Summary and Analysis Chapters 2-4



The horsemen prove to be Brian de Bois-Guilbert, the Knight Templar, and his companion Prior Aymer, worldly minded Abbot of Jorvaulx, and their attendants. Wamba misdirects them as they seek to find the home of Cedric the Saxon. Before they reach a sunken cross where the paths meet, they have a lively discussion which ends in a wager concerning the beauty and desirability of Rowena, Cedric's ward. At the foot of the cross they find a Palmer, who accompanies them to Cedric's home.

Rotherwood, Cedric's home, its furnishings, the clothing, and rank of the occupants, are described in great detail. When the Templar and the Prior arrive, they are treated with hospitality. The Palmer, inconspicuous by his dress, is scarcely noticed. Just as Cedric and his guests prepare to eat, Wamba and Gurth arrive, and a few minutes later Lady Rowena joins the group.


The total picture of the medieval church is made plain as Scott describes each of her adherents. Aymer, Prior of the Abbey of Jorvaulx, "under the penthouse of his eyes" has an "epicurean twinkle." The word penthouse, in less elegant terms, bags under his eyes, suggests he is dissipated. His epicurean twinkle reveals his love of good food and drink, and a "cautious voluptuary" is one who appeases his fleshly appetites under cover of piety. His garb, while correct for his order, is decorated so that it resembles the somber dress of a "Quaker beauty" who chooses rich materials and wears them so as to show her beauty to advantage.

Brian de Bois-Guilbert represents the military aspect of the church. He is arrogant and stern, and relies upon strict discipline to maintain his superiority. He uses Norman-French, the language of the "superior classes," and he would not ask for hospitality of Cedric, but demand it.

The Palmer, although even his demeanor is a disguise, is representative of the gentler following of the cross.

The prejudice against the Moslem faith is felt in the term "Old Mahmoud," which is a derogatory name for Mahomet. The Crusades are called the "excess of blood-guiltiness" by Cedric, but this is bitterness against a disobedient son rather than criticism. He later praises them.

The furnishings of Cedric's house, though crude, suggest wealth and power and an attempt to preserve the flavor of existence before the Norman conquest. The seating arrangement shows the caste system of the feudal manor. Cedric, himself, epitomizes the unconquerable spirit of the Saxon lord.

In Chapters 2 and 3 the author uses the device of foreshadowing, giving the reader a hint of what is to come. Chapter 2 has references to Cedric's disinherited son and to the beauty, nobility, and rank of Rowena, who has not yet appeared in the story. Chapter 3 mentions a connection between Cedric's banished son and the Crusades in Palestine.

Note Cedric's reference to "William the Bastard." William the Conqueror was an illegitimate ruler, not a true son of England. Cedric defers to the French, however, either to impress or appease them, by setting out the best food and drink. He is stirred to angry reflection by the mention of "curfew," an imposition of the Normans.

Cedric's wish to protect Rowena from contact with Brian de Bois-Guilbert and his reproof at the Templar's bold stare show that he is aware of the perfidious nature of the Templars.

Vortigen was a prince who invited Hengist the Saxon to England and married his daughter, Rowena. The reference here is to the invasion of Britain by the Vikings, which parallels the invasion by the French. The Templar is being both ironic and bold.

Wamba's comment about "truces with infidels" is a general one about the lack of honor among truce-makers.

Cedric's final speech in Chapter 4, with its reference to the elements raging outside, suggests a paraphrasing of a passage from Shakespeare's King Lear.


damascene to decorate, as iron or steel, with a peculiar marking or "water" produced in the manufacture

el jerrid a javelin used in Oriental games, especially in mock-fights on horseback

Benedicite, mes filz Bless you my children.

choleric producing biliousness

doublet a close-fitting jacket

morat drink made of honey flavored with the juice of mulberries

pigments highly spiced wine sweetened with honey

dais a platform above the floor of a large room

chian wine of Chios, an island of Asia Minor

lac dulce sweet milk

lac acidum sour milk

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