Richard de Clare 2d earl of Pembroke

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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 Pembroke, 2d earl of, d. 1176, English nobleman, also known as Richard Strongbow. He went as an adventurer (1170) to Ireland at the request of the hard-pressed Dermot McMurrough, king of Leinster. Strongbow subdued much of E Ireland, including Dublin, in victories over Rory O'Connor, king of Connacht, and married Dermot's daughter. Henry II of England, although he had given permission for the earl's expedition, visited him in 1171 to claim the rich coastal cities and to receive Strongbow's homage for the fief of the interior of Leinster. Pembroke fought for Henry in Normandy and was rewarded by a grant of additional territory in Ireland. He then returned to Ireland as the king's governor. Badly defeated (1174) at Thurles, he was engaged in almost continuous fighting against the Irish until his death.