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William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke

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Sir William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1147 – 14 May 1219), also called William the Marshal (Guillaume le Maréchal), was an Anglo-Norman soldier and statesman. He was described as the "greatest knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 that ever lived" by Stephen Langton
Stephen Langton
Stephen Langton was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1207 and his death in 1228 and was a central figure in the dispute between King John of England and Pope Innocent III, which ultimately led to the issuing of Magna Carta in 1215...

. He served four kings — Henry II
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

, Richard the Lionheart
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

, John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

 and Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 — and rose from obscurity to become a regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 of England for the last of the four, and so one of the most powerful men in Europe. Before him, the hereditary title of "Marshal
Marshal
Marshal , is a word used in several official titles of various branches of society. The word is an ancient loan word from Old French, cf...

" designated head of household security for the king of England; by the time he died, people throughout Europe (not just England) referred to him simply as "the Marshal".

Early life


William's father, John Marshal
John Marshal (Earl Marshal)
John FitzGilbert the Marshal was a minor Anglo-Norman nobleman during the reign of King Stephen, and fought in the 12th century civil war on the side of the Empress Matilda. Since at least 1130 and probably earlier, he had been the royal marshal to King Henry I...

, had been a supporter of King Stephen
Stephen of England
Stephen , often referred to as Stephen of Blois , was a grandson of William the Conqueror. He was King of England from 1135 to his death, and also the Count of Boulogne by right of his wife. Stephen's reign was marked by the Anarchy, a civil war with his cousin and rival, the Empress Matilda...

, who took the throne in 1135, but took the part of the Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda , also known as Matilda of England or Maude, was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood...

 in the ensuing civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 of succession between her and Stephen that led to the collapse of England in 1139 into "the Anarchy"
The Anarchy
The Anarchy or The Nineteen-Year Winter was a period of English history during the reign of King Stephen, which was characterised by civil war and unsettled government...

.

When King Stephen besieged Newbury Castle
Newbury Castle
Newbury Castle is the name of an English adulterine castle built by John Marshal during The Anarchy. The Castle is mentioned in the "L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal" wherein it describes King Stephen as besieging the castle in 1152 and holding Marshal's son, William Marshal, as a hostage...

 in 1152, according to William's biographer, he used the young William as a hostage to ensure that John kept his promise to surrender the castle. John, however, used the time allotted to reinforce the castle and alert Matilda's forces. When Stephen ordered John to surrender immediately or watch as he hanged William in front of the castle John replied that he should go ahead saying, "I still have the hammer and the anvil with which to forge still more and better sons!" Fortunately for the child, Stephen could not bring himself to hang young William.

Knight-Errant



As a younger son of a minor nobleman, William had no lands or fortune to inherit, and had to make his own way in life. Around the age of twelve, when his father's career was faltering, he was sent to Normandy to be brought up in the household of William de Tancarville
Tancarville
Tancarville is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Upper Normandy region of northern France.-Geography:Tancarville is a farming village surrounded by woodland, by the banks of the river Seine in the Pays de Caux, some east of Le Havre and near the junction of the D39, D982 and D910...

, a great magnate and cousin of young William's mother. Here he began his training as a knight. He was knighted in 1166 on campaign in Upper Normandy, then being invaded from Flanders. His first experience of warfare was not a great success. He failed to take advantage of the knights he had managed to overcome in the street skirmish at Neufchâtel-en-Bray
Neufchâtel-en-Bray
Neufchâtel-en-Bray is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A small town of farming and associated light industry situated by the banks of the river Bethune in the Pays de Bray, some southeast of Dieppe at the junction of the D1, the...

. In 1167 he was taken by William de Tancarville to his first tournament where he found his true métier. Quitting the Tancarville household he then served in the household of his mother's brother, Patrick
Patrick of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Patrick of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Salisbury was an Anglo-Norman nobleman, and the uncle of the famous William Marshal.His parents were Walter of Salisbury and Sibilla de Chaworth. Before 1141, Patrick was constable of Salisbury, a powerful local official but not a nobleman...

, Earl of Salisbury
Earl of Salisbury
Earl of Salisbury is a title that has been created several times in British history. It has a complex history, being first created for Patrick de Salisbury in the middle twelfth century. It was eventually inherited by Alice, wife of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster...

. In 1168 his uncle was killed in an ambush by Guy de Lusignan. William was injured and captured in the same skirmish. It is known that William received a wound to his thigh and that someone in his captor's household took pity on the young knight. He received a loaf of bread in which were concealed several lengths of clean linen bandages with which he could dress his wounds. This act of kindness by an unknown person perhaps saved Marshal's life as infection setting into the wound could surely have killed him. After a period of time, he was ransomed by Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France and of England...

, who was apparently impressed by tales of his bravery. Thereafter he found he could make a good living out of winning tournaments
Tournament (medieval)
A tournament, or tourney is the name popularly given to chivalrous competitions or mock fights of the Middle Ages and Renaissance . It is one of various types of hastiludes....

