House of Tosny

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The duchy of Normandy in the second half of the 11th century, with the principal castles of the house of Tosny (in black)

The House of Tosny[1] was an important noble family in 10th and 11th century Normandy, though it did not include any comtes or vicomtes. Its founder was Raoul I of Tosny (died after 1024).

Origins[edit]

Determining the origins of the Tosny family is difficult since the records of that time are rare and often written a century or more after the events. Among the most accepted historical accounts of this period and region is that of Orderic Vitallis who wrote in the early 12th Century. In his works, Orderic Vitallis relates the story of the origins of the Tosny family as being Scandinavian. In fact, he is quite clear as to who their relations are: the Dukes of Normandy. In clarifying the ancestry of the family it is stated that Roger de Tosny, then Lord of Tosny and Conches, was “de stirpe Malahulcii qui Rollonis ducis patruus...”[2] (trans. “of the line of Malahulc uncle of Rollo the Duke”). This claim is corroborated by the unknown monk who wrote the Acta Archiepisc Rotomag (The Acts of the Archbishops of Rouen written in the 1070s or 1080s) who states that the Archbishop Hugo (named Archbishop in 942 by then Duke of Normandy William) was the son of Hugo de Calvacamp who was “vero fuit prosapia clarus...”[3] of Malahulc (trans. “of the illustrious stock of”). Considering that no one at the time contested this claim, including the Dukes of Normandy (who were also at this time Kings of England and at odds with the Tosny family at various times throughout this era) it is hard to imagine there could be any other origin. It appears as though the earliest challenges to this story come in the 19th century; about a millennium after it first appears.

It has been stated that it was more prestigious, at this time, for nobles to be of Norman stock than of French and that this is just a story intended to inflate the family's history. However, none of the early references were commissioned by the Tosny family and in fact they do not paint a flattering picture of the founders of the family. Malahulc's son (or grandson) who is the father of the first Tosny (his son's being Hugo, Archbishop of Rouen and Ralph/Rauol, to whom Hugo granted the lands around Tosny making him the first Lord of Tosny) is called “Hugonis de Calvacamp.”[4] The appellation is somewhat troublesome because it does not appear to be a real word in any language of the region. The simplest explanation for the word is that it was simply a scribe's error and the word should have been of the masculine gender instead of the feminine: Calvocampo. Calvocampo is an actual word and means bare field;[5] not a terribly flattering appellation to say the least. There have been other suggestions as to the origin of this name, but they all require quite special linguistic gymnastics and never firmly settle on any concrete answer. I choose to accept the simplest answer; however, as none of the answers actually imply a national origin for “Hugonis” the name seems to simply imply that this man was not very wealthy.

So how could it be that this man, the descendant of the uncle of the Duke of Normandy could be so poor. The answer would seem to lie in Hugo's reported ancestor and the uncle of Hrolfr/Rollo/Robert the first Duke of Normandy, Malahulcii or Malahulc. Again, a unique name written by an author who wrote two centuries after his subject lived. Nowhere in the historical record do we find the name Malahulc in any of the cultures even remotely close to Normandy: not French nor Scandinavian. However, there is a very simple, possible explanation: Mael is the Breton word for chief or prince[6] and Hulc was a very common Norwegian name at the time, if you put the two of them together you would have Maelhulc. This would be similar to someone being called Duke Richard or King Louis. Being written down for the first time about two centuries after the subject lived it would not be surprising for the two words to be pressed together. This would mean that Hulc or Prince Hulc or Mael Hulc would have had to have some connection to Brittany.

Although there is not nearly as much history about the Vikings in Brittany as there is about their exploits in Normandy it is reasonably well documented. Many documents have been lost over the years; there will be no Breton equivalent to the French Treaty of St. Clair-sur-Epte from 911 between King Charles of France and Hrolfr, who Orderic Vitallis tells us was the nephew of Mael Hulc. However, it is known that such treaties were made in Brittany as well as at other places and with other Vikings in France. It is also well known that many Vikings assimilated into the societies they sought to rule and like Hrolfr would take local titles and occasionally local names as well: in Hrolfr's case he became Duke Robert. It would not be too long of a stretch to see a Viking chief named Hulc taking the title Mael and becoming Mael Hulc.

