Thursday, September 7, 2017

First Line Friday: William Marshal Edition

Happy First Line Friday!

I missed out on posting last week because things got a bit hectic here with some very good news - I am now working on a full-length biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine! I am so excited for the project and I hope I can do her story justice. Given the fact that we don't even know what she looked like, you can imagine how hard it is to come by information that we know for certain is 100% true. Slowly but surely I am plodding along and gathering more sources from her contemporaries - expensive investments but worth it in the long run. And, as one such investment, I would like to share a line this week from a book about another favorite medieval hero of mine.


I have actually cheated a little and chosen two lines. The first is from the introduction by the translator, Nigel Bryant, regarding the fact that this biography is very special indeed. The second line/paragraph is from the actual text, written by its author. We do not know the identity of the author though we know it was someone from his household, commissioned by Marshal's son a few years after Marshal's death.

"The History of William of Marshal is the earliest surviving biography of a medieval knight - indeed, it is the first biography of a layman in the vernacular in European history."


"Anyone with a worthy subject should see he treats it in such a way that, if it starts well, it's carried through to a good conclusion - and that it chimes with the truth, irreproachably; for some are inclined to undertake such tasks with lesser intentions: they just want to run men down! And what is it that drives them? Envy - whose tongue, prompted by its bitter heart, can never stop sniping: it resents any sign of outstanding goodness. But to come straight to the point: my subject concerns the worthiest man who ever was in our time, so help me God - and may God grant me the grace and the wit to treat it so that it will give pleasure and enjoyment to all who hear it in the proper spirit."

Let me know what you think and/or leave a line of your own. Then, visit my fellow First-Liners to see what they have waiting for you this week.

Happy Reading!



  1. Heard of the History of William Marshall. I think the only surviving MS is in New York somewhere. Maybe one day I can find this book in a library, but this is a seriously tantalysing taster.

  2. Ah, William. My favourite knight!

    I’m featuring Nicole Deese’s new book, “A New Shade of Summer” on my blog this week, but I’ve FINALLY managed to get around to reading Susan May Warren’s “A Matter of Trust”, and I almost didn’t even want to put it down to do the First Line Friday rounds! But I’ve forced myself to share the first line:

    “Gage Watson blamed the trouble on the bright, sunny day.”

  3. Oh, don't stop there! I want more :)
    On my blog this week I'm sharing the first line from a book I just finished. The Case of the Clobbered Cad. It was a fun story to read.
    I'll share here the first line from a book my son is currently reading.
    Tree Tall and the Whiteskins by Shirlee Evans
    "Tree Tall crept through the high dew-damp grass along the creek bank. It was early. The sun was not yet over the hill."


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