The Last Knight
The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern EraBook - 2004
John of Gaunt was the richest man in Europe, apart from its monarchs, and he epitomized and surpassed the ideals of the late Middle Ages. From chivalry -- he was taught at a young age to fight on horseback like the knights of old -- to courtly love -- his three marriages included two romantic love-matches -- he was an ideal leader. He created lavish courts, sponsoring Chaucer and proto-Protestant religious thinkers, and he survived the dramatic Peasants' Revolt, during which his sumptuous London residence was burned to the ground. As the head of the Lancastrian Branch of the Plantagenet family, he was the unknowing father of the War of the Roses, for his son Henry Bolingbroke usurped the crown from Gaunt's nephew, Richard II, after Gaunt had died. He passed away just as one great era gave way to the next: His grandson Henry the Navigator launched the Age of Exploration. Gaunt's adventures represent the culture and mores of the Middle Ages as few others' do, and his death is portrayed by Cantor as the end of that fascinating period.