Once the word gets out that the Disinherited Knight is Wilfred of Ivanhoe, there is concern in Prince John’s camp. They know that Ivanhoe will claim the castle and manor bestowed on him by King Richard, which Prince John has given to Front-de-Boeuf. News reaches them that the wounded Ivanhoe is now being cared for by his friends. Meanwhile, Prince John tells the Norman De Bracy that he will secure the Saxon Rowena as his, De Bracy’s, bride. John then receives a letter informing him that King Richard has obtained his freedom. John knows that this means trouble for him, so he cancels the following day’s festivities. He announces that the archery contest that was to have been held then will take place immediately. A yeoman named Locksley, to whom the prince has already taken a dislike, enters the contest, agreeing to shoot only when all the other archers have done so. The best shot is from Hubert, a forester in the service of Malvoisin, but when Hubert takes on Locksley he loses. Prince John is so impressed, he invites Locksley into his service as a yeoman of his body guard, but Locksley declines. Locksley then slips away and is lost in the crowd. Prince John sends his chamberlain to ride to Ashby and demand two thousand crowns from Isaac.
That evening there is a luxurious banquet at the Castle of Ashby. Prince John greets Cedric and Athelstane with great courtesy; they say Rowena is indisposed and cannot attend. The Normans make sarcastic comments about the Saxons’ manners, and the Saxons are ignorant of Norman etiquette. Prince John proposes a toast to Ivanhoe, but Cedric refuses to join in, saying that Wilfred left his home to join the court of Richard I against his father’s wishes. Prince John says that since Cedric has disinherited his son, he will not object to John’s conferring on Front-de-Boeuf the castle that Richard I had intended for Ivanhoe. The Saxons and Normans bait each other, but Prince John pretends that from his side it is all in jest. Prince John calls upon Cedric to make a toast to a Norman whom he deems worthy, and Cedric responds with a toast to Richard the Lion-hearted. Prince John had been expecting to hear his own name. Cedric enjoys his advantage, and then he and Athelstane leave the banquet. Prince John is discomfited because he fears his men are about to desert him in favor of King Richard.
Waldemar Fitzurse uses all his political skill to rally the supporters of Prince John. They plan to make him king. Fitzurse then encounters De Bracy, dressed in green like a yeoman and carrying a longbow. De Bracy says he plans to attack Cedric’s entourage and carry off Rowena as his bride. Because of his disguise, the kidnapping will be blamed on the outlaws of the forest. Then he plans to reappear in his usual clothes and rescue Rowena. He intends to escort her to Front-de-Boeuf’s castle, or to Normandy, and marry her. De Bois-Guilbert is to assist in this scheme; he and his men will also be disguised as outlaws.
After the tournament, the Black Knight leaves Ashby and rides north. As evening falls he seeks shelter in a dilapidated, out-of-the-way small chapel. At first the monk inside refuses to admit him. But the Knight threatens to break down the door, and the monk reluctantly invites him in. He offers the knight the most rudimentary accommodation and a dish of dried pease and water. The knight wonders aloud how the hermit, who identifies himself as the Clerk of Copmanhurst (Friar Tuck), manages to stay so fit and strong on such a diet. The hermit replies that his food is blessed by the saints. Seeing the dissatisfaction of the Knight with such humble fare, the hermit says that the keeper of the forest left him some food which is not suitable for him to eat. He brings back a large pasty on a large dish. The Knight persuades the hermit to partake of this better food with him, so they begin their feast, which is then enriched by wine, also left by the keeper. The Knight guesses that the hermit regularly eats in this way, the product of illegal deer hunting, and the hermit knows that he knows. But the hermit deflects the Knight’s further inquiries about the matter, at the same time proposing a chivalrous contest of arms between them. The Knight declines.
The Knight sings a ballad, accompanying himself on the harp. The hermit responds by singing “The Barefooted Friar,” a ballad about a happy friar who roams wherever he likes and enjoys ample food, drink and hospitality. It is clear that the friar in the song resembles the hermit who sings it, although of course he denies it to the Knight, who enjoys the joke. Their revelry continues until there is a loud knock on the door.
Chapter XIV continues the hostility between Saxons and Normans, and shows how fragile is Prince John’s hold on his followers. It is only due to the cunning machinations of Fitzurse, at the beginning of Chapter XV, that his plot to seize the throne does not collapse. This is in marked contrast to King Richard. Prince John gains followers only by bribing and cajoling them, appealing to their greed and ambition. King Richard, on the other hand, attracts followers through his moral qualities and powers of leadership.
The characterization of Cedric is consistent throughout the novel, and Chapter XIV shows him in a typical fashion. He is rough-and- ready but also honest and good-hearted, a plain man who speaks his mind, in contrast to the more refined but treacherous Normans. The one blemish on Cedric is his cold-heartedness to his son. Scott keeps the estranged father-son plot going, stoking it from time to time, until it is time to resolve it.
There is rich humor in Chapters XVI and XVII. These chapters also serve to characterize King Richard as a tolerant man who accepts the foibles of human nature. Friar Tuck is of course a travesty of a monk, and perhaps Scott is here making another dig at the medieval church—there is not a single cleric in the novel who is worthy of respect. Friar Tuck is presented in a tolerant way, however, because he at least is on the side of the honest outlaws in the forest, and therefore a true Englishman.
The lightheartedness and humor of these two chapters make an effective contrast to the villainy of the previous two, in which Prince John plots for the throne and the Norman nobles plan an outrageous kidnapping.