Pembroke, Richard de Clare, earl of

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Pembroke, Richard de Clare, earl of (c.1130–76), commonly known as ‘Strongbow’. A member of the aristocratic Clare family—according to Gerald of Wales ‘his blood was better than his brains’—he inherited his father's earldom of Pembroke in 1148 but, being a supporter of Stephen, forfeited it when Henry II came to the throne. In 1166, still out of favour, he decided to accept Dermot MacMurrough's offer of his daughter Eva (Aoife) in marriage and the succession to the kingdom of Leinster in return for military assistance against Dermot's Irish enemies. In 1170, in defiance of Henry's wishes, he took a force to Ireland and occupied Dublin and Waterford, where he married Aoife. In 1171 he succeeded Dermot as king. Alarmed by this Henry II invaded Ireland, forcing most Irish kings to recognize him. But by the time he left in 1172 he had recognized Richard both as earl and as his representative in Ireland. Strongbow's gamble had succeeded and the English invasion of Ireland had begun.

John Gillingham

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Richard de Clare 2d earl of Pembroke

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