Two marshals born in the mid-twelfth century, one in England, the other in France, are remembered today through singular accounts of their extraordinary lives. William Marshal (1147–1219) is best known for his prowess as a tournament knight, for his close relations with and service to the Angevin kings of England, and for saving the royal dynasty after the death of King John, when some of the English barons were prepared to abandon their young king, Henry III, for Prince Louis of France. William Marshal’s life is known chiefly through a verse biography written in 1224–26 by a poet known only as John, who consulted the family’s archive of documents and gathered the recollections of the Marshal’s family, friends, and especially his trusted companion John of Earley.