Marshal, William (d.1219) (DNB00)
MARSHAL, WILLIAM, first Earl of Pembroke and Striguil of the Marshal line (d. 1219), regent of England, was second son of John Marshal (d. 1164?) [q. v.], by his second wife, Sibyl, sister of Patrick, earl of Salisbury. He is represented as describing himself as over eighty years of age in 1216 (Histoire,l. 15510), but his father and mother were not married till 1141 (ib. 11. 372-83), and 1146 is a more likely date for his birth. When Stephen besieged John Marshal at Newbury in 1152, the young William was given as hostage for a truce and the surrender of the castle. John Marshal refused to keep the terms, and his son's life would have been sacrificed had not Stephen, attracted by the child's bold spirit and pretty ways, protected him (ib. 11. 400-650; cf. Henry of Huntingdon, p. 284). When peace was made William was restored to his father, and early in the reign of Henry II was sent to his cousin William, the Chamberlain of Tancarville, in Normandy, to be trained in knightly accomplishments. As he grew to manhood Marshal earned a high reputation for valour, but most of the incidents referred to this time in the ‘Histoire’ belong rather to 1173. In the autumn of 1167 Marshal returned to England, and, joining his uncle, Earl Patrick, at Salisbury, accompanied him in the following spring to Poitou. Hardly had Patrick arrived in that province when he was slain on 27 March by the Poitevins under Geoffrey de Lusignan. Marshal endeavoured to revenge his uncle's death, but was himself wounded and taken prisoner. After a miserable captivity in Geoffrey's hands he was at length ransomed by Queen Eleanor, who furnished him with arms and money.
On his return to England in 1170 Marshal was chosen by the king to be one of those in charge of his eldest son Henry (Histoire, ll. 1940-8). The friendship thus commenced lasted till the young king's death, and when the war of 1173 broke out Marshal sided with his master (Gesta Henrici, i. 46). But first he went to the Chamberlain of Tancarville, who knighted him at Driencourt or Neufchatel-en-Bray,and under whom he won distinction in the half-hearted warfare of the Norman barons with the Flemings before Neufchatel in July 1173. Then he rejoined the young king, who elected to receive knighthood at his hands, and with whom he went over to England in May 1175, remaining there till April 1176. Despite his share in the rebellion, Marshal does not seem to have forfeited the trust of Henry II, who once more charged him with the care of his son (Histoire, ll. 2428-30). For the next seven years he was constantly with the young king, winning universal admiration by his prowess in tournaments, and rising steadily in his master's favour (ib. ll.2500-5000). His position made him many enemies, who endeavoured to poison the young Henry's mind against him. Marshal treated their calumnies with disdain, and when at length his accusers for a time prevailed, endured his master's wrath in dignified silence. A brief reconciliation and a fresh quarrel followed, and the affair was then brought before Henry II when he kept Christmas at Caen in 1182. Marshal defied his accusers to meet him in single combat, but the king refused permission, and Marshal left the court apparently in disgrace. His fame as a soldier brought him tempting offers from many French nobles, but Marshal refused them all, and after taking part in a tournament near Gournai in January 1183, went on a pilgrimage to Cologne. He then stayed some time in France, until, during the war in Poitou, the young Henry, by the advice of Geoffrey de Lusignan, recalled his trusty friend and adviser. Soon afterwards Henry fell ill and died at Martel on 11 June 1183. On his deathbed he charged Marshal to bear his cross to the Holy Sepulchre. Henry II granted the needful permission, and furnished Marshal with money for the journey. So after a short visit to England Marshal departed to Syria, where in two years he achieved such exploits as no one else would have done in seven, so that King Guy and the Templars and Hospitallers were very loth to let him go.
