maids a milking

300px-Johannes_Vermeer_-_Het_melkmeisje_-_Google_Art_ProjectI always think of Tess of the D’Urbevilles  when it comes to the maids milking – but where am I going with this post? Well, I was actually wondering how wealthy the farmer might be if he required eight milkmaids.  The advert below  from Pamela Horn’s article about the Dorset dairy system suggests that one milk maid could milk sixteen cows.

 

“Wanted, A Man and his Wife, to manage a Dairy of Sixteen Cows; a good Character indis- pensable. Applyto Mr. Bascombe,Tatton Farm, Upway, Dorchester.”

 

Advertisement in DorsetCountyChronicle,
6 December 1860.

 

In the sixteenth century approximately 70% of the population in England were part of the agricultural labour force.  Women did work as day labourers but generally they would have been amongst the poorest in society.  The majority of women worked as servants, often in the households of extended family, or as housewives within their own homes.

Further reading reveals that a diary maid in the seventeenth century would have responsibility for up to twenty cows and would be helped in the milking by another servant. Therefore to require eight milkmaids a farmer would have owned a herd of one hundred and sixty or so cattle.  Dairy maid responsibility included butter and cheese making as well as the milking – unless of course it was the farmer’s wife who not only did the diary work but looked after the hens, baked and did all those other things required of a pre-industrial housewife.

Of course I could have gone with Marie Antoinette’s model farm at Versailles where she dressed up as a diary maid or even the milk maids who didn’t catch small pox on account of them having had cow pox. And of course, it gives me a chance to add the Milkmaid by Vehmeer into the equation!

Horn, Pamela, The Dorset Dairy System http://www.bahs.org.uk/AGHR/ARTICLES/26n2a3.pdf

Kussmaul, Ann. Servants in Husbandry in Early Modern England.

Mute swans swimming

richard the lionheartThe swans are a swimming because most of us haven’t been allowed to tuck into one since 1482 when a law was passed saying that only some landowners could keep and eat swans.  They all had to be marked by nicks in their beaks. The Queen  and the Worshipful Company of  Dyers  and also Vintners own mute swans –  if they’re unmarked and in open water in England and Wales.  So if you caught and ate an unmarked swan until 1994 you were  technically committing treason. Since then they have been protected by the 1981 act which protects wildlife from the predation of the culinary adventurous.

 

In 1189, Richard I, gave the worshipful companies joint ownership along with the Crown of unclaimed swans – though given my understanding of Richard I, I would guess that there was a hefty fee for the privilege.  According to legend he brought the swans home with him from Cyprus following the third crusade. Other sources mention the Romans – who get everywhere.   However if we want to see documentary evidence of the mute swan in royal hands then we have to wait for the reign of Edward I who mentions them in his wardrobe accounts.  There’s a cook book dating from the reign of Richard II which detail how to cook one.

The one thing that is clear is that mute swans were much prized and apparently prone to being stolen from their rightful owners in medieval times – there’s even a mention of a swanherd or ‘swonhirde’ if  you prefer spelling 1282 style. And quite frankly I’m going to stop on that delightful thought.

 

https://britishbirds.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/article_files/V17/V17_N08/V17_N08_P174_182_A038.pdf

http://sciencepress.mnhn.fr/sites/default/files/articles/pdf/az1995n22a5.pdf

Wild geese flying

james2.jpgIn 1688 William and Mary were invited take the throne – thus deposing Mary’s father James II (pictured left) after the birth of a Mary’s half-brother also called James by Mary of Modena.  But not everywhere took to the Protestant usurpation of James’ throne so easily.  I usually steer clear of Irish history and its complexities but the Treaty of Limerick on 3rd October 1691 saw Patrick Sarsfield first Lord Lucan,  a Jacobite come to terms with William’s army and bring the Williamite War in Ireland to a close.

