Friday, August 28, 2009

Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Chadwick & Giveaway

A few days ago, I reviewed THE GREATEST KNIGHT by Elizabeth Chadwick. I absolutely loved the book about the life of William Marshal, and I'm anxious to read more of Ms. Chadwick's books. In the meantime, I'll have to be content with this lovely guest post that she wrote for my blog! I am so honored that took time from her busy schedule to write a few words about many of the characters in her book.

I’d like to say a warm thank you to Booking Mama for sending me an invite to be a guest blogger today.

The Greatest Knight is about a largely forgotten medieval hero William Marshal who rose from a minor position in society to become the most important man in England.
William has been my obsession for some time and The Greatest Knight, is very much a book of my heart.

While I was writing the novel though, I had opportunity to think about the women in William’s life. It may be a cliché, but in this case it was true that ‘behind every great man is a great woman - indeed several great women in William’s instance. The first was his mother, Sybilla, sister of the Earl of Salisbury. Although little is recorded about her in history, she had a tough row to hoe and she did it with great success. Her husband, John Marshal, divorced his first wife in order to marry her and thereby secure a peace alliance with her brother. She had no say in the matter. John had lost an eye in battle and the political circumstances of the time meant that his lands were at the front line of the fight, so there was little peace to be had in daily life. Sybilla bore John six children, William being her second-born. When he was five years old, he was taken as a hostage for his father’s word of honour and almost hanged when his father reneged on the deal he had made. Indeed, John Marshal is known to have told William’s gaolors to go ahead and hang the child because he had the ‘anvils and hammers’ to forge better sons. Luckily for William, the men holding him hostage, including the King of England, couldn’t bring themselves to do the deed. Worried for him, his mother sent one of her chamber servants to keep an eye on William from a distance. William himself was very keen to play games with King Stephen, and was such a bright, chirpy, confident little chap that he endeared himself to his captors. The underlying qualities of good nature, confidence and a willingness to cooperate whilst still retaining a sense of self all came from that original grounding of maternal care (in difficult circumstances) in his early years.

William was sent to Normandy to be trained in the knightly arts and in his early twenties was taken into the household of his uncle who was governor of Poitou. One day, while out on patrol, acting as an escort to the Queen of England, the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine, the party was attacked by enemies. William stood in the way of the attackers and fought them off while Eleanor made her escape. William was badly wounded and taken prisoner. He didn’t have any bandages for his injury, but when his captors stopped at a castle for the night, a woman took pity on him and sneaked him some linen bindings concealed in a loaf of bread. Without her act of kindness, William would have been in a much worse case, and it is interesting that she was moved to help him. One gets the impression that William had a vast amount of charm, both the boyish and the virile, and that women were very attracted!

Queen Eleanor herself paid William’s ransom and recognising his great talent and loyalty, rewarded him with a place in her household as tutor in chivalry to her eldest son, Henry the Young King. William was on his way to stardom. Stars though, sometimes fall and William was almost brought down by a whispering campaign about himself and Marguerite, the wife of his young lord. Jealous rivals accused him of having an affair with her, and although he denied it vociferously, he was banished from court and Marguerite was bundled off back to her brother in France. Was William guilty of the accusations? Read the book and find out!

Queen Eleanor and William remained friends throughout their lives. When Henry II died, William was sent to England with messages to Eleanor from her son Richard the Lionheart. I think it quite likely that Eleanor had some influence in arranging William a great marriage to Isabelle de Clare, a beautiful heiress of vast tracks of land in Normandy, the Welsh Marches and Southern Ireland.

The bond seems to have suited both William and Isabelle very well despite the age gap between them. She was about 18, he was 41. I think it telling of William’s tact and understanding that he took his young wife on honeymoon so they could get to know each other. Perhaps as a matter of pride, he kept his own small seal from the days when he was an ordinary knight, rather than have a new extravagant one made. Or perhaps it was to keep his feet on the ground. He seems to have consulted Isabelle on matters pertaining to the lands, which were only his by right of his marriage to her and it was a fact he freely acknowledged in full public before all their vassals. He could spend her money and rule her estates as he chose, by right of the marriage laws at the time, but he always involved her in decisions and sought her opinion.

William Marshal was raised in love by one woman, healed by another, given a staircase to climb to the stars by a great queen, almost brought down by another one of lesser degree, and held in balance by a young woman twenty years younger than himself, but his equal in every way. The women of the time might receive less comment in the historical record than the men, but they were frequently the secret driving force!

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.

You can learn more about Elizabeth Chadwick and her books on her website and blog.

I am so excited that I can giveaway two copies of THE GREATEST KNIGHT courtesy of Sourcebooks. To enter, please leave a comment with a valid e-mail address telling me if you have ever read any books about the Middle Ages. To double or triple your chances, you can blog and/or tweet about this contest with a link back to this post. This contest is open until September 10th at 11:59 p.m. EST, and I will notify the winners the following day. This giveaway is for those of you with U.S. or Canada mailing addresses only -- no P.O. boxes please. Good luck!


Gaby317 said...

This sounds interesting! I've read some romances set during the Middle Ages but I can't recall any historical fiction. This does sound like a fun read.

