L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal


L'Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal (English:The History of William Marshal) is the verse biography of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1146 or 1147 – 14 May 1219), written shortly after his death at the request of his son, William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. The biography is composed of 19,214 lines, in rhyming octosyllabic couplets, and was written in the Anglo-Norman language. It is the major extant text documenting Marshal's life. It was written based on the surviving account of his squire John D'Erlay. It can be used to provide insight into the two English kings, Richard I and his successor John, both of whom William served. The single surviving manuscript of the work, dating perhaps from the second quarter of the thirteenth century, was once in the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps, and is now housed at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City, under the catalog number M888. The manuscript was published by Paul Meyer in three volumes from 1891 to 1901. Georges Duby employed it to construct a biographical essay on William Marshal; this secular account he praised as "infinitely precious: the memory of chivalry in an almost pure state, about which, without this evidence, we should know virtually nothing".
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language: Anglo-Norman
genre: narrative poetry
main subject: biography
characters: William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke

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