Gerald de Windsor

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Part of Pembroke Castle's inner ward and Great Keep today.

Gerald de Windsor (1070 -1136), also known as Gerald FitzWalter, Constable of Pembroke Castle from 1102, was the nobleman in charge of the Norman forces in Wales in the late 11th century. Notably, he was the progenitor of the FitzGerald and de Barry dynasties of Ireland. These celebrated Hiberno-Norman or Cambro-Norman families, have been Peers of Ireland since the 14th Century at least.

Ancestry[edit]

Gerald was the son of Walter FitzOtho by his wife Beatrice. FitzOtho became Constable of Windsor Castle immediately upon its completion by William I of England.[1] Gerald's grandfather was Otho, owner of manors in five English counties. Gerald married Nest ferch Rhys, Princess of Deheubarth, who was the daughter of Prince Rhys ap Tewdwr and Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn, around 1095.

Issue[edit]

He had five children by Nest:

Career[edit]

Cilgerran Castle, the possible site of Nest's abduction

Following the death of the last king of the Britons - Rhys ap Tewdwr - a general Norman invasion of south Wales ensued around 1093. Arnulf of Montgomery participated and built a castle at Pembroke. Gerald de Windsor held the castle for him as Arnulf's castellan or steward. It was described by Giraldus Cambrensis as a "slender fortress of turf and stakes". Gerald successfully withstood a siege. Geraldus Cambrensis adds that, "Without delay that Gerald, to root him and his deeper in these territories, married Nesta, sister of Grifhn, prince of South Wales, from whom, in course of time, he raised an egregious progeny of both sexes, by whom the maritime parts of South Wales were retained for the English, and, later on, the walls of Ireland were stormed".[3] In 1094 king William II of England rewarded Arnulf with the formal lordship of Demetia, including Pembroke. The lordship was smaller than the later Pembrokeshire.

In 1100, Gerald negotiated the marriage of Arnulf with Lafracoth, daughter of the Irish king Muircheartach Ua Briain.

Gerald de Windsor held the office of Constable of Pembroke Castle from 1102 and was granted the manor of Moulsford in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) by Henry I of England. The castle at Carew came with Nest as part of her dowry. Gerald demolished the wooden structure and built a motte and bailey in its place.

In 1105, Gerald built the castle of Little Cenarch.

In 1109, Nest was "abducted" by a cousin, Owain ap Cadwgan. According to the Brut y Tywysogion, Owain and his men infiltrated the couple's home (assumed by historians to be either Cilgerran Castle or Little Cenarch) and set fire to the buildings. When Gerald was woken by the noise, Nest advised him to escape by climbing out through the privy hole. Owain then seized Nest and her children and carried her off. However, some sources suggest that she went with him willingly.

Gerald's influence was such that Owain and his father soon lost much of their territory of Powys as a result of Owain's actions. Owain himself was obliged to go into exile in Ireland. When he returned, in 1116, Gerald hunted him down and killed him.[4]

His son William had a daughter named Isabella Le Gros whom married William De Haya Wallenisis and had David Walensis and Philip Walensis. David and Philip where considered "The Welshman" and the starting of the Welsh/Walsh (Philip) Walensis/Wallace (David) going from Scotland to Ireland. Philip Walensis had a son named Howell of Welsh Walensis.

The "Annals of Cambria" record 1116 as the date of Owain's death. As Gerald de Windsor appears no later in the "Annals" or the "The Chronicles of the Princes" of Wales, the presumption is that he did not long survive his enemy, Owain ab Cadwgan, and that the "Earls of Kildare Addenda" is wrong in putting his death so late as 1135.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rev. E. Barry, Records of the Barrys of County Cork from the earlist to the present time., Cork, 1902, pg 3.
  2. ^ The Peerage: Gerald fitz Walter
  3. ^ Geraldus Cambrensis, Vol. vi., p. 91.
  4. ^ Welsh Biography Online
  5. ^ Rev. E. Barry, Records of the Barrys of County Cork from the earlist to the present time., Cork, 1902, pg 4.