Under the terms of the treaty Jacobite soldiers could freely leave Ireland with their wives and children.  They also had the option on becoming part of William’s army.  The rest could stay in Ireland so long as they gave a pledge of allegiance to William.  The nobility would even be allowed to carry weapons. So far so good.  Unfortunately by the mid 1690s the terms of the treaty were being ignored by the victors as they enforced new Penal Laws – though that is not what this post is about.

The men who chose to leave their home for a Catholic country such as France or Spain became known as wild geese.  Regiments of Irish can be found in the French army from the sixteenth century onwards.  In fact Sarsfield had experience of warfare from his years in the French army during the 1670s.  He returned to Ireland in 1689 in support of James II.

The so-called “flight of the wild geese”  refers to the large number of Jacobites, with Sarsfield at their head, who chose to leave their homes rather than swear allegiance to William. The Irishmen formed James II’s army in exile but in 1692 became part of the French army which also had an Irish Brigade composed of men who’d left their home shores in previous years.

The tradition of the wild geese continued into the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries – Napoleon had an Irish legion clad in green tunics.

And why wild geese?  Well apparently that’s how the men were described on ship’s manifests when they sailed from Ireland to the Continent disguising their identities and protecting the ship’s captain.

 

The Thetford Hoard – how many gold rings?

gold rings.jpgNot five gold rings but twenty-two of them!   The hoard was unearthed in 1979 to reveal a large collection of late Roman jewellery and silver table ware.  There were also 22 silver spoons.  The hoard was carefully buried for safe keeping or during time of trouble.  For whatever reason, the owner was unable to return to retrieve his or her possessions. It is even uncertain as to what kind of person might have owned such a valuable collection.  It has been suggested that they belonged to a jeweller or were destined to be some kind of religious offering.  It is impossible to add to the context of the hoard as by the time the hoard was registered by the metal detectorist who found it – building work had taken place making the Thetford Hoard one of life’s little mysteries.

Gerrard, James. The Ruin of Roman Britain: An Archeological Perspective

Ogden, Jack.  Ancient Jewellery

 

Blackbirding, debt bondage, serfdom and slavery

170px-Official_medallion_of_the_British_Anti-Slavery_Society_(1795).jpgI’m not sure if I would be terribly pleased if someone gave me four calling or holly birds for Christmas.  Unfortunately I can think of something historic to do with black birds or more specifically the deeply repugnant act of “black birding.”  Some nineteenth century Australian settlers dealt with labour  shortages by ‘blackbirding’ Southsea Islanders.  Islanders were transported from their homes to Australia from the 1860s onwards.  Many of the labourers were tricked into boarding the ships  or did not realise the terms and conditions of their employment- at best they could be described as bonded labourers at worst they were slaves who had simply been rounded up by ships’ crews and kidnapped at gunpoint.  Blackbirding was made illegal in 1872 following an episode where more than 60 people were killed during a black birding raid. The idea of tricking people or simply rounding them up and taking them away from their homes is not a new one and sadly not an extinct one.

Reeve_and_Serfs.jpgWhen William the Conqueror arrived in 1066 there were a class of Saxons who were slaves, it’s thought about 10% of the population – they had come into slavery by different methods including being sold into slavery as children, being bale to pay a debt or for a crime.  Some of the slaves had been born slaves, a reminder that many the Norse peoples who  settled in Britain had grown wealthy on the back of slavery.  Slaves had no value in terms of weir-gold but they did have value as property.  Slave owners were  legally responsible for the actions of the men, women and children that they owned.

The Normans did away with slavery but serfdom – the bottom of the feudal hierarchy- essentially meant that  people who were serfs could not leave the manors on which they were born, could be bought and sold by their lords of the manor and were required to work for the lord of the manor.  Serfdom was effectively a form of debt bondage- services in repayment for an obligation created by their lord’s care of them.  The Black Death with arrived in 1349 helped to speed the demise of serfdom on account of the resulting labour shortage.

The transportation of slaves from Africa began in the sixteenth century as work forces were required in the Americas.  Essentially, at various times and locations, the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English arrived along with their bugs and lurgies which killed off local populations meaning that there was no one close at hand to force into servitude.  The first shipments of slaves went directly from Africa to the Caribbean and by the early seventeenth century the English had started to forcibly move large numbers of people to North America to work on the sugar plantations.  This led to the development of the so-called triangular trade which saw Liverpool and Bristol flourish – The trans Atlantic or middle passage  of the triangular trade with boats laden with men, women and children destined for slavery was not one of British History’s finest moments.  It has been estimated that mortality rates were about 50% before vessels became larger and greater care taken of the “cargo.”

gardener

 

 

Kaufman, Miranda. Black Tudors: The Untold Story

Orr, Brian J. Bones of Empire.

Three French Hens – Queens of England from France

isabella of franceI did consider titling this post “three foul french fowl”but decided it was an alliteration too far.

Richard I, a.k.a. the Lionheart,  should have married Alys of France – the dispensation for that marriage would have been interesting given that Richard’s mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and Alys’ father, Louis VII of France had once been married.  Alys arrived in England aged eight as Henry II’s ward following a treaty agreed in 1169.  However, the marriage never progressed which didn’t help Richard’s relationship with fellow monarch Philip II of France who was Alys’ brother.

In 1175 Henry II began to seek an annulment from his marriage to Eleanor.  It has been suggested that rather than marrying Alys to his son Richard, that he intended to marry her himself. Certainly it is thought that he began an affair with her after the death of Fair Rosamund in 1177.  All things considered it is relatively easy to see why Alys didn’t become one of England’s French hens.

On the other hand, Alys’ sister Margaret should be on the list of French hens because she married Henry II’s oldest son also named Henry in 1162.  Technically she became a royal consort when the Young King as he became known was crowned in 1172.  Henry II and his son being the only occasion when there have been two official monarchs on the English throne (excluding the Wars of the Roses and the joys of the Anarchy when Stephen and Matilda both claimed the Crown – and Matilda never had a coronation.)

I am not including women who would be defined as French by today’s geography but were daughters of independent or semi-independent realms in their own times: Matilda of Boulogne who was King Stephen’s wife or even Eleanor of Aquitaine who was Henry II’s wife come under this category of consort.

Which brings us to our first indisputable French hen – Margaret of France who was the second wife of Edward I.  She was swiftly followed by Isabella of France who is better known as a “she-wolf” on the grounds that she and her lover Roger Mortimer deposed Isabella’s husband Edward II and according to official histories arranged for his dispatch – purportedly with a red hot poker.

French consort number three was Isabella of Valois who was married to Richard II after his first wife Anne of Bohemia died. She was married to Richard at the age of seven in 1396.  Four years later Richard was deposed by his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke.  Richard was fond of his young wife and she returned the feeling.  She refused to marry Henry IV’s son and went into mourning.  She died aged nineteen in childbirth following her return to France and second marriage to Charles of Orleans.

Henry V ultimately married Catherine of Valois in 1420 following his victory at Agincourt.  After Henry’s death Catherine went on to be associated with Edmund Beaufort but when the laws changed  specifying that if the dowager queen married without her son’s consent that the new husband would loose his lands, Beaufort swiftly lost interest. Catherine went on to make an unequal marriage with Owen Tudor.

In 1445 Catherine’s son, Henry VI, married Margaret of Anjou as part of a policy to bring the Hundred Years War to an end.  Margaret had no dowry and was plunged into a difficult political situation which resulted in her ultimate vilification by the winning Yorkists.  Her hopes for the Lancaster Crown ended on 4 May 1471 when her son, Prince Edward, was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Henry VI was killed in the Tower shortly afterwards.  She eventually returned to France.

Isabella of  France and Margaret of Anjou are the two consorts that popular history remembers most clearly.  The third of English history’s three foul French fowl arrived in 1625.  Henrietta Maria married Charles I shortly after he became king.  Initially she had to contend with Charles’ reliance upon the Duke of Buckingham.  Her Catholicism made her an unpopular choice in England despite Charles’ insistence that she be known as Queen Mary, as did her ability to buy armaments and mercenary forces  on her husband’s behalf during the English Civil War. She also decided on a new title for herself – Her She-Majesty, Generalissima.

