Advisor to the Plantagenet Kings, knight extraordinary, and the reputed Flower of Chivalry – William Marshal, from his simple beginnings, grew to tower over his compatriots, both in the corridors of power and on the battlefield. At the zenith of his career, as Lord of Leinster and Earl of Pembroke – both inherited through his wife – William set about planning an ideal town in his new province, and gave it his name, Villa Willielmi Marescalli, from where we tell our tale.
In the panel we see, from right to left, the three stages of William’s life. As a young man, he became tutor and guide to Henry, heir of Henry II and his wife, Elanor of Aquitaine. He had saved Eleanor’s life when in the employ of his uncle, the Earl of Salisbury, for which he was rewarded with – amongst other things – the stewardship of Elanor’s eldest son.
The second stage of his life shows the tournament champion, the valiant and steadfast knight-errant and the intrepid crusader. His bravery in tackling a difficult horse, in working his way out of tight corners of the battlefield, won him recognition across Europe. However, it was not until he was nearly fifty that a prize worthy of him – the gift in marriage of Isabel, the eighteen year old heiress of Dermot McMurrough – was bestowed by a grateful King Henry II.