Notes on Ivanhoe Themes

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Ivanhoe Topic Tracking: Loyalty

Chapter 2

Loyalty 1: The forest encounter between Wamba, Gurth and the Prior and his men reveal an instance of loyalty and one of unfaithfulness. Wamba, faithful to his master Cedric, gives the Prior the wrong directions to Rotherwood, in hopes of sparing his master from these characters. Despite risk to himself, Wamba lies to protect his master.

The Prior, on the other hand, is not even obedient to his religious vows. He turns down the offer of a hermitage where he may stay in the hope of staying at the more opulent home of Cedric. His clothes, his appetite, and his love for women all are proof of his disregard for his religious vows.

Chapter 3

Loyalty 2: When Elgitha brings up Palestine and the lady Rowena's interest in the goings-on there, Cedric becomes very agitated. He thinks that he could be interested in Palestine, but he will not relent on the subject of his son. To him, his disobedient son deserves no such thought. Cedric is strong-willed and fiercely loyal to his Saxon heritage. A disobedient son is the greatest offense to him, and he no longer considers Ivanhoe his son.

Chapter 4

Loyalty 3: When his guests arrive, Cedric does not greet them fully. He has vowed not to take more than three steps toward any guest of their kind. He follows his vow, but the Prior tells Cedric not to take any vow too seriously:

"Vows, must be unloosed, worthy franklin, or permit me rather to say, worthy thane, though the title is antiquated. Vows are the knots which tie us to Heaven--they are the cords which bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar--and are therefore, as I said before, to be unloosed and discharged, unless our Holy Mother Church shall pronounce the contrary." Chapter 4, pg. 29-30

This is a statement one would expect to hear more from an outlaw than a man of the cloth, whose vows are supposed to guide his life. Unless, of course, the church and its leaders are corrupt.

Chapter 7

Loyalty 4: In the absence of King Richard, Prince John hatches a plan to usurp the throne. With his brother languishing in a prison abroad, John decides not to rescue his brother, but to seize the throne and have himself proclaimed King. He allies himself with the Norman nobles, the Templars and his brother's mortal enemy, Philip of France.

Chapter 11


Loyalty 5: When Gurth is accosted in the forest by robbers, he makes a distinction between his money and that of his master. The amount of money he tells the thieves he has does not include the money he carries for his master. When he tries to buy his freedom, he does so only with his own money, despite the aid his master's money might give him. Gurth is allowed to fight for his money and, upon winning, returns to his master.

Chapter 14

Loyalty 6: During the banquet after the tournament, Prince John is surprised to hear that brave Ivanhoe is the disinherited son of Cedric. It makes sense when John remembers that Ivanhoe is a follower of King Richard: "Alas, since your son was a follower of my unhappy brother, it need not be inquired where or from whom he learned the lesson of filial disobedience." Chapter 14, pg. 130 The narrator then reminds us that of all of King Henry's sons, Prince John was the most disobedient. Continuing in this vein, John hardly seems a pillar of loyalty as he betrays his brother. But these points are lost on the shallow Prince John.

Chapter 15

Loyalty 7: In speaking to Prince John's followers, Waldemar Fitzurse uses ambition to trump loyalty to the King. He insists that upon Richard's return, the King will seek to punish all who betrayed him during his absence. Fitzurse also rationalizes Prince John's dubious claim to the throne, by suggesting that many rulers have questionable claims and bloodlines. But his most powerful argument is that under John, they will have access to power and influence. The nobles allow their ambition to overthrow their loyalty to their rightful King.

Chapter 16

Loyalty 8: When the Black Knight comes upon the hermit, the Clerk of Copmanhurst, another unfaithful man of the cloth is revealed. Less refined than the Prior, the Clerk still disobeys his vows. He drinks and eats well, breaking the law of poverty, and his hunting breaks the laws of the forest. He should only be singing hymns to God, but he and the Knight share several drunken songs together which one would not hear in church. The Clerk tries to feign obedience and piety, but he is too jovial and fun-loving to deny the Black Knight food, drink, and song.