Marshal appears to have returned in the autumn of 1187, and found the king at Liuns —probably Lions la Forêt in Normandy (ib. l. 7302). Henry at once took him into high favour, and made him a member of his household, but the first definite mention of Marshal is as witness to a charter at Geddington, Northamptonshire, in February 1188(Eyton, Itinerary of Henry II, p. 285). When Philip Augustus commenced hostilities, Marshal returned with the king to France in July, and was present at the conference at Gisors, 16-18 Aug. A proposal was made to decide the quarrel by a contest of four chosen champions on either side. Marshal supported the idea, and volunteered to be one of the English champions, and with Henry's assent was despatched to convey the proposition to Philip. This is the story in the ‘Histoire,’ which is in part confirmed by the ‘Gesta Henrici,’ from which we learn that Marshal made one of an embassy to the French king about this time. The proposal was, however, rejected, and after some fighting before Gisors, Henry by Marshal's advice made a raid towards Mantes and Ivry. Then the king fell sick at Chinon, and Marshal obtained leave for a foray, which culminated in a fierce attack on Montmirail (Histoire, ll. 7880-8050). This was before the conference between Bonmoulins and Soligny, on 18 Nov., which led to the open alliance of Philip and Richard (Eyton, Itinerary, p. 292). Marshal made a vain endeavour to recall Richard to loyalty, and then rejoined the king, who now rewarded his services by promising him the hand of the heiress of Pembroke and Striguil (Histoire, l. 8304). About April 1189 Marshal was sent with Ralph, archdeacon of Hereford, to try and arrange terms with Philip at Paris. But their endeavours were defeated by William Longchamp [q. v.], acting on behalf of Richard. After the abortive conference at La Ferté on 4 June, Marshal joined with Geoffrey de Bruillon in a reconnaissance across the Sarthe, and valiantly endeavoured to stop the French advance on Mans. But Henry had to withdraw in haste to Fresnai-sur-Sarthe, Marshal guarding his retreat. As Marshal turned on their pursuers he found himself face to face with Richard. ‘God's feet, Marshal!’ cried he, ‘slay me not.’ ‘The devil slay you, for I will not,’ retorted Marshal, as he plunged his spear into Richard's horse. Thus the pursuit was stayed, and Henry, reaching Fresnai in safety, made his way to Chinon about the end of June. It was by Marshal's advice, and under his care, that Henry went out to meet the French king at Colombières on 4 July, and returned to die at Chinon two days later. The king's son, Geoffrey, and Marshal were the chief of the few faithful friends who remained with Henry to the last. It was Marshal who now took command of the little party at Chinon, made such provision as he could for his master's fitting burial, and escorted the body to Fontevrault. Marshal's companions feared how he might fare after his late encounter with the new king, but Marshal himself declared that he did not repent of what he had done, and trusted in God, ‘who has helped me ever since I was made knight.’ When Richard came, Marshal preserved the same bold demeanour, and told him to his face, ‘I had it in my power to slay you; I only slew your horse.’ Richard, with characteristic generosity, recognised his true spirit of loyalty, and granted him immediate pardon.
Marshal at once transferred to the new king the same steadfast loyalty which he had shown to Henry. Richard sent him over to England to take charge for him, but first, at the request of Geoffrey, his father's chancellor, confirmed the grant of the heiress of Pembroke. Marshal's first task in England was to release Queen Eleanor from her prison at Winchester. Thence he went on to London, and at once married his bride Isabella, daughter of Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke and Striguil. Thus Marshal, who till now had been ‘a landless man, with nought but his knighthood,’ acquired a great position and wide lands in four countries. At Richard's coronation, on 3 Sept. 1189, Marshal bore the gold sceptre, while his elder brother, John, carried the spurs, the two thus sharing the office of marshal. By Richard's orders Marshal obtained seisin of his wife's Irish lands from Earl John, and sent his bailiff to take possession. Marshal himself remained with Richard in England. In October he swore at Westminster on Richard's behalf that the English king would meet Philip at Vezelay next year. On 1 Dec. he was with the king at Canterbury (Epistolæ Cantuarienses, p. 323, Rolls Ser.), and probably accompanied him to France on 11 Dec., for he was still with Richard at Rouen on 20 March 1190 (ib. p. 324). Richard had appointed Marshal to be one of the subordinate justiciars under Longchamp, and this appointment was renewed before the king started on the crusade. But when Longchamp would not accept the advice of his subordinates, Marshal joined in the opposition. If we may trust Hoveden, Marshal must in the autumn have gone to Richard at Messina, for that writer distinctly says (iii. 96) that in February 1191 the earl was sent home, in company of Walter de Coutances, with power to arrange the quarrel. This, however, is very improbable, but Marshal was specially associated with Walter, and under the truce of Winchester in July he received Nottingham Castle from John to hold for the king. At the council of St. Paul's on 8 Oct. Walter exhibited his secret commission superseding Longchamp, and appointing himself as justiciar, with Marshal as his chief subordinate. Marshal was included by Longchamp in the sentence of excommunication which he launched against his opponents in December 1191. But Richard would not believe Longchamp's complaint against Marshal, who he declared had been ever the most loyal knight in all his land (Histoire, ll. 9843-58). The year 1192 passed quietly under the rule of Walter de Coutances, but at the beginning of 1193 came the news of Richard's captivity. Earl John, abetted by Philip of France, raised a revolt, and seized Windsor. The justiciar appealed for aid to Marshal, who brought up his Welshmen and laid siege to Windsor in March, while others of Richard's supporters prosecuted the war elsewhere. John had been driven to extremities, when suddenly it was announced that Richard was released.
