Earl Gilbert Marshal and his mortal enemies



The death of Earl Richard Marshal at Kildare in 1234 at the hands of his Irish enemies could not be let pass by his family and political affinity. The sources are such that we are able to follow the actions and motives of his younger brother and heir, Gilbert Marshal, in punishing Richard's opponents and re-establishing his family's damaged prestige. Gilbert can be seen to be both an exploiter and victim of the social mechanism called by contemporaries ‘mortal enmity’. Gilbert's actions bring us nearer to an understanding of aristocratic honour and mores in the high middle ages, at a time when the aristocracy was pitted against the statist impulses of royal government.