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Sunday, August 31, 2014

3.a Back to King Henry I's children this time Robert 1st Earl of Gloucester m Mabel FitzHamon

Among King Henry I's concubines was Lady Sybilla Corbet.   With her he had three children

Robert  1st Earl of Gloucester
Maud         Princess of England
Sybilla of Normanby


Robert de Caen,  also known as
Robert FitzEoy, Robert of Gloucester, 1st Earl of Gloucester. Chief military supporter of his half sister, Matilda.

Illegitimate son of King Henry I Beauclerc and Sybilla Corbet, born about 1090 at Caen, Normandy. Grandson of William the Conqueror and Mathilda of Flanders.

He married Mabel FitzHamon, daughter of Robert FitzHamon, Earl of Gloucester and Sybil de Montgomery. They married in 1122, their marriage contract written before 1119 and had the following children:

* William FitzRobert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester
* Roger FitzRobert, Bishop of Worcester
* Hamon FitzRobert, killed at the siege of Toulouse
* Philip FitzRobert, Lord of Cricklade
* Richard FitzRobert, Lord of Creully
* Matilda FitzRobert, wife of Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester
* Mabel FitzRobert, wife of Aubrey de Vere
* Richard FitzRobert, Sire of Creully

Robert had four illegitimate children:

* Richard FitzRobert, Bishop of Bayeux, his mother was Isabel de Dourves
* Robert FitzRobert, Castellan of Gloucester
* Mabel FitzRobert, wife of Gruffud, Lord Senghenydd, ancestors of President Franklin Pierce
* Son who had a son, Thomas

After the disaster of the White Ship, he was made Earl of Gloucester. Robert supported his sister against King Stephen, and when the King and Robert were captured and then exchanged for each other, destroying any chances of Matilda becoming Queen of England.

He died on 31 October 1147 at Bristol Castle, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England, from a fever.

Some sources says he was buried at Tewkesbury Abbey, another says St James Priory, which he founded.

Relationship with King Stephen


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.

The capture of King Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln on 2 February 1141 gave the Empress Matilda the upper hand in her battle for the throne, but by alienating the citizens of London she failed to be crowned Queen. Her forces were defeated at the Rout of Winchester on 14 September 1141, and Robert of Gloucester was captured nearby at Stockbridge.

The two prisoners, King Stephen and Robert of Gloucester, were then exchanged, but by freeing Stephen, the Empress Matilda had given up her best chance of becoming queen. She later returned to France, where she died in 1167, though her son succeeded Stephen as King Henry II in 1154.

Robert of Gloucester died in 1147 at Bristol Castle, where he had previously imprisoned King Stephen, and 
was buried at St James' Priory, Bristol, which he had founded.

Robert of Gloucester is a figure in many of the novels by Ellis Peters in the Cadfael Chronicles. The series of twenty novels is set in the years of the competition between King Stephen and Empress Maud, also called the Anarchy. He is seen in the novels as a strong moderating force to his half-sister, and crucial to building support for her in England to begin her quest for the crown in earnest (see Saint Peter's Fair). 

His efforts to gain the crown for his sister by capturing King Stephen and her own actions in London are part of the plot in The Pilgrim of Hate. His capture by Stephen's wife Queen Mathilda is in the background of the plot of An Excellent Mystery. The exchange of the imprisoned Robert for the imprisoned Stephen is in the background of the plot of The Raven in the Foregate

Robert's travels to persuade his brother-in-law to aid his wife Empress Maud militarily in England is in the background of the novel The Rose Rent. His return to England when Empress Maud is trapped in Oxford Castle figures in The Hermit of Eyton Forest

Robert's return to England with his young nephew Henry, years later the king succeeding Stephen, is in the background of the plot of The Confession of Brother Haluin, as the battles begin anew with Robert's military guidance. Robert's success in the Battle of Wilton (1143) leads to the death of a fictional character, part of the plot of The Potter's Field

The In the last novel, he is a father who can disagree with then forgive his son Philip (see the last novel, Brother Cadfael's Penance). In that last novel, Brother Cadfael, the Welsh monk who fought under English lords and ends his life in a Benedictine monastery in England, speculates on the possibly different path for England if the first son of old King Henry, the illegitimate Robert of Gloucester, had been recognised and accepted. 

