Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester

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Robert of Caen
Earl of Gloucester
Reign1122–1147
SpouseMabel FitzHamon
Issue
William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester
Roger of Worcester
Hamon of Gloucester
Mabel FitzRobert m. Aubrey de Vere
Maud of Gloucester, Countess of Chester
Philip of Gloucester
Richard FitzRobert Sire de Creully
Illigitimate children
Richard FitzRobert,Bishop of Bayeux d. 3 April 1142
Mabel FitzRobert m. Gruffudd ap Ifor Bach
Robert FitzRobert d. 1170 m. Hawise de Reviers.
FatherHenry I of England
Bornbefore 1100
Died31 October 1147
 
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Robert of Caen
Earl of Gloucester
Reign1122–1147
SpouseMabel FitzHamon
Issue
William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester
Roger of Worcester
Hamon of Gloucester
Mabel FitzRobert m. Aubrey de Vere
Maud of Gloucester, Countess of Chester
Philip of Gloucester
Richard FitzRobert Sire de Creully
Illigitimate children
Richard FitzRobert,Bishop of Bayeux d. 3 April 1142
Mabel FitzRobert m. Gruffudd ap Ifor Bach
Robert FitzRobert d. 1170 m. Hawise de Reviers.
FatherHenry I of England
Bornbefore 1100
Died31 October 1147

Robert Fitzroy, 1st Earl of Gloucester (before 1100 – 31 October 1147[1]) was an illegitimate son of King Henry I of England. He was called "Rufus" and occasionally "de Caen", he is also known as Robert "the Consul".[2] He was the half-brother of the Empress Matilda, and her chief military supporter during the civil war known as The Anarchy, in which she vied with Stephen of Blois for the throne of England.

Contents

Early life

Robert was probably the eldest of Henry's many illegitimate children.[1] He was born before his father's accession to the English throne.[3] His mother may have been the Welsh princess Nest ferch Rhys, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr.[4] However, his mother has also been identified as a member of "the Gay or Gayt family of north Oxfordshire",[5] possibly a daughter of Rainald Gay (fl. 1086) of Hampton Gay and Northbrook Gay in Oxfordshire. Rainald had known issue Robert Gaay of Hampton (died c. 1138) and Stephen Gay of Northbrook (died after 1154). A number of Oxfordshire women feature as the mothers of Robert's siblings.[5][6]

He may have been a native of Caen[1][7] or he may have been only Constable and Governor of that city, jure uxoris.[4]

His father had contracted him in marriage to Mabel FitzHamon, daughter and heir of Robert Fitzhamon, but the marriage was not solemnized until June 1119 at Lisieux.[1][8] His wife brought him the substantial honours of Gloucester in England and Glamorgan in Wales, and the honours of Sainte-Scholasse-sur-Sarthe and Évrecy in Normandy, as well as Creully. After the White Ship disaster late in 1120, and probably because of this marriage,[9] in 1121 or 1122 his father created him Earl of Gloucester.[10]

Family

Robert of Caen and his wife Mabel FitzRobert had seven children[11]:

Robert of Caen had four illegitimate children:

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.

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c d David Crouch, ‘Robert, first earl of Gloucester (b. before 1100, d. 1147)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 1 Oct 2010
  2. ^ The Complete Peerage claims only that he is "described" as consul, as are most Earls of his time.
  3. ^ William of Malmesbury
  4. ^ a b "Complete Peerage" Vol IV(1892), p38, "Gloucester", "Robert filius Regis" quoting Round "Consul is often used for Earl in the time of the first age of the Norman Kings"
  5. ^ a b David Crouch, Historical Research, 1999
  6. ^ C. Given-Wilson & A. Curteis. The Royal Bastards of Medieval England (London, 1984) (isbn=0-415-02826-4), page 74
  7. ^ Cawley, Charles, "Henry I", Medlands, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLAND,%20Kings%201066-1603.htm#HenryIdied1135A, retrieved August 2012,[better source needed]
  8. ^ "Complete Peerage", "Gloucester"
  9. ^ "In the aftermath of the White Ship disaster of 1120, when his younger and legitimate half-brother, William, died, Robert shared in the largesse that the king distributed to reassert his political position. Robert was given the marriage of Mabel, the heir of Robert fitz Haimon, whose lands in the west country and Glamorgan had been in royal wardship since 1107. The marriage also brought Robert the Norman honours of Evrecy and St Scholasse-sur-Sarthe. Robert was raised to the rank of earl of Gloucester soon after, probably by the end of 1121." David Crouch, ‘Robert, first earl of Gloucester (b. before 1100, d. 1147)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 1 Oct 2010
  10. ^ CP citing Round for between May 1121 and the end of 1122, but see William of Malmesbury, ed Giles who cites 1119
  11. ^ Cawley, Charles. Cawley, Charles, Medieval Lands: England, Earls Created 1067–1122, Chapter 11, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLISH%20NOBILITY%20MEDIEVAL.htm#RobertCaenFitzroydied1147B, retrieved August 2012,[better source needed]
  12. ^ Descent of Franklin Pierce from Henry I Beauclerc

Sources

Preceded by
New Creation
Earl of Gloucester
1121/2–1147
Succeeded by
William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester