Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Elizabeth Chadwick Guest Posts with a Giveaway!

I’d like to thank My Friend Amy for inviting me to be a guest on her blog.

When I set out to write The Greatest Knight, all I knew was that I had found a great subject – the rags to riches tale of one of the most famous knights of the Middle Ages, a man who has been mostly forgotten by the world at large. Once I began researching, I realised that I had much more than just a good script from history on my hands. I had a story that was destined to be written on my heart.

William Marshal was one of six sons born to a Wiltshire baron who was the senior marshal at the royal court. Among other things, this job involved keeping the court on the move, providing supplies, paying the wages

of the hired mercenaries, and keeping the royal prostitutes in order!

William survived nearly being hanged as a little boy when he was taken hostage during a battle over a castle his father was occupying. Fortunately for William, his captors couldn’t bear to do the deed and he survived. As a youth he was sent away to Normandy to train to knighthood. His uncle Patrick was the governor of Poitou and took William into his household. Here William met and associated with Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II’s famous and infamous queen. When Eleanor was attacked and ambushed by enemies while out riding, William put himself in the path of her attackers. He was badly wounded in the leg and taken prisoner, but his courage gave Eleanor the change to escape.

While William was a prisoner, he had to bind his leg injury with his own garters. A lady saw his plight, took pity on him, and sneaked him fresh bandages hidden in a loaf of bread. An early thirteenth century history

written to celebrate his life says: ‘The noble-hearted kind lady….took a a loaf of bread from her room, removed the inside and filled the crust with fine linen bandages.’ Naturally, I had to make use of this incident in The Greatest Knight, and in so doing found the character of Clara, who goes on to feature as one of the women in his life.

Always someone to pay her debts with interest, Eleanor ransomed William and took him into her household, appointing him tutor in arms and chivalry to her eldest son, Henry. William’s rise from the ranks was well and truly on the way.

William, as earlier proven, was a skilled warrior, and he excelled at the joust. These days he’d have been the world champion or Olympic gold medallist! In William’s day, the tourney was not the kind of sport we see today where one knight charges another with a barrier set between them. The tourney in William Marshal’s time was a full on contact sport and brutal. ‘They manhandled him terribly, turning the helmet on his head by force from back to front, and tug and pull as he might, he could not free it.’ On one such occasion, William actually had to go and have the helmet removed from his head by a blacksmith!

William’s life wasn’t just about the fighting and the glory of the tourney though. What endeared him to me just as much as his courage and strength, was his ready humour, his cheerful open-handedness, his loyalty and his sharp intelligence. He wore a smile, but he was no man’s fool. While writing the novel I was struck by how he faced up to adversity, treating it as a challenge to be overcome and never giving in to self-pity. He was always open to life and to opportunity.

I like to think that his best reward was his marriage to a great heiress, Isabelle de Clare. Certainly at a time when matches were arranged for matters of political interest and love and mutual attraction were seldom part of the equation, William and Isabelle seems to have been fortunate. One of the things that made this a matter of the heart for me was discovering that William had the sensitivity to take his wife away with him on honeymoon. Just the two of them, getting to know each other in an idyllic setting. It may be the stuff of romance novels, but it happened. ‘The Marshal took the lady to stay…at Stoke, a peaceful spot, well appointed and a delight to the eye.’ Of course, life being what it was, there was stormy weather ahead and I follow William’s later career in The Scarlet Lion, due out from Sourcebooks in the spring.

But The Greatest Knight is about the young and eager knight in the pay of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the developing politician learning to survive the back-stabbing of the Angevin court, the proud warrior and husband - and the empowered man. And it comes straight from the heart.

About the Author

Elizabeth Chadwick lives near Nottingham with her husband and two sons. She is the author of 17 historical novels, including Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, A Place Beyond Courage, The Scarlet Lion, the Winter Mantle, and the Falcons of Montebard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards. Much of her research is carried out as a member of Regia Anglorum, an early medieval re-enactment society with the emphasis on accurately re-creating the past. She won a Betty Trask Award for The Wild Hunt, her first novel.

Sourcebooks is sponsoring a giveaway of two copies of this book! This giveaway is open to the United States and Canada. To enter, leave me a comment and tell me about a historical figure you'd love to read about. Make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you. I'll pick winners on Labor Day!


Ruby said...

hiya! i hope this giveaway is open to international readers :)

the historical figure i'd love to read about is henry VII -- i haven't stumbled upon many books that are about him & he seems to be such an interesting person.

My email address is: rubs_babydoll@yahoo.com

Sandy Nawrot said...

This was a completely charming post, and the book sounds wonderful. I always love to hear about a book out of the mouth of the author...it always comes to life. You know, I've always had a fascination with Polish history, and after having seen the medieval castls of the Teutonic Knights this summer, I think I'd like to read about Zavisza the Black, the Pole who led in the defeat of the Knights. Those Knights were not very nice, but they always claimed to be doing everything in the name of God!

Alix said...

Sounds like a fabulous book, especially as one of my favourite historical figures is Eleanor of Aquitaine. She had such an incredible life, marrying the King of France and then leaving him for the King of England! And all those children!!!