. At that time tournaments were dangerous, often deadly, staged battles, not the jousting contests that would come later, and money and valuable prizes could be won by capturing and ransoming opponents, their horses and armour. His record is legendary: on his deathbed he recalled besting 500 knights during his tourneying career.

William Marshal and the Young King Henry


The Marshal's career entered a new phase in 1170 when he was appointed to the household of Henry the Young King
Henry the Young King
Henry, known as the Young King was the second of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine but the first to survive infancy. He was officially King of England; Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Maine.-Early life:Little is known of the young prince Henry before the events...

, eldest surviving son of Eleanor and her second husband Henry II of England
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

, crowned that year as associate king to his father. William was intended to be the boy's tutor-in-arms, but became his mentor and idol. He infected the boy with his passion for the tournament, and for the next twelve years he was the Young King's constant companion and tournament team manager. He followed the Young King in his abortive rebellion against his father in 1173–74, and William makes his first appearance in the historical record in a list of rebels compiled by the clerks of Henry II. William is alleged by his biographer to have knighted his young master during the course of the rebellion, but we know from other sources that Young Henry had in fact been knighted by his father before his coronation in 1170.

Between 1174, when Henry was reconciled to his father, and 1182, William led his master's Anglo-Norman team in all the major tournaments of the day, especially frequenting the huge international meetings in Picardy. His job was to devise tactics and during the course of the tournament to act as minder to the Young King, to make sure he avoided the embarrassment of capture. By the time of the French state tournament of 1179 at Lagny-sur-Marne
Lagny-sur-Marne
Lagny-sur-Marne is a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France from the center of Paris....

, held to celebrate the coronation of Philip II of France
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

, William Marshal was sufficiently wealthy to raise his own banner over his own company of knights. He was also by then subject to the envy and conspiracy of rivals at the Young King's court. In 1182 they engineered his downfall, by claiming that Marshal was more interested in profiting from tournaments than protecting his lord. There were also accusations of disrespect to the king in his choice of warcry for his company ('God aids the Marshal') and the way his men trumpeted his fame above the king's. His biographer attempts to deflect these serious charges by his enemies, by adding to them the preposterous charge that William Marshal had seduced the king's wife. He was treated coldly by the king, until fed up by the insults, Marshal left to join the tournament team of the Young King's rival and cousin Philip of Flanders. He was however recalled to the Young King's household following the king's second rebellion against his father, and was at his side when Henry died of dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

 near Limoges
Limoges
Limoges |Limousin]] dialect of Occitan) is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and the administrative capital of the Limousin région in west-central France....

 on 11 June 1183. The Marshal undertook to complete the crusade vow his dead master had made, and took his cloak stitched with the cross to Jerusalem, with the approval of the bereaved father, Henry II.

Royal favour


Upon his return during the course of 1185 William rejoined the court of King Henry II, and now served the father as a loyal captain through the many difficulties of his final years. The returns of royal favour were almost immediate. The king gave William the large royal estate of Cartmel
Cartmel
Cartmel is a village in Cumbria, England, situated north-west of Grange-over-Sands and close to the River Eea. Historically it was in Lancashire; boundary changes brought it into the newly created county of Cumbria in 1974, yet keeping it within the boundaries of the traditional County Palatine...

 in Cumbria, and the keeping of Heloise, the heiress of the northern barony of Lancaster. It may be that the king expected him to take the opportunity to marry her and become a northern baron, but William seems to have had grander ambitions for his marriage. In 1188 faced with an attempt by Philip II to seize the disputed region of Berry, Henry II summoned the Marshal to his side. The letter by which he did this survives, and makes some sarcastic comments about William's complaints that he had not been properly rewarded to date for his service to the king. Henry therefore promised him the marriage and lands of Dionisia, lady of Châteauroux
Châteauroux
Châteauroux is the capital of the Indre department in central France and the second-largest town in the province of Berry, after Bourges. Its residents are called Castelroussines or Castelroussins....

 in Berry. In the resulting campaign, the king fell out with his heir Richard
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

, count of Poitou, who consequently allied with Philip II against his father. In 1189, while covering the flight of Henry II from Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

 to Chinon
Chinon
Chinon is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France well known for Château de Chinon.In the Middle Ages, Chinon developed especially during the reign of Henry II . The castle was rebuilt and extended, becoming one of his favorite residences...

, William unhorsed the undutiful Richard in a skirmish. William could have killed the prince but killed his horse instead, to make that point clear. He is said to have been the only man ever to unhorse Richard. Nonetheless after Henry's death, Marshal was welcomed at court by his former adversary, now King Richard I, who was not foolish enough to exclude a man whose legendary loyalty and military accomplishments were too useful to ignore, especially in a king who was intending to go on Crusade.

