Tom was sent to prison for rustling cattle, poaching, extortion, robbery and attempted murder. But Tom was sneaky enough to escape from prison. Not once, but twice. Such a rascal was he that when the government began pardoning whole cellblocks full of prisoners due to overcrowding, Tom was specifically excluded by name.
At age 16, Tom had participated in the Siege of Calais as the aide of Richard Beauchamp, a high-ranking army officer. When Beauchamp was killed, Tom returned sadly and wearily home, an embittered young man with a chip on his shoulder. Tom’s 3 years overseas had made him dangerously critical of the government; critical enough to wind up in prison.
But young Tom didn’t go to prison because he was poor – He was a wealthy landowner. And it’s not that he didn’t have friends in high places. In fact, Tom received a knighthood. But none of these are the things for which he’s remembered. We remember Tom today because when he was forty-nine he sat cross-legged on the floor of his prison cell and read a 300 year-old book of history written by a mysterious fellow named Geoff. And then Tom began to write.
Shortly after his book was completed, Tom died in prison, alone. Today there are only 2 things that remain of his life. The first of these is a marble tombstone in the graveyard of the Friary Church of St. Francis that reads, “Sir Thomas Malory. March 14, 1470.” The second is a book that contains the final words Tom ever wrote: “Here is the ende of the hoole book of kyng Arthur and of his noble knyghtes of the Round Table.” Tom’s book is known today as Le Morte D’Arthur.
Roy H. Williams