 

 

Two turtle doves…or in our case one phoenix, a turtle and Mr Shakespeare.

elizabethphoenix

The turtle dove has been in steep decline during the last century.

The Phoenix and the turtle was written in 1601 to go in an anthology entitled Love’s Martyr.  All the works in the anthology have the theme of the two birds.

Essentially the phoenix is married to the turtle dove. The pair love each other so completely that they grow like one another over the duration of their relationship. But times are changing. The pair die and when they die true love dies along with them – there will be no one as virtuous or in love as them ever again. They have been married but chaste – so they leave no children. They are buried and a variety of other birds come to mourn at the funeral. It is the end of a golden age.

There are lots of different interpretations and arguments which this post has no intention of covering. Suffice it to say each bird is the subject of academic speculation.  It doesn’t help that Love’s Martyr is dedicated to Sir John Salusbury – a fairly obscure personage.  In which case he logically should be the phoenix and his wife Ursula the dove.  In any event there wasn’t a great deal of chastity involved as they had ten children. And let’s not get into the whole who was Shakespeare thing!

The phoenix is often, but not always, seen as straight forward enough – Elizabeth I was linked to the phoenix on more than one occasion.    Most famously in 1575 Elizabeth featured in two portraits by Nicholas Hilliard.  In one she is holding a pelican pendant – pinched from Catholic iconography- Elizabeth is stating that she is the mother of her nation and that like the pelican which wounds itself to feeds its young so she has made a great sacrifice for her people – i.e. her unwed state.  The Phoenix Portrait pictured at the start of this post is a reminder that Elizabeth is unique and that having been consumed by the flames the phoenix arises from the ashes.  This could be a reference to the near disaster of her mother’s fall from favour and the dangers she faced during the reign of Mary I.  It could also reference the idea that the people of England should not fear for the future because a) the phoenix lives for 500 years before going up in smoke and b) just as the phoenix regenerates so the Crown will be reborn.  Unfortunately in 1601 it was clear that Elizabeth wasn’t going to last much longer and there was the small issue of who would succeed her.

Which brings us neatly to the other birds in the poem, the mourners.  One of them, the “bird of the loudest lay,” could very well be James VI of Scotland whilst the crow is often interpreted as being Shakespeare himself.  Essentially its important to have some understanding of bird lore before attempting the allegorical meaning behind the poem.  And many scholars take the view that it really is not the point of the poem to try and decipher the bird code at all.  It could simply be that Shakespeare was effectively whistling very loudly whilst writing about the intangibility of true love and trying to distance himself from the Earl of Essex’s Rebellion.  He must have been very aware of the possibility he would be associated with treason given that on the 7th February 1601 his players performed Richard II (and that didn’t end well for the monarch in question).  Shakespeare was paid forty shillings by some of the earl’s supporters, the Earl rose in rebellion the following day  with 300 supporters and marched on London – the play was some kind of signal- but Londoners didn’t take the hint.  Shakespeare must have spent some time afterwards checking that his head was still on his shoulders.

 

2nd earl of essexSo – let us get on to the turtle dove who is after all supposed to be the centre of this post.  In Tudor times the turtle dove represented fidelity.  If Elizabeth is the phoenix who then is the dove?  Robert Devereux the 2nd earl of Essex remains a popular choice.  The idea gained popularity in the 1960s with the analysis of William Matchett. Although, quite frankly, how rushing off  to fight the Spanish in 1586 without permission, getting married without Elizabeth’s approval, referencing the queen’s “crooked carcass,” arriving back from Ireland uninvited, unannounced and bursting into the royal bedchamber before finally revolting and getting oneself beheaded could be described as fidelity is another matter entirely.  One view is that the phoenix and the turtle dove have burned out their love for one another.  It is then argued that Shakespeare was not writing a straight forward poem at all. He was doing something very dangerous –  he was writing a pro Essex poem which basically turns the earl into a hero in the aftermath of his failed rising and subsequent execution on 26th February 1601.

