Sir William Marshal 1st Earl of Pembroke. If you haven’t heard of Marshal, that’s unfortunate, because he was one of the greatest knights of the Middle Ages. He served 4 (technically 5) kings of England with unbending loyalty and honour during his over 50 year career. He fought in countless battles, and was the greatest tournament fighter in the history of Europe. In his 25+ years on the combat circuit he went completely undefeated against over 500 knights, and god knows how many commoners. In his prime, which lasted several decades, he was considered the best swordsman on the continent.
In 1216 at age 71 he came out of retirement to become lord protector to Henry III (age 9) following King John’s death. Furthermore England was in turmoil as the King of France had just invaded Britain with a 24,000 man army in support of a group of Barons who had rebelled against King John, in what is known as the 1st Barons War.
With the King only age 9 and the rebels in control of London and the French occupying much of the South East, it fell to Sir William Marshal to lead the English. In 3 months 6,000 men came to his banner simply because of his legendary reputation. And in 1217 He marched on the massive French force.
Luckily, France had divided its forces in two, so 12,000 were rampaging around the countryside, and 12,000 were laying siege to the city of Lincoln.
Lincoln was an odd situation because it was a walled city with a walled castle within it, and the French had already taken the out walls when Marshal arrived.
Marshal, at age 71 in full armor and sword drawn led the charge into the city despite being outnumbered 2 to 1. Several accounts tell of the Arch Bishop of Canterbury riding behind him yelling “GOD IS WITH THE MARSHAL! GOD IS WITH THE MARSHAL!”.
The fighting dragged on for hours and despite being outnumbered the English began to take the upper hand. when the French commander revealed Himself.
Thomas Du Perch a renowned French Knight and undefeated on the tourney circuit for six years straight. He started cleaving through the English forces like a hot knife through butter until he came face to face with Sir William
The two clashed like titans. Du Perch with youth and strength on his side, but Marshal had the skill and wisdom gained from winning over a thousand personal battles over his 50+ years of experience.
It went back and forth, neither appearing to have the upper hand. The fighting completely stopped around them, the whole day, and the fate of England was going to rest on this single duel.
Something happened. Maybe Du Perch was a moment too slow, maybe Marshals joints finally loosened up, but Marshal put his sword through the eye slit of Du Perch’s Helmet.
Panic immediately swept the French army, and it began to rout as it realised the Lion of England still had the strength to roar. This was helped by the fact Marshal had ordered his crossbowmen sneak up onto the roofs of the buildings and where they began unleashing a deadly hail of bolts into the French forces.
The decisive victory at Lincoln was the turning point in the 1st Barons war. Following the defeat of the French navy at the Battle of Dover, the French forces were forced to return to France ending the War. This would be the last time a foreign would ever successfully England. In the last years of his life Sir William secured the succession of Henry the third) helped solidify the Magna Carta before retiring to his estate, where he died peacefully in 1219.
Source: Edited from a post by http://www.reddit.com/user/Defengar