In The Greatest Knight, renowned historian Thomas Asbridge draws upon the thirteenth-century biography and an array of other contemporary evidence to present a compelling account of William Marshal's life and times. Asbridge charts the unparalleled rise to prominence of a man bound to a code of honor yet driven by unquenchable ambition.
Marshal was the true Lancelot of his era - a peerless warrior and paragon of chivalry. As a five-year-old boy, William was sentenced to execution and led to the gallows, yet this landless younger son survived his brush with death and went on to train as a medieval knight. Against all odds Marshal rose through the ranks - serving at the right hand of five English monarchs - to become a celebrated tournament champion, a baron and politician, and, ultimately, regent of the realm.
This knight's tale lays bare the brutish realities of medieval warfare and the machinations of the royal court and draws us into the heart of a formative period of our history. It is the story of one remarkable man, the birth of the knightly class to which he belonged, and the forging of the English nation.
©2014 Thomas Asbridge (P)2015 Tantor
"Readers seeking a deeper understanding of early tournaments and the origins of chivalry will be pleased." (Library Journal)
"Derek Perkins skillfully narrates Asbridge's history of the exemplary twelfth-century knight William Marshall.... Perkins's voice has something of the medieval in it, and he easily fills the contours of a narrative that ranges from the manufacture of knight's armor to its bloody use on the field of battle. Here is Arthurian legend at its core--and one of the year's true sleepers." (AudioFile)
author of Lowcountry Legend's series
the rarity of a volume about an average man who broke the rules of the Middle Ages to become a figure of myth and greatness. Thus the focus is on some people and incidents that do not get much attention. Such as the details between Henry the second and his battles with his sons rather than the killing of Thomas Becket. Worth the time.
Say something about yourself!
Credited as the very embodiment of chivalry in a time with the concept was just coming into its own, William Marshal was very nearly executed at the age of five yet would go on to serve as the backbone of the Plantagenet dynasty. He would rebel against kings, serve alongside kings, go on Crusade, and become instrumental in the signing of Magna Carta. By any measure, this man is a legend in the annals of knighthood, England, and the whole of the Middle Ages.
This new biography is nothing less than impressive. While it does help to have some background knowledge of the Plantagenet dynasty and its key players (I highly recommend Dan Jones' The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England), the great thing about this book is that it does stand on its own for those who are just dipping their toes into this part of history. This means it works very well as both an introduction to the man and his times and as supplemental reading to other works. It's an easy read, but it's by no means lightweight in its approach. The result is that the Greatest Knight steps out to shine as one of the most respected men in history, fully accessible to modern readers some 800 years later.
This is the incredible story of William Marshal who rose from hostage who escaped execution as a child to renown knight to navigating deadly political waters. During the course of his life he served 5 kings and was known for his loyalty. In his lifetime he was known as a fierce warrior and he helped shape the chivalric code of knights.
The author does an excellent job of describing medieval life, especially of knights. William Marshal's life encompassed the reigns of Stephen through Henry III. William was larger than life. I recommend this book to anyone interested in medieval European history.
The narration is excellent. Derek Perkins did a wonderful job. Sometimes I shy away from history audiobooks because too often the narration is dull. Mr. Perkins kept the pace interesting.
This is a great read. The historical points are well researched and approached from multiple sources to provide as clear a picture as possible about William Marshall's life. While no one can be perfect, Marshall was a prototype of chivalry, courage, and loyalty and his story is fascinating.
and a penny for your thoughts
William Marshall is the stuff of legends and yet to Little is known of this great man. (equal to William Wallace). I read most everything I can about William Marshall. I'm inspired to know people like this lived.
This book attempts to be biased but in doing so I find, it is biased. First of all, we are all biased so it's impossible not to be especially when reviewing history. William Marshall's life was largely unknown until about 150 years ago. Historians knew he existed but the details of his life and the magnitude of his influence and the importance of his deeds were not realized until a document, long overlooked was discovered. This book summarizes that chronicle, with occasional commentary as to whether or not the author believes the discovered document was true. I personally find that unnecessary because most of recorded history is edited (by the victor as the saying goes). So, what we are left with is the summary of his tale and because William Marshall's life is so long and impressive, that is quite enough to keep the book entertaining.
However, I preferred Elizabeth Chadwick's book "The last night". She sticks to all the facts as written in the discovered history BUT weaves those facts together to create a story using description and events true to the time. While the history may simply tell of a battle that Marshall fought in, Chadwicks book will describe the battle using other historical information.
Showing forth the love and grace of my Friend, Jesus, to all He places in my path. Representing retirement by traveling the US and Canada.
Yess! There are so many essential behind the scenes minutia which directed major events requires that several re-readings seem essential. The scholarship and presentation are of the highest quality.
It was well researched and interwoven with many disperate sources that provide essential authority to this recounting of Marshall.
The presentation of Marshall's steadfast loyalty to each English king epitomized his commitment to the knight's code of chivalry. .
Although the performance at times was sonorous -- yet the subject matter captivated my attention. I'm not sure how one might perform differently -- perhaps with inflection, change of cadence, or some other method -- the presentation could have been more engrossing.
Hostage, youngest son, poor knight, servant of kings and the realm, tournament champion, the story of William Marshal and his time is very interesting. The book moves along at a good pace and paints pictures with enough detail that the important facts are clear but not so detailed that it gets bogged down.
William Marshal was so deeply involved in British history from the 1160's to 1219, and so much happened then that the writer easily could have fallen deeply into various rabbit holes and bogged the story down. Fortunately this does not happen. Instead, a vivid and engaging story of the greatest knight is told and by the end the reader is left with no doubt as to why the title applies to William Marshal.
The book covers Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the young King Henry, Richard the Lionheart, John Softsword and their times. William was a key figure in all of the histories and his loyal (and greatly rewarded) service to them is well explained.
the man William Marshall is little known to us in the modern world. this biography provided me with a keen insight into the life of this great man whose honor seems peerless in the annals of medieval Europe.
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