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Troubadour's Song: The Capture, Imprisonment and Ransom of Richard the Lionheart Hardcover – Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802714595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802714596
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.7 x 3.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,601,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Courtney Boyle, 1958-, is a British author and journalist who writes mainly about history and new ideas in economics, money, business and culture. He lives in the South Downs. His most recent public role was conducting an independent review for the Treasury and the Cabinet Office on Barriers to Public Service Choice, which reported early in 2013.

His book Authenticity put the phenomenon on the business and political agenda. His previous books The Tyranny of Numbers and The Sum of Our Discontent predicted and fermented the backlash against target culture. Funny Money helped launched the time banks movement in the UK.

More recently, he has been writing about why organisations and public services are so ineffective, working with the New Economics Foundation and NESTA on a series of publications about coproduction, and publishing his own solutions as The Human Element. This argues that organisations have abandoned human skills in favour of numerical targets or IT systems, which frustrate the business of building relationships and making things happen.

His history books usually have a business or economic dimension, including Blondel's Song (UK) and The Troubadour's Song (USA) about the imprisonment and ransom of Richard the Lionheart. His 2008 book Toward the Setting Sun tells the intertwined story of Christopher Columbus, John Cabot and Amerigo Vespucci and their race for America in the 1490s. His 2010 book, Eminent Corporations with (Andrew Simms) has introduced a new genre, the mini-corporate biography, launching the idea of corporate history as tragedy. His recent book Broke has launched a public debate about the plight of the middle classes.

He has been the editor of several journals including New Economics and Town & Country Planning. He is a fellow of the New Economics Foundation and has been at the heart of the effort to develop co-production and introduce time banks to Britain as a critical element of public service reform. He has been closely involved in their Clone Town Britain campaign and writes about the future of volunteering, cities and business. He edited the Foundation's publications New Economics, News from the New Economy, and then Radical Economics from 1987-2010.

David helped found the London Time Bank, and was co-founder of Time Banking UK. He has been a candidate for Parliament of the United Kingdom. He was editor of the weekly Liberal Democrat News from 1992-1998.

His bestselling books for Kindle have mainly been about history, including Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma, Peace on Earth and Unheard, Unseen.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A light read 19 Oct. 2005
By Caslon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I give this book 4 stars because it is an enjoyable, easy read. But it doesn't get very deep into anything. I am not sure why "the troubadour's song" got prime billing on the title. It isn't much of the book. There isn't much historical evidence concerning Blondel and anything he might have done concerning locating King Richard or his release. The author's discussion is interesting but only a very small part of the book. The author pulled together the whole story of Richard, his capture, the other major participants in the story, England's raising of the ransom, and even, the economic effect on England. All well told. But nothing particularly astounding or revealing. However, the author writes very well. The story moves along nicely and you have a pleasant time reading it. If you are only vaguely familiar with King Richard's capture and ransom and that sort of story would be interesting to you, this is a good book to relax with and enjoy. A final aspect of this book I really enjoyed was at the end when he tells you what happened to all the major participants after Richard is released.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Subtitle is the key to the book 7 May 2006
By lordhoot - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book by David Boyle proves to be a superb work of history regarding the capture and ransom of King Richard I of England. Its a well written, easy to read and superbly research book that dealt with the details around Richard's captured, methods of his ransom and his dealing with his captors. Although it read like Richard's biography, the book gives a good detail study of this incident. It was interesting to know that inorder to ensure his final release, Richard pledged England to his captor, Henry VI of Holy Roman Empire. It was probably a pledge that he never meant to keep but for a brief moment of legel history, England was a province of Germany. Background material on Richard, especially his conducts during the Crusades and his dealing with various lords and rulers during the Third Crusade proves to be well presented and accurately gives the cause and effects behind his imprisonment.

The author also take pains to informed the readers of the type of the world, Richard lived in, the influence of music and men who write them like the troubadours. While the author get into the stories of these troubadours, especially one Blondal who were rumoured to found Richard's prison by singing under his castle cell, the author make it pretty clear to the reader where facts end and where the legend begin.

The book come highly recommended to anyone who happen to be interested in mediveal English history, especially in the personality of King Richard the Lion-Heart. A detail look at his captivity proves to be highly informative and interesting.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Rich in detail and a true pleasure to read 23 Mar. 2006
By Whitt Patrick Pond - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of those that is all too rarely found - the history is well-researched and very detailed and yet the style is smooth and engaging, making it both informative and a pleasure to read at the same time. The keenness of Boyle's interest in both the period - the late 12th century with its crusades, chivalry, courtly love and troubadours - and in the core event itself - the capture and ransom of Richard the Lionheart - comes through in the way in which he brings it all to life, immersing the reader to the extent that we feel we are there as witnesses.