Richard reached England on 13 March 1194. Marshal was prevented from meeting him at once by the death of his brother John, by which event he became marshal of England. But soon afterwards he joined the king at Huntingdon, and accompanied him to the siege of Nottingham on 25-7 March. On 28 March his old enemy Longchamp urged the king to require from Marshal the same homage for his Irish lands as Walter de Lacy, sixth baron Lacy [q. v.], had just rendered. But when Marshal pleaded that he owed fealty for them only to John, the king, much to his chancellor's disgust, readily assented (ib. ll. 10012-340). Richard had more than once thanked the earl for his loyal service, but perhaps he felt that he could not entirely overlook the opposition to Longchamp, and this may explain Marshal's transfer from the shrievalty of Lincoln, which he had held since 1190, to that of Sussex, which he held for the remainder of the reign. Richard went back to Normandy in May, but Marshal perhaps remained in England, for in this year he was one of the justices before whom fines were levied, as again in 1198(Hunter, Fines,lxiii.) Marshal must in any case have come over with the reinforcements soon after (Histoire, l. 10561), for he was with the king when the French baggage train was plundered near Blois, and by Richard's desire guarded the English rear from attack (ib. ll. 10597-676). Marshal accompanied Richard on his siege of Vierzon in June 1196, and next year was sent on an embassy to the Counts Reginald of Boulogne and Baldwin of Flanders. The earl was successful in arranging a treaty, to which he was one of the witnesses, as also to the document by which Baldwin pledged himself to Earl John, on 8 Sept. at Rouen, not to make peace with Philip in case of Richard's death (Recueil des Historiens de la France, xviii. 549; Fœdera, i. 67). In 1198 Marshal seems to have been aiding Baldwin, and by his advice Philip was forced to retreat from before Arras (Histoire, ll. 10773-900). Afterwards Marshal went to Rouen, where in September he met St. Hugh of Lincoln on his way to Richard. In conjunction with William of Albemarle, Marshal offered to intercede on the bishop's behalf with the king. Hugh, though grateful for their goodwill, declined, lest they should fall into disfavour at a time when their services were so necessary to Richard (Vita S. Hugonis, p. 257, Rolls Ser.) Marshal fought valiantly for Richard at the siege of Milli in the autumn (Histoire, ll. 11168-264), and was with the king when the truce with Philip was concluded by the intervention of the papal legate, Peter of Capua, in January 1199 (ib. l. 11665). Richard was mortally wounded on 20 March. One of his last acts was to send to Marshal, who was at Vaudreuil, appointing him custodian of Rouen and the royal treasure there (ib. ll. 11776-815 ; cf. Stapleton, Rot. Normanniæ, ii. xxxv). On receiving the news of Richard's death on 10 April, Marshal at once went to Rouen. The archbishop (probably Hubert Walter is meant, though M. Meyer thinks it is Walter de Coutances) favoured the claims of Arthur, but Marshal declared decisively for John, and won over the archbishop to his views (Histoire, ll. 11836-908).John at once despatched Marshal and Hubert to secure his peaceful succession in England. Signs of discontent had already appeared, but John's representatives called a council at Northampton, where, by solemn promises on the new king's behalf, they secured the adhesion of the barons and the peace of the kingdom till John's own arrival (ib. ll. 11908-20; Hoveden, iv. 86-8). John was crowned on 27 May, and on the same day confirmed Marshal in his earldom; for previously, though he held the earldom, he had not had ‘the full peace and name of earl’ (Ann. Mon. i. 72), and it was only now that he received formal investiture with the sword. Marshal was made sheriff of Gloucestershire in the first year of John's reign, and held the office till 1207; he also retained the shrievalty of Sussex till 1205. Marshal probably went over to France with the king in June, for he was with him at Andelys on 18 Aug. and at Rouen on 6 Sept. (Sweetman, i. 94). On 20 April 1200 the office of marshal was confirmed to him (Cal. Rot. Chart. 