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Notes for Robert Bossu de Beaumont and Amice de Gael

"Robert, Earl of Leicester, d. 1168 = Amice, da. of Ralph de Gael." [1]

"Robert, Earl of Leicester, yr. s., being twin with Waleran, who suc. his father as Count of Meulan, was b. 1104, and was commonly called Le Bossu or Le Goczen. He styles himself Earl of Leicester in the confirmation of his charter on behalf of Bec and St. Nicaise-de-Meulan in 1119. He and his brother Waleran were brought up at the court of Henry I with great care on account of the King's gratitude to their father. They accompanied Henry when he interviewed Pope Calixtus at Gisors, Nov. 1119, where they astonished the Cardinals by their learning. On 8 Sep. 1131 Robert was one of the five Earls who witnessed Henry's charter to Salisbury at the Northampton Council) and both the brothers were present at the deathbed of Henry I. In the anarchy which followed Stephen's accession he engaged in private warfare with his hereditary enemy, Roger de Tosny, whom he captured with the assistance of his brother Waleran. In 1137 the twins returned to England with Stephen. Meanwhile, during Robert's absence in England, his possessions in Normandy were overrun until he came to terms with Roger de Tosny. In June 1139 the two brothers took a leading part in the seizing of the Bishops of Salisbury and Lincoln at Oxford. At about this time he received from Stephen a grant to him as Earl of Leicester and to his heirs of the town and castle of Hereford "et totum comitatum de Herefordisc.," excepting the lands of the Bishop, those of the Abbot of Reading and of other churches and abbeys holding in chief of the King, and excepting also the fees of Hugh de Mortemer, Osbert son of Hugh, and others, "cum aliis omnibus rebus et libertatibus quae ad omnia prefata pertinent cum quibus Gul. filius Osbern unquam melius vel liberius tenuit." This grant was made at Newton (probably near Leominster) at a time when Miles of Gloucester had already taken possession of the county for the Empress, and therefore cannot have been effectual to bestow either the lands or the Earldom of Hereford, if such was Stephen's intention. After the defeat of Stephen, 2 Feb. 1141, Robert appears to have made a truce with the Angevin party in Normandy until he should return from England, and devoted himself to his foundation of St. Mary de Pré at Leicester, which was accomplished in 1143. According to the narrative of St. Mary's, he became a canon regular there circa 1153, and so remained until his death, but the story conflicts with his known public career. In that year Henry, son of the Empress, anticipating his succession to the throne (which was agreed by the Treaty of Wallingford in Nov. 1153), gave Robert and his son Robert charters, dated at Bristol, "restoring" to them the lands then held by the elder Robert, and granting them the Stewardship of England and of Normandy, whereby he doubtless secured their support of his claims to the crown. Robert was at the siege of Torigny in Oct. 1154 with Hemy II just before his accession, attended his Coronation in Dec. 1154, and rapidly rose in the new King's favour. He received a confirmation charter of the grant made at Bristol and thus became Steward of England and of Normandy. He was made Justiciar in the following year, and he acted as Viceroy—part of the time with Richard de Luci—during the King's absence from England from Dec. 1158, after Eleanor left the country, until his return 25 Jan. 1 162/3. He was present at the Council of Clarendon, 13-28 Jan. 1163/4, was the first to attest the "Constitutions," to which he procured the assent of Thomas a Becket. He took part with the Crown in its struggle with Becket, but sought to reconcile the King and the Archbishop at the Council of Northampton in Oct. 1164. As Justiciar he pronounced sentence on the Archbishop, who cut short his address by denying the jurisdiction of the court. In 1165 he again acted as Viceroy on the King's departure. In the spring of 1166 he went to Normandy with the King, but was in England again in Oct., and retained the Justiciarship until his death two years later. He m., after Nov. 1120, Amice, da. of Ralph, Seigneur of Gael and Montfort in Brittany, who was son of Ralph, Earl of Norfolk, by Emma, da. of William FitzOsbern. By this marriage he acquired a large part of the FitzOsbern inheritance in Normandy and England. He d. 5 Apr. 1168, and was probably bur. in St. Mary de Pré. Amice survived him, and is said to have entered the convent of Nuneaton." [2]


[1] George E. Cokayne and Vicary Gibbs, ed., The Complete Peerage, rev., Vol. 7, Husee to Lincolnshire (London: St. Catherine Press, 1929), 520, Leicester.

[2] George E. Cokayne and Vicary Gibbs, ed., The Complete Peerage, rev., Vol. 7, Husee to Lincolnshire (London: St. Catherine Press, 1929), 527-30.