During the old king's last days he had promised the Marshal the hand and estates of Isabel de Clare (c.1172–1220), but had not completed the arrangements. King Richard however, confirmed the offer and so in August 1189, at the age of 43, the Marshal married the 17-year-old daughter of Richard de Clare
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke , Lord of Leinster, Justiciar of Ireland . Like his father, he was also commonly known as Strongbow...

 (Strongbow). Her father had been Earl of Pembroke
Earl of Pembroke
Earl of Pembroke is a title created ten times, all in the Peerage of England. It was first created in the 12th century by King Stephen of England. The title is associated with Pembroke, Pembrokeshire in West Wales, which is the site of Earldom's original seat Pembroke Castle...

, and Marshal acquired large estates and claims in England, Wales, Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 and Ireland. Some estates however were excluded from the deal. Marshal did not obtain Pembroke and the title of earl, which his father-in-law had enjoyed, until 1199, as it had been taken into the king's hand in 1154. However, the marriage transformed the landless knight from a minor family into one of the richest men in the kingdom, a sign of his power and prestige at court. They had five sons and five daughters, and have numerous descendants (see below). William made numerous improvements to his wife's lands, including extensive additions to Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle is a medieval castle in Pembroke, West Wales. Standing beside the River Cleddau, it underwent major restoration work in the early 20th century. The castle was the original seat of the Earldom of Pembroke....

 and Chepstow Castle
Chepstow Castle
Chepstow Castle , located in Chepstow, Monmouthshire in Wales, on top of cliffs overlooking the River Wye, is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain...

.

William was included in the council of regency which the King appointed on his departure for the Third Crusade
Third Crusade
The Third Crusade , also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin...

 in 1190. He took the side of John, the king's brother, when the latter expelled the justiciar, William Longchamp
William Longchamp
William Longchamp , sometimes known as William de Longchamp or William de Longchamps, was a medieval Lord Chancellor, Chief Justiciar, and Bishop of Ely in England. Born to a humble family in Normandy, he owed his advancement to royal favour. Although contemporary writers accused Longchamp's father...

, from the kingdom, but he soon discovered that the interests of John were different from those of Richard. Hence in 1193 he joined with the loyalists in making war upon him. In spring 1194, during the course of the hostilities in England, before King Richard's return, William Marshal's elder brother John Marshal was killed defending Marlborough for John, whose seneschal he was. Richard allowed Marshal to succeed his brother in the hereditary marshalship
Earl Marshal
Earl Marshal is a hereditary royal officeholder and chivalric title under the sovereign of the United Kingdom used in England...

, and his paternal honour of Hamstead Marshall
Hamstead Marshall
Hamstead Marshall is a village and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. Although the village name is spelt Hamstead Marshall, the alternative Hampstead Marshall was quite commonly used in the past, and remains the official name of the civil parish...

. The Marshal served the king in his wars in Normandy against Philip II. On Richard's death-bed the king designated Marshal as custodian of Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 and of the royal treasure during the interregnum.

King John and Magna Carta



William supported King John when he became king in 1199, arguing against those who maintained the claims of Arthur of Brittany, the teenage son of John's elder brother Geoffrey Plantagenet
Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany
Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond was Duke of Brittany between 1181 and 1186, through his marriage with the heiress Constance. Geoffrey was the fourth son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine.-Family:He was a younger maternal half-brother of Marie de...

. William was heavily engaged with the defence of Normandy against the growing pressure of the Capetian armies between 1200 and 1203. He sailed with King John when he abandoned the duchy in December 1203. He and the king had a falling out in the aftermath of the loss of the duchy, when he was sent with the earl of Leicester as ambassadors to negotiate a truce with King Philip II of France
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

 in 1204. The Marshal took the opportunity to negotiate the continued possession of his Norman lands. When William paid homage
Commendation ceremony
A commendation ceremony is a formal ceremony that evolved during the Early Medieval period to create a bond between a lord and his fighting man, called his vassal . The first recorded ceremony of commendatio was in 7th century France, but the relationship of vassalage was older, and predated even...

 to King Philip, John took offence and there was a major row at court which led to cool relations between the two men. This became outright hostility in 1207 when John began to move against several major Irish magnates, including William. Though he left for Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

 in 1207 William was recalled and humiliated at court in the autumn of 1208, while John's justiciar
Justiciar
In medieval England and Ireland the Chief Justiciar was roughly equivalent to a modern Prime Minister as the monarch's chief minister. Similar positions existed on the Continent, particularly in Norman Italy. The term is the English form of the medieval Latin justiciarius or justitiarius In...

 in Ireland Meilyr fitz Henry invaded his lands, burning the town of New Ross
New Ross
New Ross is a town located in southwest County Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland. In 2006 it had a population of 7,709 people, making it the third largest town in the county after Wexford and Enniscorthy.-History:...

