The Greatest Knight
by Elizabeth Chadwick
A tidbit about the author
Elizabeth participates in the medieval reenactment group Regia Anglorum, who explore the life and times of people of Britain from the Viking Days through the times of Richard the Lionheart.
The scene that made you laugh out loud or cheer
The young Prince Henry ‘borrows’ William Marshal’s spirited destrier and is thrown from the horse. I had to LOL at his younger brother’s response to this warning:
“You saw what happened to your brother,” he warned, shaking him like a terrier with a rat. “Don’t ever think of doing the same.”
“I won’t.” Richard put his hands together like an angel. However as soon as Salisbury released him he added cheekily, “For a start, I wouldn’t fall off.”
If you aren’t familiar with this era, Henry and Richard are 2 of the sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. (Remember The Lion in Winter?) And Richard, of course, will one day be known as the Lionheart.
I also love that William, who was a voracious eater, was known as ‘Guzzleguts’ when he served as a young hearth knight.
The place where you wanted to throw the book across the room
William is accused of committing adultery with young King Henry’s wife. He’s banished from the Court. He has been loyal to the kings he serves; to have them doubt his honesty is heartbreaking.
A memorable line
William visits Queen Eleanor while she is held in captivity by King Henry. I love Chadwick’s spirited Eleanor:
“…Jesu, even nuns have more freedom than I do. My gaolers think it a great concession to allow me to dine in the great hall or receive a visitor every once in a while.” She glanced towards the castellan who had followed William into the room. He was looking uncomfortably at the ceiling, but still standing close enough to hear every word.
“I am deeply sorry, madam.”
“Hah, so am I… to be caged at least. For the rest, not even the pincers of hell will wring a confession of remorse from my lips.” She clapped her hand at a maid and gestured her to pour wine. “From Poitou,” she said. “Henry may have given me cracked old cups to drink from, but at least I’m granted the boon of wine from my own province.” Her eyes narrowed. “I would not drink his even if I were dying of thirst.”
A quote from someone about the topic of the book
“This is a great peek into the world of the Angevin Empire established by Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and passed on to his sons Richard and John (of Magna Carta fame). William is portrayed as a talented man of strong character whose integrity and loyalty win him the trust and patronage of powerful people in a time of constant wars and political maneuvering that will shape the future of Europe.” –a GoodReads reviewer
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. 5 stars for The Greatest Knight.