46 b), and in May he was one of the sureties for the peace with France. In July he accompanied John into Gascony (Histoire, ll. 11963-82). After a visit to England Marshal was sent over to Normandy in May 1201 with Roger de Lacy [q. v.] and in command of one hundred knights to oppose the French advance (Ann. Mon. i. 208). During the next three years his name appears as present with the king at various places (cf. Cal. Rot. Pat. pp. 1-40). On 22 April 1202 he received charge of the castle of Lillebonne (ib. p. 9). Early in August Marshal was with the Earls of Salisbury and Warenne at ‘Englesquevile’ when news was brought to them of John's victory over Arthur at Mirebeau. The intelligence made Philip Augustus at once raise the siege of Arques and commence a retreat, in which he was hotly pursued by the three earls. On his return Marshal was received by the citizens of Rouen at a great banquet (Histoire, ll. 12117-404). When Philip Augustus invaded Normandy in 1203, the writer of the ‘Histoire’ says that Marshal was sent to him at Conches to endeavour to make peace, but in vain. Marshal then rejoined John at Falaise, and went with him to Rouen, where he expostulated with the king on his reckless policy, but to no purpose (ib. ll. 12673-742). In the autumn Philip laid siege to Roger de Lacy in Château Gaillard. John assembled , a large force for the relief of the castle, and entrusted the command to Marshal, who was to be assisted by a flotilla on the Seine. Marshal was partially successful in his attempt at a surprise, but the failure of the ships to arrive at the critical moment ruined his enterprise (Will, Armor.Philipp. vii. 144-253). After the fall of Château Gaillard on 6 March 1204, John, who had returned to England in November, bade his representatives in Normandy to act as they thought good for their own interest. Soon after he sent Marshal with Hubert Walter and Robert, earl of Leicester, on another fruitless errand to Philip (Coggeshall, p. 144). The two earls, however, obtained from Philip a period of one year within which they might do him homage for their Norman lands. They then crossed over to England about May (Histoire, ll. 12839-900). Marshal was with the king at Gillingham on 26 June, and on 29 July was directed to conduct Llywelyn of North Wales to John at Worcester (Cal. Rot. Pat. pp. 43 b, 44). While in England he invaded Wales and took Kilgaran (Brut y Tywysoyian, p. 260). Finding there was no hope of action, he obtained leave from John to do Philip homage, and with this purpose went back to Normandy, and meeting Philip at Compiègne, after some delay rendered the required homage (Histoire, ll. 12921-13038). On Marshal's return to England in 1205 John, who had heard of his doing homage, reproached him for thus acting to his hurt, and though Marshal could appeal to John's own leave, this was the beginning of a prolonged estrangement. In June the king proposed to go over to Poitou; Marshal when summoned to go with him pleaded his oath to Philip. John in vain taunted him with cowardice and disloyalty, but Marshal stood firm that he would not go. Hubert Walter also opposed the expedition, and John was compelled at last to give way (ib. ll. 13039-13278; Coggeshall, pp. 152-3, where the opposition of the earl and the archbishop is represented as due to prudential motives only). Marshal had to give his eldest son as a hostage, but John did not venture to quarrel openly. In the winter the earl was employed to conduct William of Scotland to a meeting with the king at York (Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 56), and when next summer the king went over to Poitou, Marshal was entrusted with the military care of England.
