William the Marshal was an Anglo-Norman soldier and statesman who in total served five English kings. Knighted in 1166, he spent his younger
years as a knight errant and a successful tournament competitor and was eulogised by Stephen Langton as the “best knight that ever lived”.
Before him, his father’s family held a hereditary title of Marshal to the king which involved management over the other Marshals and functionaries of the crown. William, however, became known as ‘the Marshal’ and because he was an Earl, the term ‘Earl Marshal’ was commonly used where this later became an established hereditary title in the English Peerage. All Monarchs of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom since James VI have been descendants of William Marshal through his great-great-grandson Robert the Bruce.
True to form William supported King John when he became king in 1199 and became heavily engaged with the defence of Normandy against the growing pressure of the Capetian armies between 1200 and 1203. He and the king had a falling out in the aftermath of this failed campaign when he was sent with the Earl of Leicester as ambassadors to negotiate a truce with King Philip II of France in 1204. The Marshal took the opportunity to negotiate the continued possession of his Norman lands.
Causing offence to King John for having paid homage to King Philip of France, this became outright hostility in 1207 when John moved against several major Irish magnates. William stayed in Ireland defending his lands in a war with the Braose and Lacy families until being taken back into favour in 1212. He was summoned in 1213 to return to the English court and despite their differences, William remained loyal throughout the hostilities between John and his barons which culminated on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede with the sealing of Magna Carta. William was one of the few English earls to remain loyal to the king through the First Barons’ War. It was William whom King John trusted on his deathbed to make sure John’s nine-year-old son Henry would get the throne. It was also William who took responsibility for the king’s funeral and burial at Worcester Cathedral.
On 11 November 1216 at Gloucester, upon the death of King John, William Marshal was named by the king’s council (the chief barons who had remained loyal in the First Barons’ War) to serve as protector of the nine-year-old King Henry III, and regent of the kingdom. In spite of his advanced age (around 70) he prosecuted the war against Prince Louis and the rebel barons with remarkable energy. In the battle of Lincoln, he charged and fought at the head of the young King’s army, leading them to victory. He was preparing to besiege Prince Louis in London when the war was ended by the naval victory of Hubert de Burgh in the straits of Dover.
Pack contains one mounted figure, one foot figure and two heater shields. Pill-shaped base and 25mm round base included.
Miniature supplied unpainted and may need some assembly.