One thing I felt Boyle did particularly well was pointing out where he was relating known historical fact and where he was filling in gaps with informed speculation, showing the various possibilities and why he felt a particular one might be the most likely. For example, very little is actually known about Blondel, the legendary troubadour of the title, but Boyle shows what is known and also what can be deduced or speculated based on it. He also does the same for Robin Hood, another legendary figure tied to the story of Richard's absence and return to England.

Another thing Boyle does well is giving the reader a sense of the personalities of the dominant figures of the period and its events, and showing how much the strengths and weakness of their personalities affected how things turned out. Richard's charisma, persuasiveness and calm in the face of adversity come out vividly in the parts where he is a prisoner of Henry VI, the Holy Roman Emperor, and put on trial for alleged crimes connected to his conduct of the crusade. By sheer presence and oratory, Richard wins over the German princes summoned to be his judges, not only winning his acquittal but also going on to form new alliances and trade deals for England, all while still a prisoner. His playful and winning nature comes out in how he dealt with his guards. Richard's reputation as a fearsome warrior was such that when he was captured, orders were given that he be guarded by four knights with swords drawn at all times. But within a matter of weeks, Richard so charmed his guards that he was constantly getting them drunk and engaging them in wrestling contests. At the same time, Boyle shows how Richard's ego and his inability to resist grand gestures were ultimately responsible for his being noticed and captured. It's rather difficult to travel incognito disguised as a merchant while at the same time insisting on giving expensive jeweled rings to local nobles and granting kingly bequests to build or restore cathedrals.

Other personalities are also brought out in vivid detail. Eleanor of Acquitaine, Richard's mother, in her 70's at the time but still a lioness in her own right, taking charge of the raising of the ransom and of the negotiations to free her son. The vacillating Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, never truly certain of what he should do with his valuable but equally dangerous prisoner. Leopold of Austria, whose personal bitterness against Richard over his treatment at the siege of Acre led to his imprisoning of Richard when was forced by fate to attempt to cross through his lands on his return to England. And Philip Augustus, the King of France, a close friend in Richard's youth only to become his enemy in adulthood.

The book is rich in anecdotes relating to the events. Among my favorite was when Longchamp, Richard's unpopular Chancellor in England, tries to flee the country disguised as a woman only to be caught at the port when a flirtatious fisherman starts feeling him up. Another was when Richard, finally released from captivity, sends a written message to his treacherous brother John, warning him "Look to yourself. The devil is loosed!" The book also goes into interesting side details, such as the difference between troubadours and minstrels (troubadours wrote songs, whereas minstrels only sang them), the limited methods of writing down music at the time (they had a way of recording the where the notes were on a scale but not the tempo of how they should be played or how long they should be held), the way in which the ransom, almost a quarter of England's wealth converted into silver, was raised and the magnitude of its effect on the economies of both England and Europe, and the fates of all of the major figures in the period after Richard's release (almost all of them were dead in less than five years).

All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys either history or a good read. It more than meets the mark in both.
A great book on Richard 1 Sept. 2012
By Boyd Hone - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Women historians write wonderful books, take Caroline Alexander's BOUNTY, Ruth Scurr's ROBESPIERRE, Tuchman's A DISTANT MIRROR. But it's men who have the testosterone, and a ballsy story, especially one concerning a woman, in this case Douglas Boyd's ELEANOR D'AQUITAINE, is right up a male historian's alley. Already a teenage multi-millionairess thanks to her inheritance of Aquitaine, Eleanor could have retired in luxury and lovers, but it was power she craved. After becoming Queen of France, her husband, King Louis VII, had the marriage annulled because she hadn't produce a male heir. She married Henry II of England and gave him 5 sons, the greatest of whom--perhaps the greatest warrior-king ever--was Richard the Lionheart. As a boy's and a man's sexuality is character determining, it is interesting to know if Richard was or wasn't homosexual. McLynn (RICHARD AND JOHN) says he definitely wasn't. Reston (WARRIORS OF GOD) says he was, even having him, in one scene, riding into the sunset with the French king Philippe Augustus. Boyle (BLONDEL'S SONG) leans in that direction. Gillingham (RICHARD THE LIONHEART) says we can't know, but he probably wasn't. And Boyle? Not a word. (For some writers Richard is the cat's miaow; others, like Boyd, can't stand him.) Henry II eventually had Eleanor imprisoned after she and his sons rebelled against his authority, and at his death she returned to London and at the age of 67 reminded one and all that she was still Queen of England, a role she held, as dowager, alongside the son she adored, Richard I, the boy, become man, who worshipped the ground she walked on. Douglas Boyd went so far as to learn Occitan, now nearly extinct, the language Eleanor spoke, in order to write this book about one of the most remarkable women in world history. The book is highly knowledgeable, erudite even, with Boyd continually going off on tangents in order to share wonderful tidbits of information. But this dispersion, and the lack of real fire in the prose, is a sin when relating the life of a woman whose very soul was a caldron; it hobbles the story, but the book is still easily worth 5 stars. After reading the last chapter I put on the film version of Eleanor's life, the sublime Lion in Winter. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.
Chivalry, Court Love, Music and an Imprisoned King 2 Jun. 2007
By Rebecca Huston - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It reads like a fairy tale:

