Below the Salt
by Thomas B. Costain
In mediaeval England salt, expensive and only affordable by the higher classes, was placed in the center of the table at mealtimes. Those of rank, the upper table, had access to it. Those less favored: commoners, servants, inferiors, were below the salt.
In 1199 Prince John succeeded his brother Richard the Lionheart to the throne of England. At this time heroic Richard of Rawen, a poor knight who lives by the chivalric code, proves himself on the jousting fields of France. He then carries out a mission to advise Prince Arthur of Brittany, deemed by many to be the true heir to the throne, that it would be foolhardy to invade England. The Prince goes forth boldly despite the warning, is captured by the English, and never heard from again. His sister Eleanor is also captured and by edict of King John indefinitely locked in a tower so that she cannot herself claim the throne.
Richard of Rawen embarks on a quest to rescue Princess Eleanor. His plotting and planning finally succeed--the Princess is rescued, but her half-sister Isobel remains in the tower, playing the role of the captured Eleanor. Brave Richard the champion has saved, then weds his lovely princess and retires with her to safety in Ireland.
Richard's faithful squire Tostig, a clever, dependable man who has spent his life below the salt, is the real hero of the story. He is the one always there when needed, he is the one credited for ensuring things proceed smoothly so that King John signs the Magna Carta in 1215. The reward of knighthood finally brings him equality, but he will forever mourn the loss of his beloved Isobel.
This rousing novel is much more than a tale of brave knights and fair damsels, of courage, sacrifice, and duty. It's a meticulously-detailed description of the life and times of 12th Century England.
~ Thomas B Costain, 1885-1965, was born in Brantford Ontario. Costain's historical novels, consistently made the bestseller lists in the 1950s.
~ An article in Maclean’s magazine reported that Costain read some 500 books to prepare for a novel, and a 1953 Current Biography article declared that Costain “studied in detail not only the history and manners but also the language, and especially the slang of the time.”
~ Other Novels:
For My Great Folly - 1942
Ride With Me - 1944
The Black Rose - 1945
The Moneyman - 1947
High Towers - 1949
Son of a Hundred Kings - 1950
The Silver Chalice - 1952
The Tontine - 1955
Below the Salt - 1957
The Darkness And The Dawn - 1959
The Last Love - 1963