- File Size: 8092 KB
- Print Length: 256 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books (October 12, 2004)
- Publication Date: October 12, 2004
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000FC2ISA
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,585 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France Kindle Edition
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“This high-suspense, sanguinary tale ensnares readers. . . . The tension is nearly unendurable. . . . Sex, savagery, and high-level political maneuvers energize a splendid piece of popular history.”
“An enthralling story that reads like fiction but is based on reliable sources. A world of passion, cruelty, and mismanaged law.”
—Norman Cantor, author of Inventing the Middle Ages and In the Wake of the Plague
“If you read only one book about the Middle Ages, Eric Jager’s thriller is the one to read.”
—Steven Ozment, author of A Mighty Fortress and The Burgermeister’s Daughter
“Eric Jager uses the historical record to marvelous effect when recounting the riveting story of two men locked in mortal combat. . . . Two worlds duel in this fascinating portrait of an end of an age-the feudal aristocracy and the chivalric court—and who we deem the true victor is brilliantly left open to interpretation in Jager’s engrossing tale.”
—Margaret F. Rosenthal, author of The Honest Courtesan
“A spectacular panorama of the late Middle Ages. . . a historical thriller that leaves us with the impression of having known and lived in another world. It combines the vivid erudition of Barbara Tuchman’s Distant Mirror with the suspense and drama of Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. Eric Jager has invented a genre that reminds us that human nature has not changed very much over the ages and that sometimes reality is bigger than life and more riveting than fiction.”
—R. Howard Bloch, Augustus R. Street Professor of French, Yale University
About the Author
ERIC JAGER holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and has also taught at Columbia University. An award-winning professor of English at UCLA, he is the author of two previous books, including The Book of the Heart (a study of heart imagery in medieval literature) and numerous articles for acclaimed academic journals. He lives in Los Angeles.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
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If you love history and you love adventure, this book is for you. I give it 5 stars without hesitation. By the way, it will not put you to sleep, and it's best not to know who the winner of the duel is until the combat ends. If you know ahead of time, it's less suspenseful. Read and enjoy.
Mr. Jager explained would happen to Marguerite in the event her husband Jean de Carrouges lost the duel. There is also a chapter at the end that explains why some of the claims made at a later date didn't hold up with the evidence that he uncovered in his research.
I did enjoy this book and I may read it again.
Top international reviews
Starting with a background to each squire, Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris are presented as old friends. As fortune favoured Le Gris in the royal court so begins a bitter rivalry that de Carrouges pursues to the detriment of this own name and social standing. The author, Eric Jager, documents the actions of the two individuals as they vie for court popularity, land and money, culminating in de Carrouges' call for Trial by Combat.
The author has obviously spent many hours studying primary sources, piecing together evidence from court rolls, diaries, chronicles and contemporary descriptions, and then comparing them to descriptions of the story from later sources. He has found that - like most things in history - facts have been obscured in the telling according to which man was viewed to be correct. The book provides the backdrop of a volatile relationship between England and France in the 14th century as it dips into the social customs of marriage and religion, and the hierarchy of the regional and central powers in France. The book also charts (albeit in a light-weight fashion) the medieval legal system and the judicial process that ultimately resulted in the sanctioning of the duel by the French Parliament and King Charles VI.
There are some limitations of this book. Jager provides a great deal of background to the life and persuasions of Jean de Carrouges, to the point of neglecting Jacques Le Gris, who becomes portrayed as something of a faceless and arrogant individual who "gets all the lucky breaks" whilst the faithful de Carrouges suffers indignation after indignation. Throughout the book Jager's favour of de Carrouges is expressed.
Several of the descriptions, particularly the description of the rape, are fiction intermingled with historic evidence, and there is a feeling that some things are left completely unexplained. I was particularly confounded by Le Gris' motivation for raping Margurite (De Carrouges' wife) - why would such a successful squire do something like that out of the blue?
Also unexplained was how the two relatively minor individuals managed to gain enough pledges from other knights and squires to petition and persuade the French Court to agreed to the - then unusual - Trial by Combat in the first place.
Putting aside the feeling that Jager favours Jean de Carrouges, this is a light and interesting book to read. It maintains the suspense of the build-up to the combat itself, from the roots of the disputes between the two squires, right through to the weeks before the combat and the legal manoeuvres during these weeks. Jager ensures that we never know the outcome of the duel until the very last stroke of the sword during the combat, and it almost feels like you are there watching in silence as the duel plays out
Beautifully written piece of history full of suspense until the end. What an enjoyable read!
The over reaching question as to whether the court decision is tempting God or the logical conclusion of an age of faith is ever present.
This is certainly a must read for those interested in the Middle Ages and recomended to to anyone just looking for a good read.