Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ivanhoe Notes: Chapters 32 through 44

UPDATE: All links to the Ivanhoe notes are now in my sidebar to the right.

Chapter 32

A note on Cedric’s pronouncement of Gurth’s freedom: Cedric says, “THEOW and ESNE art thou no longer… FOLKFREE and SACLESS art thou in town and from town, in the forest as in the field. A hide of land I give to thee in my steads of Walbrugham, from me and mine to thee and thine aye and forever; and God’s malison on his head who this gainsays.”

This basically means, “I hereby make you a free person and give you land to be yours forever. May God condemn anyone who denies it.”

This made Gurth not only a freeman, but a special kind of landowner called a ‘freeholder’. He was not only given his freedom, but also some political clout, as a person had to be a freeholder in order to participate in government. (A person had to be titled gentry in order to have *real* power in medieval England, but freeholders held some sway in shire and village.) THEOW and ESNE basically equate with ‘thrall’ or ‘slave’, while FOLKFREE and SACLESS mean ‘lawful freeman’.

liard: spirited
mots: notes played on a bugle
Sathanas: Satan
ruth: sorrow for another’s misery
maugre: pleasure
quondam: former
cardecu: a quarter of a crown
leman: sweetheart

Thought question: How did Locksley divide the spoil?

Chapter 33

Introduction: The holy man in this chapter is none other than Prior Aymer of Jorvaulx, whom we met walking along with Sir Brian in the first few chapters of the book. It has been awhile since we heard about the Prior.

manus imponere in servos Domini: This is something like, “you mustn’t lay hands on the Lord’s servant”
excommunicabo vos: something like “at the point of excommunicating you”. Excommunication is being removed as a member of the Catholic church.
nebulo quidam: “a certain person without boundaries” (?)
Deus faciat salvam benignitatem vestram: “The Lord bless you with good health”
propter necessitatem, et ad frigus depellendum: “because of necessity and cold”
latro famosus: on account of (?)
inter res sacras: among the sacred objects
pouncer-box: a small box with perforated lid used for sprinkling powder on paper, or a box for perfume
morris-dancer: an English folk dancer
ye may retain as borrows my two priests: he is offering his priests as pledges that he will come back with the ransom
Ichabod: “the glory of the Lord hath departed”
dortour: dormitory
score: twenty
marevedi: Moorish coins (the Moors were Muslims that settled in Spain in the Middle Ages)

Note: Stop for a moment and make sure you know the situation of each of the following: the Black Knight, the Hermit, Rebecca, Isaac, Sir Brian, Maurice de Bracy, Cedric and Rowena. (We don’t find out about Ivanhoe until a later chapter.) The plot thickens at this point, and it is easy to get lost. If you aren’t sure where one of our characters has ended up, look back at the previous couple of chapters and find out. From now on, I will include some questions meant to ensure we all keep up with the story.

Chapter 34

Introduction: Remember Prince John’s plot to take over King Richard’s throne? John and his advisor, Waldemar Fitzurse, are still working toward that end, and the battle at Torquilstone has deprived them—temporarily, at least-- of some of their fiercest allies.

Key quote: “Richard is in England—I have seen and spoken with him.”

“I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark to Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.” As we learned earlier in the story, De Bracy is the leader of a band of Free Companions— basically knights-for-hire. He wants to escape with his knights to mainland Europe and find employ in the army of some duke or king.

“I will take sanctuary in this church of St. Peter—the archbishop is my sworn brother.” Fitzurse plans to seek sanctuary at the altar of the church, similar to Thomas a Becket’s historic attempt at safety.

bewray: betray
Tristram and Lancelot: legendary knights of the Round Table (Tristram is the older English version of ‘Tristan’)
Tracy, Morville, Brito: the knights that slew Thomas a Becket at the altar of the church in Henry II’s time


1. Why won’t De Bracy attack Richard?
2. What is Fitzurse going to do?
3. What does John do after Fitzurse leaves?

Chapter 35

vair or ermine: squirrel or ermine fur
romaunts: romances
extirpate: uproot
basilisk: a legendary serpent, like a dragon, with lethal breath and glance
consuetude: a practice that has become so customary that it seems to be law
periapts: charms

Question: What does Beaumanoir decide to do with Rebecca?

Chapter 36

A note on local government in medieval England: Beaumanoir says, "The laws of England permit and enjoin each judge to execute justice within his own jurisdiction. The most petty baron may arrest, try, and condemn a witch found within his own domain.”

The King of England was the ‘top of the heap’, so to speak, in English government; the barons served him, but they were also lords of their own land; they in turn had their vassals, usually knights, who lorded it over smaller sections of the barons’ land; then sometimes there were smaller divisions ruled by underlings below the knights. Imagine it as a pyramid, with the king at the top, the barons and knights in the middle, and the smaller landholders providing the wide base. Slaves and persons that owned no land spread out at the very bottom with no power at all. Many churchmen held positions of power similar to those of barons and knights.

Notable quotes:

“…[Albert Malvoisin] knew how to throw over his vices and his ambition the veil of hypocrisy, and to assume in his exterior the fanaticism which he internally despised.”

“Will future ages believe that such stupid bigotry existed?”.

“Trial moves rapidly on when the judge has determined the sentence beforehand."

quean: a woman of bad reputation
there is little time to find engines fitting: there is little time to make up false evidence

Question: What is Sir Brian’s reaction when he finds out about Beaumanoir’s decision to try Rebecca?