On John's return Marshal asked leave to go over to Ireland, which had been often previously refused. On 19 Feb. 1207 he obtained protection for his lands during his absence (Sweetman, i. 313), and must soon after have crossed over to pay his first visit to his wife's vast inheritance of Leinster; before going he had to give his son Richard as a further hostage (Histoire, ll. 13376-13377). Marshal's coming was very unwelcome to Meiler FitzHenry the justiciar [q. v.], who was his own liegeman. Meiler contrived to secure Marshal's recall to England in September, and coming over himself prevailed on John to let him wage active war against the earl's wife and representatives in Ireland. Meiler's warfare met with ill success, but John maliciously told the earl false news, until the truth could no longer be concealed (ib. 11. 13429-930). This narrative probably explains the letter in which John on 7 March 1208 informs Meiler that Marshal had come to him at Bristol, and that as he was sufficiently submissive the justiciar was to abstain from harassing his lands and men (Sweetman, i. 375). On 21 March John directed that Marshal should have seisin of Offaly, and a little later confirmed him in possession of Leinster at the service of one hundred knights (ib. i. 377, 378, 381). Marshal then obtained leave to go back to Ireland, where all his vassals welcomed him. But Meiler still held aloof until his removal from the justiciarship (probably at the end of 1208), when he found it expedient to make his peace. At the close of 1208 William de Braose [q. v.] fled to Ireland, and landing at Wicklow was well received by Marshal, who, despite the new justiciar, John de Grey [q. v.], escorted him in safety to Walter de Lacy. Marshal had already been acting in conjunction with the De Lacys (Four Masters, iii. 155), and this harbouring of William de Braose led to John's Irish expedition in June 1210 (Sweetman, i. 408). Marshal had come over to England earlier in the year at John's bidding, and apparently recrossed with the king. After the defeat of the Lacys, John accused Marshal of having aided William de Braose in his flight; the earl boldly defended his conduct, declaring that he had no reason to believe Braose was the king's enemy. However, Marshal had to give further hostages, including his faithful squire, John of Early, or d'Erlegh, and also to surrender the castle of Dumas. John could not venture on more extreme measures with so powerful a noble, but he was probably glad that Marshal should be out of his way. The earl therefore remained in Ireland for the next two years; he seems to have been engaged in active warfare with the Irish, for Matthew Paris calls him ‘Hibernicis nocivus edomitor,’ but the only incident preserved is a quarrel with the Bishop of Ferns (iii. 43, iv. 493-4). Marshal, though resenting the king's treatment, did not abandon his attitude of loyalty, and in 1212 he joined with other Irish nobles in expressing his resentment at the pope's conduct as an encroachment on the liberties of the realm (Sweetman, i. 448). As John's difficulties increased he turned once more for aid to Marshal. According to the ‘Histoire,’ the earl came over to England to take part in the war with Llywelyn ab Iorwerth [q. v.] in 1212, and then had most of his hostages restored. After this he went back again to Ireland (Histoire, ll. 14473-90). In July John summoned Marshal to meet him at Chester on 19 Aug. with John de Grey and his Irish subjects. But this order was countermanded in another letter (dated October 1212 by Sweetman, but from the Histoire it would seem to belong to 1213), in which he ‘thanked the earl for his good services in Ireland and loyal attitude, but begged him to remain, as his assistance was needed by the justiciar. There was no truth in the report that it had been contemplated to send his son to Poitou, the boy should be put in charge of John d'Erlegh’ (Sweetman, 1. 435, 443, 444). The latter incident is explained by the ‘Histoire,’ which shows that the young Marshals were now released as a means of conciliating their father (ll. 14491-14598).
Marshal came over to England in April 1213, and from this time is foremost among John's advisers; on 15 May he witnessed the king's charter of resignation to the pope at Dover (Matt. Paris, ii. 546). Soon afterwards he received the castle of Haverfordwest, and in January 1214 those of Carmarthen, Cardigan, and Gower; Dumas was not restored till August 1215 (Cal. Rot. Pat. pp. 105, 109 b, 153 b). John also entrusted his eldest son to Marshal's charge (Hist. des Ducs de Normandie, p. 180). Marshal advised the king's expedition to Poitou in 1214; he himself was left behind in charge of England (Histoire, ll. 14672-99). He thus acted with the papal legate Nicholas of Tusculum at the council of St. Paul's to determine the payments for ecclesiastical property confiscated during the interdict. In June he sat as one of the justices at Bury St. Edmunds to decide the disputed election of Abbot Hugh (Memorials of St. Edmund's Abbey, ii. 75-9, Rolls Ser.)
In January 1215, when the barons demanded the confirmation of the ancient charters, Marshal was one of the three sureties that the king would satisfy their demands before Easter. In April Marshal and Stephen Langton, the archbishop, were John's envoys to the barons at Brackley, and endeavoured in vain to effect an agreement. When John found that he must at least simulate a readiness to yield, Marshal conveyed to the barons the overtures which led to the meeting at Runnymede (15 June). On this famous occasion Marshal was present as one of the royal representatives, and his name appears as one of the counsellors of Magna Carta, and as one of those who swore to observe its provisions. But he still continued faithful in his attendance on the king, and during the winter was sent to France to try and avert the threatened invasion by Louis (Coggeshall, p. 180). The embassy failed, and when, in the following May, Louis entered England, it was by Marshal's advice that John retreated before him. Marshal's eldest son sided with Louis, for whom he captured Worcester in July; the earl is said to have given his son timely warning of the approach of the Earl of Chester. But his paternal affection did not interfere further with his general attitude of loyalty, and when John died, on 19 Oct. 1216, Marshal was one of the executors of the king's will.
