I wish with this series to return to the Earls of Pembroke, writes MARK MULLER

 You may remember that we last dealt with Richard de Clare, known as ‘Strongbow’, who married an Irish princess (Eva) and produced Isobel de Clare.

Isobel, became an extremely wealthy heiress and married the most famous of knights, William Marshal, who became Earl of Pembroke in the late 12th century.

It is after William Marshal’s death in 1219, and his extremely unfortunate five sons had all died early and without issue (supposedly due to a curse that the Irish Bishop of Ferns had placed on the Marshal sons, due to a dispute) that complications arose.

Western Telegraph: William Marshal statue created by Harriet Addyman (pictured with statue). Picture: Martin Cavaney PhotographyWilliam Marshal statue created by Harriet Addyman (pictured with statue). Picture: Martin Cavaney Photography

William Marshal had also had five daughters, Maud, Joan, Isabel, Eve and Sybil and the immense Marshal estate, involving land and property in England, Wales, Ireland and France, came to be subdivided, between not only these daughters, most of whom had unsurprisingly married Earls or men in power, but their many offspring.

Historian R F Walker tells us that calculations were made in respect of a share being as low as one thirty fifth, with the division of such an important and huge estate being made by the king at the time, Henry III.

Western Telegraph: Effigy of William Marshal on his tomb in Temple ChurchEffigy of William Marshal on his tomb in Temple Church

What this meant for Pembrokeshire was that the tight, single unit comprising most of the county that had formed the Earldom of Pembroke was split; at least for a while.

The daughter of Joan Marshal (who died in 1235), another Joan, with the title of de Munchensy, inherited, with her husband, William de Valence: Pembroke, Tenby, Castlemartin and St Florence.


Narberth, Cilgerran and Haverfordwest were each formed into separate lordships and went to other descendants of William Marshal.

William de Valence, was the son of Isabella of Angouleme - the widow of King John who remarried to Hugh de Lusignan shortly after the king’s death in 1216.

Isabella, was twenty years younger than John and when he died aged 50 of either ‘a surfeit of peaches’ or ‘a surfeit of lampreys’ (an eel like fish that had forever been a favourite of royal households - Henry I is supposed to have died of the same) Isabella was still under thirty years of age and with her new husband, produced another nine children, (having already had five with John), one of whom was William de Valence.

This made de Valence a half-brother of the successor and son of King John, Henry III. It was through his wife Joan, that he became Earl of Pembroke sometime between 1250 and 1260, although he was never formally invested with the title.

Western Telegraph: Pembroke Castle. Picture: Camera club member Zoe McLuckiePembroke Castle. Picture: Camera club member Zoe McLuckie

William and his three brothers were immensely unpopular. This was partly due to their ‘alien’ French status (the descendants of the Norman invaders of the 11th century having integrated with the English) and the extremely generous treatment that they received from Henry as half-brothers.

In addition, historian Sir Maurice Powicke tells us that they failed to adapt to their new surroundings in the earldoms they had been given, were out of touch, and William de Valence especially, used a bullying steward named de Bussey who was guilty of outrageous behaviour.

Another historian, R F Treharne, dismisses de Valence as, ‘a base adventurer’.

The generosity and close relationship of King Henry meant that William took his side in the Baron’s War and in so doing made a serious enemy of Simon de Montfort, leader of the rebelling barons.

At one point in 1258, de Montfort told de Valence and his brothers that they could choose between giving up their castles or losing their heads. William de Valence fled to France where he was joined by Joan.

He returned in 1265 with a small force, landing in Milford Haven and subsequently capturing Haverfordwest Castle (the owner, Humphrey de Bohun having been a strong de Montfort supporter).

In the same year de Valence was present at the Battle of Evesham in Worcestershire where de Montfort and many of his supporters were killed.

More next week.