Isabel Marshal, 7th Countess of Pembroke

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Isabel Marshal
7th Countess of Pembroke
7th Lady Marcher of Striguil
House Marshall.png
Husband1st Gilbert de Clare
2nd Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall
Noble familyHouse Marhsal
FatherWilliam Marshal
MotherIsabel de Clare
Born09 October 1200
Pembroke Castle, Pembroke, Principality of Wales
Died17 January 1240
Berkhamsted Castle, Hertfordshire, Kingdom of England
BuriedBody: Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire
Heart: Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire

Isabel Marshal, 7th Countess of Pembroke, 7th Lady Marcher of Striguil (9 October 1200 – 17 January 1240) was the seventh child of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke by his wife Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke. She was the wife of both Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford and Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall (son of King John of England). With the former, she was a great grandparent of King King Robert I of Scotland also known as Robert the Bruce. She was named after her mother and named her own daughter Isabel in honor of her mother.


She was born at her families seat, Pembroke Castle, in what was the Earldom of Pembroke in Wales. Isabel was the seventh child, and second daughter, of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke. She had 9 siblings: 4 sisters and 5 brothers. Each of her brothers died without a legitimate male heir, thus passing the title on to the next brother in line. Her last brother to hold the title of Earl of Pembroke died without legitimate issue, and the title was passed to Isabel and then to her sister Eva Marhsal upon her death in 1240 Joan. Her sister Eva Marhsal died a short time after Isabel in 1243. It then passed to Isabel Marshal's sister Joan's child Joan de Munchensi whose portion included the Castle and Lordship of Pembroke and the Earldom of Wexford in Ireland. The custody of Joan's property was entrusted to her husband Jure Urxis, William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke who apparently assumed the lordships of Pembroke and Wexford between 1250 and 1260 and was thus made into a third creation of the title.


On her 17th birthday, Isabel was married to Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford and 5th Earl of Gloucester, who was 20 years her senior, at Tewkesbury Abbey. The marriage was an extremely happy one, despite the age difference, and the couple had six children:

Isabel's husband Gilbert joined in an expedition to Brittany in 1229, but died 25 October 1230 on his way back to Penrose, in that duchy. His body was conveyed home by way of Plymouth and Cranborne, to Tewkesbury Abbey, where he was buried at the abbey.

Second marriage

Isabel was a young widow, only 30 years old. She had proven childbearing ability and the ability to bear healthy sons; as evidenced by her six young children, three of whom were sons. These were most likely the reasons for both the proposal of marriage from Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, and Isabel's acceptance of it, despite the fact that her husband had been dead for only five months. The two were married on 30 March 1231 at Fawley Church, much to the displeasure of Richard's brother King Henry, who had been arranging a more advantageous match for Richard. Isabel and Richard got along well enough, though Richard had a reputation as a womanizer and is known to have had mistresses during the marriage. They were the parents of four children, three of whom died in the cradle.

  • John of Cornwall (31 January 1232 – 22 September 1233), born and died at Marlow, Buckinghamshire, buried at Reading Abbey
  • Isabella of Cornwall (9 September 1233 – 10 October 1234), born and died at Marlow, Buckinghamshire, buried at Reading Abbey
  • Henry of Almain (2 November 1235 – 13 March 1271), murdered by his cousins Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola and Simon de Montfort, buried at Hailes Abbey.
  • Nicholas of Cornwall (b. & d. 17 January 1240 Berkhamsted Castle), died shortly after birth, buried at Beaulieu Abbey with his mother

Death and burial

Isabel died of liver failure, contracted while in childbirth, on 17 January 1240, at Berkhamsted Castle. She was 39 years old. When Isabel was dying she asked to be buried next to her first husband at Tewkesbury Abbey, but Richard had her interred at Beaulieu Abbey, with her infant son, instead. As a pious gesture, however, he sent her heart, in a silver-gilt casket, to be buried next to her first husband.


  • Isabel and her husband Richard appear as characters in Virginia Henley's historical novels, The Marriage Prize and The Dragon and the Jewel.


  • Malden, H. E. (1924). Devereux Papers with Richard Broughton's Memoranda (1575–1601). Camden Third Series, 34, 1-36.
  • Painter, S. (1982). William Marshal, knight-errant, baron, and regent of England (Vol. 13). University of Toronto Press.
  • Duby, G. (2011). William Marshal. Pantheon.