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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All in a knight's work
As you may recall in the film A LION IN WINTER, there was a briefly seen character named "William" (played by Nigel Stock in the superlative 1968 version starring Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn), the right-hand man of King Henry II, who fetched his master's sons, Richard and Geoffrey, and Henry's Queen Eleanor (imprisoned in England's Salisbury Tower) to the royal...
Published on 18 May 2006 by Joseph Haschka

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed
While this book reads in a swift, easily digestible style, the historical interpretation is fundamentally flawed and you won't find much of the 'real Marshal' among its pages.
Professor Crouch's biography of William Marshal blows this one out of the water and points up the flaws that George Duby makes, not least in his interpretation of the character of Isabelle de...
Published on 23 Aug 2007 by Hamstead


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, 23 Aug 2007
By 
Hamstead (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry (Paperback)
While this book reads in a swift, easily digestible style, the historical interpretation is fundamentally flawed and you won't find much of the 'real Marshal' among its pages.
Professor Crouch's biography of William Marshal blows this one out of the water and points up the flaws that George Duby makes, not least in his interpretation of the character of Isabelle de Clare, the Marshal's wife, and William's relationship with her. Duby also doesn't seem to give the Marshal enough credit in the intelligence stakes. William Marshal was a fiercely intelligent, incisive man both on and off the battle field. He could play politics just as easily as he could fight and he was no one's dupe when it came to money matters. Duby seems to have been wearing blinkers when he wrote this. As aforementioned, read David Crouch. Sidney Painter's biography of the Marshal is worth a look too. A terrific companion to these is the Anglo Norman Text Society's recent translation of the Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All in a knight's work, 18 May 2006
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry (Paperback)
As you may recall in the film A LION IN WINTER, there was a briefly seen character named "William" (played by Nigel Stock in the superlative 1968 version starring Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn), the right-hand man of King Henry II, who fetched his master's sons, Richard and Geoffrey, and Henry's Queen Eleanor (imprisoned in England's Salisbury Tower) to the royal castle of Chinon in France for the 1183 Christmas court. This William was William Marshal, the subject of this small book (153 pages) of the same name by French medieval historian George Duby. The translated volume was published in 1985.

Marshal was a remarkable man, whose knightly career spanned roughly five decades, over which time he went from penniless knight to acting-King of England (when he served as Regent for the young Henry III). Over that period, he was a faithful servant to four kings (Henry II, Richard I, John, Henry III) and one almost-king, the Young King Henry, the eldest son of Henry II crowned and anointed heir in 1170, but who pre-deceased Ol' Dad in June of 1183. William, by then Earl of Pembroke, died in 1219.

Duby's interest lies in that facet of medieval feudalism called chivalry, and he admiringly uses Marshal's life to illustrate the subject. Indeed, the author's description of William's life seems sometimes oddly detached, as if describing a rat in a lab experiment. George uses as his primary source a biography of the man - twenty-seven parchment leaves containing 19,914 verses - commissioned by the family shortly after the earl's death, and which survived in its entirety to the present. The biography, "Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal", was written in French, a fact, I suspect, which was crucial in drawing Duby's attention to it.

The author takes great pains to point out that feudal society was a hierarchical one comprised of superimposed layers, and with an order, ostensibly intended by God, "based on the intermingled notions of inequality, service, and loyalty." For laymen, i.e. the non-Church nobility - from bottom to top, from knight to king - it was a complex web of relations of domesticity, consanguinity, vassalage, and politics. Duby's great accomplishment in WILLIAM MARSHAL: THE FLOWER OF CHIVALRY is reducing this complexity to a human level for the reader using Marshal as the poster boy.

