Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke

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Richard de Clare
2nd Earl of Pembroke
3rd Lord Marcher of Cardigan
3rd Lord Marcher of Striguil
Richard de Clare.jpg
Richard de Clare at his wedding to the Princess of Leinster
Tonbridge Castle, Kent, Kingdom of England
Died20 April 1176
Dublin, Lordship of Ireland
Resting placeChrist Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
NationalityNorman Dane
OfficesLord of Leinster
Justiciar of Ireland
PredecessorGilbert de Clare
SuccessorGilbert de Clare
HeirGilbert de Clare
Spouse(s)Aoife Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster
ParentsGilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke
Isabel de Beaumont
OccupationEarl of Pembroke

Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1130 – 20 April 1176) was the son of Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke by his wife Isabel de Beaumont. He married Aoife Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster, daughter of He was part of the Norman invasion of Ireland. Like his father, he became known by the cognomen Strongbow which may be a mistranscription or mistranslation of his Marcher Lordship of Striguil. His son Gilbert de Clare died unmarried before 1189. As a minor, he never became an Earl, thus the Earldom was passed with Richard’s daughter Isabel De Clare who became the Sou Jure Countess of Pembroke.

Armorial Bearings

Coat of Arms associated with the Irish Branch of House de Clare and the Earls of Pembroke in Ireland
Armorial bearings are also known colloquially as a Coat of Arms. They are the principal part of a system of hereditary symbols dating back to early medieval Europe, used primarily to establish identity in battle.[1][2]They are still used today by royalty, nobility and knights to cover, protect, and identify the wearer; to denote their decedents, property ownership and their profession.[1][2] Armorial Bearings belong to specific individuals not families as there is no such thing as a family Coat of Arms or a family crest. [3][4]


Richard's cognomen Strongbow has become the name he is best known by, but it is unlikely that he was called that at the time. Cognomens of other Cambro-Norman and Norman lords were exclusively Norman-French as the nobility spoke French and, with few exceptions, official documents were written in Latin during this period. The confusion seems to have arisen when Richard's name was being translated into Latin.[5] In the Domesday Exchequer annals between 1300 and 1304 (over 120 years after his death) it was written as "Ricardus cognomento Stranghose Comes Strugulliae (Richard known as Stranghose earl of Striguil)." This chronicler erroneously has attributed Stranghose (foreign leggings) as a cognomen, where it is much more likely a variant spelling or mistranscription of Striguil, which is called Strangboge, Stranboue or Stranbohe in other transcriptions. It is in the fourteenth century that we have Richard's name finally rendered as Strongbow "Earl Richard son of Gilbert Strongbow [earl of Shropshire]."[6]


Richard Earl Of Pembroke Taking Leave Of His Brother Before Leaving For Ireland In 1169.

Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke was the son of Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke by his wife Isabel de Beaumont.[7] Richard de Clare's father died in 1148 when he was roughly 18 years old and inherited all his father's titles and lands. It is probable that this title was not recognized at King Henry II of England's coronation in 1154.[8] As the son of the first 'earl', he succeeded to his father's estates in 1148, but was deprived of the title by King Henry II of England in 1154 for siding with King Stephen of England against Henry’s mother, the Empress Matilda.[9] Richard was in fact, called by his contemporaries Count Striguil, for his marcher lordship of Striguil where he had a fortress at a place now called Chepstow, in Monmouthshire on the River Wye.[10] He saw an opportunity to reverse his bad fortune in 1168 when he met Diarmait Mac Murchada, the deposed King of Leinster.[11]

Dispossession of the King of Leinster

In 1167 King Mac Murrough was deprived of the Kingdom of Leinster by the High King of IrelandRuaidrí Ua Conchobair. The grounds for the dispossession were that King Mac Murrough had, in 1152, abducted Derbforgaill, the wife of the King of Breifne, Tiernan O'Rourke. In order to recover his Kingdom, King Mac Murrough requested asssitance from the King Henry II of England. The deposed king embarked for Bristol from near Bannow on 01 August 1166.[12] He met Henry in Aquitaine in the Autumn of 1166. Henry could not help him at this time, but provided a letter of comfort for willing supporters of King Mac Murrough's cause in his Kingdom. However, after his return to Wales, he failed to rally any forces to his standard. He eventually met the Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke and other Lord Marchers in Wales. King Mac Murrough came to an agreement with Richard de Clare: for the Earl’s assistance with an army the following Spring, he could have Aoife Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster, The King's eldest daughter in marriage and the succession to Leinster.[13] As King Henry II of England’s approval to King Mac Murrough was a general one, Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke thought it prudent to obtain King Henry's specific consent to travel to Ireland: he waited two years to do this.[13]

