Sir William Marshal- The legendary Knight. Famous medieval knight, king of jousting and medieval tournaments.
Sir William Marshal was the first earl of Pembroke, who was born in the year 1146 and died in 1210. He was an Anglo Norman solider and a statesman who was known by the name William the Marshal. He served with Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John and Henry II. He became one of the powerful men in Europe by rising and becoming a regent of England.
William’s father John Marshal was the supporter of King Stephen. In 1139 when the civil war broke into England, he lost his respect for the king. The war was between King Stephen and Empress Matilda who claimed that they were the legit successors of Henry I. It is said that the when Stephen surrounded the Newbury castle, young William was taken as a hostage for ensuring that John keeps his promise to surrender the castle. That’s why John switches sides. He reinforced the castle and altered the forces of Matilda. Stephen threatened John that he will hang his son if he does not surrender but John did not change his decision. Luckily, Stephen did not hang with the young lad.
William’s father was a minor nobleman and so he did not inherit any land from which he could make his own life. When William was 12, he was sent to Normandy where he was brought up under the supervision of his mother’s cousin William De Tancarville. He got his Knight training from there. On a campaign in the upper Normandy, he was knighted in 1166. This was his first warfare which did not end in a successful. William De Tancarville took him to the first tournament. He found his true métier there. He then moved to his mother’s brother household. In an ambush by Guy De Lusignan, his uncle got killed. William was injured and was captured in a skirmish. He was ransomed by Eleanor of Aquitaine as he was impressed by the tales of his bravery. William found that he could make good money by winning tournaments. He started making his living with it.
The battles he fought were often deadly. He won a lot of money and valuable prizes from these tournaments. When he was on his deathbed, he recalled best of 500 Knights during his entire tourneying career.