In Wales of that era, a son was not illegitimate if recognized by his father, and to many in the novels, Robert of Gloucester seemed the best of the contenders to succeed his father. Instead, he used his strength to fight for his half-sister.

Robert's mother


Lady Sibyl Corbert was the daughter and coheir of Robert Corbet, lady of Alcester, Warwickshire, Pontesbury and Woodcote, Shropshire.

 She was born c. 1077 Alcester, Warwickshire County, England and died c. 1160 in Wales

She was one of the many mistresses of Henry I of England

Their children were:
Robert de Caen 1090  1147  m  Lady Sybl Fitzhamon
Sybilla of Normandy (c.1092-July 12, 1122) she married King Alexander I of Scotland (c.1078-April 23, 1124)
Reginald de Dunstanville
 (c.1105-July 01, 1175), he married Beatrice FitzWilliam (1114-1162)


Sybilla married Herbert FitzHerbert in 1108, Warwickshire County, England.

They were the parents of:
Thomas FitzHerbert (c.1110-1190)
Herbert FitzHerbert (c. 1115-1204) who married Lucy of Hereford

Herbert FitzHerbert was said to have been Lord Chamberlain to his half-uncle King Stephen, married Sybil Corbet, Lady of Alcaston (Salop) & Pontesbury (Salop)..., former concubine of King Henry I, and daughter & coheir of Burgess Robert Corbet.... There was a Grant by Herbert son of Herbert (dated some time around 1114-21), of the church at Weaverthorpe to the canons of Nostell Priory Church of St. Oswald, for the support of their guest house "which church William, treasurer of York, the grantee's brother, first gave to the canons in alms, with the consent of Archbishop Thurstan".

This grant was later confirmed (1153) by William, Archbishop of York (who was of course the grantee's brother). Herbert FitzHerbert is said to have been Lord of Weaverthorpe (Yorks), so this may have been his principal holding at one time. Herbert died c.1155.'          


Mabel's parents:

Robert Fitzhamon and Lady Sybil de Montgomery

Robert Fitzhamon (died March 1107), or Robert FitzHamon, Seigneur de Creully in the Calvados region and Torigny in the Manche region of Normandy, was feudal baron of Gloucester and the Norman conqueror of Glamorgan, southern Wales. He became Lord of Glamorgan in 1075.

As a kinsman of the Conqueror and one of the few Anglo-Norman barons to remain loyal to the two successive kings William Rufus and Henry I of England, he was a prominent figure in England and Normandy.

Not much is known about his earlier life, or his precise relationship to William I of England.


Robert FitzHamon (born c. 1045-1055, d. March 1107 Falaise, Normandy) was, as the prefix Fitz (fils de, "son of") suggests, the son of Hamo Dapifer the Sheriff of Kent and grandson of Hamon Dentatus ('The Betoothed or Toothy', i.e., probably buck-toothed). His grandfather held the lordships of Torigny, Creully, Mézy, and Evrecy in Normandy, but following his death at the Battle of Val-ès-Dunes in 1047, the family might have lost these lordships.

Few details of Robert's career prior to 1087 are available. Robert probably did not fight at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and does not appear in the Domesday Book of 1086, although some of his relatives are listed therein.

 He first comes to prominence in surviving records as a supporter of King William Rufus (1087-1100) during the Rebellion of 1088. After the revolt was defeated he was granted as a reward by King William Rufus the feudal barony of Gloucester consisting of over two hundred manors in Gloucestershire and other counties. 

Some of these had belonged to the late Queen Matilda, consort of William the Conqueror and mother of William Rufus, and had been seized by her from the great Saxon thane Brictric son of Algar, apparently as a punishment for his having refused her romantic advances in his youth.

They had been destined as the inheritance of Rufus's younger brother Henry (the future King Henry I); nevertheless Fitzhamon remained on good terms with Henry.

The Twelve Knights of Glamorgan

One explanation is the legend of the Twelve Knights of Glamorgan, which dates from the 16th century, in which the Welsh Prince Iestyn ap Gwrgan (Jestin), prince or Lord of Glamorgan, supposedly called in the assistance of Robert Fitzhamon.

