Chapter 8 Summary
Flush with his success at crowd pleasing, John suggests that Rebecca should be elected Queen of Love and Beauty. The prince's impulsiveness and political deafness are clearly a source of concern for his followers. Prior Aymer is exasperated and Waldemar Fitzurse—an important but sober-minded ally—sternly warns John of the damage such an action would do to his "projects." John backs down and makes light of it, and De Bracy, his mercenary man-at-arms, suggests that the winner of the tournament be allowed to choose.
The first day of the tournament is to feature five knights, chosen by lot, against all comers in individual combat. The winners of the first round would then face the next five challengers and so on until a champion had managed to break five lances—in other words, to defeat five challengers.
The second day would be a general combat open to all knights that would end whenever John should declare a winner. The Queen of Love and Beauty would crown the winner. The third day would include a variety of contests such as archery. The tournament itself is being used as a public relations tool for enhancing John's popularity as he seeks to undermine Richard's support in England.
Five knights (chosen by lot) ride onto the field—or lists—to await their opponents. Among the challengers are Sir Brian, Malvoisin, and Front-de-Boeuf, who easily dismount their antagonists. After several rounds, these three remain undefeated, although they are personally unpopular with the spectators.
Cedric hates to see his Norman neighbors so triumphant and tries to prod Athelstane into joining the lists, but the unready knight is uninterested. The crowd begins to lose its enthusiasm, murmuring nostalgically about how much better chivalry was in the old days, and John starts issuing orders for the banquet, anticipating Sir Brian's certain victory.
Then a new challenger, calling himself the Disinherited Knight, arrives. He seems capable and talented but young and undersized compared to the gigantic Front-de-Boeuf and the imposing Templar. The crowd takes him to their heart, but they are dismayed when he chooses Sir Brian for his opponent and opts for mortal combat. He proves, however, to be a match for Sir Brian, who is unhorsed, and the Templar's humiliation is made especially galling by the crowd's gleeful cheering.
Sir Brian, prevented by the marshals from continuing the combat by sword—allowed in real war but against the tournament rules—warns his conqueror that they will finish the fight in the future. The Disinherited Knight then proceeds to vanquish the four remaining champions to take the prize.