Sir Thomas Malory: Biography & Works

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  • 0:02 Who Was Sir Thomas Malory?
  • 1:56 Le Morte D'Arthur
  • 2:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Sir Thomas Malory, whose real identity is unknown, was a layman writer in medieval England. Learn more about Sir Thomas Malory's life and his most famous piece of writing, 'Le Morte D'Arthur,' then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Who Was Sir Thomas Malory?

Sir Thomas Malory was a layman writer during medieval times in England, best known as the author of Le Morte D'Arthur. A layman writer is a writer without professional knowledge of writing skills or techniques. His true identity is unknown. In 1971, Professor P.J.C. Field wrote The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory and indicated that little is known about Malory's early years. Sir Thomas Malory was possibly born around 1416 in Warwickshire, England.

Malory's adult life was less mysterious than his childhood. As a young adult, he was a landowner and in 1441, became a knight. During medieval times, knights followed a strict code of chivalry, which required them to be brave and fearless in war but also loyal, generous, and courteous in their daily lives. In order to become a knight, a man had to train for several years.

Malory married Elizabeth Walsh, and they had a son named Robert. Sir Thomas Malory inherited an estate from his father and became involved in the politics of Warwickshire. During this time, he had a number of issues with the law. Around 1445, Malory served in the British Parliament, but around 1450 he started committing crimes including armed assault, theft, rape, and extortion. He was imprisoned for many years and was said to have written his novel Le Morte D'Arthur during that time.

During King Henry VI's reign, Malory was given a royal pardon for his crimes; however, from 1468 to 1470 he was excluded from royal pardons. His reputation for violent crimes was different from the chivalric values that were important during medieval times. Malory most likely died while serving time for his crimes in prison. Malory's tombstone read, 'Valiant Knight of the Parish of Monks Kirby in Warwickshire.'

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