Please count me in

I follow

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Virginia C said...

Good Morning :) Many years ago, I read The Once and Future King by T.H. White and The Lute Player by Nora Lofts. I have also read historical romance fiction set during the Middle Ages. What a complex and intriguing period in world history!gcwhiskas at aol dot com

holdenj said...

This sounds like a great book. I liked your review the other day and the author's take on things today as well.

I read Crichton's Timeline--that was a Middle Ages story.

Please count me in.

JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com

Tea said...

I think the Medieval period is a very interesting time in English History. I would love to win, read and review Elizabeth Chadwick's books. I've heard about her for so many years. It's been a joy reading her words here on a blog.

Pam said...

I don't think I have read any books about the middle ages. To be honest, I'm just starting to get into historical fiction. My problem has always been with the "history" as I hated the subject in school. I realize now, though, that it's not the subject I hate but the way it was taught. I LOVE the stories, I hate the memorization of the dates. I want to know about the people.

I'm a follower too.

melacan at hotmail dot com

bermudaonion said...

I can't think of any book about the middle ages that I've read, but I may have way back when in school. I can't believe William's father told his captors to go ahead and hang him! Please enter me! milou2ster(at)

Karlie said...

This book looks great. I've read a lot of historical fiction about the Renaissance, but I can't recall reading about the Middle Ages. Please enter me.

throuthehaze said...

i have read some historical romances set in the middle ages but i cant remember the names of the books
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Amanda said...

Thank you for the giveaway! I've been wanting to read this book. Actually, I've been wanting to read an Elizabeth Chadwick book in general. I love finding new authors. I like Robin Maxwell's books on Elizabeth and Anne Boleyn and I loved When Christ and His Saints Slept by Penman. Oh and Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George. Thanks!

nycbookgirl at gmail dot com

Beth F said...

I would love to win one of these books. I have read many books that take place in the Middle Ages, including two nonfiction accounts of Eleanor of Aquitaine. But I love books about King Arthur and broader historical fiction that covers the time period (Edward Rutherferd, Ken Follet) and even mysteries (Ellis Peters and Roberta Gellis).

BFish (dot) Reads (at) gmail (dot) com

Beth F said...

I tweeted this:

Anonymous said...

No,I have never read any books about the Middle Ages. I can start now with your suggestion. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the Middle Ages-Richard the
Lion Heart,Crusades,The Templers,
The Plantagenets. A favorite time
to read about for me. Having read
Jean Plaidy's books as well as many
non fictions,it's an interesting time and William Marshall was an
amazing man. Please include me
in the drawing. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

well, am I stupid or what? Forgot to leave you my email addy.


renee said...

I love books about the middleages. Please enter me
reneetaylor at sympatico dot ca

ibeeeg said...

I want to read this book. After reading the author has said, I *really* want to read this book. It sounds very intriguing. Not only that, I love to read historical fiction and several which have been set in or around the Middle Ages time period. There is something about this time period that greatly intrigues me. If I could "experience" it for a moment, that would be cool. But only for a moment as I do not want to give up my convinces and rights. *smile*

I posted a link to this giveaway on my blog's sidebar.

I tweeted this:


Linda said...

The Middle Ages is a favorite period for Historical Fiction novels: Sharon Kay Penman, Helen Hollick, Bernard Cornwell, Edith Pargeter, and of course Elizabeth Chadwick are favorite authors of books I've read and loved.

cqueen2 said...

I dont think I have read any book from the Middle Ages but this sounds really good ..count me in


wadesherry@hotmail dot com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

carol said...

never read any books about the middle ages but I have seen programs about it that fascinates me. I'd love to win the book.

Anonymous said...

No, I haven't ever read any books about the Middle Ages, but I sure would like to!
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Jennifer said...

I would be thrilled to win this novel, s it sounds like a fascinating read. I have read a novel from the Middle Ages, Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin.
I am indeed a follower.
Thank you for giving me a chance to win a copy.
knittingmomof3 (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Julie said...

I have read plenty of books about the middles ages but most of them were non fiction.

I've heard such wonderful things about his author, I would love a chanct to win!

I'm also a follower


Anonymous said...

I'm sure I've read something that takes place in the Middle Ages, but I can't think of any titles off-hand. Thanks for entering me anyway.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I have never read a book about the Middle Ages, but I would love to!

lelou2 AT ymail DOT com

Anonymous said...

I posted this giveaway on my sidebar HERE

lelou2 AT ymail DOT com

chey said...

I've also read some historical romances set during the Middle Ages

chey127 at hotmail dot com

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

I've read Sharon Kay Penman, but that's about it. I would like the guy on the cover to come slay my dragons if I'm ever in distress!

melmccurdy at sbcglobal dot net

And here is my blog entry too!

mrsshukra said...

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (a story of a history student in 2048 who is transported to an English village in the 14th century) is something I remember reading!


Anonymous said...

Once upon a time I read many books penned by Victoria they count?

karen k

nfmgirl said...

I'm sure that I've read a couple that took place in the Middle Ages, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Please count me in. Thanks!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

This sounds great. No, I've never read any books about the Middle Ages, but I'm ready to start now.


lag123 said...