Why is this possible scenario important to the story of the Tosny/Toney family? In 942, Hugo de Calvocampo appears in Norman records as the father of the man, also named Hugo, which Duke William Longsword, heir of Duke Robert, wanted to name Archbishop of Rouen. The year 942 is important because in 939 the once exiled Alain the Great, heir to the throne of Brittany, defeated the massed armies of the Vikings at Trans and forced them from his kingdom . Alain began his campaign against the Vikings in 930 and it is recorded that the Vikings from Normandy assisted their brethren (in some cases probably literally brethren) in their efforts against the Bretons. With difficulties of their own, the Normans shortly had to concentrate on defending themselves and Alain prevailed. Alain did not kill all the Vikings that had been in Brittany. So where did they go? The expelled Vikings went to a lot of different places and many of them went to Normandy.

Therefore, in late 939 early 940 there is an influx of Vikings into Normandy at a time of great upheaval in that land as well. Duke William Longsword of Normandy is at odds with his neighbors in Flanders and France: both want to see him removed. In 942 William is assassinated through the efforts of the Duke of Flanders and the Duke and the King of France attempted to prevent his son Richard from ascending to the “throne” of Normandy. This is a period of great violence that sees Richard prevail and claim his “throne.” A result of this conflict was the beginning of the Tosny family. The records show that Hugo de Calvocampo's son Hugo was named Archbishop of Rouen and he quickly granted the lands around Tosny on the Seine to his brother Ralph .

I go into these details for the simple reason that the Archbishops of Rouen for generations after were all related to the Dukes of Normandy. If you would believe the 19th century French writers the Archbishops of Rouen were all Normans related to the Dukes of Normandy except for Hugo, son of Hugo de Calvocampo: this seems unlikely. It is also notable that many of the lands given by the Archbishops to others were later reclaimed by the Dukes of Normandy; but not the lands given to the Tosny's. These lands were kept through the generations despite the many conflicts between the Tosny's and the Dukes of Normandy; including the exile of the Lords of Tosny in the eleventh century.

A model aristocratic family[edit]

Formation of its power[edit]

As with several Norman families (such as the Beaumont), the origin of the house of Tosny's power derived from two sources :

More unusually, the house of Tosny probably acquired part of its fortune from foreign adventures - Raoul I and Roger I fought in the County of Apulia and in Iberia in the first quarter of the 11th century.

The dangers in its history[edit]

Raoul II of Tosny participated in the Norman Conquest in 1066, and was rewarded with domains in England, most notably the two baronies of Flamstead (Hertfordshire) and Wrethamthorpe (Norfolk). Three other family members were also rewarded : Raoul's brother Robert de Stafford, Robert de Beauvoir and his son Béranger, belonging to a collateral branch.[7] However, it seems that on the whole the Tosnys did not play an important role in England. In the Duchy of Normandy, they were particularly active during the troubles which followed William I's death (1087) and the subsequent conflict between Empress Mathilda and Stephen (1135–1144). Nevertheless, the 12th century gives the impression of a decline in the Tosny family fortunes in comparison to some of the neighbouring houses in eastern Normandy, such as the houses of Beaumont-Meulan, Montfort and Harcourt.

In 1204 Roger IV of Tosny lost his continental fiefdoms as a result of his support for John and thus the family had to withdraw to England to begin again. In 1309, its male line became extinct.

The management of its goods[edit]

Like all Norman barons, the Tosnys had fiefdoms scattered throughout Normandy and England. In 1077, a marriage between Raoul II and Isabelle de Montfort allowed the Tosnys to direct the châtellenie of Nogent-le-Roi, which they held onto until around 1200. The family possessions thus stretched as far as the border of the duchy of Normandy.[8] Nevertheless, the heart of their continental lands was centred around Conches-en-Ouche. Part of their fiefdoms was let out to a small clientele of vassals.

The family made grants to abbeys, notably to those they had founded themselves (the Saint-Pierre de Castillon monastery c.1035).[9] After 1066, as Lucien Musset remarks, the Tosnys showed themselves especially liberal to their English fiefdoms but avoided diminishing their Norman lands.

The texts give little information on the administration of these lands, though we know prévôts were installed in the main centres.

The honour of Conches and of Tosny[edit]

With its two axes, Conches-en-Ouche and Tosny (in the bend of the Seine immediately upstream of Andelys), the barony of Tosny was a two-headed one.

