Friday, June 6, 2014

June's Books

Well, its been a while ...... quite a while since the library opened its doors for some new arrivals. But better late than never, June's order has just gone in, and here's what should be arriving before month's end:
The Third Plantagenet: George, Duke of Clarence, Richard III's Brother by John Ashdown-Hill
Less well-known than his brothers, Edward IV and Richard III, little has been written about George, Duke of Clarence, leaving us with a series of unanswered questions: What was he really like? What set him and his brother Edward IV against one another? And who was really responsible for his death? 

The Knights Templar Absolution: The Chinon Parchment and the History of the Poor Knights of Christ by A.A. Grishin
the Chinon Parchment .... Originally created in 1308, this official legal record has been recently recovered after missing for centuries. It is finally made widely available here in its original Latin with a new English translation. In the early 14th century, after a long series of defeats in the Levant, the Order was charged with heresy by King Philip IV of France. The Chinon Parchment details a crucial step in subsequent papal investigations into the Knights Templar activities.

Franks and Alamanni in the Merovingian Period: An Ethnographic Perspective edited by Ian Wood
The Alamans were early victims of post-Roman expansion of the Frankish empire. This volume considers the Franks and Alamans from a series of perspectives, historical, archaeological, and linguistic. It explores the origins of both peoples.

Owain Glyn Dwr - the Last Prince of Wales by Peter Gordon Williams
This is the compelling tale of a warrior prince and a host of other characters, ranging from his loyal bodyguard Madoc to mad King Charles of France, who influenced his life. Owain Glyn Dwr was more than a courageous and resourceful commander; he was an eminent scholar who, in the pursuit of learning and scholarship, looked beyond the boundaries of Wales.

Somerled by John Marsden
Investigates Somerled of Argyll's emergence in the forefront of the Gaelic-Norse aristocracy of the western seaboard, his part in Gaeldom's challenge to the Canmore kings of Scots, his war on the Manx king of the Isles, his importance for the church on Iona, and his invasion of the Clyde which was cut short by his death at Renfrew in 1164.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Knight Who Saved England

For a brief period in English history, a French king was named monarch of England – this was the Dauphin Louis and the time was 1216.  It was a period of turmoil in England – King John was at odds with his powerful barons, who invited the prince to England to lay claim to the throne in 1215.  Louis duly accepted and landed in England where he was welcomed by the rebellious barons.  John had only the year before signed what is now known as the Magna Carta at Runnymede (1215).

That same year as the French prince landed to claim his throne, King John died leaving his infant son Henry as England’s next monarch.  Many of the barons in rebellion against John gave their support to the young boy-king and support for Louis fizzled but not before a small force of French under Thomas, Comte de Perche laid siege to Lincoln Castle.  The English force was led by the 70yo Earl of Pembroke – the formidable William Marshal.  The French were routed and the sack of the rebel town became known as the Battle of Lincoln Fair.

The chronicler Roger of Wendover, who wrote an account of events (Flower of History trans by JA Ggiles London 1849), said …
“This battle, which, in derision of Louis and the barons, they called “The Fair,” took place on the 19th of May, which was on the Saturday in Whitsun-week; it commenced between the first and third hour, and was finished by these good managers before the ninth.

This then is the back-drop to Richard Brooks’ book, The Knight Who Saved England.

Brooks details events in English history leading up to and including the battle of Lincoln, and in doing so, recounts important events under the Angevin kings – Henry II, Richard I and John.  We are then treated to a short history of the life of England’s pre-eminent knight, William Marshal, which is based on an epic poem written after his death in 1219 entitled “ L’Historie de Guillaume de Marechal”.  

He was "marshal and then regent of England who served four English monarchs as a royal adviser and agent and as a warrior of outstanding prowess."

Brooks pays special attention to William’s career at the tournaments and his life with Henry, the Young King of England (eldest son and heir of Henry II of England).  Brooks goes on to detail William’s long military career on battlefield and siege, and gives us an insight into the chivalric and knightly class of the period.  All of this leads us up to William’s role and leadership in the battle of Lincoln, in which we find the aged knight so eager for battle that he leaves without his helm.

Needless to say, the life and character of William Marshal is extraordinary and you will find a list of further reading at the end of Brooks’ book.

Further Reading:
The Knight Who Saved England: William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217A Knight’s Tale – Thomas Asbridge (
William Marshal by Georges Duby (trans Richard Howard)
History of William Marshal by A J Holden
William Marshal: Knighthood, War and Chivalry, 1147-1219 by David Crouch
Magna Charta Barons, 1915. Baronial Order of Runnemede  by Charles H. Browning
William Marshal: Medieval England's Greatest Knight by Myra Weatherly
William Marshal, Knight-Errant, Baron, and Regent of England by Sidney Painter

William Marshall: flower of chivalry -
William Marshall -,_1st_Earl_of_Pembroke
Medieval English genealogy – notes on William Marshall -
Battle of Lincoln 1217 -
History of Eengland podcasts – William the Regent -