Chapter 19

Loyalty 9: Gurth renounces his master Cedric and slips off into the woods. Luckily, he leaves right before De Bracy's men capture the whole party, except for Wamba. When Gurth learns what has happened to his master, Gurth decides he must save Cedric. Despite having renounced his service to him, Gurth still feels a deep sense of loyalty to his master, and sets out to help him.

Chapter 21

Loyalty 10: During his imprisonment with Athelstane, Cedric tells him the story of part of their noble ancestors. It is the story of another disloyal brother, this one named Tosti. His alliance with the enemies of his brother, King Harold, brought him dishonor, defeat, and death.

Chapter 24

Loyalty 11: Rebecca despises the Templar's advances, and his plea that she forsake her religion and her family for him. To her, any religion which harbors a man like Bois-Guilbert has no worth. He has not only broken his particular vows, he also has no regard for common human decency. Rebecca, on the other hand, never wavers from her beliefs. She despises Bois-Guilbert for his deceitful nature.

Chapter 26

Loyalty 12: Wamba enters Front-de-Boeuf's castle disguised as a priest, and soon makes his way to the room that holds Athelstane and Cedric. They are delighted to see him, but Cedric gets angry when Wamba declares he will only change places with his master. He takes his devotion to his master seriously, and is following it to the letter. He will not change places with Athelstane. His decision is firm, and luckily Athelstane consents to Cedric's escape. Cedric reluctantly agrees to the kind act by his faithful servant.

Chapter 27

Loyalty 13: After the discovery of Cedric's escape, De Bracy and Front-de-Boeuf question Wamba. De Bracy likes him, and suggests the fool come to fight with him in the Crusades. Wamba declines, because he is still Cedric's servant and he feels a great allegiance to him.

Later, Brother Ambrose arrives at the castle. He tells De Bracy, Front-de-Boeuf, and Bois-Guilbert that the Prior is taken prisoner by the yeomen of the forest. But the Knights, one of them a Templar, are more concerned with fighting and saving their castle and themselves than with saving the priest.

Chapter 32

Loyalty 14: Despite the fact that Locksley's men are thieves and outlaws, they follow very equal and democratic processes when distributing the spoils from Front-de-Boeuf's castle. No one hides his loot; all is brought forward and pooled in the forest. Even the Black Knight is impressed with the honor and order of Locksley's band of outlaws.

Chapter 33

Loyalty 15: The Prior is a prisoner of Locksley. The holy man is horrified to meet the Clerk of Copmanhurst. He accuses him of profaning the holy rites, breaking his vows, and taking his commitment lightly. But the smart Clerk is quick to notice the hypocrisy of the Prior's statements, and calls the Prior a thief and a hypocrite. Neither are loyal to their vows, but at least the Clerk does not pretend to be.

Chapter 34

Loyalty 16: In a strange reversal, Prince John questions Waldemar Fitzurse for his willingness to capture and kill King Richard. He tells De Bracy that he respects the knight's refusal, worrying if someone who has so little respect for his familial blood will make a good chancellor. Prince John, a traitor himself, doesn't seem to know what he wants from his men. Even when they follow his orders, he questions their loyalty.

Chapter 36

Loyalty 17: Bois-Guilbert has great difficulty betraying Rebecca. He agrees, under persuasion, to testify and fight against her. But the Templar cannot just forsake her; he decides to appeal to her again. His honor seems not to be quite as questionable as Rebecca believes it to be.

Chapter 43

Loyalty 18: Ivanhoe is loyal to Rebecca, and he will repay her kindness to him. Despite his injury, he rushes to the trail, leaving the turbulent scene with Athelstane, Rowena, Cedric, and the King. It never crosses his mind to have someone fight in his place--he must do it himself, for he owes it to her.

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