John FitzGilbert , the Marshal
d.bef 29 Sep 1165 Marlborough, Wiltshire, England
m. BET 1119 AND 1129
Facts and Events
John FitzGilbert the Marshal (c. 1105 – 1165) was a minor Anglo-Norman nobleman during the reign of King Stephen, and fought in the 12th century civil war on the side of Empress Matilda. Since at least 1130 and probably earlier, he had been the royal marshal to King Henry I. When Henry died, John FitzGilbert swore for Stephen and was granted the castles of Marlborough and Ludgershall, Wiltshire during this time. Along with Hamstead Marshal, this gave him control of the valley of the River Kennet in Wiltshire. Around 1139, John changed sides and swore for the Empress Matilda. In September 1141, Matilda fled the siege of Winchester and took refuge in the Marshal's castle at Ludgershall. While covering her retreat from Winchester, John Marshal was forced to take refuge at Wherwell Abbey. The attackers set fire to the building, and John lost an eye to dripping lead from the melting roof.
In 1152, John had a legendary confrontation with King Stephen, who had besieged him at Newbury Castle. After John had broken an agreement to surrender, Stephen threatened to kill his son, whom John had given as a hostage. John refused, saying he could make more sons, but Stephen apparently took pity on the young boy and did not kill him. The boy grew up to be William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, a legendary figure in medieval lore, and one of the most powerful men in England.
The office of Lord Marshal, which originally related to the keeping of the King's horses, and later, the head of his household troops, was won as a hereditary title by John, and was passed to his eldest son, and later claimed by William. John also had a daughter, Margaret Marshal, married Ralph de Somery, son of John de Somery and Hawise de Paynell.