Fitzhamon defeated the prince of South Wales Rhys ap Tewdwr in battle in 1090. With his Norman knights as reward he then took possession of Glamorgan, and "the French came into Dyfed and Ceredigion, which they have still retained, and fortified the castles, and seized upon all the land of the Britons." Iestyn did not profit long by his involvement with the Normans.

He was soon defeated and his lands taken in 1091.

Cardiff Castle
Whether there is any truth in the legend or not Robert Fitzhamon seems to have seized control of the lowlands of Glamorgan and Gwynllwg sometime from around 1089 to 1094. His key strongholds were Cardiff Castle, which already may have been built, on the site of an old Roman fort, new castles at Newport, and at Kenfig. His descendants would inherit these castles and lands.

Rhys's daughter Nest became the mistress of King Henry I of England and allegedly was mother of Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester who married Mabel, Fitzhamon's daughter and heiress and thus had legitimacy both among the Welsh and the Norman barons.

He also refounded Tewkesbury Abbey in 1092. The abbey's dimensions are almost the same as Westminster Abbey. The first abbot was Giraldus, Abbot of Cranborne (d. 1110) who died before the abbey was consecrated in October 1121. The abbey was apparently built under the influence of his wife Sybil de Montgomery. said to be a beautiful and religious woman like her sisters.

Fitzhamon and His Kings

Legend has it that Robert had ominous dreams in the days before Rufus' fatal hunting expedition, which postponed but did not prevent the outing. He was one of the first to gather in tears around Rufus' corpse, and he used his cloak to cover the late king's body on its journey to be buried in Winchester. How much of these stories are the invention of later days is unknown.

In any case Fitzhamon proved as loyal to Henry I as he had been to his predecessor, remaining on Henry's side in the several open conflicts with Henry's brother Robert Curthose. He was one of the three barons who negotiated the 1101 truce between Henry I and Robert Curthose.

In 1105 he went to Normandy and was captured while fighting near his ancestral estates near Bayeux. This was one of the reasons Henry crossed the channel with a substantial force later that year. Fitzhamon was freed, and joined Henry's campaign, which proceeded to besiege Falaise. There Fitzhamon was severely injured in the head; although he lived two more years he was never the same mentally. He was buried in the Chapter House at Tewkesbury Abbey, which he had founded and considerably enriched during his lifetime.
Church of St James the Great, Kilkhampton, Cornwall


Fitzhamon married Sybil de Montgomery around 1087 to 1090, apparently the youngest daughter of Roger of Montgomery, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury by his first wife Mabel Talvas, daughter of William I Talvas

 She survived her husband and is said to have entered a convent with two of her daughters. 


By his wife he is said to have had four daughters including:

  • Mabel FitzHamon, eldest daughter, who inherited his great estates and in about 1107 married Robert de Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester, a natural son of King Henry I (1100-1135). Fitzhamon's huge land-holdings in several counties formed the feudal barony of Gloucester which was inherited by his son-in-law Robert de Caen, who in 1122 was created 1st Earl of Gloucester. Fitzhamon is sometimes called Earl of Gloucester, but was never so created formally. Robert Fitzhamon's great-granddaughter Isabel of Gloucester married King John (1199-1216).
  • Isabella (or Hawisa) FitzHamon, said to have married a count from Brittany, but no further details exist.

Mabel de Belleme (Talvas)


Mabel was the daughter of William I Talvas and his first wife Hildeburg. She was the heiress of her father’s estates, her half-brother Oliver apparently being excluded.

She also inherited the remainder of the Belleme honor in 1070 at the death of her uncle Yves, Bishop of Séez and Lord of Bellême. When their father was exiled by her brother Arnulf in 1048 she accompanied him until both were taken in by the Montgomery family

Between 1050-1054 she married Roger II de Montgomery, later 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

Roger II de Montgomery was already a favorite of Duke William and by being given the marriage to Mabel it increased his fortunes even further.

Her husband Roger had not participated in the Norman conquest of England but had remained behind in Normandy as co-regent along with Queen Matilda. He had also contributed 60 ships to Duke William's invasion force.He joined the king in England in 1067 and was rewarded with the earldom of Shropshire and a number of estates to the point that he was one of the largest landholders in the Domesday Book.


