See also

Robert, (1090-1147)

1. Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester, son of Henry I KING OF ENGLAND (1068-1135) and unknown lady ( - ), was born in 1090. He died on 31 October 1147. He married Mabel of Gloucester.

 

Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester (c. 1090 – October 31, 1147) was an illegitimate son of Henry I of England, and one of the dominant figures of the period of English history sometimes called the Anarchy. He is also known as Robert of Caen, and Robert "the Consul", though both names are used by later historians and have little contemporary justification, other than the fact that Robert's clerks made a practice of using the Latin word consul rather than the more common comes for his title of 'earl'.

 

Birth and Youth

Robert was the eldest of Henry's many illegitimate children. He was born well before his father's accession to the English throne, probably in the late 1080s, as he had himself had a son by 1104. His mother is not known for certain, though recent scholarship (D. Crouch) suggests she was a member of the Gay or Gayt family, minor English nobility in Oxfordshire one of whose members was called his cousin. Another suggestion (K. Thompson) is that his mother was a Norman woman who was connected to the Gays. William of Malmesbury refers to Robert's "Norman, Flemish, and French" and not English ancestry, but this may be a reference only to his father's side of the family.

Robert was acknowledged at birth, though in view of the vicissitudes of his father's career between 1087 and 1096 it is unlikely he was raised in his household. He was educated to a high standard, was literate in Latin and had a serious interest in both history and philosophy, which indicates that he was at least partly raised in a clerical household, a suggestion made all the more likely as his first known child, born around 1104, was born to a daughter of Bishop Samson of Worcester (died 1112) who up till 1096 had been a royal chaplain and treasurer of Bayeux. It may be significant that his next brother Richard was brought up in an episcopal household, that of the bishop of Lincoln.

Robert appears at court in Normandy in 1113, and around 1114 he married Mabel, eldest daughter and heir of Robert Fitzhamon, who brought him the substantial honor of Gloucester in England, Glamorgan in Wales and the honors of Sainte-Scholasse-sur-Sarthe and Évrecy in Normandy, as well as Creully. In 1121 or 1122 his father created him earl of Gloucester.

At the Court of Henry I

Robert developed a role as one of his father's principal aides and captains. In 1119, he fought at the Battle of Bremule, and in 1123-24 he was one of the king's chief commanders during the Norman rebellion. Following the drowning of the king's only legitimate son, William Adelin, in 1120, Robert became increasingly caught up in his father's attempts to ensure the succession of the Empress Mathilda, Robert's half-sister. It was to Robert's custody in his castle of Cardiff that his uncle, the deposed Duke Robert Curthose was eventually confided in 1126. On 1 January 1127 it was Robert who was one of the first to swear to accept Mathilda as queen after Henry's death. His father at some point gave him the keeping of the castles of Dover and Canterbury, and thus control of Kent and the cross-Channel route. When King Henry fell mortally ill at Lyons-la-Forêt in Normandy on 25 November 1135, Earl Robert was at his side and was one of the magnates who swore to stay with the king's body till it was buried. The king died a week after falling ill, on 1 December 1135.

Robert and King Stephen

After his father's death, Robert attended a series of conferences in Normandy and eventually accepted as king Theobald IV, count of Blois and King Henry's oldest nephew by his sister Adela. However, during the meeting with Theobald, news reach the Norman magnates that Theobald's younger brother, Stephen of Mortain and Boulogne, had been accepted and crowned as king in England. Robert eventually accepted this and at Easter 1136 attended the new king's ceremonial court. He does not seem to have seriously considered supporting the Empress Mathilda, and did not assist her invasion of southern Normandy. There is evidence in the contemporary source, the Gesta Stephani, that Robert was proposed by some as a candidate for the throne, but his illegitimacy ruled him out:
"Among others came Robert, Earl of Gloucester, son of King Henry, but a bastard, a man of proved talent and admirable wisdom. When he was advised, as the story went, to claim the throne on his father's death, deterred by sounder advice he by no means assented, saying it was fairer to yield it to his sister's son (the future Henry II of England), than presumptuously to arrogate it to himself."

This suggestion cannot have led to any idea that he and Stephen were rivals for the crown, as Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1136 referred to Robert as one of the 'pillars' of the new king's rule.

Robert of Gloucester had other distractions in 1136 which put the succession question out of his mind. The Welsh magnates of south east Wales rose against the Anglo-Norman settlers in April and Robert spent much of the year stabilising the situation. He reached peace treaties with the Welsh and recognised the gains of Morgan ab Owain (died 1158), who called himself king of Glamorgan. In England, Robert of Gloucester soon became disenchanted with King Stephen, and by the end of 1137 had withdrawn from his court. It is clear that he was disgruntled that he did not occupy the central place in politics that he had in the last reign. He was also alarmed at the favour with which the king regarded his Flemish mercenary general, William of Ypres, and the rising power of the Beaumont twins, Waleran, count of Meulan and Robert, earl of Leicester. In 1138, Robert declared his support for Matilda. Unfortunately he was defeated in Normandy by Waleran of Meulan and his English allies were crushed by Stephen and driven back on his fortress of Bristol.

