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Saturday, August 9, 2014

10. King William and Queen Mathilde's family

William and his wife Matilda of Flanders had at least nine children.

The birth order of the boys is clear, but no source gives the relative order of birth of the daughters.

Robert II Curthose 8th Duke of Normandy, was born  1054, died 10 February 1134.   Duke of Normandy, married Sybil of Conversano, daughter of Geoffrey of Conversano.  They had 3 sons.

He died at the Cardiff Castle, Wales and is buried in 
Gloucester Cathedral.

In 1077, Robert instigated his first insurrection against his father as the result of a prank played by his younger brothers William Rufus and Henry, who had dumped a full chamber-pot over his head. Robert was enraged and urged on by his companions started a brawl with his brothers that was only interrupted by the intercession of their father. Feeling that his dignity was wounded, Robert was further angered when King William failed to punish his brothers. The next day Robert and his followers attempted to seize the castle of Rouen.

The siege failed, but when King William ordered their arrest Robert and his companions took refuge with Hugh of Chateauneuf-en-Thymerais. They were forced to flee again when King William attacked their base at Rémalard.

Robert fled to Flanders to the court of his uncle Robert I, Count of Flanders before plundering the county of the Vexin and causing such mayhem that his father King William allied himself with King Philip I of France to stop his rebellious son. Relations were not helped when King William discovered that Robert's mother, Queen Matilda, was secretly sending her son money. At a battle in January 1079 Robert unhorsed King William in combat and succeeded in wounding him, stopping his attack only when he recognized his father's voice. Humiliated, King William cursed his son then raised the siege and returned to Rouen.

At Easter 1080, father and son were reunited by the efforts of Queen Matilda and a truce lasted until she died in 1083. Robert seems to have left court soon after the death of his mother, Queen Matilda, and spent several years travelling throughout France, Germany and Flanders. He visited Italy seeking the hand of the great heiress Matilda of Tuscany (b. 1046) but was unsuccessful. During this period as a wandering knight Robert sired several illegitimate children. His illegitimate son, Richard, seems to have spent much of his life at the royal court of his uncle William Rufus. This Richard was killed in a hunting accident in the New Forest in 1099 as his uncle, King William Rufus, was the next year. An illegitimate daughter was later married to Helias of Saint-Saens.

Richard Duke of Bernay of Englandwas born before 1056, died around 1075.  He did not marry and was killed in a hunting accident in the New Forest.  He is buried at Winchester Cathedral.

Death of a King from a lithograph

William II

William was born about 1056 and 1060, died 2 August 1100. King of England, killed in the New Forest.  He reigned from 1087 to 1100.
Upon his death the crown went to Henry

William went hunting on 2 August 1100 in the New Forest, probably near Brockenhurst, and was killed by an arrow through the lung, though the circumstances remain unclear. The earliest statement of the event was in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which noted that the king was "shot by an arrow by one of his own men".

 Later chroniclers added the name of the killer, a nobleman named Walter Tirel, although the description of events was later embroidered with other details that may or may not be true. The first mention of any location more exact than the New Forest comes from John Leland, who wrote in 1530 that William died at Thorougham, a placename which has since fallen into disuse but was probably located at what is now Park Farm on the Beaulieu estates.

The king's body was abandoned by the nobles at the place where he fell. A peasant later found it. His younger brother, Henry, hastened to Winchester to secure the royal treasury, then to London, where he was crowned within days, before either archbishop could arrive. William of Malmesbury, in his account of William's death, stated that the body was taken to Winchester Cathedral by a few countrymen.

cc553e4e-fb1e-4a02-8e67-1aca14216739-4 Henry 1 Beaucleric
Henry was born in late 1068, died 1 December 1135. King of England, married Edith of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. His second wife was Adeliza of Louvain.

Henry I was King of England, and is our great grandfather, a few times over!

Henry's succession plans were thrown into chaos by the sinking of the White Ship on 25 November 1120 when his heir died.

 Henry had left the port of Barfleur for England in the early evening, leaving William Adelin and many of the younger members of the court to follow on that night in a separate vessel, the White Ship. Both the crew and passengers were drunk and, just outside the harbour, the ship hit a submerged rock.

The ship sank, killing as many as 300 people, with only one survivor, a butcher from Rouen. Henry's court was initially too scared to report William's death to the King. When he was finally told, he collapsed with grief.

The disaster left Henry with no legitimate son, his various nephews now the closest male heirs.

 Henry announced he would take a new wife, Adeliza of Louvain, opening up the prospect of a new royal son, and the two were married at Windsor Castle in January 1121.

Henry appears to chosen her because she was attractive and came from a prestigious noble line. Adela seems to have been fond of Henry and joined him in his travels, probably to maximise the chances of her conceiving a child.

 The White Ship disaster initiated fresh conflict in Wales, where the drowning of Richard, Earl of Chester, encouraged a rebellion led by Maredudd ap Bleddyn.

 Henry intervened in North Wales that summer with an army and, although the King was hit by a Welsh arrow, the campaign reaffirmed royal power across the region.

But while these might be his legitimate marriages he had a host of mistresses, and ultimately a huge number of children - at least 27

Edith and Henry were married on 11th November 1100 at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, she was crowned queen as Matilda, a Norman name. Their first child, a daughter, Euphemia, was born in July/August 1101 but died young. She was followed by Matilda, born in February 1102, her only son, William, known as 'the Atheling' was born in November 1103, a fourth child, Elizabeth arrived in August/September 1104-, but like her eldest sister, she died young. The marriage led to improved relations with Scotland. Matilda often acted as regent for her husband during his frequent absences. During the English investiture controversy (1103-07), she acted as intercessor between her husband and archbishop Anselm. Matilda commissioned a monk, possibly Thurgot, to write a biography of her mother, Saint Margaret.

