The Siege of the Castle

"This story is an extract from Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe, which describes life in England during the Middle Ages, something more than a century after the Norman Conquest. The hatred between the conquering Normans and the conquered Saxons still continued, and is graphically pictured by Scott. Ivanhoe centers about the household of one Cedric the Saxon, who was a great upholder of the traditions of his unfortunate people. Wilfred of Ivanhoe, Cedric’s son, entered the service of the Norman king of England, Richard I, and accompanied him to the Holy Land on the Third Crusade. His father disowned the young knight for what he considered disloyalty to his Saxon blood. Ivanhoe, returning to England, participated in a great tournament at Ashby, in which he won fame under the disguise of the “Disinherited Knight.” Among the other knights who took part in the tournament were the Normans, Maurice de Bracy, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, and Brian de Bois-Guilbert, a Knight Templar. Two sides fought in the tournament, one representing the English, the other representing the foreign element in the land. An unknown knight, clad in black armor, brought victory to the English side, but left the field without disclosing his identity. An archery contest held at the tournament was won by a wonderful bowman who gave his name as Locksley. Ivanhoe, who fought with great valor, was badly wounded. Cedric had been accompanied to Ashby by his beautiful ward, the Lady Rowena, whose wealth and loveliness excited the cupidity of the lawless Norman knights. The Siege of the Castle opens with Cedric’s discovery of his son’s identity, and recounts the stirring incidents that follow the tournament. It gives a wonderful picture of warfare as it was hundreds of years ago, before the age of gunpowder." -- Preface by John Calvin Metcalf, The Literary World Seventh Reader (1919).
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