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Robert `Curthose', Duke of Normandy (c.1050-1134)

Robert `Curthose', Duke of Normandy (c.1050-1134)

William M. Aird
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 348
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  • Book Info
    Robert `Curthose', Duke of Normandy (c.1050-1134)
    Book Description:

    This detailed biography offers a reappraisal of the career of Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror's eldest son and duke of Normandy from 1087 to 1106, locating the duke's career in the social, cultural and political context of the period. Robert's relationship with members of his family shaped the political landscape of England and Normandy for much of the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries: indeed, even after his incarceration, from 1106 to 1134, his son William Clito (d. 1128) continued the fight against Robert's brother, Henry I. Twice driven into exile, Robert defeated his father in battle and eventually succeeded to the duchy of Normandy, although the throne of England was seized by William Rufus and then Henry I. For twenty years Robert successfully defended Normandy, developing policies to counter the vastly superior English resources at the disposal of his brothers. Robert's leading role in the success of the First Crusade (1095-99) also made him one of the most famous warriors of his age. He returned to Western Europe in 1100, a chivalric hero with a reputation that stretched from Scotland to Palestine. This book returns Robert Curthose to centre stage in the bloody drama of this period, a drama so often dominated by accounts from a royal and English perspective. Dr WILLIAM M. AIRD is Lecturer in History, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-671-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xi)
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xv-xix)
  6. Genealogy: The Family Connections of Robert Curthose
    (pp. xx-xx)
    (pp. 1-22)

    At dawn on Friday 12 August 1099 an army from Western Europe drew up its battle lines in a valley near the town of Ascalon south of Jerusalem.¹ The battle of Ascalon required another supreme effort of will and physical endurance from the Franks who had left their homes three years before.² In a hard fought engagement, the Egyptians were routed and forced to abandon their plans to recapture Jerusalem.

    One incident at Ascalon stands out as the epitome of the courage that the Franks had shown throughout the expedition to the Holy Land. Robert, duke of Normandy, the eldest...

    (pp. 23-40)

    In the early 1050s, two of the most powerful rulers of mid-eleventh-century north-western Europe met in the small county of Ponthieu, which lay between their two principalities, to conclude the marriage alliance which probably quite soon afterwards produced Robert ‘Curthose’, the subject of this biography. Count Baldwin V of Flanders brought his daughter Matilda, a ‘very beautiful and noble girl of royal stock’, to meet William, ruler of Normandy, who was accompanied by his mother, Herleva, and step-father, Herluin de Conteville.² Matilda was probably in her mid to late teens, and her husband, William, was slightly older, perhaps twenty-one or...

    (pp. 41-59)

    As Robert grew into boyhood, his father’s power within Normandy was consolidated. In 1054 and 1057 William successfully defended his duchy against attacks by Henry I of France and Count Geoffrey of Anjou. Their enmity was largely a response to William’s growing influence but, in 1060, both died, leaving problems for their successors and opportunities for their neighbours. By the end of his first decade, Robert was already a key figure in his father’s plans to extend Norman influence. This chapter deals with Robert’s betrothal to Margaret, heiress to the county of Maine. It also considers Robert’s military training and...

    (pp. 60-98)

    In March 1067, William, Duke of Normandy and, since Christmas Day 1066, King of England, returned to Normandy and was greeted by a triumphaladventus:

    It was a time of winter, and of the austere Lenten penances.¹ Nevertheless everywhere celebrations were held as if it were a time of high festival. The sun seemed to shine with the clear brightness of summer, far more strongly than usual at this season. The inhabitants of humble or remote places flocked to the towns or anywhere else where there was a chance of seeing the king. When he entered his metropolitan city of...

    (pp. 99-152)

    Robert’s father died at the priory of Saint-Gervase in Rouen soon after dawn on Thursday 9 September 1087.¹ In late July of that year, William had launched an attack on Mantes but during the fighting had been severely injured. The dying man had been taken back to the priory of Saint-Gervase in Rouen. It is not known whether Robert knew of his father’s injuries, or whether he would have returned to Rouen if he had.² Now in his mid-thirties, Robert was living at Abbeville in Ponthieu, ‘accompanied by young men like himself, sons of Norman magnates, who seemingly followed him...

    (pp. 153-190)

    In the autumn of 1095, Pope Urban II toured France, promoting church reform. At the close of a council held at clermont in the Auvergne, the pope delivered a sermon which inspired thousands of Western Christians to undertake an arduous pilgrimage. Although Urban’s exact words are a matter of debate, it was understood as a call to liberate the churches of the East and, in particular, the holy city of Jerusalem.¹

    After Clermont, Urban continued his tour of France and although he did not enter Normandy, he was at Le Mans in February and at Tours in March 1096. The...

    (pp. 191-244)

    Duke Robert wintered in Apulia as a guest of Count Geoffrey of Conversano, Count Roger I of Sicily and Roger Borsa, duke of Apulia.¹ Robert’s hosts celebrated his achievements on the Crusade and were doubtless regaled with the duke’s exploits, which had done so much to enhance his reputation.

    Robert’s health may have suffered on the Crusade and he may have taken advantage of the medical expertise of the Southern Italians, as well as the milder winter climate, to recuperate. In the nineteenth century it was suggested that Robert was wounded at the fall of Jerusalem and sought treatment at...

    (pp. 245-281)

    After the defeat at Tinchebray, Robert was a prisoner of his brother, but he was still duke of Normandy. Henry I summoned all the magnates of Normandy to a council at Lisieux in the middle of October 1106. At Lisieux Henry firmly established peace throughout Normandy ‘by his royal authority’ and all robbery and plundering was to cease. Henry also announced that all churches were to hold their possessions as they had held them in 1087 and that all lawful heirs should hold their inheritances. The king took into his own hands all his father’s demesnes and ‘by judgement of...

    (pp. 282-286)

    At some time in the thirteenth century a painted wooden effigy of a recumbent knight wearing a coronet was made and presented to the abbey church at Gloucester. The effigy depicts the knight with his legs crossed and he appears to be in the act of drawing his sword.¹ Since the fourteenth century at least, the effigy has been identified as representing Robert Curthose, duke of Normandy. From the time of Abbot Froucester (38–42), it was believed that Duke Robert was buried in the presbytery before the principal altar. Whether Robert’s bones do indeed lie in front of Gloucester...

    (pp. 287-312)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 313-328)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 329-329)