MARSHAL family, earls of Pembroke

WILLIAM MARSHAL (I) (1146? - 1219), regent of England

The first earl of Pembroke and Striguil of the Marshal line. He was the son of John Fitz Gilbert (John the Marshal) by his second wife, Sybil, sister of Patrick de Salisbury, 1st earl of Wiltshire. In 1189 king Richard gave him in marriage, Isabel, countess of Striguil and Pembroke, daughter of Richard de Clare (see Clare family), who brought him position and lands in England, Ireland, and Normandy as well as in Pembroke and Gwent. Henceforward, he, and his sons after him, played an important role in the political and military history of Wales and the Marches. During the campaign of Rhys ap Gruffydd in 1192 against the Normans of South Wales he was one of the leaders of the Norman expedition which raised the siege of Swansea castle and saved Gower from the Welsh. He also helped to finance the expedition. His great authority in the Marches was enhanced when king John made him custodian of Cardigan castle in 1202. In 1204 he captured Kilgerran castle in the lordship of Emlyn, to which he laid claim, from Maelgwn ap Rhys, whose rule was thus confined to Ceredigion. During the rift between them in 1207-11 the king deprived William Marshal of the castle of Cardigan, giving it to William de London in 1207. But in 1211 William was summoned to the king's aid in an expedition against the Welsh and his English and Welsh castles were returned to him. Next year he took part on the king's side in the war against Llywelyn ap Iorwerth. Back in royal favour, he was restored to the castle of Haverford on 19 October 1213 and, next year, to the royal castles of Cardigan, Carmarthen, and Gower. He was the king's chief representative in South Wales during these years of strife and commander-in-chief of the loyal Marcher barons in the struggle against Llywelyn ap Iorwerth and the other Welsh princes who were in league with the rebellious barons of John's realm. His defence of his own lands and strongholds in Dyfed was not very successful when Maelgwn ap Rhys and his nephew, Rhys Ieuanc, invaded them in 1215. When hostilities ended with the Peace of Worcester (March 1218) William Marshal, in the interest of the pacification of the country, willingly allowed Llywelyn ap Iorwerth to have the custody of the royal castles of Cardigan and Carmarthen, but he retained Caerleon which he had wrested from Morgan ap Hywel in 1217. He was a benefactor of the abbeys of Tintern, Pembroke, and Pill, and granted a charter to the town of Haverfordwest. He died 15 May 1219.

WILLIAM MARSHAL (II) (died 1231)

The first of the five sons of William Marshal (I) who in turn became earls of Pembroke. In 1220 his domain in Dyfed was attacked by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth who had complained of the inroads made by the earl's tenants on the Welsh in spite of the truce. On appeal to the king a settlement was concluded. In 1223 he took vengeance on Llywelyn when, with an army from Ireland, he recaptured Cardigan and Carmarthen and regained Emlyn, and the Welsh prince was forced to come to terms. He was appointed constable of the castles of Cardigan and Carmarthen which he held till 1226. In this campaign he received some assistance from Cynan ap Hywel ap Rhys who was rewarded with the lands of Emlyn and Ystlwyf. William Marshal retained possession of Caerleon until his death although the question of his right therein was in dispute between himself, the king, and Morgan ap Hywel. He was engaged in the campaign of the Marcher lords against Llywelyn in 1228. He died April 1231.


He inherited the earldom on the death of William (II). He led the baronage in opposition to Henry III and his foreign advisers. The old struggle between the Marshal family and the prince of Gwynedd gave place to an alliance against the forces of the Crown in the war in the Marches, 1233-4. In the first phase of the war the king took Usk from Marshal but a temporary truce was established on 6 September 1233. When Richard refused to restore Caerleon to Morgan ap Hywel the king retained Usk. On 15 October war was renewed and Llywelyn joined the earl. Usk was retaken and combined operations in the Usk valley led to the fall of several castles, including Abergavenny. The king was attacked at Grosmont c. 17 November, and forced to retire to Hereford; his forces were also defeated near Monmouth. In January 1234 Richard Marshal and Llywelyn devastated the border. After these victories Richard crossed to Ireland and in March the king decided to call a truce. On 15 April Richard died in Ireland.

GILBERT MARSHAL (died June 1241)

Richard's brother and successor, who was received by Henry III, and was granted the castles and towns of Carmarthen and Cardigan on 9 December 1234. In 1235 he was given the custody of Glamorgan during the minority of the heir, and also the honour of Carmarthen. He kept Morgan ap Hywel out of his ancestral seat at Caerleon and in 1236 for a time seized his castle of Machen. He was a benefactor of the abbey of Tintern and the leper's hospital of S. Mary Magdalene of Little Haverford.

WALTER MARSHAL (died 24 November 1245)

He was sent by his brother, earl Gilbert, to fortify Cardigan in 1240; he also took for his brother lands appurtenant to the honour of Carmarthen - the commotes of Ystlwyf and Emlyn above Cuch which the earl then granted to Maredudd ap Rhys Grug. After succeeding to the earldom (1234) he seems to have played no important part in Welsh affairs.

ANSELM MARSHAL (died 1245)

He was the last of the sons of William Marshal the regent, and died in December 1245, before he was invested with the earldom. Like his brothers, he had no issue.



Published date: 1959

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