Following the example of her saintly mother, Matilda devoted herself to good causes, and often washed the feet of the poor. Though Henry was seldom faithful to his Queen, their's was generally considered a good and happy marriage by Royal standards and helped to unite the rival claims of the Norman and Saxon Houses.

Henry I proved to be a serial adulterer and begat more illegitimate children than any other English King , in all he fathered twenty bastards, by a continuous string of mistresses. One of these was the beautiful Nesta, Princess of Wales, who became the mother of the King's son, Henry. By far the most famous of Henry's illegitimate offspring was Robert of Caen, later created Earl of Gloucester, he was born in 1090, by a Norman mother, before Henry came to the English throne and was later to play a leading part on the stage of English history. 

Sybil, his daughter by Sybil Corbet, who was born in the 1090's was married to Alexander 'the Fierce', King of Scots, the brother of Henry's Queen, Edith.

Matilda died on 1st May 1118 at Westminster Palace and was buried at Westminster Abbey. Two years later, her son, William, was drowned in the English Channel in the wreck of the White Ship on 25th November 1120. Henry I remarried in the hope of producing a male heir. Her daughter Matilda, became the mother of Henry II, first of the Plantagenet Kings of England.

Legitimate children  by his first wife

  1. Matilda, born in 1102, died 1167.  
  2. William Adelin, born in 1103, died 1120.
  3. Possibly Richard, who, if he existed, died young.
Henry and his second wife, Adeliza, had no children.


Henry had a number of illegitimate children by various mistresses.


  1. Robert of Gloucester, born in the 1090 son of Sybilla Corbet.  Another great grandfather
  2. Richard, born to Ansfride, brought up by Robert Bloet, the Bishop of Lincoln.
  3. Reginald de Dunstanville, Earl of Cornwall, born in the 1110s or early 1120s, possibly to Sibyl Corbet.
  4. Robert the King's son, born to Ede, daughter of Forne.
  5. Gilbert, possibly born to an unnamed sister or daughter of Walter of Gand.
  6. William de Tracy, possibly born in the 1090s.
  7. Henry the King's son, possibly born to Nest ferch Rhys.     Another great grandfather
  8. Fulk the King's son, possibly born to Ansfride.
  9. William, the brother of Sybilla de Normandy, probably the brother of Reginald de Dunstanville.


  1. Matilda FitzRoy, Countess of Perche.
  2. Matilda FitzRoy, Duchess of Brittany.
  3. Juliana, wife of Eustace of Breteuil, possibly born to Ansfrida.
  4. Mabel, wife of William Gouet.
  5. Constance, Vicountess of Beaumont-sur-Sarthe.
  6. Aline, wife of Matthew de Montmorency.
  7. Isabel, daughter of Isabel de Beaumont, Countess of Pembroke.
  8. Sybilla de Normandy, Queen of Scotland, probably born before 1100.
  9. Matilda Fitzroy, Abbess of Montvilliers.
  10. Gundrada de Dunstanville.
  11. Possibly Rohese, wife of Henry de la Pomerai
  12. Emma, wife of Guy of Laval.
  13. Adeliza, the King's daughter.
  14. The wife of Fergus of Galloway.
  15. Possibly Sibyl of Falaise.

Our lineage follows several of his children.

Mathilda Adelaide, born 1102 married Geoffrey V of Anjou and they had a son Henry II who became King

Robert 1st Earl of Gloucester who was the son of Sybilla Corbet, herself the daughter of Isabel de Vermandois, a direct descendant of the Kings of France.

Prince Henry Fitz Roy who was the son of Nest Verch Rhys the daughter of a King of Wales

The stories of our three grandparents from this line follow 


Continuing William and Mathilde's family

Adeliza (or Adelida, Adelaide} died before 1113, reportedly betrothed to Harold II of England, probably a nun of St Léger at Préaux.

Cecilia (or Cecily) was born before 1050 died 1126, Abbess of Holy Trinity, Caen.   

Cecilia died on 30 July 1126 in Caen, France. She was buried within the abbey walls. Her tomb is walled up without any opening being left through which it can be discovered. Her father was also buried in Caen.

Matilda was born around 1061, died perhaps about 1086. Mentioned in Domesday Book as a daughter of William.

Adela Countess of Blois, Princess of England, born 1067 died 1137, married Stephen, Count of Blois.

They had 11 children, and one Stephen would become King of England from 1135 until 1154

countess of bliosStephen was born in the County of Blois in middle France; his father, Count Stephen-Henry, died while Stephen was still young, and he was brought up by his mother, Adela. Placed into the court of his uncle, Henry I, Stephen rose in prominence and was granted extensive lands. Stephen married Matilda of Boulogne, inheriting additional estates in Kent and Boulogne that made the couple one of the wealthiest in England. Stephen narrowly escaped drowning with Henry I's son, William Adelin, in the sinking of the White Ship in 1120; William's death left the succession of the English throne open to challenge. When Henry I died in 1135, Stephen quickly crossed the English Channel and with the help of his brother Henry of Blois, a powerful ecclesiastic, took the throne, arguing that the preservation of order across the kingdom took priority over his earlier oaths to support the claim of Henry I's daughter, the Empress Matilda.
(possibly) Agatha, the betrothed of Alfonso VI of León and Castile

There is no evidence of any illegitimate children born to William.

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