The Civil War, 1139-1147

Earl Robert took a great gamble and sailed for England with his half-sister, the Empress, his wife and a company of knights. They landed at Arundel on 30 September 1139, and were welcomed into the castle there, the possession of Queen Adeliza, Mathilda's stepmother. Robert left for Bristol immediately. In his absence the castle was blockaded by King Stephen, opening the possibility that he might seize his dynastic rival. The king in the end let the empress and countess depart under escort to Bristol.

With Earl Robert and the Empress in England and based in the west country and Severn Valley, the civil war had begun. The earl's first moves are revealing. He commanded raids against Wareham in Dorset and Worcester. Both were possessions of the Beaumonts. He took Robert of Leicester's lands in Dorset for his own. He did much the same to other royalists within his area, mass deprivations which were at the heart of what is called the Anarchy. Although secure in a heartland of support, Earl Robert did not find it easy to recruit wider support and break out. The king succeeded in containing him along the line of the Cotswold Hills, with such effect that both sides were willing to send representatives to a peace conference held at Bath in August 1140, though nothing came of it.

Earl Robert's big opportunity came at Christmas 1140, when King Stephen fell out with Earl Ranulf II of Chester. Ranulf's failed negotations with the king to secure Lincoln Castle led him to ally with Robert, his father-in-law. They united their forces at Castle Donington in January 1141, including a host of Welsh mercenaries allied to Earl Robert. On 2 February 1141 the earls met and defeated King Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln. With the king captive, Empress Mathilda should have secured the throne, but a combination of stubborn royalist support, the empress's miscalculation and military misjudgement led to her failure. On 14 September 1141 Earl Robert and the Empress were trapped by a royalist army in an ill-judged attempt to seize control of Winchester. Earl Robert was captured fighting a rearguard action at the river crossing of Stockbridge to allow his sister to escape. Earl Robert was imprisoned for two months at Rochester Castle before he was released in an exchange with King Stephen. The cross-over point in the joint release was on 1 November 1141 at Winchester, where the two men had a chance to exchange friendly remarks, and the earl apparently assured the king that there was nothing personal in the fight as far as he was concerned.

The war continued and it rapidly became evident that it was a stalemate. The Empress's husband refused to commit the resources to tip the balance in England, only agreeing to discuss matters with the earl. In June 1142 Robert crossed from Wareham to Normandy and stayed there till the end of October. He came back with no reinforcements, but with his nephew Henry, the son of the Empress. In the meantime the Empress had been trapped in Oxford. Nothing could be done to release her, and she had to manage her own escape from the castle.

Robert continued the struggle but with less and less hope of ultimate victory. The king also had limited resources, but managed slowly to push towards Robert's centres of Bristol and Gloucester. At the end of 1145 Philip, Earl Robert's son and military captain, defected to Stephen, taking with him the strategic castles of Cricklade and Cirencester. With Gloucester and Bristol under threat, the earl opened negotiations in the autumn of 1146. The pressure continued in 1147, and it was in a desperate attack on Farnham in the late summer of that year that Earl Robert fought his last unsuccessful action of the war. He retired to Bristol to gather new forces, but became feverish. He died on 31 October 1147 and was buried in the priory of St James he had founded outside the castle.

 

Mabel of Gloucester and Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester had the following children:

 

William FitzRobert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester (1116-1183). William was born on 23 November 1116. He died on 23 November 1183.

Second Generation

2. Henry I KING OF ENGLAND, son of William I KING OF ENGLAND and Matilda de Flandre, was born in [Julian] September 1068. He married Editha of Scotland on [Julian] 11 November 1100. He married Adeliza of Louvain on 2 February 1121. He died on [Julian] 1 December 1135. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. He married unknown lady.

 

Editha of Scotland (known as 'Matilda') and Henry I KING OF ENGLAND had the following children:

 

Matilda of Normandy EMPRESS OF ENGLAND (c. 1102-1167). Matilda was born circa [Julian] August 1102. She died on [Julian] 10 September 1167.

 

3. unknown lady has few details recorded about her.

 

Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester, was an illegitimate son of Henry I.

 

Henry I KING OF ENGLAND and unknown lady had the following children:

 

1

Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester (1090-1147)

Third Generation

4. William I KING OF ENGLAND, son of Robert I 6TH DUC DE NORMANDIE and Herleva de FALAISE, was born circa [Julian] 1027. He married Matilda de Flandre in 1053 in Cathedrale Notre Dame d'Eu, Normandie. He died on [Julian] 9 September 1087.

