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Scott Abel William Marshal Paper #2

William Marshal started out as an unknown poor noble English warrior who only had his basic equipment and a horse, but ended up being the famous figure of chivalry ever. William Marshal earned all that he received through the three main tenets of chivalry: loyalty, honor, and bravery and came to exemplify the model chivalrous warrior. Following these three tenets helped him gain enormous wealth, power, and fame, while improving his spirituality. William Marshal made an oath of loyalty similar to this one: Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to him and chose his will.1 William Marshal never broke with his word and his oath of fealty. Even if Marshal despised the man he held an oath to; he would not break it. For example, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, had some land in Ireland where John Lackland was King of Ireland. John was also in charge of maintaining the English and Norman lands while King Richard was away. John decided that he would make an alliance with Philip Augustus, but when Richard found out he was furious and ordered all of Johns vassals to break with him. William would not break his loyalty to John and eventually Richard rescinded the order. After John became the King of England, William visited his Irish

Brian Tierney and Joan Scott, Western Societies, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000), P.190.

lands. John demanded that William hand over his second son as a hostage. Despite contrary advice given to him, William gave John his son, because of his loyalty to his lord. William proved himself to be a most loyal vassal despite his animosity toward John. William believed that honor was an important virtue that all chivalrous knights must follow. Fulbert of Chartres wrote, He who swears fealty to his lord out always to have these six things in memoryhonorable, that he should not be injurious to him in his justice or in any other matters that pertain to his honor;2 William believed that honor also pertained as a part of the rules of chivalrous conduct in battle. He believed that a true knight should not ambush his enemy, but to meet him in open field to engage him. A chivalrous knight should only have advantages in the overall quality of himself and his comrades. William Marshal was honorable for what he did not do as well. In an engagement with Richard Coeur de Lion, Richard was not fully equipped for combat. William did not strike Richard, because doing so would be dishonorable. Rather, William killed Richards horse and spared the life of the future king. Also, William did not fight for money, but for honor and glory. He often captured his opponents and received much wealth for doing so, but this did not make him wealthy, because he spent his money on his friends so that he could be admired. In order for a man to be truly chivalrous he was required to be brave in the face of his enemies. Such bravery was exemplified in the Song of Roland: Spurring his horse, he gallops up a hill, Summons the French, and speaks these solemn words: My lords and barons, Charles has left us here,

Brian Tierney and Joan Scott, Western Societies, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000), P.192.

And for our king we should in duty die. Lend aid now to maintain the Christian faith!3 William Marshall exemplified courage throughout his entire military career. One such example that gave him great fame was when he was with his uncle Patrick of Salisbury. They were protecting the queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, when they were ambushed. Patrick was not ready for battle, but exposed himself anyway. As a result, he was hit from behind and was killed. William was infuriated by such a low deed, to strike a man in the back, and without his helmet charged an enemy that numbered sixty-eight. The enemy was using pikes and seriously injured William. William killed six horses before being forced to surrender, but the queen saw the brave act and paid Williams ransom. Fervently charging his opponents gave him much fame. Such actions may very well have been the reason for Williams appointment as a permanent cadre to young Henrys htel. William continued to display acts of courage; such acts included his assault on Montmirail when he nearly fell off his horse and into a moat. William Marshal was brave enough to go on a crusade to Syria for two years. William gave his service to King Guy of Jerusalem and earned respect from other crusaders by performing brave deeds. Certainly this trip was of spiritual significance to William and it could also be considered a pilgrimage. Williams chivalrous actions and patience at first earned him little in regard to land. He had received land in Cartmel, Lancashire from the king, but only received 32 livres a year from it. In order to gain a significant title and a lot of property, he needed to marry the daughter of wealthy high-ranking noble. William also wanted to be married by the king himself. By years of loyal service and the luck of the draw, literally, William

Brian Tierney and Joan Scott, Western Societies, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000), P.209-210.

was to marry the daughter of Fitzgilbert de Clare, Isabel de Striguil and Isabel came with sixty-five and a half fiefs and the title of the Earl of Pembroke. William certainly climbed up the social ladder. When his older brother died, he inherited his familys lands that required him to look after his nephews. In fact, the Earl with his own vassals and servants took two filled ships to carry them all. William Marshals years of chivalry and fighting meant that he had a lot of experience. Through this experience and his many victories he had earned a reputation as a military expert. With all this experience, other warriors sought his advice for tournaments and the battlefield. So well-experienced was William Marshal that when King John died, he was asked to be the regent to King Henry III, son of the late King John. William Marshal led the English forces at the battle of Lincoln in the summer of 1217. Not only was he brave enough to lead the army, but he shared his bravery through speeches to his men and led Henrys army to total victory. Furthermore, Prince Louis of France besieged Dover castle, but he was defeated by English forces and surrendered. Yet, William was still honorable to Louis and the French warriors and he even escorted him to the shore to let them go when many in England would have instead held on to Louis for a bargaining chip. William was still did what he believed was honorable, despite a changing attitude to his form of chivalry. William Marshals loyalty, honor, and bravery made him the model for chivalric behavior. It was through this behavior that William was able to achieve great fame, wealth, power, and spiritual well-being.

Works Cited: Duby, George. William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry. New York: Pantheon, 1985. Scott, Joan and Tierney, Brian. Western Society A Documentary History. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.