Derby Classes 2019/20

The History Jar is pleased to announce a new venue for its classes.  St Mary’s Parish Centre, Darley Lane, Derby DE1 3AX

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St Mary’s Parish Centre is sited between Darley Lane and Arthur Street, overlooking the Derby inner ring road (A 601 – St Alkmund’s Way) though it cannot be reached directly from the ring road.  Please follow the link for exact directions:

It has the advantage of a car park and is not too far from the town centre.

Spring and Summer terms

The Norman Achievement

7 weeks commencing Tuesday 21stJanuary 2020

– 10am- 12pm

-mid term break 18thFebruary

white ship sinking

Meet the three surviving sons of the Conqueror.  The end of William’s life was marred by rebellion and it wasn’t long before Robert Curthose, William Rufus and Henry were quarrelling over their inheritance.  One of them ended his life a captive, another was murdered and the third fathered more than twenty illegitimate children but only one legitimate son who died when his boat sank off Barfleur on 25 November 1120.  Henry I attempted to force his barons to accept his daughter Matilda but his death plunged England into the first of its many barons’ wars.

We will explore the final years of the Conqueror, the problems of a divided inheritance, the relationship between the three siblings, look at what the sources have to say about the murder of William Rufus and the strategies by which Henry I secured his kingdom and we will meet some of the kingdom’s leading barons.

Cost for 7 weeks: £50.00

The Norman Achievement

7 week history course exploring the lives and reigns of William the Conqueror's sons Robert Curthose, William Rufus and Henry I.


Robert de Bellême- a villainous baron and his mother

2 weeks Tuesday 5thMay &  Tuesday 12thMay

10:00am- 12.00pm


Meet the most powerful land hungry baronial family in Norman England.   We will begin the story with Mabel de Bellême, a daughter of the influential Talvas family,  who inherited her father’s lands in Normandy despite having a half brother who was still alive at the time.  Mabel secured wealth and territory for herself and her family. She had no scruples about poisoning her enemies.  Intelligent and successful she and her husband had eleven children, offended the monastic foundations on her land, became involved with feuds and ultimately got herself murdered whilst having a bath.

Mabel’s son Robert, the third earl of Shrewsbury, was one of the most important barons in the Norman power  struggle.  Find out how de Bellême benefited from the disputes between William the Coqueror’s sons, built and fortified castles without licence and betrayed each of the Conqueror’s sons in turn.

Stories of  Robert de Belleme’s brutality and sadism were current during his life time –he  was certainly involved with the murder of the Count of Maine. The Orderic Vitalisis is an important primary source that we will explore during the two weeks of the course. It is thought that de Belleme inspired the story of Robert the Devil. Or was he just the counterweight for Henry I in the chronicles of the period who mixed historical chronicle with moral tale?

Cost  £20.00 

Robert de Belleme and his mother – villain baron.

Two week course - 5th May & 12th May 2020 at St Mary's Parish Centre.