With a knowledge of feudalism probably no greater than anyone with an average interest and instruction in Western history, I came away from this absolute gem of a book with a greater and satisfying understanding of five particular aspects of feudalism and chivalry: the loyalty expected of a vassal knight to his lord of the moment regardless of the latter's loyalty to his superior further up the ladder, the importance of tournaments to the knights' livelihoods, the role of increasing circulating specie in eroding the knights' class pretensions, the necessity of marriage to an heiress to move a bachelor knight up in societal rank (marriage = land = power), and the status of women, i.e. landed noble women, in this society run exclusively by men. Indeed, Marshal himself remained a bachelor - and, therefore, a relative non-entity - until he was almost fifty, at which time he married Isabel de Clare, a seventeen-year old orphaned heiress sequestered as a royal ward in the Tower of London for her own protection (like a gold bar in a bank vault), and who was granted to William by a dying Henry II. (At the time, Isabel, in terms of land, was the second richest woman in England.) After Henry died and his successor Richard confirmed the gift, Marshal hurried back to England from France in unseemly haste to wed, deflower, and claim his prize. Isabel, of course, had absolutely no say in the matter, a fact likely to infuriate modern-day feminists. In any case, Marshal lived long enough to father at least ten children by her, and it was via her patrimony that William became Earl of Pembroke.

One last note about THE LION IN WINTER. William's role in the film was perhaps a screenwriter's embellishment. At the time (Nov-Jan 1183), Marshal was likely still trying to attach to a new lord's household after the death of his previous employer, the Young King Henry, the previous summer. The fact that Henry, Jr. had been in rebellion against his father at the time of the former's death wasn't likely to help Marshal attach to the latter's retinue, a feat ensured success only after William spent two years on crusade in the Holy Land from 1185 to 1187.

I would unreservedly recommend WILLIAM MARSHAL to any casual or serious student of European feudalism during the reigns of the early Plantagenets.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Far from complete, 30 Dec 2012
This review is from: William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry (Paperback)
William Marshal was a man totally unknown to me. Then, when reading the lives of Henry II, Richard Coeur de Lion, Philip Augustus, Saladin, Eleanor of Aquitaine and others of that time, I found a unique common link among them all: William Marshal. Intrigued, I ordered Georges Duby's book WILLIAM MARSHAL. Rarely has a first chapter enthralled me to the extent of the one in this book, a first chapter that describes a mundane scene, one in which Marshal dispenses his worldly goods to the 5 sons he would soon leave behind, a wonderful first chapter poetic in its telling, warm-hearted and as visual as though it were a movie unfolding before my eyes.
The 2nd chapter tells us how the story of Marshal would have been lost to time had not his son paid for his life story to be written on velum in verses.
In chapter 3 Marshal, only age 28, knights King Henry III. Here we learn about achieving Knighthood, a quest as stringent -- and infinitely more dangerous - than becoming first dan in karate. The ceremony is moving and of infinite importance in attaining manhood.
Although many scenes were beautifully described, as I have indicated, Duby has just slavishly contented himself with resuming the velum manuscript. He has briefly and totally inadequately given an overview of major and great event. Through lack of ambition Duby has deprived himself of making a veritable contribution to history and to literature, thusly deserving hardly better than 2 stars out of 5. (I would be deeply grateful if a reader could put me on the track of a comprehensive book about this extraordinary knight, William the Marshal.) My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 14 Aug 2014
This review is from: William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry (Paperback)
great book excellent condition .recommend to historians.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Used", 25 April 2014
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This review is from: William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry (Paperback)
I bought this book incredibly cheaply as it was used! I'm sure in the description it said something like "In good condition, may contain notes in the margin" That didn't deter me I thought it would be interesting to read other peoples thoughts and insights! The book arrived a 2 days later than the estimated longest deivery date and to be honest with the amount I'd paid I wasn't even sure if it would arrive. But the arrival date although 2 days longer had to take into account that in the UK there were 2 bank holidays due to Easter therefore it arrived bang on longest estimated time! I opened the book with a mix of fear, trepidation and excitement as to what notes I woul find about William Marshal! This book incredibily is in no way used! I flipped it, I flapped it the pages are crisp and clean no writing. It is in a condition I would be pleased to actual get in a shop! I would use this seller again! I'm extrordinarily pleased with their service!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historic novel, 12 Aug 2009
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Rudi "Lion" (the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry (Paperback)
I wanted to know more about William Marshall, from a historic point of view. The novel is good reading but a little 'too sweet' for my taste.
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William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry
William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry by Georges Duby (Paperback - 31 Mar 1987)
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