Alfred Duggan was born in 1903 in Argentina. The family moved in 1905 to London where Duggan enjoyed an upper-class environment and education. His first love was archeology and he visited and excavated at many of the famous middle-eastern sites. Knight with Armour is his first book, so he came to writing at 47 and wrote a book a year until his last in 1971. Scanning his bibliography, most deal with the Middle Ages either in Britain or the Crusades in the Middle East.
Knight with Armour is an good read if you love history. Meticulously researched, Duggan excoriates the false patina of courtly love and Catholic faith, exposing the realities of the First Crusade—boredom, filth, starvation, rivalries among the troops, dismemberment, death and no salvation. Our Norman knight, Roger, is an 18 year old second son who must leave his family’s small holding in newly conquered Britain to seek fortune elsewhere. He is earnest and naïve. But he is a knight and is given the family warhorse, his personal cache until the horse is killed. And so it goes. Roger is now only a bit above a foot soldier, saved repeatedly by his heavy armour.
There is a love story, which was off-putting at first. But, true to form, our Roger is cuckolded by his trusted friend. Most interesting were the battle strategies and their execution and the role of the war horses. They were trained to battle, not just deliver the knight to engagement with the enemy.
It’s likely I will read more of Duggan’s books. I only wish there had been a map in this one showing the Crusaders’ journey.