Name: William Marshall
Suffix: 1st Earl of Pembroke
Birth: 1146 in Pembroke, Wales
Death: 14 MAY 1219 in Caversham, Berkshire
Burial: Temple Church, London
Occupation: Regent 1216-19. Knight Templar.
MEM: Temple church, London: one of the 9 effigies
FILE: /Ged Pics mstr/Marshall, Wm d 1219.jpg
Title: Marshall, Wm d 1219.jpg
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Change Date: 1 MAR 2009
Cast of his effigy, taken before it was damaged in the war, is in the V&A Museum.
William Marshal was born c 1146, and as a younger son, becoming a knight was his natural choice of a path to success and survival. Marshal was sent to his father's cousin William of Tancarville, hereditary Chamberlain of Normandy, to be trained as a knight in c1159. He was knighted, probably by his uncle, in 1167.
In 1170 William Marshal was appointed head of the mesnie (military) household of the young Prince Henry by King Henry II. From this time until young Henry's death in June of 1183, Marshal was responsible for protecting, training and running the military household of the heir. In 1173, William Marshal knighted the young Henry, and thereby became Henry's lord in chivalry. We know that Marshal led young Henry and his mesnie to many victories on the tournament fields of Normandy. It is during the years from 1170 to 1183 that William Marshal established his status as an undefeated knight in tournaments. It is here that Marshal began to establish his friendships with the powerful and influential men of his day. His reputation and his character were built through his own actions and abilities. In this age of feudalism, Marshal was a landless knight. He had no lord from whom he could gain advantages or status.
On the death of the young Henry, Marshal obtained permission from Henry II to take the young Henry's cross to Jerusalem. Marshal spent two years in the Holy Land fighting for King Guy of Jerusalem and the Knights' Templar. There are no known records of his time in the east, but we know that some of the castle building techniques he later used at Pembroke were probably learned here.
Henry II granted Marshal his first fief, Cartmel in Lancashire, in 1187. With this fief Marshal became a vassal of King Henry II and swore fealty to him as his lord and his king. Until Henry II's death in 1188, William Marshal served as his knight, his counselor, and his ambassador. When Richard I came to the throne, he recognized Marshal as a brother and equal in chivalry. Fulfilling the promise made by his father, Richard gave Marshal the heiress Isabel de Clare and all her lands in marriage.
With this marriage, William Marshal became "in right of his wife" one of the greatest lords and magnates in the Plantagenet kingdom. Isabel brought to Marshal the palatine lordships of Pembroke and Striguil in Wales and the lordship of Leinster in Ireland. These were large fiefs of land where the lord held as tenant-in-chief of the Crown. A palatine lord's word was law within his lands. He had the right to appoint his own officials, courts and sheriffs, and collect and keep the proceeds of his courts and governments. Except for ecclesiastical cases, the king's writ did not run in the palatinates. King Richard also allowed Marshal to have 1/2 of the barony of Giffard for 2000 marks. This barony was split with Richard de Clare, Earl of Clare and Hertford, who held the barony in England as lord while Marshal held the land in Normandy as lord. This gave Marshal the demesne manors of Crendon in Buckinghamshire and Caversham in Oxfordshire, for 43 knights' fees, and the fief of Longueville in Normandy with the castles of Longueville and Mueller and Moulineaux, for about 40 knights' fees.
Below right: Chepstow Castle in south Wales.
Marshal considered the lands that he held to be one unit, not separate units of English, Irish, Welsh, and Norman lands. They were a compact whole to be preserved and improved for the inheritance of his children. Marshal used what he had learned fighting in Normandy and in the Holy Land to improve these fiefs. The great Tower, the Horseshoe Gatehouse, and the fighting gallery in the outer curtain wall atPembroke were built under his guidance. AtChepstow (Striguil), he was responsible for the gate in the middle bailey, the rebuilding of the upper level of the keep, the west barbican, and the upper and lower bailey. Marshal was also responsible for the building of the castle at Kilkenny, the new castle at Emlyn, and for taking and improving Cilgerran. From a list of castles by R. A. Brown for the period from 1153 to 1214, Marshal held Chepstow, Cilgerran, Emlyn,Goodrich, Haverford, Inkberrow, Pembroke, Tenby, and Usk in England and Wales. Just these castles would have produced more than two hundred knights' fees owed by Marshal to the Crown. Without including his lands in Normandy and Ireland, as feudal lord Marshal controlled a vast amount of land, wealth, and knights/vassals in the Angevin kingdom.
William Marshal served King Richard faithfully as knight, vassal, ambassador, itinerant justice, associate justiciar, counselor, and friend. On Richard I's untimely death in 1199, William Marshal supported John as heir to the throne rather than John's nephew, Arthur of Brittany. It was King John who belted William Marshal and created him Earl of Pembroke on the same day that John was crowned King, May 27, 1199. It is during King John's reign that the character of William Marshal is clearly revealed. John's character has been drawn by countless historians, and none have been able to erase the ineptitude that King John displayed when dealing with his English barons. Whatever his motives were, John inevitably alienated his greatest barons despite the fact that he needed their support and loyalty to rule England. William Marshal was a powerful, respected, wise and loyal knight and baron who had already served two Angevin kings. King John, however, accused Marshal of being a traitor, took all of Marshal's English and Welsh castles, took Marshal's two older sons as hostages, tried to take Marshal's lands in Leinster, and even tried to get his own household knights to challenge Marshal to trial by combat. Despite all of this, William Marshal remained loyal to his feudal lord. He did not rebel when John took his castles; he gave up his two sons as hostages; he supported John against the Papal Interdict; and he supported John in the baronial rebellion. Of all the bonds of feudalism, the greatest and the most important bond was the one of fealty, of loyalty to one's lord. To break this bond and oath was treason, and this was the greatest of crimes. William Marshal was the epitome of knighthood and chivalry. He did not simply espouse it. Marshal's entire life was governed by his oaths of fealty and by his own innate sense of honour. If Marshal had taken his lands, castles, and knights to the side of the rebellion, King John would have lost his crown and perhaps his life.
On the death of John, October 19,1216, William Marshal was chosen by his peers in England as regent for the nine year old Henry III. Henry was knighted and then crowned under the seal of the Earl of Pembroke. William Marshal was the main force and impetus for the defeat of Philip II of France, even leading the attack to relieve Lincoln castle in May 1217 though he was seventy years old. On September 11, 1217, Marshal negotiated the Treaty of Lambeth that ended the war. By his wise treatment of those English barons who had supported Philip II against King John, Marshal ensured the restoration of peace and order in England. This undefeated knight had become a great statesman in the last years of his life. William Marshal died May 14, 1219 at Caversham and was buried as a Knight Templar in the Temple Church in London.
Father: John FitzGilbert
Mother: Sibilla De Salisbury
Isabel Fitz Gilbert De Clare b: 1172
in London, England
- Isabel Marshall b: ABT 1203 in of, Pembrokeshire, Wales
- Sybil Marshall b: ABT 1204 in Pembroke, Wales
- Eve Marshall b: ABT 1206
- Maud or Matilda Marshall
- Joan Marshall b: ABT 1230
- Richard Marshall
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