Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester

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Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester, Count of Meulan (1040/50-5 June 1118) was a powerful Norman nobleman, one of the Companions of William the Conqueror during the Norman Conquest of England, and was revered as one of the wisest men of his age. Chroniclers spoke highly of his eloquence, his learning, and three kings of England valued his counsel.

Origins[edit]

He was born between 1040-1050, the eldest son of Roger de Beaumont (1015-1094) by his wife Adeline of Meulan (d.1081), a daughter of Waleran III, Count de Meulan, and was an older brother of Henry de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Warwick (c.1050-1119)

Fights at Battle of Hastings[edit]

Robert de Beaumont was one of only about 15 of the Proven Companions of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and was leader of the infantry on the right wing of the Norman army, as evidenced in the following near contemporary account by William of Poitiers:

"A certain Norman, Robert, son of Roger of Beaumont, being nephew and heir to Henry, Count of Meulan, through Henry's sister Adeline, found himself that day in battle for the first time. He was as yet but a young man and he performed feats of valour worthy of perpetual remembrance. At the head of a troop which he commanded on the right wing he attacked with the utmost bravery and success".[1]

His service earned him the grant of more than 91 English manors confiscated from the defeated English, as listed in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Inheritance[edit]

When his mother died in 1081, Robert inherited the title of Count of Meulan in Normandy, and the title, Viscount Ivry and Lord of Norton. He paid homage to King Philip I of France for these estates and sat as a French Peer in the Parliament held at Poissy.

Career[edit]

He and his brother Henry were members of the Royal hunting party in the New Forest in Hampshire when King William II Rufus (1087-1100) was shot dead accidentally by an arrow on 2 August 1100. He pledged allegiance to William II's brother, King Henry I (1100-1135), who created him Earl of Leicester in 1107.

Loss of Normandy lands[edit]

On the death of William Rufus, William, Count of Évreux and Ralph de Conches made an incursion into Robert's Norman estates, on the pretence they had suffered injury through some advice that Robert had given to the king; their raid was successful and they collected a vast booty.

Marriage & progeny[edit]

In 1096 he married Elizabeth (or Isabel) de Vermandois, daughter of Hugh Magnus (1053-1101) a younger son of the French king and Adelaide,_Countess_of_Vermandois (1050-1120). After his death Isabella remarried in 1118 to William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey. He had the following progeny:

Sons[edit]

  1. Waleran IV de Beaumont, Count of Meulan, 1st Earl of Worcester (b. 1104), eldest twin and heir.
  2. Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester & Earl of Hereford (b. 1104), twin
  3. Hugh de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Bedford (b. circa 1106)

Daughters[edit]

  1. Emma de Beaumont (born 1102)
  2. Adeline de Beaumont, married twice:
    1. Hugh IV of Montfort-sur-Risle;
    2. Richard de Granville of Bideford (d. 1147)
  3. Aubree de Beaumont, married Hugh II of Châteauneuf-Thimerais.
  4. Agnes de Beaumont, a nun
  5. Maud de Beaumont, married William Lovel. (b. c. 1102)
  6. Isabel de Beaumont, a mistress of King Henry I. Married twice:
    1. Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke;
    2. Hervé de Montmorency, Constable of Ireland

Death[edit]

According to Henry of Huntingdon, Robert died of shame after "a certain earl carried off the lady he had espoused, either by some intrigue or by force and stratagem." He was the last surviving Norman nobleman to have fought in the Battle of Hastings.[2]

Sources[edit]

  • Edward T. Beaumont, J.P. The Beaumonts in History. A.D. 850-1850. Oxford.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wm. of Poitiers, per Douglas (1959), p.227
  2. ^ Edward T. Beaumont, J.P. The Beaumonts in History. A.D. 850-1850. Oxford.
Preceded by
New Creation
Earl of Leicester
1107–1118
Succeeded by
Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester
Preceded by
Hugh of Meulan, Count of Meulan
Count of Meulan
1081–1118
Succeeded by
Waleran IV de Beaumont, Count of Meulan