Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``I am not writing the history of events,'' states Duby, a distinguished French scholar (The Age of the Cathedrals, etc.). ``I want to try to see the world the way these men saw it.'' He succeeds brilliantly, in this chronicle of a humble knight who rose through military prowess and royal favor to become Earl of Pembroke in the turbulent epoch of the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Duby gets inside his subject's skin, helping us to comprehend the complex chivalric value system. He vividly recreates a world in which loyalty, valor and generosity were the principal virtues, in which the individual defined himself (women were barely considered human beings) in terms of his connections and obligationsto his lord, to his family, to his vassals. Duby is a superb writerelegant, concise and insightful and Howard's translation does him justice. This brief account sheds great light on the shadowy medieval universe. Reader's Subscription selection. January 1
William ``the Marshal'' (c. 1145-1219), knight, tournament champion, royal household official, warrior, Earl of Pembroke, regent of England, was in his day a paragon of chivalry. In the 1220s William's son commissioned a Histoire of that life and career. This text, discovered and published in the late 1800s by Paul Meyer, was the basis of Sidney Painter's 1933 biography. Now renowned French medievalist Duby explores it not for events, but for its witness to chivalric culture in the minds of the participants themselves. The understanding of William's life given by the author of the Histoire thus serves Duby as an exemplum for interpretive glosses on loyalty, family, generosity, love, leadership, and conflict among late 12th-century aristocrats. Duby's historiographic and rhetorical brilliance will enlighten knowledgeable readers but may disorient others. For college and other history collections. Richard C. Hoffmann, History Dept., York Univ., Downsview, Ontario
From the Publisher
"Georges Duby, one of this century's great medieval historians, has brought to life with exceptional brilliance and imagination William Marshal, adviser to the Plantagenets, knight extraordinaire, the flower of chivalry. A marvel of historical reconstruction, William Marshal is based on a biographical poem written in the thirteenth century, and offers an evocation of chivalric life the contests and tournaments, the rites of war, the daily details of medieval existence unlike any we have ever seen.
"An enchanting and profoundly instructive book....Owing in signal part to the imaginative scholarship of Georges Duby, darkness is more and more receding from the Dark Ages."
"A small masterpiece of its genre....It is a splendid story and Professor Duby tells it splendidly....Duby has reconstructed a living picture of a particular sector of society at a crucial moment, at the brink of great change. The vividness, the intimacy, and the historical perception with which he presents his picture of the fascinating and eventful life of the Marshal, and of the world in which he lived, will win him readers not just among scholars, but among all who are drawn by the unending interest of the humanity of the human past."
New York Review of Books
"Duby succeeds wonderfully....Everything works."
New York Times Book Review