Be Mowbray's sins so heavy in his bosom,
That they may break his foaming courser's back,
And throw the rider headlong in the lists,
A caitiff recreant!
Our scene now returns to the exterior of the Castle, or
Preceptory, of Templestowe, about the hour when the bloody die
was to be cast for the life or death of Rebecca. It was a scene
of bustle and life, as if the whole vicinity had poured forth its
inhabitants to a village wake, or rural feast. But the earnest
desire to look on blood and death, is not peculiar to those dark
ages; though in the gladiatorial exercise of single combat and
general tourney, they were habituated to the bloody spectacle of
brave men falling by each other's hands. Even in our own days,
when morals are better understood, an execution, a bruising
match, a riot, or a meeting of radical reformers, collects, at
considerable hazard to themselves, immense crowds of spectators,
otherwise little interested, except to see how matters are to be
conducted, or whether the heroes of the day are, in the heroic
language of insurgent tailors, flints or dunghills.
The eyes, therefore, of a very considerable multitude, were bent
on the gate of the Preceptory of Templestowe, with the purpose of
witnessing the procession; while still greater numbers had
already surrounded the tiltyard belonging to that establishment.
This enclosure was formed on a piece of level ground adjoining to
the Preceptory, which had been levelled with care, for the
exercise of military and chivalrous sports. It occupied the brow
of a soft and gentle eminence, was carefully palisaded around,
and, as the Templars willingly invited spectators to be witnesses
of their skill in feats of chivalry, was amply supplied with
galleries and benches for their use.
On the present occasion, a throne was erected for the Grand
Master at the east end, surrounded with seats of distinction for
the Preceptors and Knights of the Order. Over these floated the
sacred standard, called "Le Beau-seant", which was the ensign, as
its name was the battle-cry, of the Templars.
At the opposite end of the lists was a pile of faggots, so
arranged around a stake, deeply fixed in the ground, as to leave
a space for the victim whom they were destined to consume, to
enter within the fatal circle, in order to be chained to the
stake by the fetters which hung ready for that purpose. Beside
this deadly apparatus stood four black slaves, whose colour and
African features, then so little known in England, appalled the
multitude, who gazed on them as on demons employed about their
own diabolical exercises. These men stirred not, excepting now
and then, under the direction of one who seemed their chief, to
shift and replace the ready fuel. They looked not on the
multitude. In fact, they seemed insensible of their presence,
and of every thing save the discharge of their own horrible duty.
And when, in speech with each other, they expanded their blubber
lips, and showed their white fangs, as if they grinned at the
thoughts of the expected tragedy, the startled commons could
scarcely help believing that they were actually the familiar
spirits with whom the witch had communed, and who, her time being
out, stood ready to assist in her dreadful punishment. They
whispered to each other, and communicated all the feats which
Satan had performed during that busy and unhappy period, not
failing, of course, to give the devil rather more than his due.
"Have you not heard, Father Dennet," quoth one boor to another
advanced in years, "that the devil has carried away bodily the
great Saxon Thane, Athelstane of Coningsburgh?"
"Ay, but he brought him back though, by the blessing of God and
"How's that?" said a brisk young fellow, dressed in a green
cassock embroidered with gold, and having at his heels a stout
lad bearing a harp upon his back, which betrayed his vocation.
The Minstrel seemed of no vulgar rank; for, besides the splendour
of his gaily braidered doublet, he wore around his neck a silver
chain, by which hung the "wrest", or key, with which he tuned his
harp. On his right arm was a silver plate, which, instead of
bearing, as usual, the cognizance or badge of the baron to whose
family he belonged, had barely the word SHERWOOD engraved upon
it.---"How mean you by that?" said the gay Minstrel, mingling in
the conversation of the peasants; "I came to seek one subject for
my rhyme, and, by'r Lady, I were glad to find two."
"It is well avouched," said the elder peasant, "that after
Athelstane of Coningsburgh had been dead four weeks---"
"That is impossible," said the Minstrel; "I saw him in life at
the Passage of Arms at Ashby-de-la-Zouche."
