The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power behind Five English Thrones (Paperback)
  • The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power behind Five English Thrones (Paperback)
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The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power behind Five English Thrones (Paperback)

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Paperback 464 Pages / Published: 10/09/2015
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William Marshal was the true Lancelot of his era - a peerless warrior and paragon of chivalry -yet over the centuries, the spectacular story of his achievements passed from memory. Then, in 1861, a young French scholar stumbled upon the sole surviving copy of an unknown text, later dubbed the History of William Marshal. This richly detailed work helped to resurrect Marshal's reputation, putting flesh onto the bones of this otherwise obscure figure, but even today he remains largely forgotten.

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. Rising through the ranks to serve at the right hand of five English monarchs, he became a celebrated tournament champion, baron, politician and, ultimately, regent of the realm. He befriended the great figures of his day, from Richard the Lionheart to the infamous King John, and helped to negotiate the terms of Magna Carta - the first 'bill of rights'. Yet at the age of seventy he was forced to fight in the frontline of one final battle, striving to save the kingdom from French invasion in 1217.

In The Greatest Knight, renowned historian Thomas Asbridge draws upon an array of contemporary evidence, including the thirteenth-century biography, to present a compelling account of William Marshal's life and times, from rural England to the battlefields of France, the desert castles of the Holy Land and the verdant shores of Ireland. Charting the unparalleled rise to prominence of a man bound to a code of honour, yet driven by unquenchable ambition, this knight's tale lays bare the brutish realities of medieval warfare and the machinations of royal court, and draws us into the heart of a formative period of our history, when the West emerged from the Dark Ages and stood on the brink of modernity. 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.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
ISBN: 9781847396419
Number of pages: 464
Dimensions: 198 x 130 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"This is medieval history at its very best - a compelling story told by a historian whose knowledge is both thorough and extensive, and whose enthusiasm for the subject rings out on every page."--Ian Mortimer, author of Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England
"Captivatingly written and eye-openingly informative, The Greatest Knight is ... a first-rate history told by a master of the craft. Read this book, and you'll never forget the name William Marshal-nor will you ever think of the Middle Ages in the same way again."---Toby Lester, author of The Fourth Part of the World and Da Vinci's Ghost
"History doesn't come more exciting than this. Thomas Asbridge has written a page turner about William Marshal, the Zelig of English history, a man who was indispensable to five kings, and had a hand in practically every important event during those turbulent and eventful reigns."---Danny Danziger, author of 1215
"The term 'medieval biography' doesn't necessarily conjure up a lot of excitement among the general book-loving population. But . . . it really should. This blood, guts, gore and gallantry romp through medieval history, following the great knight William Marshall . . . is way more fun than it should be."--New York Post
"Asbridge has fashioned a rare and fascinating tale: a biography of a medieval knight told with all the rich detail, dialogue, and action that is usually possible only for figures from later periods. Asbridge is a wonderful guide to the complex politics and history of medieval England."--Christian Science Monitor
"Mr. Asbridge has written a rip-roaring new life of Marshal, which will leave readers hungry... a generally splendid account of a great medieval life."--Wall Street Journal
"The Greatest Knight gives us a moving portrait of one man's struggle, ascent and final (peaceful) demise."--The Sunday Times (UK)
"Big, readable, and enlightening... a rousing history."--The Dispatch
"A rare kind of history book ... There are enough epic journeys here to satisfy Tolkien lovers, enough backhanded politics to engage fans looking for the next Game of Thrones book, and enough excitement for any reader to believe that true history is the greatest story of all."--Portland Book Review
"A rich and elaborate tapestry... a story about how medieval knighthood worked; the interlocking web of obligation and fealty, friendship and loyalty... [The Greatest Knight] will appeal to history buffs as well as fans of fiction set in the medieval period."--Library Journal, starred review
"A valuable biography of an important figure in a distant, violent, barely comprehensible era."--Kirkus Reviews
"England's greatest knight puts 'Game of Thrones' to shame... A riveting new biography... Asbridge takes the reader through an eye-opening account... His account is an entertaining reminder that sometimes, the truth really is better than fiction."--Daily Beast

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Reviews

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“First Class Historical Biography.”

Asbridge is such an accomplished historian that its easy to forget just what a fluent storyteller he is as well. This book personifies his ability to take difficult source material and turn it into popular history... More

Paperback edition
9 similar books recommended
11th October 2015
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