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Preview — The Greatest Knight by Thomas Asbridge
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The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones
A renowned scholar brings to life medieval England’s most celebrated knight, William Marshal—providing an unprecedented and intimate view of this age and the legendary warrior class that shaped it.
Caught on the wrong side of an English civil war and condemned by his father to the gallows at age five, William Marshal defied all odds to become one of England’s most celebrate...more
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I first ran across William Marshal back in the early 1980's when I read Thomas Costain's book:
The Conquering Family and The Magnificent Century.
Costain was clearly in awe of William Marshal and ...more
William Marshal, circa 1246-121 ...more
Who, from the moment that he first began
To ride about the world, loved chivalry,
Truth, honour, freedom and all courtesy.
Full worthy was he in his liege-lord's war,
And therein had he ridden (none more far)
As well in Christendom as heathenesse,
And honoured everywhere for worthiness.
(The Canterbury Tales - Chaucer)
Relying on L'Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal, the first and only biography known to describe the life of a medieval knight, written by John o ...more
While born a noble, William Marshall was not a first son. His father supported King Stephen's cousin's claim to the throne and was willing to make William a hostage in the 14 year civil war. William survived execution orders and the general poor and uncertai ...more
Like most people, all I really knew about Marshall is how he appeared in historical fiction (I first came across him in Jean Plaidy's works).
And interesting rags to riches story in many ways. From minor nobility to being the most powerful man in England is a hell of a journey.
Interesting and absorbing read.
Highly recommended. ...more
Edited: I originally quibbled about the lack of references but I only did not see them because I read an uncorrected proof so I have no qualms or reservations about this book. It's a straight up great book, very informative and extremely interesting.
Well that was fascinating. This book is a biography of the life of William Marshall along with a whole lot of other information to give context. It t ...more
William survived (King Stephen wasn't heartless enough to hang a five-year-old) and went on to a long and distinguished career that included disappointment, success, and so ...more
Long-lived and successful, Marshal rose from obscurity as a second son to being the regent of England in all but name. Even so, he'd hardly be known at all today if not for a biography of ...more
This accounting of Earl William Marshal is nothing short of brilliant. Persons who study, read, learn, and write of medieval History will of course be able to split hairs on the work offered by Mr. Asbridge. I am not one of those people mind you, but the thoroughness of ...more
The 12th Century was a time of great change. Very definitions and categories for and pursued by the noble or gentle classes! Those pursuits also for all kinds of power display and influence became pageant heavy.
Five kings, and he wasn't always on the "side" of any of them? Or was he?
Long-lived in a time when life (and in his specialty double that) was often elderly disability and/or becoming lon ...more
As a child he's held hostage by a tyrant and narrowly avoids being used as ammunition for a siege catapult. As a young adult he masters the skill of horse riding whist simultaneously bashing people very hard with a sword. He outlives 3 Kings, despite being impaled with a lance, held hostage again, fighting in a war to defend Normandy, fighting in an invasion of Normandy, and being sent on a crusade to Jerusale ...more
The book is dry in its telling, but the content is very interesting. William Marshal lived a fascinating life and the lack of insight into his personal motivations leave it open for interpretation. Was he a faithful servant of the crown? A power-hungry schemer? Both at once?
Thomas studied for a BA in Ancient and Medieval History at Cardi ...more