Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke

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Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (according to other counting also 6th Earl of Pembroke ; * in the early 1190s; † April 16, 1234 in Kilkenny ), was an Anglo- Norman magnate and courtier. From 1233 until his death he led an unsuccessful revolt against the English king.

Origin and youth

Richard Marshal came from the Marshal family . He was born in the early 1190s, the second son of William I. Marshal and Isabel de Clare , daughter and heiress of Richard Strongbow . He is mentioned for the first time in 1203, in the next few years he appears as a youth in the entourage of his father, who was one of the most important magnates under King Johann Ohneland . When relations between the king and William Marshal deteriorated so much in 1207 that the latter withdrew to his estates in Ireland , the king forced him to hold not only his eldest son William , but also his second son Richard hostage for his good conduct . With a brief interruption, Richard lived in royal custody until 1212, before the king was again convinced of his father's loyalty. In 1214 Richard accompanied the king on his failed campaign to Poitou , where he became critically ill and barely survived. In contrast to his older brother William, it is not recorded that Richard took an active part in the First War of the Barons . When his aged father died in May 1219, Richard was at the court of the French King Philip II , where he was probably preparing to take over his father's possessions in Normandy .

Seigneur in Normandy

After the death of her mother Isabel in 1220, Richard took over his father's possessions in Normandy and, after paying a high fee to King Philip II, became Seigneur of Longueville-sur-Scie and Orbec . Until 1231 he was a French nobleman, while his older brother William had taken over the estates in England, the Welsh Marches and Ireland. Around 1222 Marshal Gervaise († around 1239) married, the daughter and heiress of Alain de Dinan , one of the most important nobles in Brittany . She was already twice widowed. In her first marriage she had Juhel III. Married by Mayenne ( House Mayenne ), the most important noblewoman of Maine , in second marriage the Breton Viscount Geoffroy de Rohan ( House Rohan ). His marriage also made Marshal an important nobleman of Brittany, and in May 1225 he attended a large gathering of the Breton nobles with their Duke Peter Mauclerc in Nantes . After the sudden death of King Louis VIII , the French Regency Council turned to Marshal and other nobles of Normandy in November 1226 and asked them for their support for the underage heir to the throne Louis .

In addition to the estates in France, Marshal also held Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire , an estate of his mother, and successfully claimed the estates of Ringwood in Hampshire and Burton Latimer in Northamptonshire , to which his wife had long-standing claims. The possession of goods in England, which was still officially enemies with France, was a show of favor from the English king to his family. Richard took advantage of the situation to obtain privileges for merchants from Normandy in England. The ongoing hostility between England and France, however, embarrassed Richard and his brother William as well. During the Franco-English War from 1224 to 1225 , Richard's English goods were temporarily under royal administration. When the English King Henry III. landed in Brittany in May 1230 (→ Henry III's campaign in France (1230) ) and Richard occupied Dinan Castle , Richard ran into new difficulties. Apparently Richard was initially involved in the English expedition, but when he did not renounce his allegiance to the French king, he drew the wrath of Henry III. to.

Controversial successor to his brother in England

When his older brother William Marshal died in England on Easter 1231 without male descendants, Richard Marshal was in Rouen . Henry III. initially wanted to prevent Richard's succession and instructed his port officials not to let Richard into the country. Given Richard's loyalty to France, this was a natural precaution. Riots had broken out in South Wales after William Marshal's death. Henry III. himself marched to South Wales and pacified the country, but after his retreat the Welsh prince Llywelyn advanced from Iorwerth to South Wales. Henry III. thereupon gathered his feudal army in Oxford and marched again in July to Wales, where the Welsh evaded his army. The king then had Painscastle rebuilt in the Welsh Marches. There he was visited by Peter Mauclerc and the Earl of Chester , who had just signed a three-year truce with France. Richard Marshal, who had landed in England despite the king's measures, also appeared and claimed his brother's inheritance. The Justiciar Hubert de Burgh advised the king, his homage to kick and to refer it back in the country. Allegedly, Richard is said to have called on his family's supporters in Wales and Ireland to revolt. The king who had occupied the marshal lands justified himself in a letter to the Irish barons. The Prior of Notley Abbey and the Earl of Chester assured Richard Marshal safe conduct to meet the King in late June, and the King finally appointed him Earl of Pembroke , Lord of Leinster and Marshal in early August . From then until his death, Richard Marhal had a say in British politics.

