Sosa : 92,276,566

  • Born in 1146 - Normandy,France
  • Deceased 14 May 1219 - Caversham,England , age at death: 73 years old


 Spouses and children



Individual Note

1 NAME Wiliam /Marshall/

In a room of the Tower of London in August 1189, two people who wereabout to be married met for the first time. This twist of fate or act ofdestiny would have a far-reaching effect on English history. The younglady was Isabel de Clare, sole heiress of Richard Strongbow de Clare,Earl of Pembroke and Striguil, and Aoife, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough,King of Leinster. The man was William Marshal, the second son of John theMarshal and Sibyl, sister of Patrick, Earl of Salisbury. There are noaccounts of this first meeting nor of their marriage ceremony, but thiswas the final step in the making of one of the greatest knights andmagnates of medieval English history.

William Marshal's life is well documented because less than a year afterhis death in 1219, his eldest son William II commissioned a record of hisfather's life. 'L' Historie de Guillaume le Marechal,' is a metricalhistory of a man and of the knightly class in the late twelfth and earlythirteenth century. Little is known about the writer of 'L' Historie'except that his first name was Jean, that he personally witnessed some ofthe events in Marshal's later life, and that he had access to Marshal'ssquire John D'Erley. The point of view is that of the secular knightlyclass and not of the ecclesiastical class. The events recorded in 'L'Historie' can be verified in most instances by the official records inthe Pipe Rolls, Charter Rolls, Close Rolls, Patent Rolls, Oblatis Rolls,and chronicles of the times.

William Marshal was born c 1146, and as a younger son, becoming a knightwas his natural choice of a path to success and survival. Marshal wassent to his father's cousin William of Tancarville, hereditaryChamberlain of Normandy, to be trained as a knight in c1159. He wasknighted, probably by his uncle, in 1167.

Below right: William Marshal's Great Tower at Pembroke Castle.

In 1170 William Marshal was appointed head of the mesnie (military)household of the young Prince Henry by King Henry II. From this timeuntil young Henry's death in June of 1183, Marshal was responsible forprotecting, training and running the military household of the heir. In1173, William Marshal knighted the young Henry, and thereby becameHenry's lord in chivalry. We know that Marshal led young Henry and hismesnie to many victories on the tournament fields of Normandy. It isduring the years from 1170 to 1183 that William Marshal established hisstatus as an undefeated knight in tournaments. It is here that Marshalbegan to establish his friendships with the powerful and influential menof his day. His reputation and his character were built through his ownactions and abilities. In this age of feudalism, Marshal was a landlessknight. He had no lord from whom he could gain advantages or status.

On the death of the young Henry, Marshal obtained permission from HenryII to take the young Henry's cross to Jerusalem. Marshal spent two yearsin 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 knowthat some of the castle building techniques he later used at Pembrokewere 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 fealtyto him as his lord and his king. Until Henry II's death in 1188, WilliamMarshal served as his knight, his counselor, and his ambassador. WhenRichard I came to the throne, he recognized Marshal as a brother andequal in chivalry. Fulfilling the promise made by his father, Richardgave Marshal the heiress Isabel de Clare and all her lands in marriage.

With this marriage, William Marshal became 'in right of his wife' one ofthe greatest lords and magnates in the Plantagenet kingdom. Isabelbrought to Marshal the palatine lordships of Pembroke and Striguil inWales and the lordship of Leinster in Ireland. These were large fiefs ofland where the lord held as tenant-in-chief of the Crown. A palatinelord's word was law within his lands. He had the right to appoint his ownofficials, courts and sheriffs, and collect and keep the proceeds of hiscourts and governments. Except for ecclesiastical cases, the king's writdid not run in the palatinates. King Richard also allowed Marshal to have1/2 of the barony of Giffard for 2000 marks. This barony was split withRichard de Clare, Earl of Clare and Hertford, who held the barony inEngland as lord while Marshal held the land in Normandy as lord. Thisgave Marshal the demesne manors of Crendon in Buckinghamshire andCaversham in Oxfordshire, for 43 knights' fees, and the fief ofLongueville in Normandy with the castles of Longueville and Mueller andMoulineaux, for about 40 knights' fees.

Below right: Chepstow Castle in south Wales.

