Boulogne had once been a vassal state of Flanders but when Baldwin IV of Flanders was a minor Boulogne took the opportunity to declare its independence. As the eleventh century progressed the relationship between the Flemish and the people of Boulogne evolved from one of animosity to alliance and back again. However, Boulogne ensured its borders by making alliances with the up and coming power house – i.e. Normandy.
Eustace I arranged for his son, also handily named Eustace to marry Duke Richard of Normandy’s niece. Goda or Godiva and her brothers Edward and Alfred had been sent to Normandy for safety in 1016 when the Danes invaded England. In due course their mother Emma had married King Cnut, her first husband Aethelred the Unready having died.
Goda had been married off first of all to Drogo of Mantes who was the Count of the Vexin – an area that would be increasing contested between the dukes of Normandy and the kIngs of France. Her first marriage was in 1024 and there were three children including Walter who would become Count of Vexin in his turn. He died in 1063 along with his wife having been captured by William of Normandy – make of that what you will.
By 1035 Goda had been widowed so Duke Richard married her off to Eustace of Boulogne making him the brother-in-law of Edward the Confessor. Eustace and Edward remained on good terms even after Goda’s death. Eustace visited Edward in 1051 which was unfortunate as Edward’s most powerful earl – Godwin had recently married his son Tostig to Judith of Flanders. If you recall back to the start of this post Boulogne and Flanders did not always exhibit warm and friendly feelings to one another!
Eustace and his retinue left England via Dover where they got into a fight with the people of the town. About twenty of Eustace’s retinue were killed. Edward the Confessor was not impressed and ordered Godwin to punish Dover – which was part of his earldom. Godwin refused. It led to a furious argument that resulted in Godwin being given his marching orders and Edward the Confessor’s wife being packed off to a nunnery.
Eustace would return to England in 1066 as part of William of Normandy’s army is featured on the Bayeux Tapestry as seen at the start of this post- so he can’t have been too perturbed about his step-son’s death in 1063.