HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: When Knighthood Was in Flower
Author: Charles Major
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, republished 2018
Language level: 3 (barely)
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Major, Charles. When Knighthood Was in Flower (published in 1898 by The Bowen-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, IN). It is the spring of 1509, during the reign of King Henry VIII of England, and Edwin Caskoden, the young Master of Dance in the King’s court tells the story of how he befriends Charles Brandon, a 24-year old knight who returns to England from fighting in wars abroad. Caskoden is also a friend of Henry’s eighteen year old sister Mary Tudor, who is promised in marriage to the elderly and odious King Louis XII of France and is desperately trying to find a way out of it, but with little success. However, Mary and Brandon fall in love. With the help of Caskoden and Mary’s lady in waiting Lady Jane Bolingbroke, who is Caskoden’s sweetheart, the two lovers run away together and try to escape to New Spain. Unfortunately, they are caught, and Brandon is condemned to death.
Does Mary have to wed the old French king after all? Will Brandon be executed or spared? What has to be done if he is to be pardoned? And will Jane ever agree to marry Caskoden? The full title of this historical romance, ala Sir Walter Scott, is When Knighthood Was in Flower or, the Love Story of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor the King’s Sister, and Happening in the Reign of His August Majesty King Henry the Eighth. It was published under the pseudonym of Edwin Caskoden as if this character in the book were writing the love story of Mary Tudor. A few—very few—instances of cursing are found, and there are some references to drinking wine, but there is no immorality described. Concerning the approaching end of his life, Caskoden says, “I do not even regret that it’s closing; it would be ungrateful; I have had so much more than my share that I simply fall upon my knees and thank God for what He has given.”
Charles Major (1856 – 1913) was an American lawyer and novelist. Born to an upper-middle class Indianapolis, IN, family, Major developed in interest in both law and English history at an early age and attended the University of Michigan from 1872 through 1875, being admitted to the Indiana bar association in 1877. Shortly thereafter he opened his own law practice. Writing remained an interest of Major, and in 1898, he published his first novel, When Knighthood Was in Flower. The book about England during the reign of King Henry VIII was an exhaustively researched historical romance, and became enormously popular, holding a place on the New York Times bestselling list for nearly three years. The book was made into a play in 1901 and spawned an entire industry of historical romantic novels and films. Another of Major’s novels was The Bears of Blue River. The Sword and the Rose is a 1953 American-British Walt Disney family adventure film, based on the 1898 novel When Knighthood Was in Flower by Charles Major. Anyone who enjoys the historical romances of Walter Scott should like this story.