Marshal considered the lands that he held to be one unit, not separateunits of English, Irish, Welsh, and Norman lands. They were a compactwhole to be preserved and improved for the inheritance of his children.Marshal used what he had learned fighting in Normandy and in the HolyLand to improve these fiefs. The great Tower, the Horseshoe Gatehouse,and the fighting gallery in the outer curtain wall at Pembroke were builtunder his guidance. At Chepstow (Striguil), he was responsible for thegate in the middle bailey, the rebuilding of the upper level of the keep,the west barbican, and the upper and lower bailey. Marshal was alsoresponsible for the building of the castle at Kilkenny, the new castle atEmlyn, and for taking and improving Cilgerran. From a list of castles byR. A. Brown for the period from 1153 to 1214, Marshal held Chepstow,Cilgerran, Emlyn, Goodrich, Haverford, Inkberrow, Pembroke, Tenby, andUsk in England and Wales. Just these castles would have produced morethan two hundred knights' fees owed by Marshal to the Crown. Withoutincluding his lands in Normandy and Ireland, as feudal lord Marshalcontrolled a vast amount of land, wealth, and knights/vassals in theAngevin kingdom.

William Marshal served King Richard faithfully as knight, vassal,ambassador, itinerant justice, associate justiciar, counselor, andfriend. On Richard I's untimely death in 1199, William Marshal supportedJohn 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 ofPembroke on the same day that John was crowned King, May 27, 1199. It isduring King John's reign that the character of William Marshal is clearlyrevealed. John's character has been drawn by countless historians, andnone have been able to erase the ineptitude that King John displayed whendealing with his English barons. Whatever his motives were, Johninevitably alienated his greatest barons despite the fact that he neededtheir support and loyalty to rule England. William Marshal was apowerful, respected, wise and loyal knight and baron who had alreadyserved two Angevin kings. King John, however, accused Marshal of being atraitor, took all of Marshal's English and Welsh castles, took Marshal'stwo older sons as hostages, tried to take Marshal's lands in Leinster,and even tried to get his own household knights to challenge Marshal totrial by combat. Despite all of this, William Marshal remained loyal tohis feudal lord. He did not rebel when John took his castles; he gave uphis two sons as hostages; he supported John against the Papal Interdict;and he supported John in the baronial rebellion. Of all the bonds offeudalism, the greatest and the most important bond was the one offealty, of loyalty to one's lord. To break this bond and oath wastreason, and this was the greatest of crimes. William Marshal was theepitome of knighthood and chivalry. He did not simply espouse it.Marshal's entire life was governed by his oaths of fealty and by his owninnate sense of honour. If Marshal had taken his lands, castles, andknights to the side of the rebellion, King John would have lost his crownand perhaps his life.

On the death of John, October 19,1216, William Marshal was chosen by hispeers in England as regent for the nine year old Henry III. Henry wasknighted and then crowned under the seal of the Earl of Pembroke. WilliamMarshal was the main force and impetus for the defeat of Philip II ofFrance, even leading the attack to relieve Lincoln castle in May 1217though he was seventy years old. On September 11, 1217, Marshalnegotiated the Treaty of Lambeth that ended the war. By his wisetreatment of those English barons who had supported Philip II againstKing John, Marshal ensured the restoration of peace and order in England.This undefeated knight had become a great statesman in the last years ofhis life. William Marshal died May 14, 1219 at Caversham and was buriedas a Knight Templar in the Temple Church in London.

William Marshal and Isabel de Clare were married in August 1189. He wasabout forty-three and she was seventeen years old. They had ten children;five sons and five daughters, and all of the children lived. The birthdates of these children are not known, but it is known that William andRichard were the first two born. They are both mentioned in a marriagecontract dated November 6, 1203, that was a contract to marry William theyounger to Baldwin de Bethune�s daughter Alice, and if William should notlive to fulfill the contract, then Richard would be married to her. It isknown that William the younger was born in Normandy, but this is the onlyknown fact of the birth of any of these children.
GEDCOM File : David Peter Family6.ged

Family Note

1 REFN M18515

  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/   Walter Fitzedward de Salisbury 1100-1147   Sibyl de Chaworth 1102-1147
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John Fitzgilbert Marshall, Marshall 1105-ca 1165   Sybil de Salisbury 1120-
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William Marshall, Earl 1146-1219

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