Battle of Tinchebray

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Coordinates: 48°45′54.9″N 0°43′40.2″W / 48.765250°N 0.727833°W / 48.765250; -0.727833

Battle of Tinchebray
Part of Henry I of England's invasion of Normandy
Tinchebray.jpg
Late medieval picture from the 15th century of the Battle of Tinchebray
Date 28 September 1106
Location Tinchebray, Normandy
Result Victory for Henry I of England
Belligerents
Robert Curthose, the Duke of Normandy Henry I of England
Commanders and leaders
William, Count of Mortain
Robert of Bellême, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury
Ranulf of Bayeux
Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan
William de Warenne
Elias I of Maine
Alan IV, Duke of Brittany
William, Count of Évreux
Ralph of Tosny
Robert of Montfort
Robert of Grandmesnil
Strength
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Tinchebray (alternate spellings Tinchebrai or Tenchebrai) was fought 28 September 1106, in Tinchebray (today in Orne département of France), Normandy, between an invading force led by King Henry I of England, and his older brother Robert Curthose, the Duke of Normandy.[1] Henry's knights won a decisive victory, capturing Robert and imprisoning him in England (in Devizes Castle) and then Wales until Robert's death (in Cardiff Castle).[2]

Henry invaded Normandy in 1105, taking Bayeux and Caen. He broke off his campaign because of political problems arising from the Investiture Controversy.[3] With these settled, he returned to Normandy in the spring of 1106.[3] After quickly taking the fortified abbey of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives (near Falaise), Henry turned south and besieged Tinchebray Castle, on a hill above the town.[1] Tinchebray is on the border of the county of Mortain, in the southwest of Normandy, and was held by William, Count of Mortain, who was one of the few important Norman barons still loyal to Robert.[4] Duke Robert then brought up his forces to break the siege. After some unsuccessful negotiations, Duke Robert decided that a battle in the open was his best option.[4]

Henry's army was organized into three groups.[5] Ranulf of Bayeux, Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester, and William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey commanded the two primary forces.[5] A reserve, commanded by Elias I of Maine, remained out of sight on the flank.[5] Alan IV, Duke of Brittany, William, Count of Évreux, Ralph of Tosny, Robert of Montfort, and Robert of Grandmesnil also fought with Henry. William, Count of Mortain, and Robert of Bellême, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury fought with Robert Curthose.[6]

The battle only lasted an hour.[7] Henry dismounted and ordered most of his knights to dismount. This was unusual for Norman battle tactics, and meant the infantry played a decisive role.[8] William, Count of Évreux charged the front line, with men from Bayeux, Avranches and the Cotentin.[9] Henry's reserve proved decisive. Most of Robert's army was captured or killed. Those captured included Robert, Edgar Atheling (uncle of Henry's wife), and William, Count of Mortain.[10] Robert de Bellême, commanding the Duke's rear guard, led the retreat saving himself from capture or death.[11] Most of the prisoners were released, but Robert Curthose and William of Mortain spent the rest of their lives in captivity.[12] Robert Curthose had a legitimate son, William Clito, whose claims to the dukedom of Normandy led to several rebellions that continued through the rest of Henry's reign.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b C. Warren Hollister, Henry I, ed. Amanda Clark Frost (New Haven; London, Yale University Press, 2003), p. 199
  2. ^ David Crouch, The Normans; The History of a Dynasty (London. New York: Hambledon Continuum, 2007), pp. 178-79
  3. ^ a b David Crouch, The Normans; The History of a Dynasty (London. New York: Hambledon Continuum, 2007), pp. 176-77
  4. ^ a b Charles Wendell David, Robert Curthose (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920), p. 172
  5. ^ a b c H. W. C. Davis, 'A Contemporary Account of the Battle of Tinchebrai', The English Historical Review, Vol. 24, No. 96 (Oct., 1909), p. 731
  6. ^ Charles Wendell David, Robert Curthose (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920), p. 174
  7. ^ H. W. C. Davis, 'A Contemporary Account of the Battle of Tinchebrai', The English Historical Review, Vol. 24, No. 96 (Oct., 1909), p. 729
  8. ^ H. W. C. Davis, 'A Contemporary Account of the Battle of Tinchebrai', The English Historical Review, Vol. 24, No. 96 (Oct., 1909), pp. 731-32
  9. ^ Matthew Strickland, Anglo-Norman Warfare: Studies in Late Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman Military Organization and Warfare (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1993), p. 187
  10. ^ Charles Wendell David, Robert Curthose (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920), p. 175
  11. ^ Kathleen Thompson, 'Orderic Vitalis and Robert of Bellême', Journal of Medieval History, Vol. 20 (1994), p. 137
  12. ^ Charles Wendell David, Robert Curthose (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920), p. 179
  13. ^ François Neveux, The Normans; The Conquests the Changed the Face of Europe, trans. Howard Curtis (London: Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2008), p. 177

In fiction[edit]

The battle is depicted in Rosemary Sutcliff's 1960 historical fiction novel Knight's Fee.