She and her husband Roger transferred the church of Saint-Martin of Séez to Evroul and petitioned her uncle, Yves, Bishop of Séez to build a monastery there on lands from her estates. The consecration was in 1061 at which time Mabel made additional gifts.

Roger de Montgomery


Roger de Montgomerie (died 1094), also known as Roger the Great de Montgomery, was the first Earl of Shrewsbury. His father was Roger de Montgomery, seigneur of Montgomery, and was a relative, probably a grandnephew, of the Duchess Gunnor, wife of Duke Richard I of Normandy. The elder Roger had large holdings in central Normandy, chiefly in the valley of the Dives, which the younger Roger inherited.


Roger was one of William the Conqueror's principal counsellors. He may not have fought in the initial invasion of England in 1066, instead staying behind to help govern Normandy. According to Wace’s Roman de Rou, however, he commanded the Norman right flank at Hastings, returning to Normandy with King William in 1067.

Shrewsbury Abbey
Shrewsbury Cathedral
 Afterwards he was entrusted with land in two places critical for the defense of England, receiving the rape of Arundel at the end of 1067 (or in early 1068), and in November 1071 he was created Earl of Shrewsbury; a few historians believe that while he received the Shropshire territories in 1071 he was not created Earl until a few years later.

Roger was thus one of the half dozen greatest magnates in England during William the Conqueror's reign. William gave Earl Roger nearly all of what is now the county of West Sussex, which at the time of the Domesday Survey was the Rape of Arundel. The Rape of Arundel was eventually split into two rapes, one continuing with the name Rape of Arundel and the other became the Rape of Chichester.

 Besides the 83 manors in Sussex, his possessions also included seven-eighths of Shropshire which was associated with the earldom of Shrewsbury, he had estates in Surrey (4 manors), Hampshire (9 manors), Wiltshire (3 manors), Middlesex (8 manors), Gloucestershire (1 manor), Worcestershire (2 manors), Cambridgeshire (8 manors), Warwickshire (11 manors) and Staffordshire (30 manors).

The income from Roger’s estates would amount to about £2000 per year, in 1086 the landed wealth for England was around £72,000, so it would have represented almost 3% of the nation’s GDP.

After William I's death in 1087, Roger joined with other rebels to overthrow the newly crowned King William II in the Rebellion of 1088. However, William was able to convince Roger to abandon the rebellion and side with him. This worked out favourably for Roger, as the rebels were beaten and lost their land holdings in England.

Roger first married Mabel de Bellême, who was heiress to a large territory on both sides of the border between Normandy and Maine. The medieval chronicler Orderic Vitalis paints a picture of Mabel of Bellême being a scheming and cruel woman. She was murdered by Hugh Bunel and his brothers, who in December 1077? rode into her castle of Bures-sur-Dive and cut off her head as she lay in bed.Their motive for the murder was that Mabel had deprived them of their paternal inheritance!

Roger and Mabel had 10 children:
Roger then married Adelaide de Le Puiset, by whom he had one son, Everard, who entered the Church.

After his death, Roger's estates were divided.

 The eldest surviving son, Robert, received the bulk of the Norman estates (as well as his mother's estates); the next son, Hugh, received the bulk of the English estates and the Earldom of Shrewsbury. After Hugh's death the elder son Robert inherited the earldom.

What an interesting set of great grandparents!!!!

Robert's sister and their marriages

Maud         Princess of England married Conan III

Conan III, also known as Conan of Cornouaille and Conan the Fat (Breton: Konan III a Vreizh, and Konan Kerne; c. 1093–1096 – September 17, 1148) was duke of Brittany, from 1112 to his death. He was the son of Duke Alan IV and Ermengarde of Anjou Alan IV Fergant "Alan the Strong", Duke of Brittany, Count of Nantes and Rennes, from the Cornwall dynasty.

Son of Hoel de Cornuaille V, Count of Kernev and Duke of Brittany and Hawise de Bretagne, Duchess of Brittany. Grandson of Alain Cagniart Count de Cornuaille and Judith de Nantes, Alan III Duke of Brittany m Bertha of Chartres.