And yes – there are many more theories about who the turtle dove might be but I think it’s time to move away from the topic as I could go around ever decreasing circles for some considerable time.

Incidentally Salusbury was knighted for his part in the suppression of Essex’s rebellion whilst his brother  got himself executed in 1586  for supporting Mary Queen of Scots.

 

 

Bednarz, J. Shakespeare and the Truth of Love: The Mystery of ‘The Phoenix and Turtle’

 

On the First Day of December – a crowned partridge

fr-aunis.gifIt’s that time of year again!  Where did 2018 go?  I thought I’d take the Twelve Days of Christmas for my theme this year – quite loosely but I didn’t think I would actually be able to start with a heraldic partridge sans pear tree.  It turns out that several departments in the Charente-Maritime area of France boast a partridge in their heraldic devices – this one from Aunis depicts a crowned partridge.

Aunis was part of Aquitaine so came into the Plantagenet empire with Henry II’s marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine.  By the Sixteenth Century it was better known as a Protestant stronghold.  I’m not totally sure where the partridge gets in on the act.

img4456Further reading reveals that partridges weren’t the bird of choice for heraldic devices in medieval times as Aristotle and Pliny had essentially depicted them as deceitful thieves. This was perpetuated in various medieval bestiaries such as the one illustrated here (British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 48r.)  No one  particularly wants to be identified with a bird that steals another bird’s eggs, rolls in the dust and is frequently over tired from too much hanky-panky.  It was also associated with the devil because like Satan who seeks to steal the faithful away through flattery the partridge is left with an empty nest when the chicks hear the call of their real parent.

However by the Fifteenth Century all the more glamorous and martial birds had been spoken for and thus it came to be that the partridge began making its appearance in heraldry and oddly enough the symbolism of the partridge began to evolve from unpleasant to that of a devoted parent which will allow itself to be injured to decoy hunters away from its young – it still represented cunning though!  As for the Charente- Maritime, it turns out that many of their heraldic devices were created in the 1940s.

The words to the Twelve Days of Christmas were first published in 1780 in a book called Mirth Without Mischief. It is probably a memory game such as ‘I went to market.’ The idea is that each player remembers an increasing number of gifts in the correct order or has to pay a forfeit possibly a kiss.It has been suggested that the song was a primer for Catholics to help remember key aspects of their doctrine but experts refute this proposition.

Hopefully by the time we arrive at the 25th and the beginning of the twelve days of Christmas we will have explored some more diverse and non mischief making history based facts!

Cheeseman, Clive (2010) Some Aspects of the Crisis of Heraldry. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259641719_Some_aspects_of_the_’crisis_of_heraldry’

Impelluso, Lucia. Nature and its Symbols.

 

King James and Ireland

king-james1Where do I begin? I suppose considering James’ view would be as good a starting point as any.  James was king of England, Scotland and Ireland.  They were three separate kingdoms – i.e. they had parliaments and laws of their own.  The union within the person of James as monarch was an imperfect one, unlike Wales (and I apologise in advance – I’m stating James’ point of view  not mine) which was a perfect union because it had no parliament. Its laws were those of England – Edward I and Henry IV had seen to that. James also began with the view that Ireland was just like his other two kingdoms in that he believed that it had a hierarchical system that worked on a pyramid principle with the king at the top, then the nobility. He was of the view that the nobility were essential for the sound governance of the regions – the only thing was that the Irish hierarchy didn’t work in quite the same way as the English and Scottish systems (more on that shortly).

The Anglo-Norman arrival in Ireland during the medieval period was an invasion but it wasn’t a conquest.  Various Plantagenet monarchs invested men and money in Ireland but the effect was to create independent Anglo-Norman magnates who married the locals and ruled from Dublin in an area known as the English Pale.  They did not take kindly to royal interference.

