William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke

William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke

William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1190 – April 6, 1231) was a medieval English nobleman, and the son of the famous William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke.

Early life

William was born in Normandy probably during the winter of 1190/91. From 1205 to 1212, he was at the court of King John as a guarantee of his father's behaviour. William married Alice de Bethune, daughter of his father’s friend Baldwin de Bethune, in September 1214. The marriage ended before 1215 when Alice was murdered while heavily pregnant with William's Son,who died as well.

During the baronial rebellion of 1215, William was on the side of the rebels while his father was fighting for the king. When Louis of France took Worcester castle in 1216, however, the younger William was warned by his father to withdraw, which he did just before Ranulph de Blondeville, 4th Earl of Chester retook the castle. In March 1217, he was absolved from excommunication and rejoined the royal cause. At the Battle of Lincoln he was fighting with his father.

Earl Marshal

At his father's death in 1219 he succeeded the elder William as both Earl of Pembroke and as Lord Marshal of England. These two powerful titles, combined with his father's legendary status, could not help but make William one of the most prominent and powerful nobles in England. In 1224, William married Eleanor of England, youngest daughter of King John and Isabella of Angouleme, thereby strengthening the family's connection with the Plantagenets.

In 1223, William crossed over from his Irish lands to campaign against Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, who had attacked his holding of Pembroke. He was successful, but his actions were seen as too independent by the young Henry III's regents. In 1226 he was ordered to surrender the custody of the royal castles of Cardigan and Carmarthen, that he had captured from Llywelyn, to the crown. The same year, Hugh de Lacy began attacking William's and the King's lands in Ireland. William was appointed justiciar of Ireland, and managed to subdue Hugh.

William accompanied the king to Brittany in 1230, and assumed control of the forces when the king returned to England. Then, in February 1231, William also returned to England. Here he arranged the marriage of his sister Isabel, widow of Gilbert de Clare, to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother to King Henry III. William died in April of the same year. Matthew Paris claims that Hubert de Burgh, justiciar of England, was later accused of poisoning William, but there are no other sources to support this.


William had no heirs, and his titles passed to his younger brother, Richard.

During his lifetime, William Marshal commissioned a biography of his father to be written, called "L'Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal". He was buried in the Temple Church in London, next to his father, where his effigy may still be seen.

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