The Most Perfect Knight’s Countess: Isabella de Clare, Her Daughters, and Women’s Exercise of Power and Influence, 1190–ca. 1250

  • Linda E. Mitchell
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Isabella de Clare, the wife of William le Marshal—and the heiress through whom he acquired his wealth, titles, and influence—has been far less studied than her famous husband. The same is true of their daughters. The careers of Countess Isabella and three of her five daughters who are the focus of this article—Maud Bigod Warenne, Isabelle de Clare Plantagenet, and Eva de Braose—demonstrate that they were political actors in their own right. These women were strategic in their political activities, associating themselves and their marital kin with their own siblings rather than becoming subsumed under their husbands’ political shadows. This pattern of kinship-based political activity within the larger Marshal kinship became the standard mode of action for successive generations.


Primary Sources

  1. The Acts and Letters of the Marshal Family: Marshals of England and Earls of Pembroke, 1145–1248. Edited by David Crouch. Camden Fifth Series. Vol. 47. London: Royal Historical Society/Cambridge University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  2. Brut y Tywysogyon. Edited by Thomas Jones. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1952.Google Scholar
  3. Calendar of Ancient Correspondence Concerning Wales. Edited by J. Goronwy Edwards. Cardiff: University Press Board, 1935.Google Scholar
  4. Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry III, 1232–1247. London, 1906.Google Scholar
  5. Curia Regis Rolls, 11–14 Henry III (1227–1230). Vol. 13. London, 1959.Google Scholar
  6. Excerpta é Rotulis Finium in turri Londonensi Asservatis, Henrico Tertio Rege, A.D. 1216–1272. Edited by Charles Roberts. 2 vols. London, 1835.Google Scholar
  7. History of William Marshal. Edited by Anthony J. Holden, translated by Simon Gregory, notes and introduction by David Crouch. 3 vols. London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 2002–2007.Google Scholar
  8. Paris, Matthew. Chronica Majora. Edited by Henry Richards Luard. 7 vols. Rolls Series. London, 1876.Google Scholar
  9. Paris, Matthew. English History. Translated by J. A. Giles. 3 vols. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1889.Google Scholar
  10. Roger of Wendover. Flowers of History. Translated by J. A. Giles. 2 vols. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1849.Google Scholar
  11. Royal and Other Historical Letters Illustrative of the Reign of Henry III. Edited by Walter Waddington Shirley. 2 vols. Rolls Series. London, 1862.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

  1. Crouch, David. William Marshal. 3rd ed. London: Routledge, 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Duby, Georges. William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985.Google Scholar
  3. Kenny, Gillian. “The Wife’s Tale: Isabel Marshal and Ireland.” In William Marshal and Ireland, edited by John Bradley, Cóilín Ó Drisceoil, and Michael Potterton, 315–324. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2017.Google Scholar
  4. Mitchell, Linda E. Portraits of Medieval Women: Family, Marriage, and Politics in England 1225–1350 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).Google Scholar
  5. ———. “Maud Marshal and Margaret Marshal: Two Viragos Extraordinaire.” In The Ties That Bind: Essays in Medieval British History in Honor of Barbara Hanawalt, edited by Linda E. Mitchell, Katherine L. French, and Douglas L. Biggs, 121–142. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011.Google Scholar
  6. ———. Joan de Valence: The Life and Influence of a Thirteenth-Century Noblewoman. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ———. The Marshal Consanguinity: Kinship, Affinity, and the Creation of a Socio-political Network, 1200–1400 (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).Google Scholar
  8. Morris, Marc. The Bigod Earls of Norfolk in the Thirteenth Century. Rochester, NY: Boydell and Brewer, 2005.Google Scholar
  9. Painter, Sidney. William Marshal: Knight-Errant, Baron, and Regent of England. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982 [1933].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda E. Mitchell
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Missouri–Kansas CityKansas CityUSA

Personalised recommendations