Alan married Constance, the favorite daughter of William the Conqueror in 1087, but they had no children by the time she died in 1090, supposedly poisoned.

Secondly, Alan married Ermengarde of Anjou, 
the only daughter of Count Fulk IV of Anjou and Hildegarde of Beaugency and previous wife of William of Aquitaine.

 They married in 1093 and had three children:
* Geoffrey, died young
* Conan, Duke of Brittany
* Hawise, wife of Count Baldwin VII of Flanders
                                        (some sources say Geoffrey de Porhoet Vicomte de Porhoet)            
                                   
  *(They the parents of Hawise Fergant who married Geoffrey la Zouche the parents 
of Alan La Zouche)

This great grandfather Alan IV  was born into the war between William the Conqueror and his mother's brother, Conan II. To soothe the path for his invasion of England, William I married his favorite but unpopular in France (due to her "severe attitude" yet beloved by the Britons) daughter Constance to the Alan in 1087. William of Malmesbury believed Alan VI had Constance poisoned but nothing could be proven.

 Richmond Castle is exceptionally impressive, towering at over 300 ft, it is also one of Britain’s oldest stone keeps.  There has been one on this site since 1088 . Richmond was granted to Alan the Red, Count of Brittany in 1071.  Alan was a relation of William the Conqueror, a second cousin.  His father was Count Odo of Brittany. He was part of Duke William of Normandy’s household and was at the Battle of Hastings commanding the Breton contingent.
The Tour de France riders visited the grounds of Richmond Castle 

As a consequence, Alan was an extremely rich and powerful man – a position that he improved upon when he helped to quell the rebellion in the North in 1069.   He founded St Mary’s Abbey in York.

  (The building is in the grounds of the Museum grounds at York a beautiful place)

His power base was the north and his building work demonstrates how important it was for him to make his mark upon the landscape.  He also built the first castle at Middleham which was in the hands of his brother.  By the time of his death he was the fourth largest landowner in England.

Conan III

Conan III allied himself with Stephen of England in Stephen's war against the dispossessed Empress Matilda

He married Maud, an illegitimate daughter of King Henry I of England before 1113.

Conan and Maude had three children:

  • Hoel – disinherited from the Ducal crown; Count of Nantes;
  • Bertha (b.c. 1114) – married Alan of Penthièvre; upon Alan's death in 1146, she returned to Brittany; and
  • Constance  who married Alan La Zouche. 
                                      Their son Geoffrey La Zouche married Hawise Fergant*  

On his death-bed in 1148, Conan III disinherited Hoel from succession to the Duchy, stating that he was illegitimate and no son of his. By this surprise move Bertha became his heiress and successor. However, Hoel was to retain the county of Nantes

Sybilla of Normandy Beauclerc


Sybilla of Normandy (1092 – 12 or 13 July 1122) was Queen consort of Scotland, wife to Alexander I.
Sybilla was the first child of Henry I of England and his mistress, Lady Sybilla Corbet of Alcester (b. 1077 in Alcester, Warwickshire, d. after 1157). Her maternal grandfather was Robert, Count of Mortain, Earl of Cornwall. She was born circa 1092 in Domfront, Normandy.

Around 1107, she married Alexander I, King of Scots. The marriage was childless. The marriage ceremony may have occurred as early as 1107, or as at late as 1114.[1]
William of Malmesbury's account attacks Sybilla, but the evidence argues that Alexander and Sybilla were a devoted but childless couple and Sybilla was of noteworthy piety.[2] Sybilla died in unrecorded circumstances at Eilean nam Ban (Kenmore on Loch Tay) in July 1122 and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey. Alexander did not remarry and Walter Bower wrote that he planned an Augustinian Priory at the Eilean nam Ban dedicated to Sybilla's memory, and he may have taken steps to have her venerated.[3]

She died on 12 or 13 July 1122, on the tiny island of Eilean nam Ban (Eilean nan Bannoamh: "Isle of the female saints") in Loch Tay, and Alexander founded a priory on the island in her memory.
She was buried in Dunfermline Abbey, Fife.Dunfermline Abbey Geograph.jpg

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