The Greatest Knight : The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power behind Five English Thrones
by Thomas Asbridge
Editor: Simon & Schuster Ltd
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William the Marshal was the true Lancelot of his time – an unparalleled warrior and paragon of chivalry – yet, over the centuries, the spectacular story of his past exploits of memoryThen, in 1861, a young French scholar came across the only survivor of a copy of an unknown text, later nicknamed the Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal.This richly detailed work made it possible to revive the Marshal of notoriety, to put flesh on the bones of that to mask the face, but even today, it remains largely forgottenAs a five-year-old boy, William, was sentenced to execution and led to the gallows, but this landless, younger son survived his brush with death, and continued to train as a medieval knightClimbing through the ranks to serve to the right of five English monarchs, he became a famous tournament champion, baron, politician and, ultimately, regent of the kingdomHe befriended the great figures of his time, from Richard the Lionheart to the infamous King John, and helped negotiate the terms of the Magna Carta – the first “bill of rights”.Yet, at the age of seventy, he was forced to fight in the front line of a final battle, trying to save the kingdom from a French invasion, in 1217In The Greatest Knight, the famous historian Thomas Asbridge draws on a table of contemporary data, including the thirteenth century biography, to present a fascinating account of William the Marshal’s life and times, from rural England to the battlefields of France, the desert castles of the Holy Land and the green shores of IrelandThe mapping of the incredible rise in power of a man bound to a code of honor, however, driven by insatiable ambition, this knight of tale exposes the animality realities of medieval war and the machinations of the royal court, and takes us to the heart of a period of formation of our history, when the West emerged from the Dark Ages and stood on theIt’s the story of a remarkable man, the birth of knightl.
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