Biographies – Other Notable Barons

Short biographies of other notable barons during the years 1135-1154

• Aubrey de Vere II and Alice FitzRichard de Clare

Aubrey de Vere II
Birth: –
Death: 1141
Burial: Colne Priory, Essex
Father: Aubrey de Vere
Mother: –
Marriage: Alice FitzRichard de Clare
Aubrey de Vere, 1st Earl of Oxford m. (1) 1139 Beatrice de Guises, daughter of the Comte de Guises. He and Beatrice de Guises were divorced c.1146. (2) c.1162 Agnes of Essex, daughter of Henry of Essex, Lord Rayleigh and Haughley
Rohese, m. Geoffrey de Mandeville II, 1st Earl of Essex
Juliana, m. Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk
William, Bishop of Hereford
Gilbert, Prior of the Knights Hospitaller in England
a daughter m. Roger de Ramis

Aubrey de Vere was appointed Lord Great Chamberlain by Henry I in 1133. He served both Henry and Stephen as well as being appointed Sheriff of several Shires. In 1139 when Stephen was summoned to a church council to answer for the seizure of castles held by Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, it was Aubrey who represented the King. Aubrey died in 1141. Eventually, his son would be created 1st Earl of Oxford. It was the de Vere family who built the still well preserved Keep, Hedingham Castle, in Essex.

• Brian Fitzcount and Matilda de Wallingford

Brian Fitzcount
Birth: –
Death: –
Burial: –
Father: Alan IV, Duke of Brittany
Mother: –
Marriage: Matilda of Wallingford
Children: None

Brian (Brien) Fitzcount, Lord of Wallingford and Baron Abergavenny, was the illegitimate son of Alan IV Fergant, Count of Brittany. He was sent to the court of King Henry I as a child and, like Robert of Gloucester, gained high favour and almost certainly a good education at court. The letters he exchanged with Gilbert Foliot indicate that this is the case. He married Matilda de Wallingford who brought him the lands of her father, Robert D’Oyly, and those of her late husband, Miles Crispin.

He declared for Matilda in 1139 and was a staunch supporter of her claim. Stephen unsuccessfully laid siege to Wallingford Castle, a place which would become a recurring irritation throughout his reign. Brian’s later years are shrouded in mystery and because he and his wife had no heirs their lands and titles reverted to the crown after their deaths. Although an authentic charter of 1141/2 proves that he held Abergavenny by right of his wife, the story in the Abergavenny Chronicle that he went on crusade is unreliable.

• Miles of Gloucester and Sybil de Neufmarché

Miles of Gloucester
Birth: c.1100
Death: 24 December 1143
Burial: Llanthony Priory
Father: Walter of Gloucester
Mother: Bertha
Marriage: Sybil de Neufmarché
Roger, 2nd Earl of Hereford

Miles of Gloucester was the son of Walter Fitz Roger and the grandson of Roger de Pîtres. He held the office of hereditary Sheriff of Gloucester after the death of his father in 1121. He married Sybil de Neufmarché who was the daughter of Bernard de Neufmarché, Lord of Brecon and Nest, in 1121 and with her had eight children. He was in the service of Henry I between 1130 and 1135 and held the office of King’s Constable. After Henry’s death he, like many of the barons, at first declared for Stephen but when Matilda arrived in England in 1139 he declared for her and put Gloucester at her disposal. He remained loyal to her cause and was created Earl of Hereford by Matilda on 25th July 1141 and retained as her Constable. Miles died on 24th December 1143 in the Forest of Dean, the result of a hunting accident, and was buried at Llanthony Priory in southeast Wales.

• Waleran, Count of Muelan, 1st Earl of Worcester and Robert, 2nd Earl of Leicester

Waleran, Count of Meulan
Birth: 1104
Death: 9 April, 1166
Burial: St Peter of Préaux, Normandy
Father: Robert, Count of Meulan and 1st Earl of Leicester
Mother: Elizabeth de Vermandois
Marriage: 1141/2 – Agnes de Montfort
Robert, Count of Meulan
Raoul (Ralph)
Etienne (Stephen)

… and his brother

Robert, 2nd Earl of Leicester
Birth: 1104
Death: 5 April, 1168
Burial: –
Marriage: 1121 – Amice de Montfort
Robert, 3rd Earl of Leicester
Isabel, m. Simon II of St Liz (Simon II de Senlis), Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton

The brothers were taken into the royal household of Henry I shortly after their father’s death in June 1118. Despite Waleran’s rebellion in 1122, in which Robert appears to have played no part, and his imprisonment until 1129, the twins were present at Henry’s court after this date and at his deathbed in 1135. There is more information to come with regards to their involvement in the struggles between Stephen and Matilda.

Robert of Leicester’s son in law, Simon II of St Liz (de Senlis), who was the son of Simon I of St Liz (de Senlis), 1st Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton, was also prominent figure in The Anarchy. He fought for Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 and despite the King’s defeat continued to loyally support Stephen’s cause. He died in 1153.

• King David of Scotland and Matilda, Countess of Huntingdon

David of Scotland
Birth: 1085
Death: 23 May 1153, Carlisle
Burial: Dunfermline Abbey
Father: Malcolm III
Mother: Saint Margaret of Scotland
Marriage: 1113 – Matilda, Countess of Huntingdon
Henry of Scotland, Earl of Northumbria

David was the younger brother of Queen Edith and after the death of Henry I, he supported the claim of Matilda, his niece, to the throne of England. This brought him into conflict with Stephen and despite his defeat at the Battle of the Standard in 1138 David was able to expand his power in northern England. It was King David who later knighted the future Henry II in 1149. More information about his role in the disputed succession between Matilda and Stephen will be forthcoming in the discussions of Stephen’s reign.

• Robert D’Oyly and Edith Forne

Robert D’Oyly
Birth: –
Death: possibly c.1142
Father: Nigel D’Oyly
Mother: –
Marriage: Edith Forne
Henry, d.1163

Robert D’Oyly the younger was the son of Nigel D’Oyly, Lord of Oxford Castle, and nephew of his namesake Robert D’Oyly d.1091 who was Lord of Wallingford, High Sheriff of Berkshire, builder of Oxford Castle, and one the largest landholders in England.

Robert D’Oyly the younger’s marriage to Edith Forne, a former mistress of Henry I, brought him the Manor of Cleydon, Buckinghamshire.

In 1141 Robert declared his support for Matilda against the King and gave her protection in Oxford. Stephen besieged the castle for three months, and it was during the winter that Matilda is said to have escaped by being lowered down the castle walls and, dressed in white as a camouflage against the snow and fleeing across the frozen ground, made her way to the safety of Wallingford in a story that has now became legendary.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. There are other notable barons of the era, for example, Richard de Lucy who became an important landholder in Essex toward the end of Stephen’s reign, however I think the biographies I have posted to date covers all of the main players. A brief post about the men of the clergy is to follow.


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