Skip to main content

The History of William Marshal

William Marshal’s outstanding career and his rise in power would not have been possible without Henry the Young King. From the fourth son and landless knight he had still been in 1170s he eventually became one of the most powerful men in the Angevin empire and during the minority of the future Henry III the regent of England. Some time ago I wrote an article about the beginnings of what was to become William and the Young King’s lifelong friendship. In it I mainly focused on the earlier years spent by William in the Plantagenet household, the years when he served his young lord as tutor in arms, guide and most faithful companion. To read it click here.


Upon William’s death, on 14 May 1219, his eldest son and namesake commissioned one John, a poet to write a poem on an epic scale to celebrate his late father’s life story. Written in Middle French and comprising 19,214 lines in rhyming couplets, the Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal is the only surviving biography of a layman of that time, and it is a treasure chest full of information concerning not only William himself, but also his young lord, Henry. Elizabeth Chadwick celebrated the life of William Marshal in her two wonderful novels, The Greatest Knight (2005) and The Scarlet Lion (2006). The first focuses in greater part on William-Henry adventurous and sometimes tempestuous relationship and describes at length their marvelous exploits on the tournament field. Miss Chadwick also wrote a brilliant text on William’s death anniversary to commemorate his long and eventful life. Some time ago she has started a new “series” on her blog, devoting one day per week entirely to the episode from the History. By her kind permission I would like to recommend all the parts “featuring” Henry the Young King.

The History of William Marshal Episode 7. Describes how the young William came to the attention of Queen Eleanor.

The History of William Marshal Episode 8. Tells us how William was appointed tutor to Henry the Young King.

The History of William Marshal Episode 9. Describes at length the events of the Great Revolt of 1173-74.

The History of William Marshal Episode 10. Gives us the recollection of the peaceful times spent in England and later on the tournament circuits of Normandy.


The History of William Marshal Episode 11. From which we learn more about the Young King, the worthy Philip of Flanders and the tournament techniques the latter employed. The author also includes my favourite anecdote concerning William Marshal, upon which Elizabeth Chadwick built a wonderful scene in the Greatest Knight, namely the tournament at Anet and its aftermath.

I am going to include the link each time the new episode appears on Living the History. For the time being, enjoy the reading!

Comments

  1. William, ahhhh, what a man! :) :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the word we're looking for is legend! Thanks for the links - I 'll check them out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Kasia,

    Thank you for all this.....it's just oozing with great stuff. Now that I've been introduced to Elizabeth Chadwick's novels (Lady of the English), I want to continue & William Marshall will be next (well, after I finish the small stack I'm working on). So it will be fun to read all the links as well. So nice of you to include them.

    I hope all is well in your world....take care,
    Joan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Joan! As for Elizabeth Chadwick's novels, Lady of the English is on my TBR list. Quite recently I've read To Defy a King. Brilliantly written story of William Marshal's eldest daughter (and featuring the Marshal himself as well :-)).

      All is well in my world, thank you. At present I'm working on the new post, which should appear quite soon.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

19 December 1154. Coronation of Henry's Parents

On Sunday, 19 December 1154, Henry the Young King's parents were crowned king and queen of England at Westminster Abbey by Theobald Archbishop of Canterbury*. The chronicler Henry of Huntigdonexpressed the feelingsthat must have filled all the hearts in the ravaged by the civil war England: … Henry was crowned and consecrated with becoming pomp and splendour, amidst universal rejoicing, which many mingled with tears of joy!’ (Henry of Huntingdon p.296-97).
The then Henry fitz Empress was staying in Normandy when he learned that on 25 October king Stephen died. ‘… Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, with many nobles, dispatched messengers in all haste to their now lord the Duke of Normandy, intreating him to come over without delay, and receive the crown of England. Hindered, however, by contrary winds and a stormy sea, as well as other circumstances, it was not till six days before Christmas that, accompanied by his wife and brothers, with a retinue of great nobles and a strong forc…

28 February 1155: In Celebration of Henry the Young King's Birthday

On the pages of his Chronicon Geoffrey, prior of Vigeois, described in meticulous detail how young Henry packed as much repentance into his deathbed as he could before he passed away.  Geoffrey left nothing unsaid. The hair shirt, bed of ashes, halter around neck, Bernard, bishop of Agen administering the last rites, and many other men of religion … all was there to ‘draw the readers attention away from the affairs of this world to those of the next’. Of course, Geoffrey, a man of religion himself, must have seen young Henry’s untimely passing as a divine punishment. But there were other voices who disagreed with that of the prior. Thomas de Agnellis, for example, in his sermon claimed that as the Young King’s sad retinue was toiling over the jolly sunbathed hills and dales of Aquitaine, it became the focus for many miracles. The rumors of the late king’s sainthood began to circulate. The monasteries pillaged by him shortly before his death- as it happened some of the most sacred shri…

1 December 1135. Death of Henry I, the Great-Grandfather of Henry the Young King.

On 1 December 1135 Henry the Young King’s paternal great-grandfather and namesake, Henry I ofEnglanddied after 35-year reign. The reign marked by legal and administrative changes that assured prosperity and peace in bothEngland andNormandy(the latter had been won by Henry from his elder brother Robert Curthose in 1106).
At the time of his death Henry was staying inNormandyat a hunting lodge at Lyons-la-Forêt. As Henry of Huntigdon reports: “… he partook of some lampreys, of which he was fond, though they always disagreed with him; and though his physician recommended him to abstain, the king would not submit to his salutary advice… This repast bringing on ill humours, and violently exciting similar symptoms, caused a sudden and extreme disturbance, under which his aged frame sunk into a deathly torpor… “ (p.259-60)

The old king was known for the “great delight in his grandchildren, born of his daughter by the Count of Anjou”* and they were  probably with him in those last moments of his…