"Dead, however, he was, or else translated," said the younger
peasant; "for I heard the Monks of Saint Edmund's singing the
death's hymn for him; and, moreover, there was a rich death-meal
and dole at the Castle of Coningsburgh, as right was; and thither
had I gone, but for Mabel Parkins, who---"
"Ay, dead was Athelstane," said the old man, shaking his head,
"and the more pity it was, for the old Saxon blood---"
"But, your story, my masters---your story," said the Minstrel,
"Ay, ay---construe us the story," said a burly Friar, who stood
beside them, leaning on a pole that exhibited an appearance
between a pilgrim's staff and a quarter-staff, and probably acted
as either when occasion served,---"Your story," said the stalwart
churchman; "burn not daylight about it---we have short time to
"An please your reverence," said Dennet, "a drunken priest came
to visit the Sacristan at Saint Edmund's------"
"It does not please my reverence," answered the churchman, "that
there should be such an animal as a drunken priest, or, if there
were, that a layman should so speak him. Be mannerly, my friend,
and conclude the holy man only wrapt in meditation, which makes
the head dizzy and foot unsteady, as if the stomach were filled
with new wine---I have felt it myself."
"Well, then," answered Father Dennet, "a holy brother came to
visit the Sacristan at Saint Edmund's---a sort of hedge-priest is
the visitor, and kills half the deer that are stolen in the
forest, who loves the tinkling of a pint-pot better than the
sacring-bell, and deems a flitch of bacon worth ten of his
breviary; for the rest, a good fellow and a merry, who will
flourish a quarter-staff, draw a bow, and dance a Cheshire round,
with e'er a man in Yorkshire."
"That last part of thy speech, Dennet," said the Minstrel, "has
saved thee a rib or twain."
"Tush, man, I fear him not," said Dennet; "I am somewhat old and
stiff, but when I fought for the bell and ram at Doncaster---"
"But the story---the story, my friend," again said the Minstrel.
"Why, the tale is but this---Athelstane of Coningsburgh was
buried at Saint Edmund's."
"That's a lie, and a loud one," said the Friar, "for I saw him
borne to his own Castle of Coningsburgh."
"Nay, then, e'en tell the story yourself, my masters," said
Dennet, turning sulky at these repeated contradictions; and it
was with some difficulty that the boor could be prevailed on, by
the request of his comrade and the Minstrel, to renew his tale.
---"These two 'sober' friars," said he at length, "since this
reverend man will needs have them such, had continued drinking
good ale, and wine, and what not, for the best part for a
summer's day, when they were aroused by a deep groan, and a
clanking of chains, and the figure of the deceased Athelstane
entered the apartment, saying, 'Ye evil shep-herds!---'"
"It is false," said the Friar, hastily, "he never spoke a word."
"So ho! Friar Tuck," said the Minstrel, drawing him apart from
the rustics; "we have started a new hare, I find."
"I tell thee, Allan-a-Dale," said the Hermit, "I saw Athelstane
of Coningsburgh as much as bodily eyes ever saw a living man. He
had his shroud on, and all about him smelt of the sepulchre---A
butt of sack will not wash it out of my memory."
"Pshaw!" answered the Minstrel; "thou dost but jest with me!"
"Never believe me," said the Friar, "an I fetched not a knock at
him with my quarter-staff that would have felled an ox, and it
glided through his body as it might through a pillar of smoke!"
"By Saint Hubert," said the Minstrel, "but it is a wondrous tale,
and fit to be put in metre to the ancient tune, 'Sorrow came to
the old Friar.'"
"Laugh, if ye list," said Friar Tuck; "but an ye catch me singing
on such a theme, may the next ghost or devil carry me off with
him headlong! No, no---I instantly formed the purpose of
assisting at some good work, such as the burning of a witch, a
judicial combat, or the like matter of godly service, and
therefore am I here."
