3 Jun 2019
During Whitsun 2019 between 25 May - 2June, Pembroke Castle staged a week-long celebration of the life of one of history’s greatest figures, William Marshal, who was Earl of Pembroke and widely regarded as the ‘Greatest Knight of the Middle Ages’.
Marshal, whose power base in Wales and Ireland was operated from Pembroke Castle, served four kings, became King Regent to young King Henry III, and was a signatory on the Magna Carta, as well as a member of the Knights Templar. Marshal became Earl of Pembroke through his marriage to Isabel de Clare, and built much of the stone castle that we can see today, including the centrepiece 80ft high Great Keep. On the 800th anniversary of his death, Pembroke Castle will put together a William Marshal Festival to celebrate his achievements.
Visitors to the castle learnt about the Greatest Knight on free guided tours dedicated entirely to his life, as well as were able to take in a fantastic floral display from a Marshal-themed Flower Festival, and experience a Marshal-era re-enactment from Conquest Living History Society.
On Tues 28 May, a new tapestry depicting Marshal’s life and achievements was unveiled in the castle's main exhibition room, which is now available for all visitors to view, and later that night, best-selling author, Dr Thomas Asbridge gave an author talk on the Greatest Knight, and signed books for his fans. Later in the week, leading Pembroke Castle Historian, Neil Ludlow, also gave a talk on Marshal’s influence on castle design in the late 12th and early 13th Century.
Castle Manager, Jon Williams, commented “William Marshal is not quite as well known by our visitors as Henry VII, but we find that when our visitors do start to gain a knowledge of his life through our guided tours and interpretation, they are amazed at the significance of a man whose influence is still felt throughout the world today. So, it is only fitting that we make an effort on this 800th anniversary to mark his achievements.”