Marshal was present when the young king Henry was crowned at Gloucester on 28 0ct., and, as there was no royal seal, issued the necessary letters under his own seal. A council of the principal members of the royalist party was held at Hemingburgh, i. 257, Engl. Hist. Soc.) In point of fact Marshal seems to have accepted the office of regent with some reluctance, on the score of his own great age (Histoire, l. 15510), but once he had taken the duty upon him he discharged it with his wonted fidelity. Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, and Walo the legate were associated with him in the government, while Hubert de Burgh retained the office of justiciar. The latter title is sometimes claimed for Marshal, and he is actually so styled in a charter dated 13 Nov. 1216 (Cal. Rot Claus. i. 295); the designation may, however, be due to error. The first act of Marshal's government was to republish the Great Charter on 12 Nov. Under the circumstances of the new reign the constitutional clauses respecting taxation and the great council were wisely omitted, and some minor matters held in suspense. After Christmas a truce was made with Louis, and about the middle of January a council of Henry's supporters was held at Oxford. The truce was prolonged till 23 April, and during its continuance many of Louis' supporters, and among them the regent's son, returned to their allegiance. On the conclusion of the truce Marshal sent the Earl of Chester to besiege Mountsorrel, Leicestershire, while he himself assembled an army for the relief of Lincoln Castle, which was besieged by the French and insurgent barons. The host mustered on 15 May at Newark, whence, two days later, they advanced towards Lincoln. On 20 May, while Marshal with his knights attacked the north gate, Falkes de Breauté obtained entrance to the castle. Then the earl forced his way into the town, and the barons, taken in front and in rear, were forced to surrender. But the French, under the Count of Perche, would not yield until Marshal had slain their leader with his own hand. Without waiting to refresh himself after the fight, the earl rode back to the king at Newark with the news of his victory (Ann. Mon. iv. 25). After sending his nephew, John Marshal [q. v.], to take measures for the interception of the French fleet that was coming to Louis' aid, Marshal marched south to blockade London. Hubert's naval victory over Eustace the Monk on 24 Aug. inclined Louis to peace. So the French prince sent Robert de Dreux on 28 Aug. to the regent at Rochester. An interview between Louis and Marshal was held at Kingston, which, after some negotiation, resulted in the treaty of Lambeth on 11 Sept. (Hist. des Ducs de Normandie, pp. 202-4; Fœdera, i. 148). In the conclusion of this treaty Marshal displayed a wise forbearance towards his English opponents, and made himself personally responsible to Louis for the payment of ten thousand marks (cf. Shirley, i. 7; Cal. Rot. Claus. i. 369 b, 384). The peace was followed on 6 Nov. by a reissue of the Great Charter, which now assumed its final form; at the same time the charter of the forests was first published. There were still some , at Newark. But as a whole the kingdom was settling down into good order under Marshal's strong rule, while the position of the young king was secured by a provision that no deed which implied perpetuity should be issued till he was of full age. On 14 May 1219 Marshal died at Caversham, near Reading. Shortly before his death he had assumed the habit of a Templar (Hist. des Ducs de Normandie, p. 207; Histoire, 18119-982), and by his own directions he was buried in the Temple Church at London, where his recumbent effigy is still preserved. Camden quotes one line of his epitaph thus:on 11 Nov., when Marshal was formally chosen by the common consent to be ‘rector regis et regni,’ an office for which his age and position clearly marked him out. A later writer represents the earl as presenting the little king to the assembled barons, and pleading with them not to visit the sins of the father on the son, but to lend him their aid for the expulsion of Louis (
Miles eram Martis, Mars omnes vicerat armis.
Marshal's biographer refers constantly to his master with manifest pride as one
Qui tant esteit proc & leials,
and elsewhere makes Richard say of him,
Ne fu unques malveis ne fals.
(Hist. l. 9857.)
Uncompromising fidelity appears, indeed, to have been the most marked feature of Marshal's character. For fifty years he served Henry II, his three sons, and his grandson, and to each in the hour of his bitterest need proved himself the most faithful of friends. In his youth and to his contemporaries he was the most perfect type of chivalry; in his old age and in history he appears as one of the noblest of medieval soldier-statesmen. From the time that he acquired his earldom he filled the foremost place in England and Ireland, but while he never faltered in his loyalty he never, even in the worst days of John, compromised his honour. His regency was the worthy finish of his long life. In the attainment of the Great Charter he did not play a specially prominent part, for though he wisely recognised its need, he belonged by training and sympathy more to the age that was past than to that which was just beginning. His great and special work was the pacification of the realm after the period of disorder. This task he accomplished by the firm but conciliatory policy of his three short years of rule, and it is because he thus made possible the realisation of the charters that he deserves an honourable place among the founders of English liberty.