As they thus conversed, the heavy bell of the church of Saint
Michael of Templestowe, a venerable building, situated in a
hamlet at some distance from the Preceptory, broke short their
argument. One by one the sullen sounds fell successively on the
ear, leaving but sufficient space for each to die away in distant
echo, ere the air was again filled by repetition of the iron
knell. These sounds, the signal of the approaching ceremony,
chilled with awe the hearts of the assembled multitude, whose
eyes were now turned to the Preceptory, expecting the approach of
the Grand Master, the champion, and the criminal.
At length the drawbridge fell, the gates opened, and a knight,
bearing the great standard of the Order, sallied from the castle,
preceded by six trumpets, and followed by the Knights Preceptors,
two and two, the Grand Master coming last, mounted on a stately
horse, whose furniture was of the simplest kind. Behind him came
Brian de Bois-Guilbert, armed cap-a-pie in bright armour, but
without his lance, shield, and sword, which were borne by his two
esquires behind him. His face, though partly hidden by a long
plume which floated down from his barrel-cap, bore a strong and
mingled expression of passion, in which pride seemed to contend
with irresolution. He looked ghastly pale, as if he had not
slept for several nights, yet reined his pawing war-horse with
the habitual ease and grace proper to the best lance of the Order
of the Temple. His general appearance was grand and commanding;
but, looking at him with attention, men read that in his dark
features, from which they willingly withdrew their eyes.
On either side rode Conrade of Mont-Fitchet, and Albert de
Malvoisin, who acted as godfathers to the champion. They were in
their robes of peace, the white dress of the Order. Behind them
followed other Companions of the Temple, with a long train of
esquires and pages clad in black, aspirants to the honour of
being one day Knights of the Order. After these neophytes came a
guard of warders on foot, in the same sable livery, amidst whose
partisans might be seen the pale form of the accused, moving with
a slow but undismayed step towards the scene of her fate. She
was stript of all her ornaments, lest perchance there should be
among them some of those amulets which Satan was supposed to
bestow upon his victims, to deprive them of the power of
confession even when under the torture. A coarse white dress, of
the simplest form, had been substituted for her Oriental
garments; yet there was such an exquisite mixture of courage and
resignation in her look, that even in this garb, and with no
other ornament than her long black tresses, each eye wept that
looked upon her, and the most hardened bigot regretted the fate
that had converted a creature so goodly into a vessel of wrath,
and a waged slave of the devil.
A crowd of inferior personages belonging to the Preceptory
followed the victim, all moving with the utmost order, with arms
folded, and looks bent upon the ground.
This slow procession moved up the gentle eminence, on the summit
of which was the tiltyard, and, entering the lists, marched once
around them from right to left, and when they had completed the
circle, made a halt. There was then a momentary bustle, while
the Grand Master and all his attendants, excepting the champion
and his godfathers, dismounted from their horses, which were
immediately removed out of the lists by the esquires, who were in
attendance for that purpose.
The unfortunate Rebecca was conducted to the black chair placed
near the pile. On her first glance at the terrible spot where
preparations were making for a death alike dismaying to the mind
and painful to the body, she was observed to shudder and shut her
eyes, praying internally doubtless, for her lips moved though no
speech was heard. In the space of a minute she opened her eyes,
looked fixedly on the pile as if to familiarize her mind with the
object, and then slowly and naturally turned away her head.
Meanwhile, the Grand Master had assumed his seat; and when the
chivalry of his order was placed around and behind him, each in
his due rank, a loud and long flourish of the trumpets announced
that the Court were seated for judgment. Malvoisin, then, acting
as godfather of the champion, stepped forward, and laid the glove
of the Jewess, which was the pledge of battle, at the feet of the
"Valorous Lord, and reverend Father," said he, "here standeth the
good Knight, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Knight Preceptor of the
Order of the Temple, who, by accepting the pledge of battle which
I now lay at your reverence's feet, hath become bound to do his
devoir in combat this day, to maintain that this Jewish maiden,
by name Rebecca, hath justly deserved the doom passed upon her in
a Chapter of this most Holy Order of the Temple of Zion,
condemning her to die as a sorceress;---here, I say, he standeth,
such battle to do, knightly and honourable, if such be your noble
and sanctified pleasure."
