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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
Joined: 20 Jul 2008

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PostPosted: Sat 30 Aug, 2008 11:28 am    Post subject: Are there any biographical books about Knights?         Reply with quote

Hello Sirs:

I am writing this post to ask if there are any biographies (or autobiographies) about any knights and warriors who fought during medieval times.

I am originally an aviation nut, so I am aware of many books about pilot aces from W.W. I and W.W.II. I am wondering who were the "Red Barons" or "Chuck Yeagers" so to speak of medieval times. What is a "Who's Who" list of knights if one exists.

I am aware that memoirs of battles like Agincourt and Towton exist. Also, many Napoleonic historic figures wrote memoirs. However, I am wondering if any specific careers of specific knights (or infantrymen) were recorded. Especially first-hand accounts.

Just curious. I'm sure it'd be good reading. Thank you.

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 30 Aug, 2008 1:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I recommend David Crouch's biography on William Marshal. ("William Marshal, Knighthood, War, and Chivalry, 1147-1219".)

The author is something of a literary expert on both old English and French texts from the period (12th century), and did a tremendous amount of research on financial accounting records and surviving correspondence. The end conclusions illustrate a lot of political maneuvering that the end period (1220's) biography did not tend to convey. It actually touches upon the lives of roughly 20 close comrades. In my opinion, it conveys a lot about the period and upwardly mobile knights/ men at arms situation in general at that time.

I would also recommend "The Last Knight" by Norman Cantor. This cover page says quite a lot about the theme "The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era." It details the life of John of Gaunt/ Ghent and how the social regard for knighthood as a publically respected institution, and logistic conditions favoring it really deteriorated going into the 100 years war.

Neither of these read life a fantasy fiction book. I had to bite them off in 2 to 3 our sessions over the course of about 3 evenings.

Regards.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Thomas Watt




Location: Metrowest Boston
Joined: 19 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Sun 31 Aug, 2008 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the lighter vein, I suppose there's always Scott's "Ivanhoe".
Neither a biography nor history... but a book (novel) by a "knight" about a knight.

Have 11 swords, 2 dirks, half a dozen tomahawks and 2 Jeeps - seem to be a magnet for more of all.
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Nathan Keysor




Location: WV
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PostPosted: Sun 31 Aug, 2008 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are several about Edward "the Black Prince" who, although a prince, was a knight first. I like the one by Hubert Cole particularly. There is also "The Leper King and his Heirs: Baldwin the IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem" which deals with whay actually happened as so poorly depicted in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven".
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"
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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

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PostPosted: Mon 01 Sep, 2008 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sir,the only autobiographies I know of are the Life of St Louis ( Louis the IX of France ) by the Seur de Jouinville and a history of the fourth Crusade by the Seur de Villeharduin ( Forget the title.) Both are well known, available in english translation, and were written by knights who fought in these wars.This was Beginning of the High Middle Age, when well-born knights (both men were Seneschals of the province of Champagne,) were usualy literate at least in french as part if their duties.
Ja68ms
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Russ Thomas
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Location: Telemark, Norway
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Sep, 2008 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dustin,

I would recommend 'The Black Prince' ,by Richard Barber. It is the most indepth biography of this famous, but flawed figure from the mid 14th century.
There is also one on Bertrand du Guescelin, but I will have to look the actual title up for you.

Regards,

Russ

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero !


http://www.living-history.no
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Reinier van Noort





Joined: 13 Dec 2006

Posts: 165

PostPosted: Mon 01 Sep, 2008 5:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I personally really enjoyed reading an english translation of Frauendienst by Ulrich von Liechtenstein. He was a knight in the 13th century and claims this to be his autobiography.

http://www.boydell.co.uk/43830957.HTM

School voor Historische Schermkunsten

www.bruchius.com
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Sep, 2008 8:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Are there any biographical books about Knights?         Reply with quote

Dustin Faulkner wrote:
I am writing this post to ask if there are any biographies (or autobiographies) about any knights and warriors who fought during medieval times.


What's your desired cutoff point for "medieval" in this specific context? End of 15th century? End of 16th century? Or somewhere else?
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Eric W. Norenberg





Joined: 18 Jul 2008

Posts: 265

PostPosted: Fri 05 Sep, 2008 2:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dustin,
The two volumes Mr. Fox mentioned above, by Geoffroi de Villehardouin and Jean de Joinville are commonly available in one book titled "Chronicles of the Crusades". This one is part of the canonical "required reading" list at the 100 or 200 level in any college's medieval history degree program (which means you should be able to find it used, cheap, just about anywhere) because both authors are reckoned to have been fairly objective and honest in comparison to most other accounts from the time period. They are good texts for learning to read between the lines of any medieval writer's work to separate the inevitable exaggerations and lip service from the bits of honest truth that can be gleaned.

For secondary sources, if no one has yet brought it up to you, "A Distant Mirror" by Barbara Tuchman is the political bio of the "Sire de Coucy", a French noble of tremendous power at the latter half of the 14th Century. The author paints a picture of a man who seems to have understood both the ideals and the realities of Chivalry as the concept existed at the time, and was secure enough financially and politically to act, almost invariably, on his conscience. Great book.

One of my personal favorites is the biography of Fulk Nerra, by Bernard Bachrach. Fulk "the Black" lived from around 987-1040. He was the Count of Anjou and probably roughly equal to the King of France in power, depending on how alliances were shifting. His style of rule (including how he related to the Crown and his peers) was shaped by long-standing family customs and his own personal character, and held up by a belief that their modern world was the inheritor of the Roman Empire, and that Rome continued to live through them. This one is very dense, and, honestly, not a very "fun" read, but if you are tenacious (and can scan judiciously), you'll get a good look at his personality, and get some general ideas about the "dominant paradigm", if you will, of the time period.

Best to you, on your search!
Eric

p.s.: Fulk will often come off as a nasty S.O.B. pretty often, but go easy on him - he's my kids' great (to the N-th degree) grandpappy - on both sides !!! Eek!
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 05 Sep, 2008 4:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another thing to consider might be biographies of kings (or anyone in the nobility) who might have been known for their knightly prowess. For example, John Gillingham has written several books on Richard the Lionheart. Unfortunately, biographical information on many knights is fairly sketchy at best, since individual knights weren't typically the main subject of a chronicle- William Marshal being a notable example of an exception to this.

You could try looking at a more reliable biography of William Wallace; Chris Brown of St Andrews university wrote one. Also check out stuff on Ulrich von Liechtenstein.
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