The sixteenth century saw a change in the Anglo-Irish relationship because suddenly the English were officially Protestant whilst the Irish remained Catholic.  Ireland became a potential jumping off point for a Spanish invasion.  Henry VIII negotiated with the Irish with no understanding of the way land was viewed or the way in which people elected new chieftains — who weren’t always the son of the previous one. The English began to try to impose their will on the Irish.  Inevitably there was a rebellion which only escalated under Elizabeth.  1594-1603 saw The Nine Years War and Sir Humphrey Gilbert who would have found himself at the Hague being found guilty of war crimes – he had the path to his tent lined with the decapitated heads of men, women and children.

James began his reign somewhat differently to the Tudors by issuing pardons all round- remember he believed that a country needed its nobility to act as the arms and legs to the royal head- but Ulster lost its O Neil chieftain and the English declared the old Irish laws to be abolished.  Cutting a long story short,  a number of earls fled the country and were immediately declared traitors which meant that under English law their lands were forfeit to the Crown.   Sir John Davies, the attorney general in Ireland, wrote “[You] have a greater extent of land than any prince in Europe has to dispose of.” He recommended that it be planted on a large scale, because it would not work ” if the number of civil persons who are to be planted do not exceed the number of natives who will quickly overgrow them as weeds overgrow the good corn”.

James liked the idea of the Ulster Pale – it would reward men who had fought in Ireland, provide land for those turned off it in England, provide a force to keep those pesky Spanish at bay and also break the links between the Scottish Gaelic speaking highlanders and their Celtic counterparts in Ireland.  It was also be an opportunity for him to prove his Protestant credentials because ultimately he believed that the Irish would leave off being Catholics and become good Protestants if only thy were provided with education.  It would, in theory, also turn a profit for him.

In 1609 there was a survey and the land in Ulster divided into Church land and Crown property.  The Crown property was divided into estates of 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 acres. 59 Scots and 51 English landlords undertook to transport at least ten families to Ulster. They were also permitted to rent out to native Irish tenants.  These wealthy landlords were called undertakers. Undertakers were also required to build a sturdy stone house for every 1500 acres.  These were designed to keep the Irish out in the event of armed conflict.

There were also a group of men called servitors. These men had been soldiers and were being rewarded for their service.

And of course not all the settlers were men – Davies wanted growing communities to counterbalance the Native Irish.

The third group were the “deserving Irish” – who were deserving because they hadn’t recently done much in the way of rebelling.  Many Irish were relocated specifically to be closer to Protestant churches – and garrisons.  To describe the Irish as becoming increasingly disgruntled is something of an understatement. James’ representative in Ireland, Sir Arthur Chichester, became ever more concerned that the rights of the native Irish were being ignored, especially when more land was acquired by the English when they claimed that inheritance through gavelkind (inheritance in equal part by all children) wasn’t an English way of doing things and only led to confusion – so confiscated property divided this way.  Davies claimed that Brehon Law which included gavelkind was a “lewd custom.”

There was also a lack of understanding about the way in which the land was farmed  and the fact that there were no walled towns which was regarded as backward.   Essentially the English were warming up to declare the Irish a bunch of barbarians in need of a spot of civilising – a legal conquest justified by a failure to recognise the way that Irish society worked.

Inevitably there was conflict between the settlers and the Irish.  In Munster the settlers were forced to flee and whilst there had been enthusiasm for resettlement in Ireland initially- it being closer to home than America- it rapidly became clear that rents and hostile locals were rather large flies in the ointment. There was also the issue that not all the land was that desirable. It wasn’t long before some of the settlers arranged themselves on land that had been designated as belonging to the Irish because it looked more appealing that the patch with which they had been issued.