Beginning of the revolt against the king

Battle of Monmouth 1233: Richard Marshal pushes the knight Baldwin de Guisnes from the saddle in a duel . (contemporary illustration from the Chronica Majora by Matthew Paris )

On July 29, 1232, the king dismissed his Justiciar Hubert de Burgh and appointed Stephen of Seagrave as his successor. In fact, however, the French-born Bishop Peter des Roches of Winchester became the leading figure on the Regency Council. In November 1232, Marshal was selected as one of the four earls to guard the disgraced Hubert de Burgh at Devizes Castle . For this service he received from the Crown Awre in Gloucestershire . The good relationship between Marshal and the king was short-lived, however, as Richard was reluctant to hand Eleanor , the widow of his brother and sister of the king, an adequate Wittum . Eventually he agreed to pay her close to £ 400 a year from her property in South Wales and Ireland. In June 1233, however, he missed his payments. At that time the king was strongly influenced by Bishop Peter des Roches and his nephew Peter de Rivallis . These so-called Poitevins , together with the Justiciar Stephen of Seagrave, replaced a large part of the English court officials with their followers, mostly from France, at Christmas 1232. With this they had almost achieved a monopoly on the favor of the king, which led to considerable resentment among the English barons. Among the officials they had ousted was William of Rowden , a close associate of Marshal. In the spring of 1233 tensions increased between the Poitevins and Marshal's followers, particularly Gilbert Basset and his brothers and Richard Siward . Marshal was eventually driven, perhaps against his will, into armed protest and a fateful revolt against the king.

When the king invited his barons to a council meeting in Oxford on June 24, 1233, most of the English barons did not accept the invitation, nor did a summons to Westminster on July 5th . On July 9, Marshal, Basset and Siward declared that they had withdrawn from the royal court in anger because the king had denied justice to Basset and Siward. The exact further course of events is presented differently by contemporary chroniclers. The chronicler Roger von Wendover describes that Isabella von Pembroke , the wife of Richard of Cornwall and Marshal's sister, warned her brother about a plot at court. Marshal was due to be arrested at a council meeting on August 14th, whereupon he rebelled and fled to Wales before August 1st. The king is said to have ostracized him.

It is more likely, however, that Marshal had made no preparations for an open revolt. At the beginning of August he tried to gather his supporters armed at Gilbert Basset's estate in Wycombe in Buckinghamshire . Most of his sympathizers shrank from open revolt, so Marshal had no support outside of the Welsh Marches . The king, on the other hand, had no knowledge of the impending rebellion in mid-August and wanted to undertake a campaign to Ireland. In Wales, supporters of Marshal occupied Hay Castle and Ewya's Lacy Castle , while Basset and Siward renounced their allegiance to the king. When Heinrich III. When he learned of this, he called an army to Gloucester on August 17th and united it with his mercenaries from the Poitou. He declared Marshal a traitor without having heard his barons under the terms of the Magna Carta . He then occupied Marshal's estates in England and began the siege of Usk Castle in south-east Wales. Given his small number of supporters, Marshal had no choice and had to promise to submit on September 8th.

Open civil war in the Welsh Marches

The ruins of Grosmont Castle, where a royal army was routed in 1233

With that the first phase of the conflict was over, and at a council meeting in Westminster the barons present urged the king to reconcile with Marshal. Marshal, however, remained at war with the Welsh Lord Morgan ap Hywel of Caerleon, his family's traditional enemy. To this end, the still outlawed Basset and Siward undertook, probably with approval, in any case with the knowledge of Marshal, a raid on the property of Peter des Roches. Marshal distrusted the intentions of the king and his foreign advisors, and since he received no support from the English magnates, he turned to the Welsh prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth . He overcame the previous hostility between his family and the Welshman and allied himself with them against the king, who had been at war with the English king since 1231. Perhaps to reassure his still outlawed followers, or to prevent Morgan ap Hywel from receiving support from King Henry, Marshal turned against Glamorgan , which was administered by Peter des Roches , with Welsh help in early October . He conquered all castles in the rule, including Cardiff Castle , while Llywelyn attacked Brecknockshire from Iorwerth and conquered and destroyed Abergavenny Castle . As a result, on October 18, the king formally confiscated all of Marshal's possessions and castles and ordered their destruction ten days later. When Richard Siward and the Bassets end of October to from captivity into the sanctuary escaped Hubert de Burgh in Devizes freed, only the wrath of the king enlarged. He gathered an army at Hereford and raided Marshal's holdings in South Wales.

Siward and Basset took the freed Hubert de Burgh to Chepstow Castle , where he joined Marshal. Given the overwhelming power of the king, the rebels could not hope for victory, but they offered sustained and successful resistance. On the evening of November 11th, Marshal's Welsh allies surprised the encamped royal army in front of Grosmont Castle , drove them to flight and allegedly stole 500  packhorses . Marshal, however, prohibited a direct attack on the king who had fled to the castle. The king withdrew to Gloucester, but on November 25th, Marshal barely survived a bloody battle with royal mercenaries under Baldwin of Guînes at Monmouth Castle . Marshal rejected a peace offer from the king on December 22nd, and after another raid on the royal army on December 26th, further advances by royal troops stalled. In early January 1234, Llywelyn from Iorwerth and Marshal Shropshire and burned parts of Shrewsbury , but could not conquer Shrewsbury Castle . The three-month siege of Carmarthen Castle by a combined Welsh-English army under the Welsh Rhys Gryg failed in March after the arrival of a royal relief army under Henry de Trubleville with heavy losses. Siward and Basset, on the other hand, successfully undertook further raids on property of their enemies in England until May. Henry III. withdrew from Gloucester to Winchester , whereupon Gloucestershire was devastated by the rebels.