"Hath he made oath," said the Grand Master, "that his quarrel is
just and honourable? Bring forward the Crucifix and the 'Te
"Sir, and most reverend father," answered Malvoisin, readily,
"our brother here present hath already sworn to the truth of his
accusation in the hand of the good Knight Conrade de
Mont-Fitchet; and otherwise he ought not to be sworn, seeing that
his adversary is an unbeliever, and may take no oath."
This explanation was satisfactory, to Albert's great joy; for the
wily knight had foreseen the great difficulty, or rather
impossibility, of prevailing upon Brian de Bois-Guilbert to take
such an oath before the assembly, and had invented this excuse to
escape the necessity of his doing so.
The Grand Master, having allowed the apology of Albert Malvoisin,
commanded the herald to stand forth and do his devoir. The
trumpets then again flourished, and a herald, stepping forward,
proclaimed aloud,---"Oyez, oyez, oyez.---Here standeth the good
Knight, Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, ready to do battle with any
knight of free blood, who will sustain the quarrel allowed and
allotted to the Jewess Rebecca, to try by champion, in respect of
lawful essoine of her own body; and to such champion the reverend
and valorous Grand Master here present allows a fair field, and
equal partition of sun and wind, and whatever else appertains to
a fair combat." The trumpets again sounded, and there was a dead
pause of many minutes.
"No champion appears for the appellant," said the Grand Master.
"Go, herald, and ask her whether she expects any one to do battle
for her in this her cause." The herald went to the chair in which
Rebecca was seated, and Bois-Guilbert suddenly turning his
horse's head toward that end of the lists, in spite of hints on
either side from Malvoisin and Mont-Fitchet, was by the side of
Rebecca's chair as soon as the herald.
"Is this regular, and according to the law of combat?" said
Malvoisin, looking to the Grand Master.
"Albert de Malvoisin, it is," answered Beaumanoir; "for in this
appeal to the judgment of God, we may not prohibit parties from
having that communication with each other, which may best tend to
bring forth the truth of the quarrel."
In the meantime, the herald spoke to Rebecca in these terms:
---"Damsel, the Honourable and Reverend the Grand Master demands
of thee, if thou art prepared with a champion to do battle this
day in thy behalf, or if thou dost yield thee as one justly
condemned to a deserved doom?"
"Say to the Grand Master," replied Rebecca, "that I maintain my
innocence, and do not yield me as justly condemned, lest I become
guilty of mine own blood. Say to him, that I challenge such delay
as his forms will permit, to see if God, whose opportunity is in
man's extremity, will raise me up a deliverer; and when such
uttermost space is passed, may His holy will be done!" The
herald retired to carry this answer to the Grand Master.
"God forbid," said Lucas Beaumanoir, "that Jew or Pagan should
impeach us of injustice!---Until the shadows be cast from the
west to the eastward, will we wait to see if a champion shall
appear for this unfortunate woman. When the day is so far
passed, let her prepare for death."
The herald communicated the words of the Grand Master to Rebecca,
who bowed her head submissively, folded her arms, and, looking up
towards heaven, seemed to expect that aid from above which she
could scarce promise herself from man. During this awful pause,
the voice of Bois-Guilbert broke upon her ear---it was but a
whisper, yet it startled her more than the summons of the herald
had appeared to do.
"Rebecca," said the Templar, "dost thou hear me?"
"I have no portion in thee, cruel, hard-hearted man," said the
"Ay, but dost thou understand my words?" said the Templar; "for
the sound of my voice is frightful in mine own ears. I scarce
know on what ground we stand, or for what purpose they have
brought us hither.---This listed space---that chair---these
faggots---I know their purpose, and yet it appears to me like
something unreal---the fearful picture of a vision, which appals
my sense with hideous fantasies, but convinces not my reason."
