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William Marshal

William Marshal

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Published by Scott Abel
This work is about the chivalry of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke with a particular focus on his loyalty, courage, and honor.
This work is about the chivalry of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke with a particular focus on his loyalty, courage, and honor.

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Published by: Scott Abel on Jan 09, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Scott AbelWilliam MarshalPaper #2 William Marshal started out as an unknown poor noble English warrior who onlyhad his basic equipment and a horse, but ended up being the famous figure of chivalryever. William Marshal earned all that he received through the three main tenets of chivalry: loyalty, honor, and bravery and came to exemplify the model chivalrouswarrior. Following these three tenets helped him gain enormous wealth, power, andfame, 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 anythingwhich is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserveit, and that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when Isubmitted myself to him and chose his will.
William Marshal never broke with his word and his oath of fealty. Even if Marshaldespised the man he held an oath to; he would not break it. For example, WilliamMarshal, 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 whileKing Richard was away. John decided that he would make an alliance with PhilipAugustus, but when Richard found out he was furious and ordered all of John’s vassals to break with him. William would not break his loyalty to John and eventually Richardrescinded 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. Despitecontrary advice given to him, William gave John his son, because of his loyalty to hislord. William proved himself to be a most loyal vassal despite his animosity towardJohn.William believed that honor was an important virtue that all chivalrous knightsmust follow. Fulbert of Chartres wrote, “He who swears fealty to his lord out always tohave these six things in memory…honorable, that he should not be injurious to him in his justice or in any other matters that pertain to his honor;”
William believed that honor also pertained as a part of the rules of chivalrous conduct in battle. He believed that atrue knight should not ambush his enemy, but to meet him in open field to engage him. Achivalrous knight should only have advantages in the overall quality of himself and hiscomrades. William Marshal was honorable for what he did not do as well. In anengagement 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 Richard’s horse and spared the life of the future king. Also, William didnot fight for money, but for honor and glory. He often captured his opponents andreceived much wealth for doing so, but this did not make him wealthy, because he spenthis 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!
William Marshall exemplified courage throughout his entire military career. One suchexample 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 hitfrom behind and was killed. William was infuriated by such a low deed, to strike a manin the back, and without his helmet charged an enemy that numbered sixty-eight. Theenemy 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 William’s ransom.Fervently charging his opponents gave him much fame. Such actions may very well have been the reason for William’s appointment as a permanent cadre to young Henry’s hôtel.William continued to display acts of courage; such acts included his assault onMontmirail 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 KingGuy 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 considereda pilgrimage.William’s chivalrous actions and patience at first earned him little in regard toland. He had received land in Cartmel, Lancashire from the king, but only received 32livres a year from it. In order to gain a significant title and a lot of property, he needed tomarry the daughter of wealthy high-ranking noble. William also wanted to be married bythe 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.

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