‘The Greatest Knight’ Who Sat Behind 5 English Thrones

Read the real Game of Thrones! His name was William Marshall and he served Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine along with her husband, King Henry II of England. He survived many more kings and queens during his fascinating life in the late 12th century into the 13th century. The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life Of William Marshall, The Power Behind Five English Thrones (2014) is a literal treatise on chivalry, knighthood, and how the English throne was established.

BOOK STATS:

  • Published 2014
  • 444 total pages
  • 383 pages of text
  • 14 chapters
  • 3 maps in preface
  • 2 color picture pages insets
  • 1 Chronology section
  • 1 Cast of Characters section
  • 1 Family Tree section
  • Several maps interspersed throughout the book
  • Hardcover available

MIND BLOWN! COOL THINGS I LEARNED:

  • William Marshall lived from 1147 until 1219 (72 years – not bad for a medieval dude)
  • William Marshall was born into a civil war and political turmoil
  • The origins of the “knight” come from Tancarville in Upper Normandy
  • The origins of the knightly class came from mounted warriors
  • Medieval etiquette of the time prescribed the use of the hands when eating, 200 years before the introduction of the fork
  • The term chivalry and chevalier have a common origin
  • William Marshall was caught in between the years long spat between Henry II and Queen Eleanor
  • William Marshall brokered the rise of Richard the Lionheart
  • William Marshall is involved in the signing of the Magna Carta
  • William Marshall, near the end of his career, came back from a fall from grace only to save the kingdom one more time

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Asbridge, Thomas. 2014. The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life Of William Marshall, The Power Behind Five English Thrones. New York: HarperCollins.

SHORT SYNOPSIS:

“The Greatest Knight” by Thomas Asbridge is an important work for both medieval scholar and enthusiast as it eloquently spells out the origins of the knightly class and its importance not only as a foundational piece for kingship, but also its contribution to modern notions. The appeal of the knight in shining armor has transcended time and culture and this book certainly brings home that mystique and inherently connects that powerful imagery to actual historical fact. No other author so clearly describes the origin of terms such as chivalry and heraldry as a function of the ultimate genesis of the knightly class in serving their burgeoning rulers. This is simply one of the most stunning and profound books I have ever read.

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5.0

Summary

Asbridge, Thomas. 2014. The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life Of William Marshall, The Power Behind Five English Thrones. New York: HarperCollins.

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