In person Marshal was tall and well made, with comely features and brown hair; so dignified in carriage that he might have been emperor of Rome (ib. ll. 715-36). One chronicler calls him ‘a most valiant soldier of world-wide renown’ (Ann. Mon. iv. 61). Matthew Paris (iii. 43; iv. 493) quotes two lines from some verses by one Gervase de Melkely:
Sum, quem Saturnum sibi sensit Hibernia, Solem Anglia, Mercurium Normannia, Gallia Martem.
Matthew Paris also refers to an epitaph by Henry of Avranches, which is now lost. Marshal's fame was hardly less great in France than at home, and on his death Philip Augustus said of him:
mes li Mar.
Fui, al mein dit, li plus leials,
Veir, que jeo unques connuisse
En nul lui ou je unques fuisse.
(Hist. ll. 19149-52.)
By the death of his elder brother in 1194 Marshal had acquired the lands of his family, chiefly in Berkshire and Wiltshire. They were not, however, to be compared with the vast inheritance of his wife, which comprised in Ireland almost the whole of Leinster, great estates in South Wales and in the Welsh marches, and the lands of Orbec and Longueville in Normandy. From the last he seems to have held the title of Count of Longueville (Recueil des Historiens de la France, xxiii. 435). His only important foundation was the priory of Cartmel, which he established for the souls of Henry II and King Henry the younger ‘his lord,’ and also for those of King Richard, his ancestors, and his wife. He also founded Graiguenamanagh or Duisk, in co. Kilkenny, for Cistercians, in 1212; an abbey at Bannow Bay, Wexford, which was called Tintern, and commemorated his deliverance from a storm by; the priory of St. Augustine at Kilkenny; and a house for the Hospitallers at Lough Garmon. To many other houses he made lesser benefactions.
Marshal married in August 1189 Isabella or Eva, daughter of Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke and Striguil (d. 1176), by Eva, daughter of Dermot, king of Leinster. Isabella was born in 1173, and, dying in 1220, was buried at Tintern, Monmouthshire (Chart. St. Mary, Dublin, ii. 142). By her Marshal had five sons and five daughters. Of the former, who were all successively earls of Pembroke and marshals of England, the two elder, William, second earl, and Richard, third earl, are noticed separately.
Gilbert Marshal, fourth Earl of Pembroke and Striguil (d. 1241), the third son, was of weakly constitution, and originally intended for an ecclesiastical career. He took minor orders, and received the livings of Orford, Suffolk, 30 May 1225, and Wingham, Kent, 19 Sept. 1228 (cf. Histoire, ll. 14889-14892). He joined his brother Richard in his opposition to the king's foreign advisers in 1233, and acted for his brother in Ireland, where he won over all except the Lacys and their followers to his side. After his brother's death he passed over to Wales (Ann. Mon. iv. 80; Sweetman, i. 2109), and through the mediation of Archbishop Edmund was soon fully pardoned, together with his two younger brothers (Shirley, i. 438-9; Sweetman, i. 2120, 2151, 2175). On 11 June, at Worcester, the king knighted him, and invested him with his earldom and marshalry (Ann. Mon. iii. 137). Though nominally taken into full favour, Gilbert seems to have meditated an appeal to the pope (Sweetman, i. 2284). He was very friendly with his brother-in-law, Richard, earl of Cornwall, whom he supported in his opposition to the court favourites and in his open rising in 1238 (Matt. Paris, iii. 476). As a result he fell once more into disfavour. On 12 Nov. 1239 he took the cross with Earl Richard at Northampton, on condition that he was reconciled to the king, which Richard promised to effect. When, in July 1240, he was on the point of leaving England Henry recalled him, and took him into favour. On 27 June 1241, while taking part in a tournament at Ware, he was thrown from his horse and dragged. His injuries caused his death the same day, and he was buried by his father in the Temple at London; an effigy supposed to be his is still preserved. Gilbert Marshal married, first, in September 1230, Margaret de Lanvallei (Excerpta e Rot. Fin. i. 202); secondly, in August 1235, Margaret, sister of Alexander II of Scotland, with whom he received a large dower (Ann. Mon. iii. 143), but left no children. A portrait, drawn by Matthew Paris, who depicts him falling from his horse, is engraved in Doyle's ‘Official Baronage.’
