Gilbert, Count of Brionne

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Gilbert de Brionne
Count of Eu1015-1040
SuccessorWilliam I
Bornc. 1000
FamilyHouse of Normandy/de Clare
FatherGeoffrey, Count of Eu
MotherLasceline De Turqueville

Gilbert (or Giselbert) de Brionne, Counts of Eu and of Brionne (c. 1000c. 1040), was an influential nobleman in the Duchy of Normandy in Northern France.[1][2] He was one of the early guardians of Duke William II in his minority.[1][3] Had Lord Brionne not been murdered, the senior house of de Clare would probably have been titled de Brionne.[1][3] Lord Brionne was the first to be known by the cognomen Crispin because of his hair style which stood up like the branches of a pine tree.[1][3]


Gilbert de Brionne was son of Geoffrey, Count of Eu, who was an illegitimate child of Richard I of Normandy.[4] He inherited Brionne, becoming one of the most powerful landowners in Normandy. Gilbert was a generous benefactor to Bec Abbey founded by his former knight Herluin in 1031. When Robert I died in 1035, his illegitimate son William inherited his father's title and several powerful nobles, including Gilbert of Brionne, Osbern the Seneschal and Alan of Brittany, became William's guardians.[1][3]


Map of the Duchy of Normandy

A number of Norman barons, including Ralph de Gacé, refused to accept William as their leader. In 1040 an attempt was made to kill William but the plot failed. Gilbert however was murdered while he was peaceably riding near Eschafour.[5] It is believed two of his killers were Ralph of Wacy and Robert de Vitot. This appears to have been an act of vengeance for the wrongs inflicted upon the orphan children of Giroie by Gilbert,[6] and it is not clear what Ralph de Gacé had to do in the business.[a] Fearing they might meet their father's fate, Gilbert's sons Richard and Baldwin were conveyed by their friends to the court of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders. His children would accompany Duke William on his conquest of England and his descendants would become one of the most powerful noble families in the British isles. They would rule over vast lands in modern-day Ireland, Scotland, and England and become powerful Marcher Lords.


Through his eldest son, Gilbert was ancestor of the English house of de Clare, of the Barons FitzWalter, and the Earls of Gloucester (see Earl of Gloucester) and Hertford (see Earl of Hertford). After Gilbert's death, his uncle William I became Count of Eu whereas Brionne reverted to the duke.


  1. ^ Although, Ralph de Gacé was the brother-in-law of Hawisa d'Échauffour, daughter of Giroie. See: Schwennicke, ES II, 79; ES III/4, 697.


  1. ^ a b c d e Robinson, J. A. (1911). Gilbert Crispin, abbot of Westminster: a study of the abbey under Norman rule (No. 3). University Press.
  2. ^ Deck, S. (1954). Le comté d'Eu sous les ducs. In Annales de Normandie (Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 99-116). Université de Caen.
  3. ^ a b c d Holt, J. C. (1997). Colonial England, 1066-1215. A&C Black.
  4. ^ a b George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage of England Scotland Ireland Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant Extinct or Dormant, ed. Vicary Gibbs, Vol. IV (London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., 1916), p. 308
  5. ^ David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1964), p. 40
  6. ^ Ordericus Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, trans. Thomas Forester, Vol. I (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), p. 391, n. 2
  7. ^ James Dixon Mackenzie, The castles of England: their story and structure, Vol.1, (The Macmillan Co., 1896), 47.