The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones by Thomas Asbridge

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Read The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones Online Free - A thrillingly intimate portrait of one of history’s most illustrious knights – William Marshal – that vividly evokes the grandeur and barbarity of the Middle Ages

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. Marshal became just one more name in the dusty annals of history. Then, in 1861, a young French scholar named Paul Meyer made a startling discovery during an auction of rare medieval manuscripts. Meyer stumbled upon the sole surviving copy of an unknown text – the first contemporary biography of a medieval knight, 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, yet even today William Marshal 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. Against all odds, William 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.

Marshal befriended the great figures of his day, from Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine to the infamous King John, and helped to negotiate the terms of Magna Carta – the first ‘bill of rights’. By the age of seventy, the once-forsaken child had been transformed into the most powerful man in England, yet 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 the thirteenth-century biography and an array of other contemporary evidence to present a compelling account of William Marshal’s life and times. Asbridge follows Marshal on his journey from rural England onto the battlefields of France, to 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.

Title : The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 006226205X
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 464 pages


``Laurie rated it ★★★★★

July 20, 2017

I've been wanting to read this book and learn more about William Marshal for a long time now and author Thomas Asbridge didn't disappoint. This reads more like a work of historical fiction than history as there was never a dull moment in this fast paced book relating this unlikely tale of rags to...

Elizabeth rated it ★★☆☆☆

June 22, 2015

I confess that before I read Thomas Asbridge’s THE GREATEST KNIGHT” I was already curious about this new biography of William Marshal. The lives of John FitzGilbert the Marshal and his son William are a lifelong study subject for me outside my novel writing career. Since this work shared the tit...

Marita rated it ★★★★★

April 14, 2015

I learned a great deal from this interesting and well-written book, and not only about William Marshal. The Preface of this book describes how a manuscript at Sotheby's caught a French Scholar's attention, but was then sold and disappeared from view for many years. The French man pursued his searc...

Nicole~ rated it ★★★★☆

December 16, 2015

A knight there was, and he a worthy man, 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 e...

Juliew. rated it ★★★★★

December 01, 2015

First off I won this in the First Reads here at Goodreads but this in no way effected this review.From a military and political stand point this was like having a front row seat to the reigns of five english kings.William Marshall served these kings with honor,dignity and bravery as this book sho...

Rio (Lynne) rated it ★★★★★

March 08, 2015

Having read Chadwick's books on William Marshal a few years ago, I enjoyed reading and revisiting this non-fiction book on his amazing life. Some who have read Chadwick made comments....that there is no way this happened and the author just had a love affair with William. Well, at first read I th...

Orsolya rated it ★★★☆☆

March 30, 2017

If you are a devotee of Medieval English history; more than likely you have a crush on William Marshal (if you are interested in men). This man is everything that the stereotype of a knight-in-shining-armor entails (even though shiny armor plates didn’t exist yet): loyalty, bravery, and chivalry....

Louise rated it ★★★★★

April 11, 2015

What was it like to be a knight in the age of chivalry? What was it like to be up close and personal to Henry II, his Queen Eleanor and their sons? Thomas Abridge brings it all to life in this engagingly written biography of William Marshall. While born a noble, William Marshall was not a first so...

Chris rated it ★★★★★

December 09, 2017

I received this book as part of GoodReads First Reads giveaway. And I read an Uncorrected Proof copy. 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 g...

C.J. rated it ★★★★★

April 07, 2015

One of the most fascinating characters in English history, the knight William Marshall, is thoroughly examined in this marvelous work from historian Thomas Asbridge. Working primarily from an obscure medieval document dubbed the History bought at auction in the late 19th century, Asbridge reconst...

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