Margaret Marshal: Birth: ABT 1190. Death: BET 1190 AND 1280
Note: [ralphroberts.ged] [roberts.GED] [roberts.GED] [temp.FTW] [glenna_inglis.ged] PEMBROKE CASTLE The unsurpassed strength of this mighty Norman Castle sited on a high ridge between two tidal inlets, gave it to the distinction of never having fallen to the Welch. The strategic position, on a major routeway, was chosen early in the first Norman incursions into southwest Wales, when the castle was founded by Roger of Montgomery in 1093, and it stood firm against Welsh counter-attacks in subsequent years, Pembroke's strategic importance soon increased, as it was here that the Normans embarked on their Irish campaigns. In 1189 the castle came into the hands of William Marshall, who, over the next 30 years transformed the earth-and-timber castle into a mighty stone fortification. First to be built was the inner ward with it's magnificent round keep,... with a height over 22m and remarkable domed roof. The original entrance was on the first floor, approached by an external stair, the present ground floor entrance being a later insertion. The keep had four floors, connected by a spiral stair which led to the battlements. The large square holes on the top of the outside were to hold a timber board , or fighting platform. When the castle was attacked, the board could be erected as an extra defence, outside the battlements but way above the heads of the attackers. King, 1978; King and Cheshire 1982 In a room of the Tower of London in August 1189, two people who were about to be married met for the first time. This twist of fate ...would have a far reaching effect on English history. The young lady 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....There are no accounts of this first meeting nor of the marriage ceremony, but this was the final step in the making of one of the greatest knights and magnates in medieval English history. William Marshal's life is well documented because less than a year after his death in 1219, his eldest son William II commissioned a record of his father's life. "L'Historie de Guillaume le Marechal"...the writer [Jean] had access to Marshal's squire John D'Erly and had witnessed some of the events in Marshal's later life. The events recorded can be verified in most instances by official records in Pipe Rolls, Charter Rolls, Close Rolls, Patent Rolls, Oblates Rolls, and chronicles of the times. William Marshal was born c. 1146, and , as a younger son, becoming a knight was his natural 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 1159. He was knighted, probably by his uncle, in1167. In 1170 William Marshal was appointed head of the mesnie [military] household of the young Prince Henry by King Henry II. In 1173, marshal knighted the young prince and led him and his mesnie to many victories on the tournament fields of Normandy. It is here Marshal established his status as an undefeated knight and his friendships with the powerful and influential men of his day. His character and reputation were built through his own actions and abilities. He had no lord from whom he could gain advantage or status. Upon the death of young Henry, Marshal obtained permission from King Henry to take young Henry's cross to Jerusalem, where he spent two years fighting for King Guy and the Knights Templar. Henry II granted Marshal his first fief, Cartmel in Lancashire, in1187. With this fief Marshall 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 served as knight, counselor, and ambassador. When Richard I came to the throne, he recognized Marshal as a brother and equal in chivalry. Fulfilling a 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 him the palatine lordships of Pembroke and Striguil in Wales and 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 own 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 rule in the palatinates. King Richard also allowed Marshal to have 1/2 of the barony of Gifford for 2000 marks. This barony was split with Richard de Clare, Earl of Clare and Herford, 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. Marshal considered the lands he held to be one one unit...not separate units of English, Irish, Welsh and Norman lands. They were to be a compact whole to be preserved and improved for the inheritance of his children. When Richard died, Marshal supported John as heir to the throne rather than John's nephew, Arthur of Brittany. It was King John who belted Marshal and created him Earl of Pembroke on the same day he was crowned, May 27, 1199. It is during John's reign that Marshal's character is clearly revealed. None of the historians have been able to erase John's ineptitude when dealing with his barons. Whatever his motives were, he alienated his greatest barons despite the fact he needed their support and loyalty to rule England. William Marshal was a powerful and respected baron who had already served two Angevine kings. John accused Marshal of being a traitor and took all of Marshal's English and Welsh castles and his two older sons as hostages, tried to take Marshal's land in Leinster, and even tried to get his own household knights to challenge Marshal by trial by combat. Despite all this, Marshal remained loyal to his feudal lord. He did not rebel when John took his castles; he gave up his 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 most important bond was the one of fealty and loyalty to one's lord. To break this bond was treason, and this was the greatest of crimes. Marshal was the epitome of knighthood and chivalry. He did not simply espouse it; his entire life was was governed by his oaths and by his own sense of honor. If Marshal had taken his lands, castles and knights to the side of the rebellion, John would have lost his crown and perhaps his life. On the death of John, October 19. 1216, 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 Phillip II of France, even to 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 Phillip II against King John, Marshal ensured the restoration of peace and order in England. He died May 14, 1219 at Caversham and was buried as a Knight Templar in the Temple Church in London. As "rector regis et regni", Marshal had the Great Charter reissued in 1216 and in 1217 for the welfare and future of England and the Crown. He was a brilliant strategist in terms of his world, militarily and politically, in addition to being physically powerful in stamina. He lived and survived in the world of King Henry II's arena. No man of little intelligence could have survived there long... It was his sense of honor that made no man equal to William Marshal, knight, Earl of Pembroke and Striguil, Lord of Leinster, and Regent of England. Written by Catherine Armstrong, candidate for MA in Professional Writing at Kennesaw State University. Her field is Medieval History, with William Marshal as her specific field. e-mail at: kak@@randomc.com
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