with a well-developed sense of chivalry. As readers learn from his encounter with the robbers in Chapter 12, he is also a strong fighter with deep emotional ties to Ivanhoe, whom he wishes to serve in a soldierly way (but first he must buy his freedom from Cedric). Readers wonder about Gurth's past. What binds him so strongly to Ivanhoe that he would suffer torture and even die for his master's son? And those robbers! What sort of robbers find a man by himself carrying a large number of gold coins on a lonely road at night and capture him only to deliver him safely home with his purse intact? The robbers are also honest and chivalrous. And they have something else in common with Gurth and Ivanhoe: They don't want their identity known.

The question of identity arises again and again. This is one of the important themes of the book. People refuse to give their names in order to protect themselves or in order to achieve some goal. In Ivanhoe identity is generally more than a name; it encompasses political and cultural identity—Ivanhoe's Saxon birth and his support of the Norman king, Richard, for instance. From the prince's reaction to the revelation of the Disinherited Knight's identity, it's clear that it endangers Ivanhoe, but what goal is he pursuing? That has yet to be revealed.

Prince John may be clever, but he can't always read people well. He tends to think money will buy anyone, but this proves time and again not to be a sure bet. The archer in Chapter 13, for example, gives the prince's 20 coins, which had been meant as a bribe to entice him to join the archery competition, to Hubert, the runner-up. Locksley never doubted he would win and considers the contest unfair to Hubert, who isn't used to shooting at willow wands. Chivalry and fair play are of more concern to him than money. Moreover, it's possible he doesn't want to accept the prince's money because of his enmity for the prince. John even misreads his closest supporters, especially Waldemar Fitzurse. He keeps trying to please Fitzurse but succeeds in aggravating or even insulting him instead. This occurs in Chapter 9, when the prince implies to Fitzurse's daughter that not being chosen as the Queen of Beauty and of Love was a slight to her. John assumes a vanity in Fitzurse that simply isn't there. Readers have to wonder why such an intelligent and practical man supports Prince John at all since he often finds fault with the ruthless, vain, and mistrustful pretender to Richard's throne.

Chapter 10 offers an enjoyable encounter with Isaac and Rebecca. Isaac, who likes Ivanhoe more than he wants to, offers some comic relief in a narrative that is mostly chivalric romance. Back and forth he goes, arguing with himself over the reliability of the "good youth" and later over his own sudden impulse to be generous. His counting out of the last 10 coins is particularly entertaining. Isaac's habitual greed wins in the end, but is immediately counteracted by Rebecca's action in returning the money to Gurth with an extra 20 zecchins thrown in for Gurth's trouble. She has read her father's heart and also revealed her own: Ivanhoe was good to her father and saved him from capture. She loves her father dearly and feels indebted to the Saxon for his help. It doesn't hurt, of course, that he is also a skilled and valiant knight.

When the narrator describes the tournament field in Chapter 12 after the second day's joust between the two sides, the Templeton narrator continues his conversation with Dr. Drayasdust. In this instance he employs verbal irony. That is, he says the opposite of what he means. First, he calls the tournament "one of the most gallantly contested." Then, he lists how many were killed, mortally injured, and maimed or scarred for life in the fighting. It is for this reason, he says, that the tournament "is always mentioned in the old records, as the Gentle and Joyous Passage of Arms of Ashby." This verbal irony offers another comment on the way history is recorded. The records can't be trusted because the people who write them are not only recording facts; they are shaping opinion and creating cultural memories. Rewriting history is not something only novelists do.

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