Walter Marshal, fifth Earl (d. 1245), the fourth son, was not yet a knight in 1225 (Histoire, l. 14895). He was with his brother Richard in Ireland in 1234, and at the Curragh of Kildare, when his brother sent him away from the battle. He was pardoned at the same time as Gilbert. In May 1240 he was sent into Wales with an army to restore Cardigan Castle. After Gilbert's death Henry, in anger at the holding of the tournament, which had been prohibited, withheld investiture from Walter till October 1241. Walter accompanied the king to Gascony in 1242. On 6 Jan. 1242 he married Margery, widow of John de Lacy, earl of Lincoln [q. v.], but died without issue, at Goodrich Castle, in 1245, apparently on 24 Nov. (Matt. Paris iv. 491 ; Sweetman, i. 2798), and was buried at Tintern.
Anselm Marshal (d. 1245), the fifth son, then succeeded as sixth earl, but before he could receive investiture died at Striguil (or Chepstow) on 23 Dec. 1245, and was buried by his brother. His wife was Maud, daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, second earl of Hereford. Thus the five sons of the great marshal had all been earls of one earldom and died without issue, as their mother is said to have prophesied. Another story ascribed the failure of the family to the curse of the Bishop of Ferns (Matt. Paris, iv. 492-3; cf. Sweetman, i. 823, 825).
Marshal's daughters were: 1. Matilda (d. 1248), who married in 1206 Hugh Bigod, third earl of Norfolk (Histoire, l. 13338), by whom she had a son Roger, who became in her right Earl Marshal. Hugh Bigod died in 1225, and Matilda then married William, earl of Warenne (d. 1240). 2. Isabella, who married first, on 9 Oct. 1217, Gilbert de Clare, seventh earl of Clare [q. v.], and had six children; secondly, in 1231, Richard, earl of Cornwall. 3. Sibilla, married William, earl of Ferrers or Derby, and had seven daughters. 4. Eva, married William, son of Reginald de Braose, by whom she had a daughter, Matilda, who married Roger Mortimer (d. 1282). 5. Johanna, who, after her father's death, married Warin de Munchensi, and had two children, John and Johanna; the latter married William de Valence [q. v.], who was created Earl of Pembroke, and from whom the earls of the Hastings line descended (Histoire, ll. 14915-56; Chart. St. Mary, Dublin, ii. 144, 313). The vast lands of William Marshal were divided among the numerous representatives of his daughters. The office of marshal passed through his eldest daughter to the Bigods, earls of Norfolk, and through them to the Mowbrays, and eventually to the Howards. As their representative the present Duke of Norfolk is earl-marshal of England.
John Marshal, first baron Marshal of Hingham [q. v.], was a nephew. Two other nephews were Anselm Le Gras, who was treasurer of Exeter in 1205, and bishop of St. Davids from 1230 to 1247 (Le Neve,Fasti,i. 291, 414;Ann. Mon. iv. 422), and William Le Gras or Grace, who fought under the younger William Marshal in Ireland.
[The Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal, a long French poem, discovered by M. Paul Meyer in the Phillips Library, and now being edited by him for the Société de l'Histoire de France, is by far the most important authority for Marshal's life. It was written for his family about 1225, and is based on excellent information. The chronology of the earlier part is faulty, but the facts throughout are in full harmony with what we know from other sources; only one volume, containing about half the poem down to 1194, has yet been published, but through the courtesy of Mr. Paul Meyer the writer has had access to the proof-sheets of the second
volume as far as 1214; the narrative of Marshal's last days is summarised in M. Léon Gautier's ‘La Chevalerie,’ pp. 773-7. Other authorities are: the Gesta Henrici et Ricardi, ascribed to Benedict Abbas, Roger Hoveden, Coggeshall, Walter of Coventry, Roger of Wendover, Matthew Paris, Annales Monastici, Annales Cambriæ, Brut y Tywysogion, Shirley's Royal and Historical Letters of the Reign of Henry III, and Chartulary of St. Mary, Dublin (all in the Rolls Series); William of Armorica's Philippeis; Histoire des Ducs de Normandie (both published by Soc. de l'Hist. de France); Calendars of Patent, Close, and Charter Rolls; Rymer's Fœdera; Sweetman's Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. i.; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 600; Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 2-7. Among modern works reference may be made to Foss's Judges of England, i. 399-403; Norgate's England under the Angevin Kings; and Stubbs's Constitutional History, chaps, xii. and xiv.]