All of this, is of course, a very straight forward account. It does not take account of revisionist views nor does it look at the complexities of Irish politics – or the generations of conflict that would ensue. Religious identity  of either variety would be enough to get you killed, if you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, for centuries to come and its consequences still resonate.  James I changed the population of Ireland whilst the armies that followed throughout the seventeenth century did nothing to help the situation.

Fergal Keane’s 2011 Story of Ireland which is currently being repeated on television presents the brutality of Irish history alongside the resilience and creativity of its peoples.  It is a good starting point for anyone wanting to find out more.

 

William Clito, Count of Flanders

 

william clitoWilliam’s parents were Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, and Sybilla of Conversano.  She died in 1103 when William was just two. Robert was at that time the Duke of Normandy.   Clito is a latinised form meaning man of royal blood – so similar to prince. He was Count of Flanders by right of his grandmother Matilda, the wife of William the Conqueror.

Alison Weir identifies a legitimate son of Robert Curthose’s called Henry who was killed in a hunting accident in the New Forest but there is no further information and for the most part William Clito is usually identified as Robert’s only legitimate issue.  Robert also had illegitimate sons.  One was called Richard who was killed in the New Forest in 1100.  Richard had a full brother, confusingly enough, also called William and he became the Lord of Tortosa.  It is assumed he was killed around 1110 at the Battle of Jerusalem as there is no further record of him after that.

battle of tinchebraiAfter the  Battle of Tinchbrai in 1106 which saw Henry I of England defeat Robert Curthose the two brothers travelled to Falaise where William Clito was staying.  Henry had never met his nephew before and he placed the boy in the care of Hélias of Saint-Saëns, Count of Arques who was married to William’s illegitimate half-sister (history does not know her name.)    William remained in their custody for the next four years.  In 1110 Henry sent for his nephew. Hélias was not in residence but his household concealed the boy from Henry’s men and then smuggled him to Hélias who fled Normandy with the boy.

BremuleHélias and William became fugitives.  At first they stayed with Robert de Bellâme but he was captured in 1112.  From there they went to  Baldwin VII of Flanders.  By 1118 many of the nobility of Normandy were sufficiently fed up of Henry I to join William Clito and Baldwin in a rebellion.  However, in the September of that year Baldwin was injured and eventually died.  William  found another sponsor in the form of  King Louis VI of France who invaded Normandy but was comprehensively beaten at the Battle of Brémule on 20th August 1119. Even the Pope interceded on William’s behalf. Despite this the so-called First Norman Rebellion did not improve William’s position.

Disaster struck Henry I when the White Ship sank off Harfleur on the 25 November 1120 drowning his only legitimate son – another William.  This meant that William Clito became a logical successor to his uncle.  He was, after all, the legitimate son of the Conqueror’s eldest son.

In addition to the change in Clito’s  perceived status Henry I  also refused to return the dowry that had come with Matilda of Anjou upon her betrothal to his son.  Matilda’s father, Fulk V Count of Anjou now betrothed his daughter Sybilla to William Clito and gave him as Sybilla’s dowry the county Maine- an area between Anjou and Normandy.  Henry I appealed to the pope and the marriage was ultimately annulled in 1124 because the pair were too closely related.

Meanwhile the Normans had rebelled against Henry for a second time in 1123-1124.

And so it continued, with the French king taking the opportunity to add to Henry I’s discomfort by providing men and money for William in 1127.  It was at this point that William married the french queen’s (Adelaide of Maurienne) half sister Joan of Montferrat.  Louis VI was using William as a pawn against Henry’s claim to Maine.

 

On the 12 July 1128 William was at the Siege of Aaist.  He was wounded in the arm.  The wound became gangrenous.  He died on 28th July.  Amongst his followers was his brother-in-law Hélias of Saint-Saëns, Count of Arques who had been at his side for most of his life.

It is perhaps not surprising that there is no portrait of William – his uncle  Henry I made a rebel of him and did not want him to inherit either Normandy or England after the death of his own son (also William). Clito’s father, Robert Curthose, survived him by five and a half years.

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families: the Complete Genealogy