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Pembroke, William Herbert, 1st earl of

Pembroke, William Herbert, 1st earl of (c.1507–70). William Herbert's grandfather was a Yorkist earl of Pembroke, executed at Northampton in 1469, but his father was illegitimate. The family estate was at Ewyas Harold, north-east of Abergavenny. Aubrey describes him as ‘a mad, young, fighting fellow’, who could neither read nor write. He held minor court office but his great chance came in 1543 when his sister-in-law Catherine Parr married Henry VIII. He was knighted, given the estates of the abbey of Wilton, and appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber. In 1549 he helped to suppress the western rising and was given the Garter. After backing the duke of Northumberland against his rival Somerset, he took many of the executed duke's estates and in 1551 was created earl of Pembroke. He did homage to Lady Jane Grey in 1553, but changed step nimbly and retained Mary's favour. He commanded her forces against Wyatt in 1554, stayed at court under Elizabeth, and was lord steward for the last two years of his life. Aubrey wrote of him as founder of the house of Herbert at Wilton: ‘from a private gentleman, and of no estate, but only a soldier of fortune … at the dissolution of the abbeys, in few years from nothing slipt into a prodigious estate.’

J. A. Cannon

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Pembroke, William Marshal, 1st earl of

William Marshal Pembroke, 1st earl of, d. 1219, English nobleman. He became (1170) a guardian of Prince Henry, eldest son of Henry II, and supported him in his abortive rebellion (1173–74) against his father. After the prince's death (1183), however, he went on crusade for the king. Upon the accession (1189) of Richard I, Marshal married Isabella, heiress of Richard de Clare, 2d earl of Pembroke, and took her titles, thereby becoming 1st earl of Pembroke in the Marshal line. During Richard I's absence from England, Marshal supported the king's brother John against William of Longchamp but helped thwart John's 1193 rebellion. Once John became king, however, the earl supported him and was one of his counselors at Runnymede. Elected regent for the young Henry III by the barons in 1216, Marshal successfully waged war against the invading Prince Louis (later Louis VIII) of France and by a firm policy toward recalcitrant barons secured a relatively stable kingdom.

See S. Painter, William Marshal (1933, repr. 1967); T. Asbridge, The Greatest Knight (2014).

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