"My mind and senses keep touch and time," answered Rebecca, "and
tell me alike that these faggots are destined to consume my
earthly body, and open a painful but a brief passage to a better
"Dreams, Rebecca,---dreams," answered the Templar; "idle visions,
rejected by the wisdom of your own wiser Sadducees. Hear me,
Rebecca," he said, proceeding with animation; "a better chance
hast thou for life and liberty than yonder knaves and dotard
dream of. Mount thee behind me on my steed---on Zamor, the
gallant horse that never failed his rider. I won him in single
fight from the Soldan of Trebizond---mount, I say, behind me---in
one short hour is pursuit and enquiry far behind---a new world of
pleasure opens to thee---to me a new career of fame. Let them
speak the doom which I despise, and erase the name of
Bois-Guilbert from their list of monastic slaves! I will wash
out with blood whatever blot they may dare to cast on my
"Tempter," said Rebecca, "begone!---Not in this last extremity
canst thou move me one hair's-breadth from my resting place
---surrounded as I am by foes, I hold thee as my worst and most
deadly enemy---avoid thee, in the name of God!"
Albert Malvoisin, alarmed and impatient at the duration of their
conference, now advanced to interrupt it.
"Hath the maiden acknowledged her guilt?" he demanded of
Bois-Guilbert; "or is she resolute in her denial?"
"She is indeed resolute," said Bois-Guilbert.
"Then," said Malvoisin, "must thou, noble brother, resume thy
place to attend the issue---The shades are changing on the circle
of the dial---Come, brave Bois-Guilbert---come, thou hope of our
holy Order, and soon to be its head."
As he spoke in this soothing tone, he laid his hand on the
knight's bridle, as if to lead him back to his station.
"False villain! what meanest thou by thy hand on my rein?" said
Sir Brian, angrily. And shaking off his companion's grasp, he
rode back to the upper end of the lists.
"There is yet spirit in him," said Malvoisin apart to
Mont-Fitchet, "were it well directed---but, like the Greek fire,
it burns whatever approaches it."
The Judges had now been two hours in the lists, awaiting in vain
the appearance of a champion.
"And reason good," said Friar Tuck, "seeing she is a Jewess---and
yet, by mine Order, it is hard that so young and beautiful a
creature should perish without one blow being struck in her
behalf! Were she ten times a witch, provided she were but the
least bit of a Christian, my quarter-staff should ring noon on
the steel cap of yonder fierce Templar, ere he carried the matter
It was, however, the general belief that no one could or would
appear for a Jewess, accused of sorcery; and the knights,
instigated by Malvoisin, whispered to each other, that it was
time to declare the pledge of Rebecca forfeited. At this instant
a knight, urging his horse to speed, appeared on the plain
advancing towards the lists. A hundred voices exclaimed, "A
champion! a champion!" And despite the prepossessions and
prejudices of the multitude, they shouted unanimously as the
knight rode into the tiltyard, The second glance, however, served
to destroy the hope that his timely arrival had excited. His
horse, urged for many miles to its utmost speed, appeared to reel
from fatigue, and the rider, however undauntedly he presented
himself in the lists, either from weakness, weariness, or both,
seemed scarce able to support himself in the saddle.
To the summons of the herald, who demanded his rank, his name,
and purpose, the stranger knight answered readily and boldly, "I
am a good knight and noble, come hither to sustain with lance and
sword the just and lawful quarrel of this damsel, Rebecca,
daughter of Isaac of York; to uphold the doom pronounced against
her to be false and truthless, and to defy Sir Brian de
Bois-Guilbert, as a traitor, murderer, and liar; as I will prove
in this field with my body against his, by the aid of God, of Our
Lady, and of Monseigneur Saint George, the good knight."
"The stranger must first show," said Malvoisin, "that he is good
knight, and of honourable lineage. The Temple sendeth not forth
her champions against nameless men."
