Friday, May 27, 2011

The Greatest Knight

I finished another Elizabeth Chadwick book The Greatest Knight. This book was in the late 1100's during King Henry and Eleanor of Aquitaine's rule. It is based mostly on a young knight, William Marshal. He begins at a fairly young age serving King Stephen, and starts to train in the tourneys. As he gains experience and means, he leaves his service to find more opportunities. He goes to Court and meets King Henry II and Queen Eleanor. He works with his uncle for a time, and on an outing his uncle is murdered. Through his loyalty in protecting the Queen, he gains her trust and is later ransomed by her. The King chooses him to serve his son, the Young King his heir Henry.

While he serves and protects the Young King Henry, he often finds his loyalty is divided. He is supposed to protect him while doing whatever the Young King commands him to do. There are contentions between him and his father the King, because he won't let him have the power, lands or money he wants. William is often the peacemaker between the two, trying to settle matters peaceably. They often come to blows or almost war, just so the Young Henry can get more. Some of his knights kill some of his father's knights, and things don't go well. Queen Eleanor even tries to ride away to join her son against his father, but is captured and imprisoned. She is quite popular in history as a very beautiful and powerful and cunning woman and Queen. Love was not really there anymore with King Henry, he had a mistress and didn't treat her well. She is to be imprisoned for about 16 years until he dies.

This theme is followed continuously throughout the book; father against his son, and brother against brother. I suppose that is what happens when there is more than one heir, and usually everything goes to the first male. The Young King Henry passes away after a serious stomach illness, and William then goes on a pilgrimage for him to Jerusalem. On his return, the King rewards him with lands and a ward, a young lady. He now swears fealty to his King, and defends him in battle against his sons Richard and John. When the King dies, some think of a broken heart over his children, he now serves the new King Richard. The theme also in this book is the loyalty of William, and how he tries to be as honest as possible. He is said to be a descendant of George Washington, and an architect of the Magna Carta.

William Marshal is a lifelong friend and confidante to Queen Eleanor, and through her help he marries Isabelle De Clare and has a very happy marriage. They produce children, one of who is Mahelt, she is from another post I wrote. He is one of England's greatest unsung heroes of the Middle Ages, and probably one of the greatest knights from that time. The author compares him to David Beckham lol. He is a well-known character to enthusiasts of the medieval world, because he comes from an obscure family as a fourth son, and becomes a champion of the tourney worlds, a confidant to kings, and eventually the regent of England. I liked this book because of his character; he was strong, loyal, and especially I loved that he treated women well and promoted their interests and pursuits. The book is quite long and holds a lot of information, but was quite interesting.


  1. You are amazing to read so many books!! I wish I could give myself enough time to read!!

  2. Thanks Amanda! Since I don't work and just have Carter, I have plenty of time lol:)