(1146-1219), 4th Earl of Pembroke
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William Marshal (1146-1219), 4th Earl of Pembroke, the senior and better-known of two men, father and son, of the same name, important in English history.

While before William's time, "marshal" was used for the hereditary title of a sort of head of household security for the king of England, by the time of his death in 1219, "the Marshal" had become syonomous with his person throughout Europe.

He was the second son of John the Marshal, by Sibyl, the daughter of Walter de Salisbury and sister of Patrick, Earl of Wiltshire. There is no record of the date of his birth which has been inferred to be about 1144-1145.

His father, John, had switched sides so many times during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda that he had to surrender his son, the young William aged bout six, to Stephen as a hostage ensuring that he would surrender Newbury Castle, which he was holding for Matilda, to the king. On John's refusal to surrender the castle, the king demanded that he either do so or watch William hanged before the ramparts. John replied that he could always produce another son, and a better one but King Stepehn did not carry out his threat and spared the boy.

The younger son of the baron, with no great inheritance, William was knighted in 1167 and supported himself by the winning of the bloody hand-to-hand combat of the tournaments of the time (the fashion for jousting at the tilt had arrived in William's time). He is reputed to have engaged in some five hundred such bouts during his life - and lost none. He fought in 500 such bouts in his life and never lost once. Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury (1207-1228), described William as the "greatest knight that ever lived".

From William's appointment as captain of the guard to Henry the Young King (crowned in 1170 but never ruled) in 1170, he served four kings of England (Richard I, 1189-1199; King John, 1199-1216, and Henry III, 1216-1219) over a period of forty-nine years. It was William, the reknowned knight who dealt with both Louis VII and Philip II Augustus of France who would take his word when they refused to trust the English monarch.

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William was appointment as captain of the guard to Henry the Young King in 1170. He supported Prince Henry in 1172 when he demanded either Normandy or England from his father, Henry II, to rule as a separate kingdom with his wife, Margaret of France. On his death in 1183, Henry the Young King requested William to take his cape to Jerusalem and the Marshal accuitted himself so well over the two years he spent on crusade that Henry II forgave him for the suport he had rendered to the rebellious prince and he was taken into royal service in about 1188.

The Marshal stood by Henry II when his wife and sons rebelled against him and on one occassion came face to face with his son Richard (Richard I) in battle. The Marshal could have killed the prince but, to prove the point, killed Richard's steed instead. It was also William who Henry trusted to guard his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, on those occassions when he released her from her imprisonment to make a public appearance.

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William dealt with the barons at Runnymede in June 1215 when they extracted the Magna Carta from the king. King John trusted William on his deathbed in 1216 to ensure that his nine-year-old son succeeded him to the throne as Henry III.

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Following the death of King John, on November 11th, 1216, the Marshal was named by the Great Council composed of those chief barons still loyal to King John regent of both the 9-year-old King Henry III and the kingdom. His first act was to reissue the Magna Carta which he had signed in 1215 as one of the witnessing barons.

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In August 1189, for his service to the Plantagenet kings, the 43-year-old Marshal was presented with the 17-year-old heiress, Isabel de Clare. Isabel was the second-richest heiress in England having inherited large estates in England, Wales and Ireland. She also brought with her the title of Earl of Pembroke as the daughter of Richard de Clare, the 2nd Earl.

They had five sons and five daughters, and, remarkably for the times, all of them survived into adulthood.

Their eldest son, William fitzWilliam (c.1190-1231), married Eleanor Plantagenet, the nine-year-old daughter of King John and sister of King Henry III, in April 1224.

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1146Birth of William Marshal (-1219)
1153John Marshal fortifies Hamstead Marshall Castle near Newbury against King Stephen
His son, William the Marshal, is held hostage by the king as a result
1167William Marshal knighted
1170William the Marshal enters the service of Henry the Young King as captain of the guard
1170Crowning of Henry the Young King
Although crowned, Hnery never ruled and is thus not counted amongst the kings of England
1172Henry the Young King demanded either Normandy or England to trule as a separate kingdom with his wife, Margaret of France, from his father, Henry II
He was supported by William the Marshal
1183Death of Henry the Young King (1155-)
circa 1188William the Marshal taken into royal service by Henry II
1190William the Marshal promoted to serve on the council of regency ruling England while Richard I was away on the Third crusade
1216.Oct.19+Confirmation of the Magna Carta (1215) at Bristol by the regent, William the Marshal
1217.MayRobert Fitzwalter captured at the battle of Lincoln where the French were routed by William the Marshal
1219.FebHealth of William the Marshal fails
1219.MarWilliam the Marshal entrusts the regency during the minority of Henry III to the papal legate, rejecting the claim of Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester henry's guardian, during a meeting at Caversham
1219.May.14Death of William Marshal (1146-) at Caversham, near Reading. Hubert de Burgh becomes regent of England

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