"My name," said the Knight, raising his helmet, "is better known,
my lineage more pure, Malvoisin, than thine own. I am Wilfred
"I will not fight with thee at present," said the Templar, in a
changed and hollow voice. "Get thy wounds healed, purvey thee a
better horse, and it may be I will hold it worth my while to
scourge out of thee this boyish spirit of bravado."
"Ha! proud Templar," said Ivanhoe, "hast thou forgotten that
twice didst thou fall before this lance? Remember the lists at
Acre---remember the Passage of Arms at Ashby---remember thy proud
vaunt in the halls of Rotherwood, and the gage of your gold chain
against my reliquary, that thou wouldst do battle with Wilfred of
Ivanhoe, and recover the honour thou hadst lost! By that
reliquary and the holy relic it contains, I will proclaim thee,
Templar, a coward in every court in Europe---in every Preceptory
of thine Order--unless thou do battle without farther delay."
Bois-Guilbert turned his countenance irresolutely towards
Rebecca, and then exclaimed, looking fiercely at Ivanhoe, "Dog of
a Saxon! take thy lance, and prepare for the death thou hast
drawn upon thee!"
"Does the Grand Master allow me the combat?" said Ivanhoe.
"I may not deny what thou hast challenged," said the Grand
Master, "provided the maiden accepts thee as her champion. Yet I
would thou wert in better plight to do battle. An enemy of our
Order hast thou ever been, yet would I have thee honourably met
"Thus---thus as I am, and not otherwise," said Ivanhoe; "it is
the judgment of God---to his keeping I commend myself.
---Rebecca," said he, riding up to the fatal chair, "dost thou
accept of me for thy champion?"
"I do," she said---"I do," fluttered by an emotion which the fear
of death had been unable to produce, "I do accept thee as the
champion whom Heaven hath sent me. Yet, no---no---thy wounds are
uncured---Meet not that proud man---why shouldst thou perish
But Ivanhoe was already at his post, and had closed his visor,
and assumed his lance. Bois-Guilbert did the same; and his
esquire remarked, as he clasped his visor, that his face, which
had, notwithstanding the variety of emotions by which he had been
agitated, continued during the whole morning of an ashy paleness,
was now become suddenly very much flushed.
The herald, then, seeing each champion in his place, uplifted his
voice, repeating thrice---"Faites vos devoirs, preux chevaliers!"
After the third cry, he withdrew to one side of the lists, and
again proclaimed, that none, on peril of instant death, should
dare, by word, cry, or action, to interfere with or disturb this
fair field of combat. The Grand Master, who held in his hand the
gage of battle, Rebecca's glove, now threw it into the lists, and
pronounced the fatal signal words, "Laissez aller".
The trumpets sounded, and the knights charged each other in full
career. The wearied horse of Ivanhoe, and its no less exhausted
rider, went down, as all had expected, before the well-aimed
lance and vigorous steed of the Templar. This issue of the
combat all had foreseen; but although the spear of Ivanhoe did
but, in comparison, touch the shield of Bois-Guilbert, that
champion, to the astonishment of all who beheld it reeled in his
saddle, lost his stirrups, and fell in the lists.
Ivanhoe, extricating himself from his fallen horse, was soon on
foot, hastening to mend his fortune with his sword; but his
antagonist arose not. Wilfred, placing his foot on his breast,
and the sword's point to his throat, commanded him to yield him,
or die on the spot. Bois-Guilbert returned no answer.
"Slay him not, Sir Knight," cried the Grand Master, "unshriven
and unabsolved---kill not body and soul! We allow him
He descended into the lists, and commanded them to unhelm the
conquered champion. His eyes were closed---the dark red flush
was still on his brow. As they looked on him in astonishment,
the eyes opened---but they were fixed and glazed. The flush
passed from his brow, and gave way to the pallid hue of death.
Unscathed by the lance of his enemy, he had died a victim to the
violence of his own contending passions.
"This is indeed the judgment of God," said the Grand Master,
looking upwards---"'Fiat voluntas tua!'"