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Sir William Herbert

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Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke - painting by Graham Turner Sir William Herbert - original painting Ref: GT-WH

William Herbert cemented his position in Edward IV's life at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461, his backing being crucial to Edward's victory there and his subsequent rise to the throne. Herbert's father, Sir William ap Thomas, had established himself as a man of standing in south Wales, becoming steward of the Duke of York's estates in the region among other prestigious posts. He began the rebuilding of the castle at Raglan, which stands today as a memorial to his power and that of his son William, who raised the family to even greater heights.

William was born around 1429 and assumed the English-style surname Herbert. His early military career in France ended when he was taken prisoner at Formigny in 1450, after which it is assumed that he was ransomed. In 1459 he married Anne Devereux, sister of Sir Walter Devereux, Lord Ferrers, another staunch Yorkist adherent whose name is often linked with Herbert. The pivotal moment in William's life came when he gambled everything to give his support to the young Edward, Earl of March, in his hour of need at Mortimer's Cross. He would be well rewarded; after Edward's coronation he was elevated to the peerage as Lord Herbert and granted considerable powers in Wales. A Knight of the Garter in 1462, he was made Earl of Pembroke in 1468 after finally conquering Harlech Castle, replacing the previous earl, Jasper Tudor, with whom he had continuously struggled in Wales, and who would continue to fight on for the Lancastrian cause even after his exile.

However, William's career - and life - would be cut short a year later when, responding to King Edward's call to arms to fight against 'Robin of Redesdale's' rebellion, he would be captured at the Battle of Edgcote and summarily executed soon after on the orders of the Earl of Warwick, the power behind the uprising.

Gouache painting by Graham Turner - image size approximately 9"x 16" (23 x 41cm) on watercolour board with an overall size of 15"x 22"

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Graham Turner's portrayal is closely based on a manuscript painting in the British Library (Royal MS 18 D II) which shows Sir William Herbert and his wife, Anne Devereux, kneeling in front of the king, and painted sometime before he was made a Knight of the Garter by Edward IV in 1462. Sir William's armour is mostly covered by his heraldic tabard, but the legs suggest a European style, perhaps Flemish or Milanese. His helmet is a visored salet, with a strap emerging from the tail just visible, a feature that also appears in various other sources, sometimes with small plates attached, perhaps to provide further protection to the back of the neck.

Sir William's standard-bearer is inspired by a figure from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library (MS Bodl.421), wearing a brigandine over a mail shirt, armoured legs and riding boots, and a livery jacket that is heavily cut away at the sides. The standard bears Herbert's badge of the bascule - a counterweight for a drawbridge - and his motto 'E las sy longuement', taken from the same manuscript as his portrait (Google translates this as 'We've been there for a long time').

Right: A contemporary depiction of Sir William Herbert, from British Library manuscript Royal MS 18 D II

Below left to right: MS Bodl.421; Herbert's badge of the bascule, carved into the wall of his castle at Raglan; Raglan Castle.

Herbert detail 1
Herbert detail 2
Graham Turner's Original Paintings are offered for sale by the artist himself, rather than through Studio 88, which is our print publishing business. Consequently, payment directly to him is preferred. If you are interested in purchasing an original painting, please email Graham Turner at to discuss the purchase or to arrange to visit.

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Detail from Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke - painting by Graham Turner
Also available as a print

Graham Turner's painting of Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, is also available as a print - CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury - print from a painting by Graham Turner

Anne Devereux awaits news of her husband, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, from the Great Tower at Raglan Castle.

Graham Turner's painting 'Reverie' is available as a limited edition print and a greeting card - CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
'Reverie' - Medieval Art Print by Graham Turner
The Battle of Edgcote print

Graham Turner's painting of Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, and his brother Richard, in the thick of the fighting at the Battle of Edgcote, is available as a print - CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

The original painting has sold.
The Battle of Edgcote print


Graham Turner's eagerly anticipated book about the Wars of the Roses is now available.

It includes over 120 of his paintings and drawings, many newly created, with supplementary images and a comprehensive and fascinating text that illuminates the complex, shifting course of events and the people who lived their lives through this tumultuous time.

Order your signed copy now - CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS


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