No I have never read any books about the middle ages but I am ready to start.

I follow

Lee P said...

I haven't read any books on the Middle Ages yet, but I'd like to after reading your review! Thanks for the giveaway and please count me in.


Lee P said...

I Tweeted your giveaway here:



not really and i want to fill in a gap in my knowledge the base the fun way with historical fiction please.

spvaughan yahoo com

spvaughan yahoo com

Becca said...

I have read several books by Gerald Morris who write YA books set during the middle ages that I really liked.

I blogged about this here:


Jenny N. said...

I have read books that take place in the middle ages but I can not think of any at thetop of my head right now.


Unknown said...

I probably have but I don't remember any off hand...


Unknown said...


Jayna said...

I don't recall reading any books set in the Middle Ages... but it seems like I must have at some point! If I have it was a long time ago.

This one sounds very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I love historical fiction so I am sure to have read something set in that time. It is not too common though...I can't think of titles off hand. I would love to read this book!! Please enter me in your great giveaway.

bsyb100 at gmail dot com

Mom of 5 Boys said...

I have read several books set in the middle ages, including Doomsday Book, books by Jean Plaidy, some children's/YA books, and others. I enjoy that time period in lit. Thanks for the giveaway--I've really been wanting to read this book.

Beth (BBRB) said...

I read one children's fiction book set in the middle ages. It was quite interesting.

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Mozi Esme said...

I can't think of anything recently! Robin Hood is about the only thing coming to mind... I would love to get into it, though!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Sue said...

I can't think of any that I've read from the Middle Ages, but this would be a good start for me! Thanks for sharing.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

I have certainly read books set in the Middle Ages but none recently. aitmama {at} gmail{dot} com

Unknown said...

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting...I haven't read many period novels...

ossmcalc said...

I have not read any books about the Middle Ages but would really like to get started. I am very interested in what this book has to say.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I tweeted

Thank you,


Andrea said...

This sounds like a great book! I don't think I've ever read a book from the Middle Ages other than this book I read way back in middle school that i can no longer remember the name of.


Bcteagirl said...

I have yet to read any books about the middle ages, but it is a time frame that interests me quite a bit! Perhaps this would be a good way to start! Thanks!

teagirl1 at telus dot net

Becky J. said...

I think the only medieval books I've ever read were Ivanhoe and then of course Robin Hood, and they're both such classics that they're hard not to love. I'm sure this one is excellent as well. I'd love to get a copy!

beckyljensen (at) gmail (dot) com

Jasmine said...

I dont think I have ever read a medieval book unless you count Arthurian legends. I have never heard of William Marshall and am keen to learn about him. To me Lancelot from Queen of Camelot is "the greatest knight" so we will have to see once I read this book if my opinion changes.

My email is


heatherzilla said...

I have read books set in medieval times. One that I love is Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught.

Anita Yancey said...

I have never read any books set in the Middle Ages, but I would like to. Please enter me in your giveaway for this great book. Thanks!

I am a follower!


nfmgirl said...


nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...


nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Unknown said...

I have a fairly good collection of books on King Arthur. It is one of my favorite times in history.
I also loved The Name of the Rose, excellent novel and Sean Connery starred in the movie!

Beth said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I haven't read anything set in the Middle Ages lately. Would love to win this.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Belinda M said...

I can't recall any books I have read up until now about the middle ages

+ I follow your blog

Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat - join us at


A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I've read some books featuring King Arthur, such as Le Morte D'Arthur and The Once and Future King.


A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I Tweeted:


Debs Desk said...

I dont recall any historical fiction from the middle ages. Please include me in your giveaway.

budletsmom said...

I have read some historical romances but this sounds interesting. I love the idea of meshing some history with the story.

budletsmom at yahoo dot com

Caffey said...

I'd so love to be in this contest! I heard about your books Elizabeth from a friend that mention yours but too told me your books weren't available in the US but now I believe that's changed with you having them at Sourcebooks! I too not just look forward to this great read but too all I'll learn from this historical time! I remember in HS that without an interpreter (I'm deaf) that I missed so much but was always reading my books to find out things but too I had so much assumptions because I couldn't ask questions. I think that's why too I so love chatting about what I read. A joy to meet you and your Knight!


Anonymous said...

I've read historical romances about the Middle Ages, but I can't recall any titles :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I've never read a book about the middle ages AND I've never read a book by Elizabeth Chadwick! So, two good reasons why I'm entering this giveaway. I hope you check mine out, too!

martina_ck AT shaw DOT ca

Rue said...

I've read some historical fiction set in the middle ages. There's a few that I remember including Adam of the Road. Parts of Mitchner's The Source was set during the middle ages as well.

Thanks for the chance to win!
ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

Chèli said...

Would like this book

Cheli's Shelves

Chèli said...

I'm following you!
Cheli's Shelves

Chèli said...

Posted on my blog

Cheli's Shelves

Emma said...

I haven't read anything set in the Middle Ages lately. THE GREATEST KNIGHT sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

flowerchild said...

i have never read anything in the middle ages but i would love too.please count me in..thanks