Ivanhoe Chapter 23
Lady Rowena's cell is a run-down ornamented room, once belonging to Front-de-Beouf's wife, now long dead. De Bracy, decked out in a ridiculously ornate costume, now approaches his love. He tells her the power she has over him, and that he is in love with her. Rowena is taken aback by his words and his audacity. He tells her who he is, and she replies:
"To heralds and to minstrels, then, leave thy praise, Sir Knight, more suiting for their mouths than for thine own; and tell me which of them shall record in song, or in book of tourney, the memorable conquest of this night, a conquest obtained over an old man, followed by a few timid hinds; and its booty, an unfortunate maiden transported against her will to the castle of a robber?" Chapter 23, pg. 196
De Bracy thinks she is being very unfair, and he presses his case further. She scorns his gallant language, and constantly rebuffs his advances. She speaks proudly, but he insists she shall never leave the castle, except as his wife. He tells her to hold out no hope for her Saxon prince, as Front-de-Boeuf's rival, Ivanhoe is here, as prisoner! Injured Ivanhoe traveled in the Jew's sickbed, and was captured with all the rest of the group. Front-de-Boeuf is his rival not because of her, but from "...a jealousy of ambition and of wealth, as well as of love..." Chapter 23, pg. 198 Love does not interest him--Front-de-Boeuf plans to wreck anyone who tries to take Ivanhoe's land, which he now claims for himself. But, De Bracy proposes, if Rowena agrees to his marry him, Ivanhoe will be unharmed. Oppose him, and Ivanhoe will die, and Cedric as well.
Unused to having her wishes diverted, Rowena is thoroughly confused and dissatisfied. Breaking down, she begins to cry. De Bracy takes pity on her, and feels embarrassed that he has been so hard. He is not unmoved by her tears, but fears that bending to her sorrow will hurt his goals. While trying to comfort her, he hears a horn blow outside the castle.
The narrator then breaks from the story to discuss the unfathomable cruelty of the Norman barons. He refers to a passage by Henry, a historian. During the reign of King Stephen, his Norman barons built castles, and filled them with wicked people who tortured citizens, in hopes of getting their money. Another story tells of the Empress Matilda, daughter of the King of Scotland. During her education in England, she was forced to pretend to be a nun, because this was the only way to stay safe amidst the wicked Normans. Truly these were wicked, tumultuous times.