Some of my favorite stories are about Knights – they were so brave, so loyal and the chivalry folks. The chivalry! In Jody Hedlund latest release, An Uncertain Choice, we meet three knights who embody those traits (and you really need to meet them).
So what about real life knights? Some became kings, some princes and some served their country until death. Did they all follow the 7 knightly virtues of courage, justice, mercy, generosity, faith, nobility, hope? There’s a colorful history when looking up real life knights and here’s a look at three of the most popular in English history!
(Don’t miss out at the chance to win a signed copy of An Uncertain Choice at the end and be sure to check out the past posts from the Noble Knights Tour! You can find them here.)
With a name like Richard the Lionheart, I expect things. Things of awesomeness. Especially when, in English folklore, Richard the Lionheart is the one who married Robin Hood and Maid Marian. And played by Sean Connery. Well, truth be told, he was a bundle of controversy when it came to certain parts of his life. Tsk. Tsk Lionheart. Tsk. Tsk.
Every family is known for drama, but Richard’s was one for the win. While he was away on the Third Crusade, his brother John attempted to snag the throne from him. While John didn’t succeed in the first attempt, upon returning, Lionheart was then held for ransom by the German Emperor. The ransom was paid, but he didn’t stick around England too long and went to France to fight against Philip II (they were friends during Crusade days). He met his death there, when an arrow pierced his heart during the siege of the Chalus-Chabrol castle.
So why is he one of the most popular knights (and later king) of England? He was an incredible military leader. He succeeded his father, Henry II, and very shortly after his coronation, he solidified his place in history with his military expertise and skills in the Third Crusade.
Such a scary name no? He sounds more like a villain than a knight, but while he wasn’t perfect, many historians believe he was more virtuous than the princes of his time.
He rose quickly through the ranks, early on (at 16 years old) he proved a brilliant military leader and was rather skilled (much like Lionheart), especially during The Hundred Years War with France.
So where did the name come from? While some believe it derived from a brutal reputation, modern history (including a letter recently discovered from the Black Prince himself) has shown that many of the tales of brutality were exaggerated, especially about his actions when he battled in France. It is also popular belief the name came from his black shield and black armor.
He died one year before his father passed away and never became king (he was the eldest son of King Edward III of England). This made him the first Prince of Wales to never ascend to the throne. While he was dying, he made sure that some of the cities under his care were taken care of. Looks like in the end he got a couple of things right.
Lest you think history doesn’t have its share of knights in shining armor, let me introduce you to William Marshal. This William fellow was the real deal. Not only did he have a British accent, but he lived up to those 7 virtues. His life starts out like an epic novel or movie would. At 5 years old, he was sentenced to death by the gallows, yet managed to be saved. From that point on, he had to make a way for himself, with no title or lands to call his own. He did this by rising quickly through the ranks in tournaments and warfare.
He served the Crown faithfully. When King Henry II made him guardian over his eldest son, he help to prevent an uprising from Henry’s other sons. When Lionheart became King, Marshal remained a faithful companion – including keeping his throne safe when Lionheart’s brother John attempted to seize the throne. After that fateful arrow took Richard’s life, Marshal continued to loyally serve the Crown by helping John transition as king and served him faithfully until he died and then continued to serve his son Henry III. He became a powerful man in England (through marriage he eventually gained lands) and was made an Earl. He even fought in battle at age 70. For King and country.
He truly was one of the greatest and most honorable knights to ever live.
GIVEAWAY TIME!! (US residents only)
Do you have a favorite knight-ish tale you love to read about or watch?
(With thanks to Wikipedia and the many rabbit trails you led me on during the research process. Encyclopedia Britannica, you were very helpful as well. Also BBC. I read all your articles with a British accent.)