. Meilyr's defeat by Countess Isabel led to her husband's return to Leinster. He was once again in conflict with King John in his war with the Braose and Lacy families in 1210, but managed to survive. He stayed in Ireland until 1213, during which time he had Carlow Castle
Carlow Castle
Carlow Castle is located next to the River Barrow in County Carlow, Ireland. It was built between 1207 and 1213, and is a National Monument of Ireland.-External links:*...

 erected and restructured his honour of Leinster. Taken back into favour in 1212, he was summoned in 1213 to return to the English court. Despite their differences, William remained loyal throughout the hostilities between John and his barons which culminated on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede
Runnymede
Runnymede is a water-meadow alongside the River Thames in the English county of Berkshire, and just over west of central London. It is notable for its association with the sealing of Magna Carta, and as a consequence is the site of a collection of memorials...

 with the sealing of Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

. William was one of the few English earls to remain loyal to the king through the First Barons' War
First Barons' War
The First Barons' War was a civil war in the Kingdom of England, between a group of rebellious barons—led by Robert Fitzwalter and supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII of France—and King John of England...

. It was William whom King John trusted on his deathbed to make sure John's nine-year-old son Henry would get the throne. It was William who took responsibility for the king's funeral and burial at Worcester Cathedral
Worcester Cathedral
Worcester Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Worcester, England; situated on a bank overlooking the River Severn. It is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Worcester. Its official name is The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester...

.

On 11 November 1216 at Gloucester
Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

, upon the death of King John, William Marshal was named by the king's council (the chief barons who had remained loyal to King John in the First Barons' War
First Barons' War
The First Barons' War was a civil war in the Kingdom of England, between a group of rebellious barons—led by Robert Fitzwalter and supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII of France—and King John of England...

) to serve as protector of the nine year old King Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

, and regent of the kingdom. In spite of his advanced age (around 70) he prosecuted the war against Prince Louis
Louis VIII of France
Louis VIII the Lion reigned as King of France from 1223 to 1226. He was a member of the House of Capet. Louis VIII was born in Paris, France, the son of Philip II Augustus and Isabelle of Hainaut. He was also Count of Artois, inheriting the county from his mother, from 1190–1226...

 and the rebel barons with remarkable energy. In the battle of Lincoln
Battle of Lincoln (1217)
The Second Battle of Lincoln occurred at Lincoln Castle on 20 May 1217, during the First Barons' War, between the forces of the future Louis VIII of France and those of King Henry III of England. Louis' forces were attacked by a relief force under the command of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke...

 he charged and fought at the head of the young King's army, leading them to victory. He was preparing to besiege Louis in London when the war was terminated by the naval victory
Battle of Dover (1217)
The Battle of Dover was a naval battle fought in early 1217 between an English fleet of 30-40 ships under Hubert de Burgh and a French fleet of 80 under Eustace the Monk...

 of Hubert de Burgh
Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent
Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent was Earl of Kent, Justiciar of England and Ireland, and one of the most influential men in England during the reigns of John and Henry III.-Birth and family:...

 in the straits of Dover. William was criticised for the generosity of the terms he accorded to Louis and the rebels in September 1217; but his desire for an expeditious settlement was dictated by sound statesmanship. Self-restraint and compromise were the keynote of Marshal's policy, hoping to secure peace and stability for his young liege. Both before and after the peace of 1217 he reissued Magna Carta, in which he is a signatory as one of the witnessing barons. Without his prestige the Angevin dynasty might not have survived the disastrous reign of John; where the French and the rebels would not trust the English king's word, they would trust William.

Death and legacy



Marshal's health finally failed him early in 1219. In March 1219 he realised that he was dying, so he summoned his eldest son, also William, and his household knights, and left the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 for his estate at Caversham
Caversham, Berkshire
Caversham is a suburb and former village in the unitary authority of Reading, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, within the royal county of Berkshire, on the opposite bank from the rest of Reading...

 in Berkshire, near Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

, where he called a meeting of the barons, Henry III, the papal legate Pandulf Masca, the royal justiciar (Hubert de Burgh), and Peter des Roches
Peter des Roches
Peter des Roches was bishop of Winchester in the reigns of King John of England and his son Henry III. Roches was not an Englishman, but a Poitevin.-Life:...

 (Bishop of Winchester and the young King's guardian). William rejected the Bishop's claim to the regency and entrusted the regency to the care of the papal legate; he apparently did not trust the Bishop or any of the other magnates that he had gathered to this meeting. Fulfilling the vow he had made while on crusade, he was invested into the order of the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

 on his deathbed. He died on 14 May 1219 at Caversham, and was buried in the Temple Church
Temple Church
The Temple Church is a late-12th-century church in London located between Fleet Street and the River Thames, built for and by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters. In modern times, two Inns of Court both use the church. It is famous for its effigy tombs and for being a round church...

 in London, where his effigy can still be seen.

After his death, his eldest son, also named William, commissioned a biography of his father to be written called L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal
L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal
L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal is the verse biography of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke , written shortly after his death at the request of his son. The biography is composed of 19,214 lines, in rhyming octosyllabic couplets, and was written in the Anglo-Norman language. It is the major...

