Sosa : 184,553,134
Earl of Pembroke

  • Born about 1130 - Tunbridge,Kent,England
  • Deceased 9 April 1176 - Dublin,Ireland , age at death: possibly 46 years old


 Spouses and children


Individual Note

Richard fitz Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Leinster, wasthe father of Isabel de Clare, wife of William Marshal. Richard was theson of Gilbert fitz Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, and Isabel deBeaumont, sister to Waleran Count of Meulan and Robert Earl of Leicester.Richard, like his father, was known as 'Strongbow' for his skill and useof the long bow of the men of Gwent. Richard and his father supportedKing Stephen in the civil war between Stephen and the Empress Matilda forthe throne of England until c1141 when King Stephen took Gilbert's landsand castles on the suspicion that Gilbert might join his nephew, GilbertEarl of Clare, and Ranulf Earl of Chester on the Empress's side.
Gilbert Earl of Pembroke died in 1148, and Richard at the age of eighteentook seisin of his father's lands, castles and titles. In the Treaty ofWindsor of 1153, King Stephen recognized Henry Duke of Anjou as his heirto the throne of England, and Richard witnessed the Treaty as 'comes dePenbroc.' However, once Henry became King Henry II of England in December1154, he did not recognize Richard's right to the title or the lands ofPembroke [inherited by his father from his uncle Walter de Clare andgranted by King Stephen] nor as lord of Orbec and Bienfaite in Normandy[inherited by his father from his uncle Roger de Clare and granted byKing Henry I]. Whatever Henry's reasons for denying Richard his lands andtitles [there are no definite proven reasons or justifications of thisact of Henry's], Richard was a knight and baron of one of the oldest andgreatest families of the Conqueror's time who found himself without hisrightful inheritance.

At the age of thirty-eight and still unmarried due to a lack of royalfavor, Richard was ready for the arrival and proposal of DermotMacMurchada Lord of Leinster in 1168/69. Dermot arrived in Bristol, alongwith his daughter Aoife, and went to the home of Robert fitz Harding, awealthy merchant, money-lender, and favorite of King Henry's. Dermot hadgone to King Henry in Normandy and gained permission to recruit knightsfrom Henry's lands in Wales and the Marches for his battle to regain hisown lordship of Leinster in Ireland. It is possible and probable thatfitz Harding, to whom de Clare may have owed money, recommended Strongbowto Dermot as a good candidate to be recruited. Dermot offered Strongbowlands in Ireland, his daughter Eve in marriage, and the lordship ofLeinster on Dermot's death. Dermot offered Strongbow a gamble, a chance,on winning lands, a royal wife, wealth, and knightly fame. He acceptedthe chance on the proviso that he obtained permission from King Henry,his lord and king. Strongbow went to King Henry and obtained hispermission, although Henry would later deny that he had given it exceptin a jesting manner.

Strongbow arrived in Ireland in August 1170; he had already sent many ofhis vassals from Wales to Ireland in 1169. Strongbow met Dermot and theAnglo-Norman knights, who were already there, with 200 men-at-arms andover one thousand archers. They took Waterford on St. Bartholomew's Eve[August 28, 1170], and a day later, he and Eve MacMurchada were marriedin the cathedral in Waterford. [There is a painting of the marriage ofStrongbow and Aoife by Maclise in the National Gallery of Ireland inDublin.] Soon after the marriage, Strongbow, Dermot and their knightsmarched to Dublin and took that city and the adjacent surrounding lands.Strongbow and the other Anglo-Normans quickly took control of the citiesof Dublin, Waterford, and Wexford and much of the southeastern land ofIreland.

