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The Knight Who Saved England: William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217 (General Military) [Kindle Edition]

Richard Brooks
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1217 England was facing her darkest hour, with foreign troops pillaging the country and defeat close at hand. But, at the battle of Lincoln, the seventy-year-old William Marshal led his men to a victory that would secure the future of his nation. Earl of Pembroke, right-hand man to three kings and regent for a fourth, Marshal was one of the most celebrated men in Europe, yet is virtually unknown today, his impact and influence largely forgotten. In this vivid account, Richard Brooks blends colourful contemporary source material with new insights to uncover the tale of this unheralded icon. He traces the rise of Marshal from penniless younger son to renowned knight, national hero and defender of the Magna Carta. What emerges is a fascinating story of a man negotiating the brutal realities of medieval warfare and the conflicting demands of chivalric ideals, and who against the odds defeated the joint French and rebel forces in arguably the most important battle in medieval English history - overshadowing even Agincourt.

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Product Description


"William Marshal's name, fame and greatest victory seem to be largely forgotten today. But author Richard Brooks tries to right this wrongful oversight in "The Knight Who Saved England: William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217." Brooks is to be applauded for digging into original source material and sharing his own insights to pen this colorful chronicle of how Sir William rose from obscurity to become one of the most powerful men in Europe." --"Toy Soldier & Model Figure"

About the Author

Richard Brooks is a freelance military historian with a particular interest in the intersection of naval and military history, and the use of hitherto untapped sources to develop fresh insights into past campaigns. Richard has published seven books, beginning with a biography of Fred T. Jane, the founder of Jane s Fighting Ships. His other books have covered naval brigades, the Royal Marines, and battlefields of Britain and Ireland; previous books for Osprey include Solferino 1859 (2009) and Walcheren 1944 (2011). He was also Consultant Editor for The Times History of War (HarperCollins, 2000). He has a BA in Modern History from Oxford University and an MSc in International Relations from Southampton. He lives in Southsea, England.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 26262 KB
  • Print Length: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (20 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,275 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting tale, well told 25 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read many reviews about this book particularly by readers who mistakenly thought this was a work of fiction (!) or felt the prose was too academic or that there were too many statistics. These did not deter me however and I am glad that I purchased this title.

I like many others have a very imperfect understanding about the origins or Magna Carta, King John and the Barons' Revolt, and this title seemed like a modern take on the events leading up to that significant event as seen through the eyes of one of the major, if little known, protagonists, William the Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. This person first came to my notice in Ridley Scott's 2010 take on the legend of Robin Hood. In this film, the Marshall is ably plaid by William Hurt but very little is known about his exciting earlier life as a Knight Errant, a jousting champion and a winner on the international tournament scene.

Brooks' biography does a sterling job in bringing this man to life by detailing the context and events of the time when the Marshall lived. This work does tend to rely quite heavily on the "History" and other contemporary sources but as the author makes clear on numerous occasions, very little of the Marshall's life has come down to us. I found the author's evaluation of sources to be balanced, and his interpretation and analysis of characters and events to be lively. Brooks is also critical of previous modern day interpretations and outlines his proofs in a logical fashion. I found the prose easy to follow and yes there are a lot of statistics than most would find in a coffee table work of history but I found that rather than detracting from the story, the tables of data actually enhances the understanding of the Marshall and helped to bring him to life.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book, highly recommended 23 April 2014
Richard Brooks is a free lance military historian with a reputation for writing analytical military history based on fresh research of original sources. One of his previous books, The Battlefields of Britain and Ireland, is considered the definitive work on the subject. His biography on Fred Jane (founder of Jane’s Fighting Ships and the Fred Jane Naval Wargame) is recognised as outstanding. Therefore, I was very interested when I heard about his new book by Osprey.

This book covers one of the lesser known heroes of the medieval world, William Marshal. He was a right hand man for three kings and the regent for a 4th. He was loyal to kings, respected by practically all, a fearsome knight at tournaments and a formidable general. His achievement in preserving England as a separate country is important today.

Based in part on The History of William Marshal, the first biography of a non-royal layman in medieval times, the work weaves a complex and detailed tale about the life and time of William Marshal. It covers the tournaments, the intrigue and politics, populated by accounts of the sieges and battles.

There are a number of factors that (to me) make Brooks’s style so interesting. One is his ability to bring together discussion of competing historical sources. Some historians simply state this is what happened, but Brooks outlines if there are different views before giving a reasoned decision which account he deems most likely. Another aspect is the narrative is interspersed with detailed analytical work on the technical aspects of early medieval warfare. Brook’s wider military knowledge is used to place this in a more general context, such as the analysis of the rate of march set against that achieved by armies from other periods of military history.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
By Chris
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
William Marshal lived during an incredibly important time for English history and got involved in the majority of all the big events that happened; the creation of Magna Carta, acting as Regent to the new child King Henry III following the death of John, besieging countless castles and battling the French during their invasion in the early 13th century, when he was already at an age when most of his Medieval peers had long since passed on.

This was all after distinguished career as a tournament knight, traveling around the country winning numerous jousting battles and generally living the high life. He was a busy man!

I'm a big fan of National Trust / English Heritage type properties, and many are mentioned through the course of the book i.e. William lived in Chepstow & Pembroke Castles, fought the French at Dover & Lincoln Castles, and also spent time living in various sites Ireland. Its great to read about he real history which shaped many of the places we visit as tourist attractions today.

Richard Brooks has obviously done his research and his analysis of the life of 'The Marshal' is well written and flows along nicely throughout, which you would expect as the material & his deeds pretty much speak for themselves because of how historically relevant it all is. Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sir William the Marshal had 5 sons (2nd to 6th Earls of Pembroke in succession) but they all died without heirs, in fulfilment of an Irish curse upon the Marshal. Fortunately he had 5 daughters and I am descended from Isobel who married Gilbert de Clare, and Eva who married William de Braose. The male lines of these 2 other Marcher Lords are also extinct, like those of many of the other Anglo Norman Barons, but the female line persisted. Furthermore I live only 30 miles (46 Km) from Lincoln Castle where the crucial events of this book, and the salvation of England from the last almost successful foreign invasion and occupation (by the Dauphin) occurred. In consequence I may have a predjudice, in favour of books about the Sir William, who also featured in Shakespeare's "King John" as Pembroke.
I prefer history to historical fiction, and this book makes no attempt to be fiction. It certainly does cover many other contemporary persons and events, but in a relevant and historical way. I probably learned nothing really new to me about his life, that I had not discoverd from previous reading. However the relief of Lincoln Castle in the 2nd Battle of Lincoln was covered in far more detail than I was aware of. Sir William was 70 when he led the final charge on horseback.
His career as a jouster, soldier, Crusader, politician and loyal supporter of 5 consecutive kings of England, including being Protector of the young Henry III, and closely involved in the development of Magna Carta, made him one of the greatest Englishmen of the Middle Ages.
He was the only man who unseated Richard Coeur de Lion, in defense of the Old King (Henry II). On the Lion Heart's Accession to the throne he was accused of trying to kill Prince Richard previously.
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