Ivanhoe Chapter 7
England is a sad nation at this time. King Richard is a prisoner of the Duke of Austria. In his absence his brother Prince John rules, allied with Philip of France, Richard's enemy. John does all he can to make Richard's imprisonment a very long one. He also works to secure his total domination should the King die, because John is not the rightful heir. His faithful men are criminals who are fearful of Richard's punishment, returning warriors anxious for conflict at home, and bands of forest outlaws. The nobles live well under John, and borrow great sums from the Jews. Money troubles and disease are common, but a tournament can help lift the nation's spirits. Richly decorated, grand pavilions and tents stand at the ready. Bois-Guilbert, Front-de-Boeuf, and de Malvoisin are among the competitors. Spectators sit in the galleries, grouped according to rank, race, or religion. There are many beautiful maidens, one of whom will be chosen as the Queen of Beauty and of Love. She will preside over the day's contests.
In the contest for seating, Isaac boldly tries for a good seat with his daughter Rebecca. Isaac knows that the nobles' need for his money will keep him safe for the day, and presses forward. All is interrupted when Prince John rides in. He is accompanied by several Knights Templar, and Knights of St. John. Both orders are loyal to Philip of France, and therefore enemies of King Richard. France and England disagree over Palestine, and all of Richard's attempts to take Jerusalem were therefore thwarted by Philip. The two Orders therefore pledged themselves to Prince John, whose distaste for the Saxons was well-known.
Philip's eye turns now to the beautiful Rebecca. Clothed in Eastern dress, she has lovely dark skin and hair, with delicate and noble features. Prince John is quite overcome, but the Prior keeps reminding him that Rebecca is a Jewess. Nevertheless, the Prince tries to get her a good seat. He offers the seat belonging to Cedric's clan, which is filled with Cedric's family. Athelstane is there, a hulking and slow-witted man, who does not at first understand the Prince's request. The Prince asks the mercenary knight de Bracy to make Athelstane move his seat. But Cedric fends him off, much to the embarrassment of the Prince. A yeoman joins the fray, further bothering the already annoyed Prince. Now the Jews move to good seats, but Wamba stands between them, and causes Isaac to tumble down the stairs! Isaac and Rebecca then remain in the lower seats, mocked by all.