Athelstane of Coningsburgh : Athelstane is a high-born Saxon noble, descended directly from the last Saxon kings of England. However, he is slow-witted and physically sluggish, which has earned him the nickname of Athelstane the Unready. He is more concerned with food and drink than anything else, although he does possess courage when it is called for, and he a good-natured man. He wishes to marry Rowena, but he is thwarted by her complete lack of interest in him.
Aymer, Prior of Jorvaulx : Aymer is a monk who likes to enjoy the good things in life, such as fine clothes, food, drink, and female company.
Lucas de Beaumanoir is the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar. He is old, and was a formidable warrior in his youth. He is an ascetic, but suffers from spiritual pride. It is he who insists on the trial of Rebecca. He is eventually forced to retreat from the castle of Templestowe after his authority is successfully challenged by Richard the Lion-hearted.
Brian De Bois-Guilbert is a knight of the Templar Order. He has fought in the Holy Land and is distinguished by his prowess in battle, although Ivanhoe defeats him at the tournament. De Bois-Guilbert joined the Templars not from religious or spiritual idealism but because he was betrayed by the woman he loved. Consumed by ambition and the love of power, he wants to become Grand Master of the Order, although he believes in none of its doctrines, which he regards as superstitions. De Bois-Guilbert falls in love with Rebecca and kidnaps her during the battle for Front-de-Boeuf’s castle. He dies in the trial by combat with Ivanhoe.
Maurice De Bracy is an unscrupulous, pleasure-seeking knight who is the leader of a band called Free Companions. These are mercenaries belonging to no nation but attached to any prince who pays them. De Bracy has attached himself to Prince John. His main enterprise is trying to acquire Rowena as his wife, and to this purpose he disguises himself as an outlaw in order to kidnap her. De Bracy is defeated and captured by Richard in the battle for Front-de-Boeuf’s castle. Richard spares his life, and De Bracy decides to flee to Flanders.
Cedric the Saxon is a plain-spoken Saxon landholder who resents the supremacy of the Normans. He wishes to marry off his ward Rowena to Athelstane, so that they can restore a Saxon dynasty. Cedric is quick-tempered and uncouth, full of energy, courageous, and basically good-natured. He is moved to tears by Wamba’s willingness to sacrifice himself to save his master, and he grants Gurth his freedom because Gurth helped to rescue him from Front-de-Boeuf’s castle. Cedric is eventually reconciled to his son Ivanhoe, whom he banished, and his dislike of the Normans decreases because King Richard treats him well.
Waldemar Fitzurse is Prince John’s chief adviser. He is a cunning and unscrupulous politician. On Prince John’s orders, he leads a band of armed men to kill or capture Richard. He is defeated. The king spares his life but banishes him from the country.
Reginald Front-de-Boeuf is the most cruel of the Norman knights. He has spent most of his life in battles, feuds and other disputes, and he is ruthless when it comes to expanding his power. He is big, his face is scarred, and his presence is intimidating. He is killed in combat by Richard the Lion-hearted during the battle for possession of his castle.
Gurth is Cedric’s swineherd. He deserts his master and disguises himself in order to attend Ivanhoe at the tournament. Cedric recapture him, but Gurth escapes when Cedric and his party are set upon in the forest. He takes part in the battle for Front-de-Boeuf’s castle and Cedric pardons him, gives him his freedom and some land. After this Ivanhoe refers to Gurth as his squire.
Isaac of York is a rich Jew. He is treated badly by the Christians, who are nonetheless forced to deal with him because he lends them money. Isaac is avaricious, but his redeeming quality is his love for his daughter Rebecca. Isaac also treats Ivanhoe with kindness, supplying him with horse and armor for the tournament and arranging for him to be cared for after he is wounded. Isaac eventually tires of being persecuted in England and moves to Spain with his daughter.
Prince John is the brother of King Richard. During Richard’s absence he plots to take over the throne. But Prince John has none of Richard’s admirable qualities and knows little about how to manage people. He loves the power his position brings him, but he is unable to wield it effectively. He lives in fear of Richard’s return, and knows that his hold on his own followers is weak. Richard is magnanimous towards him, however, and pardons him.
Locksley (Robin Hood) : Locksley, also known as Robin Hood, is the leader of the band of outlaws that live in the forest. Locksley is known for his archery skills, and he wins a contest at the tournament. He refuses an offer from Prince John to join the prince’s service. In the forest, Locksley wields his authority wisely and he is respected by all his men. Although he is an outlaw, he believes in justice and fairness. He finds common cause with the Black Knight and they attack Front-de-Boeuf’s castle together. When the Black Knight reveals who he is, Locksley pledges allegiance to him.
Philip and Albert Malvoisin : The brothers Philip and Albert Malvoisin are both Knights of the Templar Order, close colleagues of De Bois-Guilbert. They are both malevolent characters. Albert in particular is hypocritical, putting on a show of sanctity to cover his ambition. Richard orders them both to be executed.
Rebecca : Rebecca is the beautiful daughter of Isaac. She heals Ivanhoe of his wounds, and becomes very fond of him, but he does not reciprocate because she is a Jewess. De Bois-Guilbert becomes infatuated with her, and this leads to her being accused of sorcery by the Grand Master of the Templar Order. She is put on trial, during which she bears herself with dignity and courage.
Richard the Lion-Hearted is the King of England. On his return from the Crusades in the Holy Land he is imprisoned in Austria. When he is released he returns to England disguised as the Black Knight. He intervenes in the tournament at Ashby and saves Ivanhoe from defeat. He befriends the outlaws in the forest and leads the attack on Torquilstone, Front-de-Boeuf’s castle. Then he reveals who he is and reclaims his throne. Richard is a doughty warrior who deals justly with people, unlike his brother Prince John and the Norman nobles. He is generous in spirit and does not insist on pompous displays of his authority. He is daring, but sometimes seems to covet danger and adventure just for the sake of it, rather than thinking about the welfare of his kingdom.
Lady Rowena is the beautiful young ward of Cedric. She is directly descended from Alfred, the last Saxon king. Cedric wants to marry her off to Athelstane, so they can recreate a Saxon dynasty, but she is interested only in Ivanhoe. She and Ivanhoe eventually marry.
Friar Tuck is also known as the Clerk of Copmanhurst. He is a follower of Robin Hood, who keeps him well supplied with venison (illegally hunted) and wine. Friar Tuck breaks all the rules of priestly behavior, but because he is allied with the outlaws he is presented sympathetically as a cheery, stout-hearted Englishman.
Ulrica is the daughter of Torquil Wolfganger, the friend of Cedric’s father. She is now an old woman. When she was young, she had to watch as her father and seven brothers were killed by the elder Front-de-Boeuf. She was forced to live as the paramour of her father’s killer. Ulrica gets her revenge by setting fire to the castle and taunting Front-de-Boeuf as he dies. She also dies in the flames.
Wamba is Cedric’s jester. He shows admirable character when he volunteers to disguise himself as a monk and enter Front-de-Boeuf’s castle. His finest moment comes when in the castle he offers to change places with Cedric, so that Cedric can escape. He is well rewarded for his loyal service, and attends the wedding of Ivanhoe and Rowena in a new cap and a gorgeous set of silver bells.