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Earl Marshal

The Earl Marshal of England is a hereditary Royal officeholder under the King or Queen of the United Kingdom. The title was "Marshal" until William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, whose titles of "Earl" and "Marshal" were separate (although he is often referred to now as "Earl Marshal") made it stand for something. After it came into the family of the Dukes of Norfolk, it evolved into "Earl Marshal". The Earl Marshal is the eighth of the Great Officers of State, with the Lord High Constable above him and only the Lord High Admiral beneath him.

In the Middle Ages, the Earl Marshal and the Lord High Constable were the officers of the King's horses and stables. When chivalry declined in importance, the Constable's post disappeared, and the Earl Marshal became the head of the College of Arms, the body concerned with all matters of genealogy and heraldry, although the Earl Marshal's connection with heraldry came about almost accidentally. In conjunction with the Lord High Constable he had held a court, known as the Court of Chivalry, for the administration of justice in accordance with the law of arms, which was concerned with many subjects relating to military matters, such as ransom, booty and soldiers' wages, and including the misuse of armorial bearings. The Marshal, as eighth Officer of State, has to organise coronations and the State Opening of Parliament.

In a declaration made on the 16th June 1673 by the Earl of Anglesey, the Lord Privy Seal in reference to a dispute over the exercise of authority over the Officers of Arms the powers of the Earl Marshal were stated as "to have power to order, judge, and determine all matters touching arms, ensigns of nobility, honour, and chivalry; to make laws, ordinances, and statutes for the good government of the Officers of Arms; to nominate Officers to fill vacancies in the College of Arms; to punish and correct Officers of Arms for misbehaviour in the execution of their places". Additionally it was also declared that no patents of arms or any ensigns of nobility should be granted and no augmentation, alteration, or addition should be made to arms without the consent of the Earl Marshal.

In Scotland, the office of Earl Marshal of Scotland died out when a member of the family of Keith forfeited it by being part of the 1715 rebellion.

Among the men who have held the title of Earl Marshal of Ireland are William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, and Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex (1539-1576).

Lord Marshals of England, 1135-1397

Earls Marshals of England, 1397-present

Deputy Earls Marshal have been named at various times, discharging the responsibilities of the office during the minority or infirmity of the Earl Marshal. Prior to an Act of Parliament in 1824, Protestant deputies were required when the Earl Marshal was a Roman Catholic.