 

William I 'the Conqueror', King of England also went by the nick-name of William 'the Conqueror'.5 William I 'the Conqueror', King of England also went by the nick-name of William 'le Batard' (or in English, the Bastard).5 In 1035 on his father's death, William was recognised by his family as the heir - an exception to the general rule that illegitimacy barred succession. His great uncle looked after the Duchy during William's minority, and his overlord, King Henry I of France, knighted him at the age of 15.6 He succeeded to the title of 7th Duc de Normandie on 22 June 1035.3 He gained the title of Comte de Maine in 1063.3 He fought in the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066 at Hastings, East Sussex, England.3 He gained the title of King William I of England on 25 December 1066.7 He was crowned King of England on 25 December 1066 at Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London, England, and styled 'Willielmus Rex Anglorum.7' He fought in the Siege of Mantes in September 1087.4
From 1047 onwards, William successfully dealt with rebellion inside Normandy involving his kinsmen and threats from neighbouring nobles, including attempted invasions by his former ally King Henry I of France in 1054 (the French forces were defeated at the Battle of Mortemer). William's military successes and reputation helped him to negotiate his marriage to Mathilda, daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders. At the time of his invasion of England, William was a very experienced and ruthless military commander, ruler and administrator who had unified Normandy and inspired fear and respect outside his duchy. William's claim to the English throne was based on his assertion that, in 1051, Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne (he was a distant cousin) and that Harold II - having sworn in 1064 to uphold William's right to succeed to that throne - was therefore a usurper. Furthermore, William had the support of Emperor Henry IV and papal approval. William took seven months to prepare his invasion force, using some 600 transport ships to carry around 7,000 men (including 2,000-3,000 cavalry) across the Channel. On 28 September 1066, with a favourable wind, William landed unopposed at Pevensey and, within a few days, raised fortifications at Hastings. Having defeated an earlier invasion by the King of Norway at the Battle of Stamford Bridge near York in late September, Harold undertook a forced march south, covering 250 miles in some nine days to meet the new threat, gathering inexperienced reinforcements to replenish his exhausted veterans as he marched.
At the Battle of Senlac (near Hastings) on 14 October, Harold's weary and under-strength army faced William's cavalry (part of the forces brought across the Channel) supported by archers. Despite their exhaustion, Harold's troops were equal in number (they included the best infantry in Europe equipped with their terrible two-handled battle axes) and they had the battlefield advantage of being based on a ridge above the Norman positions. The first uphill assaults by the Normans failed and a rumour spread that William had been killed; William rode among the ranks raising his helmet to show he was still alive. The battle was close-fought: a chronicler described the Norman counter-attacks and the Saxon defence as 'one side attacking with all mobility, the other withstanding as though rooted to the soil'. Three of William's horses were killed under him. William skilfully co-ordinated his archers and cavalry, both of which the English forces lacked. During a Norman assault, Harold was killed - hit by an arrow and then mowed down by the sword of a mounted knight. Two of his brothers were also killed. The demoralised English forces fled. In 1070, as penance, William had an abbey built on the site of the battle, with the high altar occupying the spot where Harold fell. The ruins of Battle Abbey, and the town of Battle, which grew up around it, remain.
Three months after his coronation, he was confident enough to return to Normandy leaving two joint regents (one of whom was his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who was later to commission the Bayeux Tapestry) behind to administer the kingdom. However, it took William six years to consolidate his conquest, and even then he had to face constant plotting and fighting on both sides of the Channel. In 1068, Harold's sons raided the south-west coast of England (dealt with by William's local commanders), and there were uprisings in the Welsh Marches, Devon and Cornwall. William appointed earls who, in Wales and in all parts of the kingdom, undertook to guard the threatened frontiers and maintain internal security in return for land.
In 1069, the Danes, in alliance with Prince Edgar the Aetheling (Ethelred's great-grandson) and other English nobles, invaded the north and took York. Taking personal charge, and pausing only to deal with the rising at Stafford, William drove the Danes back to their ships on the Humber. In a harsh campaign lasting into 1070, William systematically devastated Mercia and Northumbria to deprive the Danes of their supplies and prevent recovery of English resistance. Churches and monasteries were burnt, and agricultural land was laid to waste, creating a famine for the unarmed and mostly peasant population which lasted at least nine years. Although the Danes were bribed to leave the north, King Sweyn of Denmark and his ships threatened the east coast (in alliance with various English, including Hereward the Wake) until a treaty of peace was concluded in June 1070.
Further north, where the boundary with Scotland was unclear, King Malcolm III was encroaching into England. Yet again, William moved swiftly and moved land and sea forces north to invade Scotland. The Treaty of Abernethy in 1072 marked a truce, which was reinforced by Malcolm's eldest son being accepted as a hostage. William consolidated his conquest by starting a castle-building campaign in strategic areas. Originally these castles were wooden towers on earthen 'mottes' (mounds) with a bailey (defensive area) surrounded by earth ramparts, but many were later rebuilt in stone. By the end of William's reign over 80 castles had been built throughout his kingdom, as a permanent reminder of the new Norman feudal order.
William's wholesale confiscation of land from English nobles and their heirs (many nobles had died at the battles of Stamford Bridge and Senlac) enabled him to recruit and retain an army, by demanding military duties in exchange for land tenancy granted to Norman, French and Flemish allies. He created up to 180 'honours' (lands scattered through shires, with a castle as the governing centre), and in return had some 5,000 knights at his disposal to repress rebellions and pursue campaigns; the knights were augmented by mercenaries and English infantry from the Anglo-Saxon militia, raised from local levies. William also used the fyrd, the royal army - a military arrangement which had survived the Conquest. The King's tenants-in-chief in turn created knights under obligation to them and for royal duties (this was called subinfeudation), with the result that private armies centred around private castles were created - these were to cause future problems of anarchy for unfortunate or weak kings. By the end of William's reign, a small group of the King's tenants had acquired about half of England's landed wealth. Only two Englishmen still held large estates directly from the King. A foreign aristocracy had been imposed as the new governing class.
The expenses of numerous campaigns, together with an economic slump (caused by the shifts in landed wealth, and the devastation of northern England for military and political reasons), prompted William to order a full-scale investigation into the actual and potential wealth of the kingdom to maximise tax revenues. The Domesday survey was prompted by ignorance of the state of land holding in England, as well as the result of the costs of defence measures in England and renewed war in France. The scope, speed, efficiency and completion of this survey was remarkable for its time and resulted in the two-volume Domesday Book of 1086, which still exists today. William needed to ensure the direct loyalty of his feudal tenants. The 1086 Oath of Salisbury was a gathering of William's 170 tenants-in-chief and other important landowners who took an oath of fealty to William. William's reach extended elsewhere into the Church and the legal system. French superseded the vernacular (Anglo-Saxon). Personally devout, William used his bishops to carry out administrative duties. Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1070, was a first-class administrator who assisted in government when William was absent in France, and who reorganised the Church in England. Having established the primacy of his archbishopric over that of York, and with William's approval, Lanfranc excommunicated rebels, and set up Church or spiritual courts to deal with ecclesiastical matters. Lanfranc also replaced English bishops and abbots (some of whom had already been removed by the Council of Winchester under papal authority) with Norman or French clergy to reduce potential political resistance. In addition, Canterbury and Durham Cathedrals were rebuilt and some of the bishops' sees were moved to urban centres.
At his coronation, William promised to uphold existing laws and customs. The Anglo-Saxon shire courts and 'hundred' courts (which administered defence and tax, as well as justice matters) remained intact, as did regional variations and private Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions. To strengthen royal justice, William relied on sheriffs (previously smaller landowners, but replaced by influential nobles) to supervise the administration of justice in existing county courts, and sent members of his own court to conduct important trials. However, the introduction of Church courts, the mix of Norman/Roman law and the differing customs led to a continuing complex legal framework. More severe forest laws reinforced William's conversion of the New Forest into a vast Royal deer reserve. These laws caused great resentment, and to English chroniclers the New Forest became a symbol of William's greed. Nevertheless the King maintained peace and order. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1087 declared 'he was a very stern and violent man, so no one dared do anything contrary to his will ... Amongst other things the good security he made in this country is not to be forgotten.'
William spent the last months of his reign in Normandy, fighting a counter-offensive in the French Vexin territory against King Philip's annexation of outlying Normandy territory. Before his death on 9 September 1087, William divided his 'Anglo-Norman' state between his sons. (The scene was set for centuries of expensive commitments by successive English monarchs to defend their inherited territories in France.) William bequeathed Normandy as he had promised to his eldest son Robert, despite their bitter differences (Robert had sided with his father's enemies in Normandy, and even wounded and defeated his father in a battle there in 1079). His son, William Rufus, was to succeed William as King of England, and the third remaining son, Henry, was left 5,000 pounds in silver.8 He has an extensive biographical entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.9.

 

5. Matilda de Flandre, daughter of Baldwin V KING OF FLANDERS and Alise of FRANCE, was born in 1032 in Flanders. She and William I KING OF ENGLAND had the following children:

 

2

Henry I KING OF ENGLAND (1068-1135)

Adela of England ( - )