The re-taking of Leinster

King Mac Murrough and Richard de Clare raised a large army, which included highly skilled Welsh Archers from his Marcher Lordships and arranged for Raymond Fitz Gerald to lead it the Army. The force took the Ostman towns of Wexford, Waterford, and Dublin. These were longphorts where the Viking raiders settled, marrying Gaelic women and slightly acculturating to Gaelic customs (such as naming practices, Mac Giollamhuire, Mac Turkill, etc.), Dublin being the most famous. [14] in rapid succession between 1169 and 1170. Richard de Clare, however, was not with the first invading party and arrived later, in August 1170.[15]

In May 1171, King Mac Murrough died and his son, Donal Mac Murrough-Kavanagh, claimed the Kingdom of Leinster in accordance with his rights under the Brehon Laws. Richard de Clare also claimed the kingship in the right of his wife. At this time, Strongbow sent his uncle, Hervey de Clare, Lord of Montmorency, on an embassy to King Henry II of England. This was necessary to appease the King who was growing restive at the Richard de Clare's increasing power. Upon his return, Lord Montmorency conveyed the King's terms – the return of Richard de Clare's lands in France, England, and Wales as well as leaving him in possession of his Irish lands.[16][17] In return, Richard de Clare surrendered Dublin, Waterford, and other fortresses to the English king.[18] Henry's intervention was successful and both the Gaelic and Norman lords in the south and east of Ireland accepted his rule;[19] Richard de Clare also agreed to assist King Henry II in his coming War in France.


Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke held many titles in his lifetime with many of them not having any lands or estates attached to them. He had to fight every step of his life to acquire what he did. He left a legacy that is still remembered 800 years later. When RIchard become the 3rd Lord Marcher of Cardigan upon the death of his father he was also made the 3rd Lord of Cardigan Castle. He was also the 3rd Lord Marcher of Striguil and 3rd Lord of Striguil Castle. His inherited lands in the Duchy of Normandy are not referenced again so it is unknown what actually happed to the Barony of Orbec and Bienfaite. He also held his great uncle's Walter de Clare's lands of Nether Gwent becoming the 3rd Lord of Nether Gwent

Marriage and issue

The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife (1854) by Daniel Maclise, a romanticised depiction of the union in the ruins of Waterford

By an unknown mistress, Richard de Clare fathered two daughters:

These two daughters were born well before Richard de Clare married the Princess of Leinster. This is evident that they were illegitimate by the fact that neither inherited anything from their father's great holdings. See: Cokayne, CP, X, Appendix H, 103</ref> who married William FitzMaurice FitzGerald, baron of Naas[20]

On 26 August 1171 in Waterford, Richard de Clare married King Mac Murrough's daughter, Aoife Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster and had two children by that marriage:[21]

King Henry II had promised William Marshal that he would be given Isabel de Clare as his bride, and his son King Richard I of England upheld the promise one month after his ascension to the throne. The Earldom was given to her husband as her consort. Isabel de Clare remained the Countess of Pembroke sou jure until her death.


Richard de Clare died in June 1176 of some type of infection in his leg. He was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Dublin with his uncle-in-law, Lawrence, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, presiding. King Henry II of England took all of Strongbow's lands and castles for himself and placed a royal official in charge of them. He guarded well the inheritance of Isabel de Clare. Aoife Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster was given her dower rights and was Lady Marcher of Striguil as part of those dower rights until the Welsh rebellion of 1184. There is a record of Aoife Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster confirming a charter in Ireland in 1188/89 as "comtissa de Hibernia".[22] Aoife Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster lived on and was last recorded in a charter of 1188.

There are no known extant records of the personal lives of Richard de Clare and Aoife Ní Diarmait. We know that this young red-haired son of Gilbert de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke survived the years of being deprived of his rightful inheritance. He took the gamble that Dermot MacMurchada offered. He conquered and re-constituted his inherited Lordship of Leinster, married the golden-haired [[Aoife Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster|Aoife Ní Diarmait], and re-gained the respect of King Henry II of England.


