Free Read [Spirituality Book] ☆ The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones - by Thomas Asbridge ↠

By Thomas Asbridge | Comments: ( 205 ) | Date: ( Sep 22, 2019 )

A thrillingly intimate portrait of one of history s most illustrious knights William Marshal that vividly evokes the grandeur and barbarity of the Middle AgesWilliam 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 naA thrillingly intimate portrait of one of history s most illustrious knights William Marshal that vividly evokes the grandeur and barbarity of the Middle AgesWilliam 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 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: Thomas Asbridge
  • ISBN: 9780062262059
  • Page: 109
  • Format: Hardcover

About Author:

Thomas Asbridge

Thomas Asbridge is an internationally renowned expert on the history of the Middle Ages and author of the critically acclaimed books The Crusades The War for the Holy Land and The First Crusade A New History His latest publication is The Greatest Knight The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones.Thomas studied for a BA in Ancient and Medieval History at Cardiff University, and then gained his PhD in Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London His is now Reader in Medieval History at Queen Mary, University of London and Founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam the West.



Comments The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones

  • ``Laurie Henderson

    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 riches.I first ran across William Marshal back in the early 1980's when I read Thomas Costain's book:The Conquering Family and The Magnificent Century. Costain was clearly in awe of William Marshal and [...]


  • Elizabeth

    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 title of my 2004 novel The Greatest Knight the life of William Marshal and even the same font and cloudy background as my UK cover, my interest was naturally piqued even more!William Marshal, circa 1246- [...]


  • Marita

    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 search for the manuscript which turned out to be a thirteenth century biography of a knight by the name of William Marshal. (Be sure to read the fascinating Preface!)Who was William Marshal?William was born i [...]


  • Nicole~

    A knight there was, and he a worthy man,Who, from the moment that he first beganTo 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 everywhere for worthiness.(The Canterbury Tales - Chaucer)Relying on L'Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal, the first and only biography known to describe the life of a medieval knight, written by John of E [...]


  • Juliew.

    First off I won this in the First Reads here at 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 shows throughout.Despite that I received an uncorrected copy with the occasional left out word or out of order sentence it was filled with detail on most every aspect of his long career.I especially enjoyed the hist [...]


  • Rio (Lynne)

    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 commentsat there is no way this happened and the author just had a love affair with William. Well, at first read I thought the same, so I investigated. Well, it's there written in a medieval biography that was almost lost to history. We are lucky that a French scholar came across this "rubbish aka hidden jewel" at an auction [...]


  • Orsolya

    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. The question is whether William Marshal truly encompassed these traits or if that is an exaggerated portrayal in hindsight. Acclaimed author and medieval studies lecturer Thomas Asbridge highlights th [...]


  • Louise

    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 son. His father supported King Stephen's cousin's claim to the throne and was willing to make William a hostage in the 14 year civil war. William survived execution orders and the general poor and uncertai [...]


  • Chris

    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 great book, very informative and extremely interesting.Well that was fascinating. This book is a biography of the life of William Marshall along with a whole lot of other information to give context. It t [...]


  • C.J.

    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 reconstructs the life of a knight who was not only considered one of the best of his day, but lived at a time when his achievements and involvement in the greater political arena of the Angevin dynasty helped t [...]


  • Suzanne

    Confession time. One of my regrets in life is making the ridiculous decision at 15 not to continue with studies in history because I didn't like the teacher for the upcoming year. I blame my parents for not over-ruling me. (Smugly sidesteps all responsibility and crosses fingers that own children won't try something so silly.) Consequently, I have rather embarrassing gaps in my knowledge of British history. "The Greatest Knight" did an excellent job of filling in some rather crucial details invo [...]


  • Jeanette

    Fabulous research and source materials, photos, landscapes, period tombs for William Marshal's life.The 12th Century was a time of great change. Very definitions and categories for and pursued by the noble or gentle classes! Those pursuits also for all kinds of power display and influence became pageant heavy. Five kings, and he wasn't always on the "side" of any of them? Or was he? Long-lived in a time when life (and in his specialty double that) was often elderly disability and/or becoming lon [...]


  • David Dinaburg

    Tragedy inspires ownership. It is not one of humankind’s prettier reactions. To stake a claim—this was what I was doing when JFK was shot, when the towers fell—seems natural; an attempt to subsume inexplicable circumstances within a comprehensible narrative. Yet, there’s something rankling about those on the periphery of a widely disruptive event claiming proximity or personal discomfiture; an inherent and seemingly inevitable competitive response replaces sympathy or commiseration, radi [...]


  • Deborah Pickstone

    A good read, though I was irritated of a slight sense of being patronised at times. Like, for instance, referring to 'Vikings' when we know the word is a verb not the name of a people. A simple explanation of this would have sufficed rather than .writing simplistically is the only way I can think of to try to describe my gripe :)The lack of proper referencing was a great irritant, also - I like to research questions that come up as I read - and the proof reader should be shot! It's OK that the a [...]


  • Justin

    A fantastic biography of an amazing life.


  • Steven Poore

    Reading this, it's incredible to think that the details of Marshal's life and career were lost to history for so many centuries - his impact on England was as great as, if not greater than, Warwick the Kingmaker. Thomas Asbridge does necessarily have to guess at a fair amount of the details of Marshal's personality, plugging the gaps with social and political commentary, but he paints Marshal as a mostly sympathetic character. Marshal may have had one eye on the prize, gathering wealth to himsel [...]