My other favourite historical figure has to be Elizabeth I.

Thanks for the interview

Theresa N. said...

My favorite historical figure is Marie Antonette.
to read about in a novel.
Theresa N

Amy said...

Great giveaway! I always love to read about Elizabeth I.

Carrie said...

The historical figure that I like to read about changes on current interests. Most recently, I have been collecting books on Teddy Roosevelt.

I love the idea of knighthood and that's something that I talk a lot about with my son (age 2 3/4) and so this particular book sounds fascinating!

Amanda said...

Great author post! I've been really wanting to read this since I first heard about it. I'd love to read a historical fiction book about Anne Bonny, female pirate. And not a cheesy one either, a well-written historical one.

Sue said...

I'm so fascinated by Elizabeth, her relationship with her half sister Mary and how her father treated her. Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Pam said...

The historical figure I'd love to read about is Pope Joan - I hadn't heard of her until recently and now can't wait to read the book!

melacan at hotmail dot com

vvb32 reads said...

This sounds like a good novel. Love the renaissance period. I'd be interested in reading about one of the lesser known knight of the round table.

vvb32 at yahoo.com

melissa @ 1lbr said...

I would like to read about Amelia Earhart. But, I've also read up on Mary Tudor and Queen Elizabeth I - interesting family!


Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

My favorite historical figures are Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Josephine Bonaparte, and Marie Antoinette. I am looking forward to reading The Last Queen by CW Gortner, about Juana "La Loca."

histficchick (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

Rhiannon Hart said...

Oh wow! I can't enter cos I'm in Australia, but I used to read Chadwick's books all the time and I loved them! I'm going to have to look out for her new one.

Linda said...

My favorite historical figure would be Abraham Lincoln, as he was instrumental in abolishing slavery here in the US. Books about him and the local time frame through the Civil War are intriguing to me. Living in the North, it's hard to comprehend slaves. His Emancipation Proclamation is awesome.
I would love to read the Greatest Knight by Elisabeth. Incomprehensible times I've never read before.

Julie said...

I would love a chance to win!

A historical figure I would love to read about would have to be Catherine the Great...such an interesting woman!

Thanks for the great giveaway!

clenna said...

I love reading about Henry VIII's wives. That time period is so interesting.

Anonymous said...

The historical figure I love to read about is Thomas Jefferson. I have read a variety of biographies, each with a different perspective. He was such a complex man who could never totally reconcile the dichotomies in his beliefs and yet could assist in the development of our countries' greatest document, the Declaration of Independence.

I would love to read this book since I am also intrigued by this period of history. Count me into the contest.

Thanks for hosting it.

bstilwell12 at comcast dot net

Anonymous said...

This book sounds really interesting to me! Historical fiction is a new genre to me, and I've fallen in love with it.

I'm pretty boring with my choice of who I'd like to read about...I really like anything about British royalty. Probably mostly the Tudors...Elizabeth I would probably be the favorite. HA! The round-about way of making a choice!

Thanks for a great guest post and giveaway!


cpullum said...

Please count me in would love to read this book!

Anonymous said...

I think Abe Lincoln would be interesting.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

The Reading Momster said...

Wow! Sounds like an awesome read! I have read nice reviews of this one already!

DOn't enter me :)

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said...

Hmm, I haven't heard of this author or these titles before, but they sound intriguing!

I think my favourite historical figure to read about..hmm, other than Jesus...might be William Tyndale!

Meghan said...

What a great guest post! No need to enter me in the giveaway, though. I just wanted to say that William the Marshal is still popular among medievalists, particularly those of us who are focusing on chivalry! My history advisor in college made a big deal out of him. I hope The Greatest Knight's publication helps cast him out into a wider world and brings Elizabeth Chadwick more success in the USA!

Unknown said...

I would love to read a book on George Washington. I want to know all the inside dirt and what it was really like to take on that role of being first official president. What was his visions for the U.S?


Unknown said...

I'd love to read about Queen Elizabeth.


Anonymous said...

This giveaway sounds amazing because the book sounds so good. I loved reading the summary provided here.

A historical figure I would love to read about is Chaucer. I took a class on the Canterbury Tales where I learned a little bit about his life but it seemed to be just a tease - I wanted more. Still do.

Anonymous said...

Almost forgot ... an e-mail where you can contact me if I'm luck enough to win: JLesnick@scu.edu

Anonymous said...

I would love to read about Queen Elizabeth. Please count me in. This books sounds wonderful. thanks.

karen k

Gaby317 said...

Thanks so much - this book sounds like a fun read!

I would love to read more about Napoleon and Josephine - he sounded like such a repulsive egomaniac, but surely there must be much more to him? His codification of the laws under the Napoleonic Code was a huge development for civil law countries.

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Beth (BBRB) said...

I'd love to read about Marie Antoinette.

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Sherrylinn said...

I would love to read about Nicholas II of Russia and his family.

Anita Yancey said...

I would like to read about Betsy Ross, it could prove to be an interesting read. This book sounds wonderful. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


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