According to the 1172 state of its fiefdoms, the "honneur"[10] amounted to 50 or 51 knights' fiefs. The lands were mostly found in Haute-Normandie, more precisely between Risle and Iton. The vast forêt de Conches formed its centre. It also had scattered domains in the Eure valley (Fontaine-sous-Jouy, Cailly-sur-Eure, Planches, Acquigny), the Seine valley (Tosny, Villers-sur-le-Roule, Bernières-sur-Seine), in Vexin Normand (Vesly, Guerny, Villers-en-Vexin, Hacqueville, Heuqueville, Val de Pîtres), in Pays de Caux and Talou around Blainville-Crevon, Mortemer (Seine-Maritime, Mortemer-sur-Eaulne), Dieppe and Yerville.[11] Many of these lands were let out to vassals, notably les Clères.

Orderic Vitalis mentions four main castles in the barony in 1119 : Conches-en-Ouche, Tosny, Portes, Acquigny.

Genealogy[edit]

Hugues de Calvacamp
│
├─>Hugues, archbishop of Rouen (942-989)
│
│
└─>Raoul I of Tosny († 1024/1025)
   │
   ├─>...
   │  │
   │  ?
   │  └─>Robert of Tosny († 1088), lord de Belvoir
   │     │
   │     │
   │     ├─> Béranger de Tosny
   │     │
   │     │
   │     └─> Alice de Tosny († après 1129)
   │         X Roger Bigot
   │
   └─>Roger I of Tosny, Or Roger d'Espagne († c.1040)
      X Godehildis/Gotelina
      │
      ├─>Herbert († c.1040)
      │
      ├─>Helinant († c.1040)
      │
      ├─>Raoul II de Conches and de Tosny († 1102)
      │  X Isabelle de Montfort
      │  │      
      │  ├─>Raoul III of Tosny, called the young († 1126)
      │  │  X Adelise daughter of Waltheof II, Earl of Northumbria
      │  │  │  
      │  │  │  
      │  │  │
      │  │  ├─>Roger III († c.1157/1162)
      │  │  │  X Ida de Hainaut
      │  │  │  │
      │  │  │  │
      │  │  │  └─>Raoul IV († 1162)
      │  │  │     X Marguerite of Leicester
      │  │  │     │
      │  │  │     └─>Roger IV († 1208/1209) 
      │  │  │        X Constance de Beaumont        
      │  │  │
      │  │  └─>Hugues († c.1140)
      │  │
      │  │
      │  ├─>Roger II († 1090/1091)
      │  │
      │  └─>Godehilde († 1097)
      │     X (1) Robert I of Meulan (doubtful)
      │     X (2) Baldwin of Boulogne, king of Jerusalem
      │
      ├─>Robert de Stafford († 1088)
      │  │
      │  └─>Nicolas de Stafford († vers 1138)
      │     │
      │     └─>Robert II de Stafford († c.1177-1185)
      │        │
      │        └─>Robert III de Stafford († c.1193/1194)
      │  
      │
      ├─>Herbert († c.1040)
      │
      ├─>Helinant († c.1040)
      │
      ├─>Béranger l'Espagnol 
      │
      ├─>Adelise
      │  X Guillaume Fils Osbern  
      │
      └─>Berthe († c.1040)

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ In English : Toeny, Tonei, Toni, Tony.
  2. ^ Guill Gemet Gesta or Gesta normannorum ducum or The Events of the Duchy of Normandy by William of Jumièges (which Orderic Vitallis was ordered by his superiors to update) book ii 94. 
  3. ^ Acta Archiepisc Rotomag (Acts of the Archbishops of Rouen) 278. 
  4. ^ Ibid 278. 
  5. ^ Origin and Early Generations of the Tosny Family, Peter Stewart July 2009, p. 7. 
  6. ^ "http://www.behindthename.com/name/mae12l". 
  7. ^ Source - Domesday Book of 1086. This collateral branch became extinct in the first half of the 12th century. Katherine Keats-Rohan, "Belvoir : the heirs of Robert and Beranger de Tosny" Prosopon Newsletter, July, 1998.
  8. ^ A. Rhein, la Seigneurie de Montfort-en-Iveline depuis son origine jusqu'à son union avec le duché de Bretagne, Versailles, Aubert, 1910, p.32-33
  9. ^ later known as Saint-Pierre de Conches
  10. ^ = Technical name for large 12th century Norman baronies
  11. ^ Lucien Musset, "Aux origines d'une classe dirigeante : les Tosny, grands barons normands du Xe au XIIe siècle", Sonderdruck aus Francia Forschungen zur westeuropäischen Geschichte, Munich, 1978, p.68

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • (French) Lucien Musset, "Aux origines d'une classe dirigeante : les Tosny, grands barons normands du Xe au XIIe siècle", Sonderdruck aus Francia Forschungen zur westeuropäischen Geschichte, Munich, 1978, p. 45-80