When Knighthood Was in Flower is a late 19th century novel by Charles Major, writing under the pseudonym Edwin Caskoden. The novel tries to pass itself off as an 18th century update of a 16th century memoir by a Caskoden forebear who was a minor functionary in the court of Henry VIII.
If all that distancing were supposed to keep readers from noticing the silliness of the plot, it doesn’t work.
A handsome knight named Charles Brandon acquires fame and a place in Henry VIII’s guard. Henry is trying to sell his sister, Mary Tudor, in marriage. Though so beautiful every man who sees her falls in love with her, Mary cares nothing for the suitors. In predictable romance tradition, Mary falls for Brandon, who doesn’t appear interested in her.
Major mingles fact with implausible fictions until even the historical facts seem corny and contrived. The characters make so many trips between London and Winsor so they can talk without being overheard that readers may get saddlesores.
When Brandon is locked in a dungeon, Mary wins his freedom by agreeing to marry old Louis XII of France. As Louis is dying, Mary sends for Brandon, who immediately weds his still-virgin lady in Paris. Forced to accept the fait accomplis, Henry sends them back to Brandon’s impoverished family estate to get along as best they can.
Get along without reading this novel. View the scenes from the stage play below instead.
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
By Charles Major
1900 bestseller #10
Project Gutenberg eBook #17498