William Marshal died 797 years ago in 1219. At his funeral, Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury described him as the greatest Knight who ever lived. ‘The Marshal’, as he is known, was indeed a formidable character. As the fourth son of a relatively minor noble with little land to speak of he rose through the ranks, largely by his own devices, to immense power. He served five Plantagenet Kings and was closely associated with the Knights Templar. He married a 17 year old heiress and became the ‘founding father’ of Kilkenny. Margaret M. Phelan credits him with having brought Kilkenny ‘into existence’. He feuded with the Justiciar of Ireland, fell out with the Bishop of Ferns who attempted to excommunicate him, he vanquished the French at the battle of Lincoln and became Regent of England during the minority of the future Henry III. When he died in 1219 he was buried in the Round Temple Church in London, with a plenary indulgence giving him direct access to heaven.
References: Images: The Marshal unseats Baldwin de Guisnes from Matthew Paris/Chronica Major http://www.traditioninaction.org/History/C_009_Marshal.html
The marriage of Isabel de Clare and William Marshal. Panel 8. http://www.rostapestry.com
Kilkenny Castle http://www.irishhistorypodcast.ie/a-very-brief-history-of-medieval-kilkenny-in-pictures
The Round Temple Church http://www.britania.com
Crouch, David, ‘Marshal, William (I)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. ED. H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. p. 822
Asbridge, Thomas, The Greatest Knight. London:Simon & Schuster UK Ltd., 2015
Phelan, Margaret M. ‘William Earl Marshal (1144 – 1219)’ Old Kilkenny Review. N.S. Vol 2 No 5 (1983)