Sir William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
(1147 â€“ 14 May 1219)
also called William the Marshal (Norman French: Williame le Mareschal), was an English (or Anglo-Norman) soldier and statesman. He was described as the "greatest knight that ever lived" by Stephen Langton. He served four kings â€” Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John, and Henry III - and rose from obscurity to become a regent of England for the last of the four, and so one of the most powerful men in Europe. Before him, the hereditary title of "Marshal" designated head of household security for the king of England; by the time he died, people throughout Europe (not just England) referred to him simply as "the Marshal". He received the title of "1st Earl of Pembroke" through marriage during the second creation of the Pembroke Earldom. He is perhaps the most studied and therefore most famous of the Pembroke Earls in modern popular culture.