. This book, written so soon after his death, has preserved (and probably enhanced) the legend of William Marshal for posterity. While his knightly achievements may be debatable, there is no doubt of his impact on the history and politics of England, from his stalwart defence of the realm to his support of the Magna Carta.

Descendants of William Marshal & Isabel de Clare

  1. William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
    William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
    William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke was a medieval English nobleman, and the son of the famous William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke.-Early life:William was born in Normandy probably during the spring of 1190...

     (1190–6 April 1231), married (1) Alice de Béthune
    Béthune
    Béthune is a city in northern France, sub-prefecture of the Pas-de-Calais department.-Geography:Béthune is located in the former province of Artois. It is situated South-East of Calais, West of Lille, and North of Paris.-Landmarks:...

    , daughter of Earl of Albemarle
    Duke of Albemarle
    The Dukedom of Albemarle has been created twice in the Peerage of England, each time ending in extinction. Additionally, the title was created a third time by James II in exile and a fourth time by his son the Old Pretender, in the Jacobite Peerage. The name is the Latinised form of the ancient...

    ; (2) 23 April 1224 Eleanor Plantagenet, daughter of King John of England
    John of England
    John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

    . They had no children.
  2. Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
    Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
    Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke was the brother of William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, whom he succeeded to the Earldom of Pembroke and Lord Marshal of England upon his brother's death on 6 April 1231....

      (1191–16 April 1234), married Gervase le Dinant. He died in captivity. They had no children.
  3. Maud Marshal
    Maud Marshal
    Maud Marshal, Countess of Norfolk, Countess of Surrey was an Anglo-Norman noblewoman and a wealthy co-heiress of her father William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, and her mother Isabel de Clare suo jure 4th Countess of Pembroke. Maud was their eldest daughter...

     (1194–27 March 1248), married (1) Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk
    Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk
    Hugh Bigod was the eldest son of Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk, and for a short time the 3rd Earl of Norfolk.In 1215 he was one of the twenty-five sureties of Magna Carta of King John...

    , they had four children; (2) William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey, they had two children; (3) Walter de Dunstanville.
  4. Gilbert Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke
    Gilbert Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke
    Gilbert Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke was the third son of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke, the daughter of Richard de Clare....

     (1197–27 June 1241), married (1) Marjorie of Scotland, youngest daughter of King William I of Scotland
    William I of Scotland
    William the Lion , sometimes styled William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough", reigned as King of the Scots from 1165 to 1214...

    ; by an unknown mistress he had one illegitimate daughter:
    1. Isabel Marshal, married to Rhys ap Maeldon Fychan.
  5. Walter Marshal, 5th Earl of Pembroke
    Walter Marshal, 5th Earl of Pembroke
    Walter Marshal, 5th Earl of Pembroke was the fourth son of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke who succeeded his childless brother Gilbert as the 5th Earl of Pembroke and Earl Marshal of England in 1242 a year after the latter's death...

     (c. 1199–November 1245), married Margaret de Quincy, Countess of Lincoln
    Margaret de Quincy, Countess of Lincoln
    Margaret de Quincy, 2nd Countess of Lincoln suo jure was a wealthy English noblewoman and heiress having inherited in her own right the Earldom of Lincoln and honours of Bolingbroke from her mother Hawise of Chester, received a dower from the estates of her first husband, and acquired a dower...

    , granddaughter of Hugh de Kevelioc, 3rd Earl of Chester
    Hugh de Kevelioc, 3rd Earl of Chester
    Hugh de Kevelioc, 5th Earl of Chester was the son of Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester and Maud of Gloucester, daughter of Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester .-Early life:He is thought to have been born Kevelioc in Monmouth...

    . No children.
  6. Isabel Marshal
    Isabel Marshal
    Isabel Marshal was a medieval English countess. She was the wife of both Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford and 1st Earl of Gloucester and Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall...

     (9 October 1200–17 January 1240), married (1) Gilbert de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford
    Gilbert de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford
    Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford, 5th Earl of Gloucester was the son of Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford, from whom he inherited the Clare estates. He also inherited from his mother, Amice Fitz William, the estates of Gloucester and the honour of St. Hilary, and from Rohese, an...

    , whose daughter Isabel de Clare married Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale
    Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale
    Robert V de Brus , 5th Lord of Annandale , was a feudal lord, Justice and Constable of Scotland and England, a Regent of Scotland, and a leading competitor for the Scottish throne in 1290/92 in the Great Cause...

    , the grandfather of Robert the Bruce
    Robert I of Scotland
    Robert I , popularly known as Robert the Bruce , was King of Scots from March 25, 1306, until his death in 1329.His paternal ancestors were of Scoto-Norman heritage , and...

    ; (2) Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cornwall
  7. Sibyl Marshal (c. 1201–27 April 1245), married William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby
    William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby
    William III de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby was an English nobleman and head of a family which controlled a large part of Derbyshire including an area known as Duffield Frith....

