Helias of Saint-Saens

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Fortress of Arques-la-Bataille built in 1040

Helias of Saint Saens (  –1128),[1] Count of Arques was a Norman magnate of the eleventh and twelfth century, a loyal supporter of Robert Curthose and protector of his son William Clito[2] His support of the latter eventually brought him into conflict with Henry I of England ending in his willing exile from Normandy.[3]

Life[edit]

Helias, an important Baron in Upper Normandy[1] who held the fortress-stronghold of Saint-Saens.[4] In 1090 he supported William Rufus against his brother Duke Robert of Normandy and led the attack on Rouen.[5] Within a year Duke Robert gave him an illegitimate daughter in marriage,[6] whose maritagium included the county of Arques along with the lordship of Bures-en-Bray.[7] From this time on Helias was a loyal supporter of Duke Robert and later to his son William Clito.[7]

In 1094, William Rufus had crossed over from England and after failing at diplomacy he raised an army of mercenaries at Eu and attacked south into Normandy; his first victory was in capturing Helias'castle of Bures-en-Bray, at the time garrisoned by Duke Robert's men.[8] During the period from 1104 to 1106 Helias supported Robert Curthose, [9] but in 1106 after the Battle of Tinchebray (in which Robert Curthose was captured and imprisoned by Henry) Helias seems to have been curiously on good terms with Henry I.[10] Secure in his victory Henry encountered young William Clito, Duke Robert's son, at Falaise and Wishing to show he was compasionate, he placed the boy, then about three years old, under the protection of Count Helias.[11] By the time William Clito was seven or eight, he had become the focal point of resistance to Henry I's rule of Normandy and support was growing for William to be Henry's rival for Normandy and perhaps even England.[12]

In 1111 Henry I ordered Robert de Beauchamp, Viscount of Arques to capture his nephew, William Clito, at the castle of Saint-Saens. Helias was absent from the castle at the time but before the Viscount arrived the boy had been taken out of Normandy to join Helias.[13] The boy and his protector eventually found safe haven at the court of Baldwin VII, Count of Flanders.[12] Meanwhile Robert de Beauchamp seized the castle of Saint-Saens and held it for Henry I, who then gave it to his cousin (consobrinus) William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey.[13] At Battle of Bremule in 1119, William Clito was fighting on the side of Louis VI of France but for some reason Helias did not participate in the battle.[14] Fighting against Therry of Alsace William Clito was killed in battle in July 1128. His followers, including Helias kept his death a secret and kept fighting.[15] William had written letters to his uncle, Henry I, asking for his followers to be pardoned, which he did. Some returned to Henry I while others set out for the crusade.[16]

Helias died about 1128.[1]

Family[edit]

His father was Lambert of Saint-Saens,[3][17] who was a son of Richard de Lillebonne, viscount of Rouen.[17] He descended from one of the nieces of Gunnora, Duchess of Normandy, and hence was a distant cousin of the English royal family.[18][19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Stephanie L. Mooers, "Backers and Stabbers": Problems of Loyalty in Robert Curthose's Entourage, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1, (Autumn, 1981). p. 17
  2. ^ C. Warren Hollister, 'War and Diplomacy in the Anglo-Norman World The Reign of Henry I', Anglo-Norman Studies VI: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1983, ed. R. Allen Brown, The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, (1984). p. 79
  3. ^ a b Stephanie L. Mooers, "Backers and Stabbers": Problems of Loyalty in Robert Curthose's Entourage, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1, (Autumn, 1981). p. 4
  4. ^ Frank Barlow, William Rufus, (Methuen, London, 1983), p. 275
  5. ^ William Farrer, Charles Travis Clay, Early Yorkshire Charters, Volume VIII - The Honour of Warenne (The Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1949), p. 6 n. 1
  6. ^ Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band III Teilband 1, Herzogs und Grafenhäuser des Heiligen Römischen Reiches Andere Europäiche Fürstenhäuser (Marburg, Germany: Verlag von J. A. Stargardt, 1984), Tafel 81
  7. ^ a b C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2003), p. 69
  8. ^ Frank Barlow, William Rufus, (Methuen, London, 1983), p. 332
  9. ^ Stephanie L. Mooers, "Backers and Stabbers": Problems of Loyalty in Robert Curthose's Entourage, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1, (Autumn, 1981). p. 9
  10. ^ C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2003), p. 204 n. 1
  11. ^ C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2003), p. 206
  12. ^ a b C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2003), p. 227-8
  13. ^ a b Ordericus Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, Translated by Thomas Forester, Volume III (Henry G. Bohn, London, 1854), p. 431
  14. ^ C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2003), p. 264
  15. ^ Ordericus Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, Translated by Thomas Forester, Volume IV (Henry G. Bohn, London, 1856), p. 93
  16. ^ C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2003), p. 325
  17. ^ a b M. Guizot, Collection Des Memoires Relatifs A L'Histoire De France, (J. L. J. Briere, Paris, 1826, p. 304
  18. ^ K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, "Aspects of Torigny's Genealogy Revisited", Nottingham Medieval Studies 37:21-7
  19. ^ Elisabeth M. C. van Houts, "Robert of Torigni as Genealogist", Studies in Medieval History presented to R. Allen Brown, p.215-33

External references[edit]