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Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester facts for kids

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Robert of Caen
Earl of Gloucester
Effigy of Robert Consul, St James' Priory, Bristol. 1840 drawing
Effigy of Robert Consul, St James' Priory, Bristol. 1840 drawing
Spouse(s) Mabel FitzRobert
Issue
*Legitimate:
William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester
Roger of Worcester
Hamon of Gloucester
Mabel FitzRobert m. Aubrey de Vere
Maud of Gloucester, Countess of Chester
Philip of Gloucester
Richard FitzRobert Sire de Creully
  • Illegitimate:
    Richard FitzRobert, Bishop of Bayeux d. 3 April 1142
    Mabel FitzRobert m. Gruffudd ap Ifor Bach
    Robert FitzRobert d. 1170 m. Hawise de Reviers.
    Father of Thomas
Father Henry I of England
Born c. 1090
Died 31 October 1147
GrenvilleArms ModernClarions
Attributed arms of Robert FitzRoy, 1st Earl of Gloucester: Gules, three clarions or (later successively arms of de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Granville, Earl of Bath)
RobertConsul TewkesburyAbbey FoundersBook
Robartus Consull et Mabilia uxor eius ("Robert Consul and Mabel his wife"). They are shown holding churches or abbeys which they founded or were benefactors of, including Tewkesbury Abbey. The attributed arms shown quartered on his tabard and below are: Left: Gules, three clarions or (de Clare, Earl of Gloucester); Centre: Gules, three clarions or (de Clare, Earl of Gloucester) impaling Azure, a lion rampant guardant or (FitzHamon); Right: Azure, a lion rampant or. Tewkesbury Abbey Founders Book (c.1500–1525), Bodleian Library, Oxford

Robert FitzRoy, 1st Earl of Gloucester (c. 1090 – 31 October 1147) (alias Robert Rufus, Robert de Caen (Latinised to Robertus de Cadomo), Robert Consul) was an illegitimate son of King Henry I of England. He was the half-brother of the Empress Matilda, and her chief military supporter during the civil war known as The Anarchy, in which she vied with Stephen of Blois for the throne of England.

Early life

Robert was probably the eldest of Henry's many illegitimate children. He was born before his father's accession to the English throne, either during the reign of his grandfather William the Conqueror or his uncle William Rufus. He is sometimes and erroneously designated as a son of Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, last king of Deheubarth, although his mother has been identified as a member of "the Gay or Gayt family of north Oxfordshire", possibly a daughter of Rainald Gay (fl. 1086) of Hampton Gay and Northbrook Gay in Oxfordshire. Rainald had known issue Robert Gay of Hampton (died c. 1138) and Stephen Gay of Northbrook (died after 1154). A number of Oxfordshire women feature as the mothers of Robert's siblings.

Robert may have been a native of Caen or he may have been only Constable and Governor of that city, jure uxoris.

Robert's father had contracted him in marriage to Mabel FitzRobert, daughter and heir of Robert Fitzhamon, but the marriage was not solemnized until June 1119 at Lisieux. His wife brought him the substantial honours of Gloucester in England and Glamorgan in Wales, and the honours of Sainte-Scholasse-sur-Sarthe and Évrecy in Normandy, as well as Creully. After the White Ship disaster late in 1120, and probably because of this marriage, in 1121 or 1122 his father created him Earl of Gloucester.

Family

Robert and his wife Mabel FitzRobert married in 1119, and they had seven children:

  • William FitzRobert (c.1121 – 1183): succeeded his father as 2nd Earl of Gloucester
  • Roger FitzRobert (c. 1123 – 1179): Bishop of Worcester
  • Hamon FitzRobert, knight (c. 1124 – 1159): killed at the siege of Toulouse.
  • Richard FitzRobert, Lord of Creully (c. 1125 – 1175): succeeded his mother as Sire de Creully.
  • Matilda FitzRobert (c. 1126 – 1189): married in 1143 Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester.
  • Mabel FitzRobert: married Aubrey de Vere
  • Philip FitzRobert, Lord of Cricklade (c. 1130 – 1148)

He also had four illegitimate children:

  • Richard FitzRobert (died 1142): Bishop of Bayeux [mother: Isabel de Douvres, sister of Richard de Douvres, bishop of Bayeux (1107–1133)]
  • Robert FitzRobert (died 1170): Castellan of Gloucester, married in 1147 Hawise de Reviers (daughter of Baldwin de Reviers, 1st Earl of Devon and his first wife Adelisa), had daughter Mabel FitzRobert (married firstly Jordan de Chambernon and secondly William de Soliers)
  • Mabel FitzRobert: married Gruffud, Lord of Senghenydd, son of Ifor Bach.
  • Thomas FitzRobert

Relationship with King Stephen

There is evidence in the contemporary source, the Gesta Stephani, that Robert was proposed by some as a candidate for the throne, but his illegitimacy ruled him out:

Among others came Robert, Earl of Gloucester, son of King Henry, a man of proved talent and admirable wisdom. When he was advised, as the story went, to claim the throne on his father's death, deterred by sounder advice he by no means assented, saying it was fairer to yield it to his sister's son (the future Henry II of England), than presumptuously to arrogate it to himself.

This suggestion cannot have led to any idea that he and Stephen were rivals for the Crown, as Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1136 referred to Robert as one of the 'pillars' of the new King's rule.

The capture of King Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln on 2 February 1141 gave the Empress Matilda the upper hand in her battle for the throne, but by alienating the citizens of London she failed to be crowned Queen. Her forces were defeated at the Rout of Winchester on 14 September 1141, and Robert of Gloucester was captured nearby at Stockbridge.

The two prisoners, King Stephen and Robert of Gloucester, were then exchanged, but by freeing Stephen, the Empress Matilda had given up her best chance of becoming queen. She later returned to France, where she died in 1167, though her son succeeded Stephen as King Henry II in 1154.

Robert of Gloucester died in 1147 at Bristol Castle, where he had previously imprisoned King Stephen, and was buried at St James' Priory, Bristol, which he had founded in 1129.

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