    –they had seven daughters.
    1. Agnes Ferrers (died 11 May 1290), married William de Vesci.
    2. Isabel Ferrers (died before 26 November 1260)
    3. Maud Ferrers (died 12 March 1298)
    4. Sibyl Ferrers, married Sir Francis or Franco de Bohun.
    5. Joan Ferrers (died 1267)
    6. Agatha Ferrers (died May 1306), married Hugh Mortimer, of Chelmarsh
      Chelmarsh
      Chelmarsh is a village and civil parish in the English county of Shropshire. It lies 4 miles south of Bridgnorth on the B4555 road to Highley....

      .
    7. Eleanor Ferrers (died 16 October 1274), married to:
  8. Eva Marshal (1203–1246), married William de Braose, Lord of Abergavenny
    1. Isabella de Braose
      Isabella de Braose
      Isabella, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon was the eldest daughter of William de Braose, Lord of Abergavenny, and his wife Eva Marshal...

       (b.1222), married Prince Dafydd ap Llywelyn
      Dafydd ap Llywelyn
      Dafydd ap Llywelyn was Prince of Gwynedd from 1240 to 1246. He was for a time recognised as Prince of Wales.- Descent :...

      . She died childless.
    2. Maud de Braose
      Maud de Braose, Baroness Wigmore
      Maud de Braose, Baroness Wigmore was a noble heiress, and one of the most important, being a member of the powerful de Braose family which held many lordships and domains in the Welsh Marches...

       (1224–1301), in 1247, she married Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Wigmore and they had descendants.
    3. Eve de Braose (1227- 28 July 1255), married Sir William de Cantelou and had descendants.
    4. Eleanor de Braose
      Eleanor de Braose
      Eleanor de Braose was a Cambro-Norman noblewoman and a wealthy co-heiress of her father, who was the powerful Marcher lord William de Braose, and of her mother, Eva Marshal, a co-heiress of the Earls of Pembroke...

       (c.1228- 1251). On an unknown date after August 1241, she married Sir Humphrey de Bohun and had descendants.
  9. Anselm Marshal, 6th Earl of Pembroke
    Anselm Marshal, 6th Earl of Pembroke
    Anselm Marshal was the sixth Earl of Pembroke and Earl Marshal of England, the youngest and last of the five sons of William Marshal to hold that post...

     (c. 1208–22 December 1245), married Maud de Bohun, daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford
    Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford
    Humphrey de Bohun was 2nd Earl of Hereford and 1st Earl of Essex, as well as Constable of England. He was the son of Henry de Bohun, 1st Earl of Hereford and Maud of Essex.- Career :...

    . They had no children.
  10. Joan Marshal (1210–1234), married Warin de Munchensi (d. 1255), Lord of Swanscombe
    Swanscombe
    Swanscombe is a small town, part of the Borough of Dartford on the north Kent coast in England. It is part of the civil parish of Swanscombe and Greenhithe.-Prehistory:...

    1. Joan de Munchensi
      Joan de Munchensi
      Joan de Munchensi or Munchensy , Lady of Swanscombe and Countess of Pembroke , was the daughter of Joan Marshal and granddaughter of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke suo jure.-Family:William Marshal was the great Lord Marshal who served five...

       (1230–20 September 1307) married William of Valence
      William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke
      William de Valence, 1st Earl of Wexford and 1st Earl of Pembroke , born Guillaume de Lusignan or de Valence, was a French nobleman and Knight, who became important in English politics due to his relationship to Henry III...

      , the fourth son of King John
      John of England
      John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

      's widow, Isabella of Angoulême
      Isabella of Angoulême
      Isabella of Angoulême was queen consort of England as the second wife of King John from 1200 until John's death in 1216. They had five children by the king including his heir, later Henry III...

      , and her second husband, Hugh X of Lusignan
      Hugh X of Lusignan
      Hugh X de Lusignan, Hugh V of La Marche or Hugh I of Angoulême or Hugues X & V & I de Lusignan succeeded his father Hugh IX as Seigneur de Lusignan and Count of La Marche in November, 1219 and was Count of Angoulême by marriage.Hugh X de Lusignan was betrothed to marry 12 year-old Isabel of...

      , Count of La Marche. de Valence was half-brother to Henry III
      Henry III of England
      Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

       and Edward I
      Edward I of England
      Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

      's uncle.

The Fate of the Marshal Family


During the civil wars in Ireland, William had taken two manors that the Bishop of Ferns
Bishop of Ferns
The Bishop of Ferns is an episcopal title which takes its name after the village of Ferns in County Wexford, Ireland. In the Roman Catholic Church it remains a separate title, but in the Church of Ireland it has been united with other bishoprics.-History:...

 claimed but could not get back. Some years after William's death, that bishop is said to have laid a curse on the family that William's sons would have no children, and the great Marshal estates would be scattered. Each of William's sons did become earl of Pembroke and marshal of England, and each died without issue. William's vast holdings were then divided among the husbands of his five daughters. The title of "Marshal" went to the husband of the oldest daughter, Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk
Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk
Hugh Bigod was the eldest son of Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk, and for a short time the 3rd Earl of Norfolk.In 1215 he was one of the twenty-five sureties of Magna Carta of King John...