Once upon a time there was a king, famous for his courage and strength, who was imprisoned in a distant castle by his enemies. No one in his homeland knew where he was, that is, until a minstrel wandered beneath the tower where he was kept. Below the tower, the troubadour sang, and to his amazement, he heard the answering refrain from above. It was, of course, the lost king, and the troubadour hurried to let his people know where he was being kept so that he could be ransomed and returned to his homeland.

But there is a good chance that it may have actually happened. Author David Boyle explores both medieval legend and fact in his book, The Troubadour?s Song: The Capture and Ransom of Richard the Lionheart. I must say, it?s one of the best works of popular fiction that I have come across this year. I do admit to a certain preference to this time in history, full of glamour and exoticism, and a particular favorite of many historical novelists and researchers alike.

In this, Boyle starts with the legend of King Richard?s imprisonment and how he may have been discovered by a troubadour, by the name of Blondel. Beginning with the historical legend, he moves on to discussing the culture and rise of the troubadour culture, and how the Courts of Love helped to shape a rise in music, and the idea of codified rule of behavior between men and women. King Richard had been raised in this culture of music and art, learning music and being no mean poet himself, all under the approving and watchful eye of his mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II of England. But lest anyone think that Richard was a dainty man, he was also a fearsome warrior, quick tempered and prideful, and loved to make war. And when his mother was replaced, as it were, by one of her husband?s mistresses, Richard took it as an excuse to raise a rebellion against his father.

Richard lost, but he would eventually survive his father to become King of England and master of the Angevin empire that his parents had built. And now, he intended to fulfill his vow and go on Crusade to the Holy Land and retake Jerusalem from the Muslims. His ally in this was the French King, Philip Augustus, who had helped him before in his rebellions, and may have been his lover.

Boyle goes in depth into the victories and failures of Richard?s crusade, providing an excellent analysis of what happened and when, and most importantly, why, along with giving some more insight into Richard?s shadowy queen, Berengaria of Navarre. But it was on the return trip from the Holy Land where the historical record gets murky. A minor German prince, Leopold of Austria, had been mortally insulted by Richard at a siege, and when Richard was discovered in disguise traveling in Leopold?s domain, it was an opportunity too good to pass up. He immediately had Richard arrested, and demanded an outrageous ransom ? the equivalent of nearly two billion dollars today.

It?s popular history at its best, Boyle?s writing is clear and free of jargon, told in a sprightly, slightly humourous style. He takes on such varied topics as the question of whether Richard was a homosexual or bisexual, the role of chivalry between opponents on a battlefield, medieval music, the plotting between Richard?s brother John and Philip Augustus and more than a dozen other topics. One interesting tangent that Boyle takes is the role of Robin Hood and King Richard, and indeed, the entire myth of King Richard ? and wicked Prince John ? a topic that will change many readers attitudes towards these characters. What works here is that the narrative is smooth and keeps from getting too tangled up in trivia, which is usually the problem with reading about history.

To help the reader along, there is an insert of photographs, taken mostly from manuscripts and tombs, and the usual bibliography and notes. Skimming through these, I found quite a few books and sources that are going to encourage me in future research.

This book takes several nights, provides plenty of entertainment and questions, and was pretty much overlooked when it was first published. For anyone interested in the middle ages, and particularly the real Richard the Lionheart, this is a must-read book. It?s entertaining, full of colour and life and certain not to disappoint.

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