Chapter 37

sortileges: witchcraft
gage: pledge

I challenge the privilege of trial by combat: Rebecca is asking that her guilt or innocence be determined by whether her champion wins or loses a fight. This medieval type of trial was based on the idea that God would perform a miracle to save the innocent, and would let the guilty die. Rebecca is allowed to have a champion, rather than fighting herself, because she is a woman.

Thought questions:

1. How might you be able to tell that a "person of God" is not actually following God?
2. How do the Templars ‘prove’ that Rebecca is guilty of sorcery?
3. What is written on the bit of parchment Rebecca was mysteriously given in Chapter 36?

Chapter 38

essoine: excuse
devoir: courtesy
appellant: one who appeals a court decision
recreant: cowardly
capul: work-horse
asper: a Turkish or Egyptian silver coin
mancus: an Anglo-Saxon coin

bring down my grey hairs to the grave: Genesis 44:29
till, in the bitterness of my heart, I curse God and die: Job 2:9
Benoni: Genesis 35:18
gourd of Jonah: Jonah 4:7


1. What judgment was delivered by Beaumanoir?
2. What does Rebecca ask Isaac to do?

Chapter 39

Notable quotes:

“Protect the oppressed for the sake of charity, and not for a selfish advantage.”

“Proud as thou art, thou hast in me found thy match.”

“I envy thee not thy faith, which is ever in thy mouth, but never in thy heart nor in thy practice.”

“Thus do men throw on fate the issue of their own wild passions.”

“There are noble things which cross over thy powerful mind; but it is the garden of the sluggard, and the weeds have rushed up, and conspired to choke the fair and wholesome blossom."

that which is not bread: Isaiah 55:2
the garden of the sluggard: Proverbs 24:30-34


1. What plan does Bois-Gilbert present to Rebecca? What does Rebecca think of it?
2. What plan does Bois-Gilbert present to Albert Malvoisin? What does he think of it?
3. What does Bois-Gilbert finally decide to do?

Chapter 40

Introduction and question: In the first paragraph, Scott mentions “the magnanimous Wamba”. How has Wamba demonstrated magnanimity?

magnanimity: greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.

destrier: a war-horse
jennet: a kind of horse
manciple: steward, or purchaser of provisions
falchion: a sword with a short, broad, slightly curved blade
targe: shield


1. What does Wamba mean by the yeomen’s (outlaws’) “trade with heaven?”
2. Which “companions are worse to meet than yonder outlaws”?
3. Who attacks the Black Knight?

Chapter 41

Richard’s good intentions toward the bold Outlaw were frustrated by the King’s untimely death: This refers to events that occur in history after this story takes place (Ivanhoe is historic fiction, not actual history, but the real Richard I did meet an untimely death five years after resuming his throne).

Coningsburgh (Conisbrough) is an actual Saxon castle in Yorkshire. You can see pictures here.

since the days of the Heptarchy: Since the confederation of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Essex, Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia) which were loosely allied during the early Middle Ages (or late Dark Ages). Alfred the Great is traditionally supposed to have been the first king over all England.

barrow: mound
Hengist: one of the leaders of the Anglo-Saxon invasion in the 5th century AD
mendicants: beggars
harps, crowds and rotes: musical instruments
panegyric: formal and elaborate praise

Question: Ivanhoe takes King Richard to task at the beginning of this chapter, saying, "But your kingdom is threatened with dissolution and civil war---your subjects menaced with every species of evil, if deprived of their sovereign in some of those dangers which it is your daily pleasure to incur, and from which you have but this moment narrowly escaped." Do you think Richard has shirked his duty by staying in disguise so long, or was it wise for him to wait to reveal himself? For that matter, should he have gone to the Crusades in the first place, or should he have stayed in England?

Chapter 42

Introduction: This is one of the strangest chapters in the book. You may want to read it twice.


1. What happened to Athelstane?
2. What happened to Ivanhoe and King Richard?
3. At Coningsburgh, the Normans are represented by Richard and Ivanhoe—Ivanhoe is counted a Norman because of the way he dresses. Compare the younger and older Saxons’ attitudes toward them. (I think it is interesting that Richard and Ivanhoe are thought to be Saxons by Normans at Torquilstone, and thought to be Normans by Saxons at Coningsburgh.)

Chapter 43

What was the outcome of the combat?

Chapter 44

obsequies: funeral rites
rowel: the wheel of a spur

I will appeal to Rome against thee: The pope and the Church had considerable power in the medieval world, so the Grand Master might be able to stir up trouble for Richard. Medieval government was a complicated thing.


1. Why do you suppose Rebecca wants to leave without thanking Ivanhoe?
2. How did King Richard deal with Prince John?
3. Scott says Richard’s “administration was wilfully careless, now too indulgent, and now allied to despotism.” What do you think?
4. How do Cedric’s feelings change?
5. What is Rebecca going to do?

A final note on English government: After Richard’s untimely death, the throne passed to John, who was such a tyrant that the barons of England finally forced him to sign a document-- the Magna Carta--stating that he would respect the liberties of freemen and abide by the law himself. This document was one reason the American colonists (they considered themselves free Englishmen) resisted King George’s arbitrary laws, five hundred years later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow I wish I had these notes when my son and I read this last year. :)

Mrs. H