King Henry II became alarmed at the success of his knights and fearingtheir growing strength and possible motives, he ordered all his knightsin Ireland to return to England on pain of forfeiture of their lands inEngland, Wales and Normandy. Strongbow met Henry at Newnham in Gloucesterin July 1171. At this meeting Strongbow gave Henry, Dublin and itsadjacent lands, the maritime towns and the castles, and his own lordshipof Leinster. Henry kept Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, and the castles, andgranted back to Strongbow the other lands, including the lordship ofLeinster, as lands he now held by right of King Henry. In effect, thismeant that King Henry took from Strongbow most of the lands thatStrongbow himself had either conquered or gained by his marriage andgranted them back to Strongbow as lands held by the grace of the king.Henry II was determined that he would not have a repeat of the palatinelordships of Wales in Ireland, nor strong mini-kingdoms on his own leftflank. Henry's expedition to Ireland in 1171/72 was to enforce his ownrule on the Anglo-Normans who had invaded Ireland, and gain recognitionfrom both Anglo-Normans and Irish that he was King and overlord of thealready conquered lands and the lands to be conquered. He achieved hispurpose, but he was not totally reassured until the April 1173 rebellionof his sons in Normandy.

When this rebellion began Henry called his leading knights and baronsfrom Ireland to assist him in putting down this revolt in Normandy.Strongbow came with most of the leading barons in Ireland. He proved hismilitary skills and his fealty at Gisors, Breteuil, and Verneuil. Henryrecognized Strongbow's loyalty and actions by granting him the governingof Ireland, the city of Wexford, the castle of Wicklow, and theconstableship of Waterford and Dublin. Henry ordered Strongbow back toIreland to control it as the king's representative and to send back toNormandy more knights from Ireland and Wales.

Strongbow returned to Ireland and did his best to control the rebellionthat had arisen while the major knights were in Normandy. He served theking's interest and his own in Ireland, and he did well in trying tocontrol and modify the constant warring factions. He was in England forthe Treaty of Windsor in 1175 between King Henry II and Rory O'Connor,high king of Ireland. There is very little contemporary record ofStrongbow's last year or two in Ireland. The 'Song of Dermot' endssharply in 1174/75, and Giraldis Cambrensis' record, 'ExpugnatioHibernica' is concerned with recording the deeds of his own family ratherthan de Clare's.

Strongbow died in June 1176 of some type of infection in his leg or foot.He was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Dublin with his uncle-in-law,Lawrence bishop of Dublin, presiding. He and Eve had a son Gilbert, whodied still a minor in 1185, and a daughter Isabel, who would becomeStrongbow's sole heir. King Henry II took all of Strongbow's lands andcastles into his own hands and placed a royal official in charge of them.He guarded well the inheritance of the young girl, Isabel. Eve was givenher dower rights and possibly held Striguil [Chepstow] as part of thosedower rights until the Welsh rebellion of 1184/85. There is a record ofEve confirming a charter in Ireland in 1188/89 as 'comtissa de Hibernia'.

There are no known extant records of the personal lives of Strongbow andEve. We know that this young red-haired son of Gilbert de Clare Earl ofPembroke survived the years of being deprived of his rightfulinheritance. He took the gamble that Dermot MacMurchada offered. By hisskills as a warrior/knight and wise lord, he conquered and re-constitutedhis inherited lordship of Leinster, married the golden-haired Eve, andre-gained the respect and affection of his lord and king, Henry II. Twointeresting questions arise for which there is no known extantcontemporary records. Did Strongbow perhaps meet the man who would be hisdaughter's husband in the 1173 rebellion of the young King Henry? WouldStrongbow have approved of the knight William Marshal who married hisdaughter Isabel and not only regained all the land, castles and titlesthat Strongbow should have inherited, but added greatly to them, andcared for them all as a true knight and lord should do?
GEDCOM File : David Peter Family6.ged

Family Note

1 REFN M22688

  Photos and archival records

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 Family Tree Preview

Gilbert Fitzrichard de Clare ca 1066-ca 1116   Adelaide de Clermont ca 1070-1117/   Robert I de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester 1049-1118   Elizabeth Isabella de Vermadois ca 1085-
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Gilbert de Clare, Earl 1100-1148   Isabel de Bellomont ca 1103-1148
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Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke ca 1130-1176

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