Marmion originated from an episode the story of Norham which occurred in 1318.
Norham Castle was something of an English outpost, so near to the Scottish Border that to the Scots it was a constant provocation and the Scots harassed it frequently.
At that time Sir Thomas Gray was governor, and the Scots were besieging it once again with a determination that boded ill for the safety of the castle. At night Sir William Marmion made his way into the castle by a secret passage. He had left behind in Lincolnshire the girl who had declared that Marmion was the bravest of all the knights in England and Marmion was determined to prove to her that he was. She had sent to him a helmet bearing a golden crest requesting him to wear it during his displays of bravery.
Marmion was greeted warmly by his fellow knights who recounted to him tales of great deeds they had performed against the Scots. Marmion was impressed and that night dreamed of the feats off valour he was about to perform.
At dawn next day the Scots continue their ferocious attack upon the castle, succeeding in penetrating the defences and gaining access to the outer bailey. Well prepared, and eager for action, Marmion had already donned his armour and set the helmet with the golden crest upon his head. He was ready for action.
Marmion begged the captain of Norham, Philip de
Moubray, for permission to sally forth among the main body of Scots to
win fame for his helmet and himself.
And so Marmion sallied forth into the midst of his enemies. He was immediately surrounded by the Scots and was in danger of being dragged from his saddle when the cavalry in the form of Sir Thomas Grey and his knights sprang to his aid. The force of their onset shocked the Scots who fell back and both Marmion and Norham Castle were saved for posterity.
Thus did Marmion win fame and the love of his lady fair.
It has been suggested that if Marmion's girl friend had really cared for him she would not have sent him to what was regarded as the most dangerous place in England.
Perhaps. . . . .