  • English

    William Marshall is a popular subject for biography. I know of at least four such titles- mostly with a different focus or perspective. Richard Brooks 'The Knight Who Saved England' (2013), had an emphasis on battles and military history. David Crouch's 'Knighhood, War and Chivalry' is a more academic work. Thomas Asbridge's offering is a timely and accesible work, revealing much about Marshall's 'life and times', as well as his famous role in the events surrounding the creation of the Magna Car [...]


  • Johanna H.

    If i can say one thing about William for sure than that he was loyal to the core If he pledged himself to the cause of a king he stayed true to him to the end. This book often looses itself in the politics of the time rather than centering on William itself which could be frustrating to some but is probably hard to avoid since William life was very eventful and he played a huge part in politics of that time. This biography rather than being about William alone includes that of 5 Kings as well (w [...]


  • SamuraiKitty

    This was such a good book! I confess, I have a fascination with early Medieval England. William Marshal (a 2nd son), who later became the Earl of Pembroke is a person/character that I have run into reading not only fictional books, but also in history books. I knew he was considered one of the greatest knights of his generation, but I didn't know the "who" or "why" of him: his background in other words. Thomas Asbridge does a remarkable job in not only unfurling Marshal's life, but also the live [...]


  • John

    This is a wonderful biography about a remarkable and basically forgotten man. William Marshall (1147 - 1219) served five different kings, raised himself from humble beginnings to being a top knight, fought in the Crusades, became guardian of young king Henry III and in reality the leader of England. He was also instrumental in writing the Magna Carta. Why is this man not better known. The author uses a biography written around 1226 as a basis for this biography but presents a very balanced appro [...]


  • Nancy Hammons

    Mr. Asbridge has opened the mists of time to allow me to view a glimpse of one of my ancestors. I have read many books about William Marshal and they all portrayed him as being faultless and I had a little trouble believing that. Mr. Asbridge’s book shows him to be a man that while he was loyal and true to his word he was also human, I liked that. I think that if I were asked who, in history, would I like to meet my answer would be William Marshal.


  • Marcus Wilson

    One of the best history books I've read, wish more were this straightforward and entertaining. An enjoyable account of a figure who has been overlooked in the subsequent centuries. Some of this wouldn't be out of place in a plot line from Game of Thrones, if you like that series then check this out, this stuff really happened.


  • Jonny Parshall

    Very few persons in history earn the privilege of living a life as remarkable as William Marshal's. It is a pity he is not as well known as others. Maybe his fortunes in death will accumulate slowly, in fashion mirroring those that accumulated by him during his lifetime 800 years ago.


  • Rindis

    It's an act of hubris to be able to pronounce the 'greatest' anything, much less the 'greatest' knight, a class of people that was fairly large and existed over centuries, but it is certainly fair to say that William Marshal is the best known knight, and actually a good contender for the title on his own merits.Long-lived and successful, Marshal rose from obscurity as a second son to being the regent of England in all but name. Even so, he'd hardly be known at all today if not for a biography of [...]


  • Annette

    Summary:The preface tells the story of a man named Paul Meyer, who in 1861, first discovered at Sotheby's in London, a medieval book labeled "Norman French Chronicle on English Affairs." After a period of twenty years, he found the book again and was able to study the manuscript. He discovered it was about the life of William Marshal. Meyer later published a printed edition of the History of William Marshal.The year is 1152, and five year old William Marshal has been sentenced to be executed on [...]


  • Peat

    *cough*A million years laterThis book is fascinating. William Marshal was one of the most colourful, most interesting, most influential, most everything figures of the middle ages and Asbridge does a masterful job of bringing his subject and through him, those times, to life.The line between biography and hagiography can sometimes waver but not here. Asbridge undoubtedly admires Marshal but he's also clear-sighted in questioning the man's motives. He leans further towards condoning his actions w [...]


  • Jen

    For all of my love of English history, I have limited knowledge of William Marshall. As evidenced by my not knowing that there was William Marshall who was effectively regent for Henry III and his son who married Henry III's sister. I really thought Eleanor was really into old guysI don't know her life.And more to the point I didn't know William Marshall's life (or that of his son William's) either--at least until I read (okay, listened) to this book.It's not often that a period of English histo [...]


  • Nancy Ellis

    This is an excellent biography. It is not a novel. If you want to read the story of the Marshall dynasty in novel form, I highly recommend the beautifully written books by Elizabeth Chadwick. This volume is an exquisitely researched history of William Marshall, who truly was the power behind five Angevin thrones. He had been relegated to an almost forgotten page of history until 1861, when a young French scholar named Paul Meyer attended Sotheby's for an auction of rare medieval manuscripts. Lot [...]


  • Rebecca Hill

    William Marshall is a figure that was lost to history for many years. However, his story is one that never ceases to amaze me. Having served under 5 kings, four of them through the majority of their reigns, he started out as a lowly knight. Due to his unfailing loyalty and the steadfastness that he served his sovereigns, he was held in high regard and given great honors. He rose from the role of mere knight, to one of the greatest magnates in England. Given the hand of a rich heiress in marriage [...]


  • Neeuqdrazil

    This was well written, interesting, and didn't include any obvious errors that I caught (important, with history, and surprisingly, less common than you might think.) I've long been interested in Marshall, ever since reading Sharon Kay Penman's Welsh trilogy - Marshall played an important role in those books, and this didn't disappoint. Starting as the second son of a minor landholder, he ended his life as an equal among the most powerful English magnates, stood at the right hand of kings (and q [...]


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  • Free Read [Spirituality Book] ☆ The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones - by Thomas Asbridge ↠
    109 Thomas Asbridge
  • thumbnail Title: Free Read [Spirituality Book] ☆ The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones - by Thomas Asbridge ↠
    Posted by:Thomas Asbridge
    Published :2019-06-01T20:45:07+00:00