, and later passed to the Mowbray dukes of Norfolk
Duke of Norfolk
The Duke of Norfolk is the premier duke in the peerage of England, and also, as Earl of Arundel, the premier earl. The Duke of Norfolk is, moreover, the Earl Marshal and hereditary Marshal of England. The seat of the Duke of Norfolk is Arundel Castle in Sussex, although the title refers to the...

 and then to the Howard dukes of Norfolk, becoming "Earl Marshal" along the way. The title of "Earl of Pembroke" passed to William of Valence
William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke
William de Valence, 1st Earl of Wexford and 1st Earl of Pembroke , born Guillaume de Lusignan or de Valence, was a French nobleman and Knight, who became important in English politics due to his relationship to Henry III...

, the husband of Joan Marshal's daughter, Joan de Munchensi
Joan de Munchensi
Joan de Munchensi or Munchensy , Lady of Swanscombe and Countess of Pembroke , was the daughter of Joan Marshal and granddaughter of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke suo jure.-Family:William Marshal was the great Lord Marshal who served five...

; he became the first of the de Valence line of earls of Pembroke.

William Marshal in fiction


  • William is the central figure in the Anglo-Norman History of William Marshal.
  • William appears (named only as the Earl of Pembroke
    Earl of Pembroke
    Earl of Pembroke is a title created ten times, all in the Peerage of England. It was first created in the 12th century by King Stephen of England. The title is associated with Pembroke, Pembrokeshire in West Wales, which is the site of Earldom's original seat Pembroke Castle...

    ) in William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

    's historical play King John.
  • William Marshal is a central character in the traditional English ballad "Queen Elanor's Confession
    Queen Elanor's Confession
    Queen Elanor's Confession or Queen Eleanor's Confession is Child ballad 156. Although the figures are intended as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II of England, and William Marshall, the story is an entire invention.-Synopsis:...

    " (Child
    Child Ballads
    The Child Ballads are a collection of 305 ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, collected by Francis James Child in the late nineteenth century...

     156), in which he is (fictitiously) revealed to have seduced Eleanor of Aquitaine
    Eleanor of Aquitaine
    Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France and of England...

     while escorting her to England.
  • Four generations of the Marshal family, from Isabel de Clare's parents through William fitzWilliam's fictitious bastard son, are the subjects of a series of four historical romances by Mary Pershall
    Mary Pershall
    Mary Pershall, who writes under the pen name "Susan Shelley," is an author of over 20 novels , including a series of historical romances about the family of William Marshal:...

    . Dawn of the White Rose (1985) is the one about William Marshal and Isabel de Clare.
  • William Marshal also appears as a supporting character in Thomas B. Costain
    Thomas B. Costain
    Thomas Bertram Costain was a Canadian journalist who became a best-selling author of historical novels at the age of 57.-Life:...

    's out of print novel Below the Salt, and Sharon Kay Penman
    Sharon Kay Penman
    Sharon Kay Penman is an American historical novelist, published in the UK as Sharon Penman. She is best known for the Welsh Princes trilogy and the Plantagenet series. In addition, she has written four medieval mysteries, the first of which, The Queen's Man, was a finalist in 1996 for the Best...

    's novels Time and Chance and Devil's Brood, as well as a minor appearance in Penman's When Christ and His Saints Slept, illustrating the story about young William's time as King Stephan's hostage and John Marshal's defiance.
  • William Marshal makes appearance in James Blish
    James Blish
    James Benjamin Blish was an American author of fantasy and science fiction. Blish also wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling, Jr.-Biography:...

    's historical novel, Doctor Mirabilis. He appears at the Convocation at Westminster, and in absentia on his temporary break with Henry III. Blish himself acknowledges the historicity of Marshall, and further notes that in the company of Sir Miles Bonecor that they appear "...as martial spear carriers in this account...". Ultimately, William is merely a figure present in the plot as opposed to a significant mover of events within this particular novel.
  • William Marshal is the main character of the novel A Pride of Kings by Juliet Dymoke, published by the New English Library in 1978.
  • William Marshal is a significant secondary character in the novel The Witch Hunter by Bernard Knight
    Bernard Knight
    Professor Bernard Knight, CBE, became a Home Office pathologist in 1965 and was appointed Professor of Forensic Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, in 1980. He was awarded the CBE in 1993 for services to forensic medicine....

