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dimanche 10 juin 2012



3 – WILLIAM, called “The Bastard”, Duke of Normandy and King of England.

C - William « the bastard » become « Conqueror » !

At easter 1066, the “bastard” become “Conqueror” was received in ROUEN, capital of Normandy, with extraordiniry pomp.
Rouen - Bords de Seine
Gouache de Gérard Roger.

He later had his wife MATHIDE crowned in Westimster as Queen of England, true homage to she to whom he had entrusted the Regency of Normandy  with Roger de Montgomery during his stay in England.
1st July 1067, saw the consecration of the Abbey of NOTRE-DAME-DE-JUMIEGES.
In 1068, the people of YORSHIRE rose up against the autorithy of William and a year later it was on the continent that brings deteriorated with the freeing of Maine from thr Norman tutelage.
In 1072, William led an expedition to SCOTLAND and in 1073 the Normans reconquered Maine.
In 1075, the counties of Hereford and Norfolk revolted.
1077, saw the consecration of the “ABBAYE AUX HOMMES” in CAEN and the CATHEDRAL OF BAYEUX.
The same year a disagreement put the Duke-King against his son ROBERT COURTEHEUSE who left Normandy.
In 1079, William was wounded at the siege of GERBEROY.
In 1082 he imprisoned Odon, Bishop of Bayeux and Duke of Kent.
On the first of November 1083 his faithful wife died.
In 1086, in SALISBURY, William receveid the oaths of allegiance from the assembled English Counts and Barons. His Kingdom was thus a model modern state, far in advance for his neighbours, the Kingdom of France in particular and the German states.
Injured in a fall from his horse in MANTES as he directed his troops towards PARIS, William died in ROUEN on 10 September 1087.

If the french unrestimate him, or almost, the English consider him as the FOUNDER OF THEIR COUNTRY. “For the Normans” has written one of the great historians of the region “ William lived without doubt a a great enigma. It is he who left them succeeding, however, without doubt in implanting the Norman spirit overseas...For the English, William is, in fact, a sort of “Father of the Country” whose reality continues to today in the single presence of their sovereign, his distant heiress..”

William has been criticised for having helped England at the coast of Normandy, having taken too important a contribution from the human capital of Normandy at the risk of weakening its power towards the king of France, as his successors have been criticised for being more English than Norman such that it would assist the annexing of Normandy to France some years later. It is true that William lived more in his new kingdom than in Normandy where he would rarely return after 1066, leaving the Regency of the Duchy. But one must underline that from the 11th century Normandy had known an exceptional economic development tied to an important increase in the population. It is notably in the aera of agriculture that the expansion is visible with clearance of immense forests, which covered the basic Norman soil, and the development for cultivation. We should note that since the Middle Ages the horse has been used in Normandy to work the fields. But the economy of Normandy was also at this time one of exchange with England but also with the countries of Northern Europe. Cloth, stone and wine were sold... At the same time an impulse without precedent was given to the intellectual and artistic.
A visionary, William was convinced that, in spite of their differences, the people of England and Normandy were linked and that it was in the interests of the two nations, both “daughters to the sea”,to become closer when faced with the continental bloc.
Without the Anglo-Norman episode the Norman history would not be so glorious. We should recall that at that time LONDON was the nearest capital to ROUEN after PARIS, that maritime and commercial relations between England and Normandy had always existed ( The ships from ROUEN delivering the wines of France to LONDON were excused taxes), that already in the time of Edward the Norman, literary leaders, maintained close contacts with those in England ( They spoke of the “Norman” at the Court of Edward who had been educated in Normandy) that the English and Norman clergy worked closey the “christianise”to two people and that in 1051 as a Norman cleric in the person of Robert CHAMPART, Abbot of Jumieges, became Archbishop of Canterbury, Business people, ship owners..., the Normans were solidly established in England since the 1O th century and would offer William their support.
When in January 1087, William arrived in his palace in ROUEN to march on PARIS to obtain through the King of France, Philippe 1st,  the return of the french VEXIN to the bosom of the Norman family, the Anglo-Norman sovereign, who was 60 years old, was tired. He has stout and his character had become gloomy since the death of Mathilde.

Nonetheless courageous, he mounted and headed for PARIS. At MANTES, as he raised the town to the ground, the Duke-King took a bad fall from his horse and the pommel of the saddle perforated his abdomen. He was taken to ROUEN, to the PRIORY OF SAINT GERVAIS and, after, a long period in agony, the sovereign died on 10 September 1087 in complete solitude.
What would be happened if, at the head of his troops, he had entered PARIS ?
William, on his death bed, had time to share out his kingdom : to the eldest ROBERT, called “COURT-HEUZE” he gave Normandy, ton the second son, WILLIAM LE ROUX or “RUFUS” England and the third : HENRY called “BEAU CLERC” an important sum of money.
But where was soon discord between the three brothers. The eldest, Robert, intrepid and extragant, left on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1096 where he covered himself in glory. He left Normandy, partially secured, drifting, to William Le Roux, who had a difficult and disagreeble character. The latter was killed in 1100 during a hunt in the NEW FOREST.
Finally, it was the last son, HENRY, surnamed “BEAUCLERC”, who chroniclers present as a barbaric and egocentric person with a touch of cupidity, who collected all the benefits and restored the Anglo-Norman Kingdom. He had a slightly magesterial manner not tolerating any drifting.
On his return from Jerusalem, “Courte-Heuse” tried in 1101 to invade England where Henry had to déclared himself king. The affair ended with an agreement between the two brothers. Henry returned to Robert his authority over the Duchy of Normandy with the exception of DOMFRONT over which he swore to remain lord.
In 1105, faced with disastrous reports sent to him on the running of the Duchy Henry decided, with the blessing of the Pope, to invade Normandy to liberate it from the power of the incapable Robert. On 28 September 1106, a battle took place at TINCHEBRAY between the two sons of the “bastard”. Robert was taken prisoner and transported to England. He remained locked in CARDIF for 28 years. He learnt the Welsh language and whrote poetry...

The Battle of TINCHEBRAY.

In the month of September 1106, Henry BEAUCLERC lay siege to the castle of Tinchebray, held by the supporters of his brother Robert. As they cannot agree on the military strategy used, nor on the numbers of troops or even on the number of dead in the battle, historians cannot today identify for certain where the battle took place but they believe that it was to the west and north of the forteress. This battle is interesting for several reasons :
  • Il is a model of military tactics from the Middle Ages, notably for the large proportion of foot soldiers used,
  • It is of  great importance historically as it allowed Henry to reform the Anglo-Norman kingdom which his father had created.

The battles have left traces on the local plan in the place armes : le “champ Henriet”(currently a market field), the crosses ( built on the graves of three knights killed in the combat) la “prise” (The place where Robert was taken prisoner). “Le ruisseau du traite” ( The emplacment bu which Robert de Belleme escaped).

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