The king was furious and demanded that Marshal plead for mercy with a rope around his neck. In fact, the situation was undecided and the bishops of England and Wales, who tried to mediate as early as the autumn of 1233, made another attempt to end the rebellion. On February 2, under the leadership of Edmund Rich , the elected new Archbishop of Canterbury , they turned to the King in Winchester, demanding the removal of Bishop Peter des Roches and his allies from the royal council. In the face of pressure from the bishops who threatened ecclesiastical sanctions, the king had to give in. He instructed the Archbishop to conclude an armistice with Marshal and Llywelyn from Iorwerth.

Decision in Ireland

Meanwhile, the conflict had spread to Ireland, where the Irish justiciar Maurice Fitzgerald , Richard de Burgh and other vassals of the king attacked Marshal's holdings. To protect his property, Marshal crossed from Wales to Ireland in February or March. There is little reliable information about the exact course of the disputes. Allegedly, Marshal was betrayed by his vassal Geoffrey Marsh , who was secretly allied with FitzGerald. On April 1st, a battle broke out between Marshal's troops and his opponents in the plain of Curragh near Kildare . It is said that marshals Irish vassals abandoned him before the battle, so that Marshal, who refused to escape, faced superiority with only a few Welsh knights. After a heroic battle, he was defeated and captured. On April 16, he succumbed to his injuries in his own Kilkenny Castle, which his opponents had captured . He was probably buried in the Dominican convent of Kilkenny founded by his brother , according to other sources in the Franciscan convent of Kilkenny .


The news of Marshal's heroic battle and death shocked the king and his court. It further worsened the mood against Peter des Roches, Peter de Rivallis, Stephen of Seagrave and their supporters from Poitou, who fell completely out of favor with the king and were banished from the court. Rumors soon arose that the Poitevins had forged royal letters and thus provoked war in Ireland. In reality, the King generously rewarded FitzGerald and his allies by granting Marshal Irish possessions, while the Irish vassals still captive had to pay high ransom money. Geoffrey Marsh, who was probably just the chroniclers' scapegoat, also had to pay a large ransom for his release. Richard Siward, celebrated as a war hero, on the other hand, enjoyed the favor of the king, who handed over the administration of Glamorgan to him on June 3, 1234. On June 22nd, 1234, the king concluded a peace treaty with the rebellious Llywelyn from Iorwerth.


Richard Marshal's marriage had been childless. He had been a generous donor to a number of monasteries in Normandy, Brittany, England, and Ireland. His heir became his brother Gilbert , who inherited the estates in England, the Welsh Marches and the remaining estates in Ireland, as well as the title of Earl of Pembroke. However, the possessions in Normandy were after Richard's death by King Louis IX. confiscated.


Richard Marshal has been described by contemporary chroniclers without exception as brave, cultured and distinguished. He is also said to have been well-read and educated, as his friendship with Bishop Robert Grosseteste showed. Matthew Paris praised him as the flower of knighthood, and other chroniclers praised him, regardless of his genuinely French origins, as a champion of English civil liberties against the unpopular foreign advisers of the king. Indeed, Marshal's revolt was not a conflict between local barons and foreign favorites of the king. Marshal's rebellion remained largely confined to the Welsh Marches and never had more than 60 knights or any other magnate supported. The rebellion was also not a constitutional dispute, although the king's disregard for the law fueled the rebellion. It was rather a dispute over favor and access to the king, preceded by mutual distrust and resentment at court.


  • B. Wilkinson: The council and the crisis of 1233-1234 in: Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library , 27 (1942-1943)
  • RF Walker: The supporters of Richard Marshal, earl of Pembroke, in the rebellion of 1233–1234 in: Welsh History Review / Cylchgrawn Hanes Cymru , 17 (1994–95)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ History of the Magna Carta: Restoring royal authority. Retrieved May 27, 2015 .
  2. ^ British Listed Buildings: Carmarthen Castle, Carmarthen. Retrieved September 9, 2013 .
  3. ^ Michael Altschul: A baronial family in medieval England. The Clares. The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore 1965, p. 65
  4. ^ HW Ridgeway: Henry III (1207-1272). In: Henry Colin Gray Matthew, Brian Harrison (Eds.): Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , from the earliest times to the year 2000 (ODNB). Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-861411-X , ( license required ), as of 2004
  5. ^ DJ Power: Marshal, Richard, sixth earl of Pembroke (d. 1234). In: Henry Colin Gray Matthew, Brian Harrison (Eds.): Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , from the earliest times to the year 2000 (ODNB). Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-861411-X , ( license required ), as of 2004
predecessor Office successor
William Marshal Earl of Pembroke
Marshal of England
Gilbert Marshal