Richard de Clare was the statesman, whereas Raymond was the soldier, of the conquest. He is vividly described by Giraldus Cambrensis as "His complexion was somewhat ruddy and his skin freckled; he had grey eyes, feminine features, a weak voice, and short neck. For the rest, he was tall in stature, and a man of great generosity and of courteous manner."[23] He was first interred in Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral where an alleged effigy can be viewed.[23] Richard de Clare's actual tomb-effigy was destroyed when the roof of the Cathedral collapsed in 1562. The one on display dates from around the 15th century, bears the coat of arms of an unknown knight,[24] and is the effigy of another local knight. Richard de Clare was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin within sight of the cross according to an eye witness, Giraldus Cambrensis. There is little evidence to support the tradition that he was buried either in St Edan's Cathedral, Ferns,[25] Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford or Dominican priory, Kilkenny. References to 'de Clare' being buried in Gloucester cathedral refer to his father, while those to 'Strongbow' in Tintern abbey refer probably to Walter or Anselm Marshall, both of whom died in 1245.

In Popular Culture

The English cider brand Strongbow is named after him. [26]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Woodcock, T., & Robinson, J. M. (1988). The Oxford guide to heraldry (Vol. 116). Oxford University Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Fox-Davies, A. C. (2007). A complete guide to heraldry. Skyhorse Publishing Inc.
  3. College of Arms (2015) The United Kingdom College of Arms. Retrieved from
  4. The Court of the Lord Lyon of Scotland (2015). About Coats of Arms. Retrieved from
  5. Goodrich Castle and the families of Godric Mapson, Monmouth, Clare, Marshall, Montchesney, Valence, Despenser and Talbot
  6. Brut y Tywysogyon or The Chronicle of the Princes. Peniarth Ms. 20 version, ed. and trans. T. Jones [Cardiff, 1952], 65. Richard vabGilbert Stragbow[iarll Amhwydic], Brenhinedd y Saeson or The Kings of the Saxons, ed. and trans. T. Jones [Cardiff, 1971], 170.
  7. George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage; or, A History of the House of Lords and All its Members from the Earliest Times, Vol. X, eds. H. A. Doubleday; Geoffrey H. White; Howard de Walden (London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., 1945), p. 352
  8. M. T. Flanagan, 'Clare, Richard fitz Gilbert de, second earl of Pembroke (c.1130–1176)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press (2004)
  9. Wilfred Lewis Warren, Henry II (Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973), p. 193
  10. Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans, 1169–1216, Vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1911), pp. 85–9
  11. Wilfred Lewis Warren, Henry II (Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973), p. 114
  12. The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland, ed. R. F. Foster (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 57
  13. 13.0 13.1 Orpen, G. H. (1911). Ireland under the Normans (Vol. 2). Clarendon Press.
  14. Lydon, J. (2012). The Making of Ireland: from ancient times to the present. Routledge.
  15. Davies, J. (2007). A history of Wales. Penguin UK.
  16. Curtis, E. (2012). A history of medieval Ireland: from 1086 to 1513. Routledge.
  17. Moody, T. W., Martin, F. X., Cosgrove, A., & Byrne, F. J. (Eds.). (2008). A New History of Ireland, Volume II: Medieval Ireland 1169-1534 (Vol. 2). Oxford University Press.
  18. Wilfred Lewis Warren, Henry II (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2000), p. 197
  19. Wilfred Lewis Warren, Henry II (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2000), p. 200
  20. George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage; or, A History of the House of Lords and All its Members from the Earliest Times, Vol. X, eds. H. A. Doubleday; Geoffrey H. White; & Howard de Walden (London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., 1945), Appendix H, p. 103
  21. George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage; or, A History of the House of Lords and All its Members from the Earliest Times, Vol. X, eds. H. A. Doubleday; Geoffrey H. White; Howard de Walden (London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., 1945), p. 356
  23. 23.0 23.1 Alfred Webb, A compendium of Irish biography (Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son, 1878), p. 130
  24. James Graves, ‘Armorial bearings of Strongbow’, Gentleman’s magazine and historical review, ccxvi, 1 (March 1864), 362–3; 'On the arms of Richard de Clare’, Gentleman’s magazine and historical review, ccxviii, 1 (April 1865), 403–8; ccxvix, 2 (July 1865), 3–11; (August 1865), 207–8;(November 1865), 551–63 gives the best summary. Stuart Kinsella summarised the most recent work in a lecture to the conference on 'Monuments and Monumentality in Later Medieval and Early Modern Europe' in Stirling University in August 2011
  25. John Finlayson, Inscriptions on the monuments, mural tablets &c, Christ Church Cathedral (Dublin: Hodges, Foster, & Figgis, 1878), p. 66 notes no more than a 'fearful malediction ... pronounced against him by a Bishop of Ferns' citing King's Church History, ii, 622 and Haverty's 'History of Ireland', p. 256.