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MonkeyNotes-Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
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Chapters 33 & 34

Prior Aymer is frightened when he is brought in to the camp, but is mostly disturbed because his beautiful, expensive clothes are ruined. Isaac is relieved to learn Rebecca is alive and listens carefully when the Prior offers, for an appropriate price, to use his friendship with the Knight Templar to free Rebecca. The Black Knight is pleasantly surprised at the decency with which the outlaws behave.

At a banquet hall in the castle of York to which Prince John has invited his nobles, rumors are afoot that Torquilstone Castle has been attacked and captured. Word has it that Front-de-Boeuf and Bois-Guilbert, and perhaps De Bracy too, are dead. John is disturbed but listens to Fitzurse, who reassures him that his unscrupulous reign is invincible.

De Bracy dramatically enters the banquet and announces that Richard is in England, Bois-Guilbert has fled with the Jewish girl, and Front-de-Bouef is dead. John is frightened at the news and begins to drink heavily. In his drunken stupor, he realizes that many of his knights are deserting him. He quickly appoints De Bracy High Marshal to secure his loyalty. De Bracy, however, no longer trusts or believes in John. John, in turn, sets spies on De Bracy.


Notes

These chapters reveal the frail strands of John's hold on the English throne. When De Bracy enters the banquet with his amazing news about Richard, Front-de-Bouef, and Bois-Guilbert, the fearful Prince John is shown at his worst. Being a man of little honor, low character, and a great affinity for alcohol, he cannot control his own knights. When they realize that Richard is back in England, they quickly begin to desert John. Only Fitzurse remains loyal, but his devotion stems from an effort to save himself

Spying, intrigue and counter-intrigue have always been facts of political life, even in medieval England. Power seems to be the only force that commands loyalty, and if one is losing power, he is destined to lose followers as well. John's attempt to grant high power to De Bracy is a pathetic grasp at the quickly dissipating loyalty he still has. Not trusting De Bracy, however, John sets his spies upon him

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