    , in the author's John Crowner
    Crowner John Mysteries
    The Crowner John Mysteries are a series of novels by Bernard Knight following the fictional life of one Sir John de Wolfe, a former Crusading Knight appointed to the office of Keeper of the Pleas of the King's Crown i.e...

     medieval mystery series, published in 2004.
  • A new novel about William Marshal, The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
    Elizabeth Chadwick
    Elizabeth Chadwick is an author of historical fictions. She is a member of Regia Anglorum, a Medieval reenactment organisation.-Biography:Elizabeth Chadwick was born in Bury, Lancashire. She moved with her family to Scotland when she was four years old and spent her childhood in the village of...

    , based on primary sources and the main secondary source biographies of professors Painter, Duby and Crouch was published by Time Warner Books on 3 November 2005. A sequel, The Scarlet Lion followed in 2006. As one of the prominent historical figures of the period, Marshal also appears as a minor character in several of her other novels set around the same time.
  • In film, Marshal makes a minor appearance in 1968's The Lion in Winter
    The Lion in Winter (1968 film)
    The Lion in Winter is a 1968 historical drama made by Avco Embassy Pictures, based on the Broadway play by James Goldman. It was directed by Anthony Harvey and produced by Joseph E...

    , portrayed by Nigel Stock. Clive Wood
    Clive Wood
    -Film and television:Wood's first starring TV role was as Vic Brown, opposite Joanne Whalley and Susan Penhaligon, in the 1982 ITV drama series based on the novel A Kind of Loving. He has played Matt Kerr in Press Gang, DCI Gordon Wray in The Bill and Jack Morgan in London's Burning...

     portrays Marshal in the 2003 remake
    The Lion in Winter (2003 film)
    The Lion in Winter is a 2003 made-for-television remake of the 1968 film of the same name.A television production of The Lion in Winter was first shown on December 26, 2003 in the U.K.. It starred Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close, and was directed by Andrei Konchalovsky...

    .
  • Many events in William Marshal's life were incorporated into the 2001 film A Knight's Tale
    A Knight's Tale (film)
    A Knight's Tale is a 2001 American action-adventure film directed, produced, and written by Brian Helgeland. The film stars Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer, and James Purefoy as Sir Thomas Colville/Edward, the Black Prince.The...

    .
  • Another novel about William and his wife is Champion (in German "Der Ritter der Könige) from Christian Balling of the year 1988.
  • William Marshal is a major character in the novels The Devil is Loose and its sequel, Wolf at the Door by Graham Shelby
    Graham Shelby
    Graham Shelby is a British historical novelist. He worked as a copywriter and book-reviewer before embarking on a series of historical novels, mainly set in the twelfth century.-List of works:...

    . The books are about Richard Lionheart and King John, and are historical fictions about the events after the death of Henry II and the fall of the Angevin Empire.
  • William Marshal also has 2 appearances in the historical romance novels "The Falcon and the Flower" and "The Dragon and the Jewel" by author Virginia Henley
    Virginia Henley
    Virginia Henley, née Virginia Syddall , is a British successful writer of historical-romance novels. She is well-known for her Medieval, Renaissance and other period piece romance novels.- Biography :...

    .
  • He is a major character in Sharon Penman's 'Devil's Brood'.
  • He is a major character in Mike Walker
    Mike Walker (radio dramatist)
    Mike Walker is a radio dramatist and feature and documentary writer. His radio work includes both original plays and adaptations of novels, classical and modern...

    's BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

     series of plays Plantagenet and is played by Stephen Hogan.
  • William Marshal is a major character in Sir Ridley Scott's
    Ridley Scott
    Sir Ridley Scott is an English film director and producer. His most famous films include The Duellists , Alien , Blade Runner , Legend , Thelma & Louise , G. I...

     Robin Hood
    Robin Hood (2010 film)
    Robin Hood is a 2010 British/American adventure film based on the Robin Hood legend, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett...

     epic who tries to convince King John to agree to the Magna Carta. He is played by William Hurt
    William Hurt
    William McGill Hurt is an American stage and film actor. He received his acting training at the Juilliard School, and began acting on stage in the 1970s. Hurt made his film debut as a troubled scientist in the science-fiction feature Altered States , for which he received a Golden Globe nomination...

    .
  • William Marshal is also a key character in Christopher Morley's new play The King's Disposition.
  • Peter Robert's radio play Holy Fool is about William Marshal (played by William Chubb) narrated by his squire (played by Michael Williams).
  • A character named "Marshal" (played by James Purefoy
    James Purefoy
    James Brian Mark Purefoy is an English actor best known for portraying Mark Antony in the HBO series Rome.-Early life and work:...

    ), based loosely on the historical William Marshal, is the central character in the 2011 film Ironclad
    Ironclad (film)
    Ironclad is a 2011 action film directed by Jonathan English. Written by English and Erick Kastel, based on a screenplay by Stephen McDool, the cast includes Paul Giamatti, James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Mackenzie Crook, Jason Flemying, Derek Jacobi and Kate Mara. The film chronicles the siege of...

    .

External links