Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
BATTLE ABBEY ROLL.
ACCOUNT OF THE NORMAN LINEAGES.
IN THREE VOLUMES.—VOL. I
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2007
from Aubigny, near Periers, in the Cotentin; now divided into the two parishes of St. Martin and St. Christophe d'Aubigny. Nigel de Aubigny or de Albini—destined to be the founder of one of the most illustrious houses in England—is the only one of this name entered in Domesday. He held a great barony in the counties of Buckingham, Leicester, Bedford, and Warwick; and belonged to a family that had been attached to the household of the Conqueror's father, Duke Robert. He was the grandson of William d'Aubigny, who had married a sister of the traitor Grimault du Plessis; and the son of Roger Pincerna, by his wife, Amicia de Moubrai. Nigel was the youngest of their children; and early involved in the rebellion of the Norman barons against their Duke, through his brother William, who was actively engaged in it. Both were forced to take refuge in Brittany, and William never obtained his pardon; but Nigel's brilliant valour in the Angevin war regained him the Duke's favour, and he rose high in his good graces. Wace speaks of him as "Boteiller d'Aubigny," but in reality this title never belonged to him. He was Bow-bearer to William Rufus, and unshaken in his allegiance to him and his successor. It was Henry I. who first "girt him with the sword of knighthood; and he spared not to adventure his life in his quarrel in the most perilous encounters." No better or braver soldier was to be found in the kingdom: none more renowned for his feats of arms. At the battle of Tinchebrai he encountered Robert Curthose, hand to hand, slew his horse, and brought him prisoner to the King. For this service he received the forfeited estates of Robert Front-de-Boeuf: and it is computed that he then held one hundred and twenty manors in England, and as many more in Normandy, including the great domain—once Earl Mowbray's—that had come to him with his wife. Her hand, according to Dugdale, was the guerdon he received for taking by assault a castle that Henry was then besieging in Normandy, and which he was the first to enter, and deliver into the King's hand. Sir Francis Palgrave thus gives the history of this strange marriage. "Robert de Mowbray, having rebelled against William Rufus, was let down into the pit of Windsor Castle, in which his robust constitution increased his punishment, by giving him strength to linger during thirty-four wretched years. Matilda de Aquila did not sorrow very long for her husband. According to a principle of jurisprudence still prevailing in France, and adopted from the Roman law, perpetual imprisonment is equivalent to civil death: the Pope therefore declared the marriage dissolved. Another husband soon appeared, Nigel de Albini, the King's Bow-bearer, who, obtaining Earl Mowbray's wife and Earl Mowbray's lands, transmitted Earl Mowbray's name to his posterity. Nigel lived with Matilda as long as she could promote his interest: but when her brother, Gilbert de Aquila, died, even as she had divorced her first husband, so did the second divorce her. As she had done, so was she done by. Nigel kept the lands, but repudiated the lady. Matilda died in disgrace and poverty; and Nigel, by Henry Beauclerk's special intervention, married the great heiress, Gundreda the Fair, daughter of Gerard de Gournay; and his son Roger, assuming the name of Mowbray, though without a drop of Mowbray blood in his veins, became the founder of the new Mowbray family."
Sir Francis altogether ignores the fact that Nigel's mother was Amicia de Moubrai (v. Recherches sur le Domesday), and that he must have obtained his divorce on the ground of consanguinity. No doubt one reason for discarding the childless Matilda, was his desire to have an heir, and this was fulfilled by Gundreda the Fair, who was the mother of two sons: 1. Roger, and 2. Henry. By the King's express command, Roger took the name of Mowbray, and was the founder of that princely house (see Mowbray). Henry had the barony of Cainho, and his descendants, who bore the name of De Albini Cainho, continued till 1223, when Robert de Albini died, leaving no heirs but his sisters. One of them conveyed Cainho to the St. Amands.
Nigel de Albini reached a very great age, and died in 1138, having lived under four different Kings of England. In his last days he became a monk of Bec, the Abbey where his ancestors had been buried, and he himself was laid to rest.
His elder brother William had, as I have already said, never found favour in the Conqueror's eyes, nor been pardoned for his early rebellion. During his reign, De Albini never durst venture into his dominions; and it is even doubtful whether he came to England as early as the time of Rufus. But he assuredly stood high in the good graces of Henry Beauclerk, who granted him forty-two knight's fees in Norfolk; and among them the barony of Buckenham, "to hold in grand serjeantry by the butlery," whence he obtained his father's title of Pincerna, and is styled Pincerna Henrici Regis Anglorum. This feudal dignity has descended to his representatives, the Dukes of Norfolk, who officiate as Butlers of England at every coronation, receiving for their service a cup of pure gold. He was the founder of Wymondham Abbey; and at the funeral of his wife, Maud Bigot, "with great lamentations gave to the monks," with other rich gifts, "part of the wood of the Cross whereon our Lord was Crucified: part of the Manger whereon He was laid at His birth; and part of the Sepulchre of the Blessed Virgin;" his three sons, William, Nigel, and Oliver, witnessing his donation. He himself was buried in front of the high altar, where the monks continued, for many generations, to pray for the soul of "William the King's Butler."
The eldest son, William of the Strong Hand, seemed, like the happy prince in a fairy tale, destined from his cradle to wear Fortune's favours, and revel in every good gift she has to bestow. Success waited on his steps, as a bondwoman; and no feat seemed beyond the reach of his romantic valour. Two Queens were in love with him; and the one he married brought him a principality in one of the fairest parts of England; with the famous castle that, alone in the kingdom, is privileged to confer an Earldom on its possessor.
I will leave Dugdale to narrate the picturesque legend associated with his name. "It hapned that the Queen of France, being then a Widow, and a very beautiful woman, became much in love with a Knight of that Countray, who was a comely person, and in the flower of his youth: and because she thought that no man excelled him in valor, she caused a Tournament to be proclaimed throughout her Dominions; promising to reward those who should exercise themselves therein, according to their respective demerits: and concluding that if the person whom she so well affected, should act his part better than others in those Military Exercises, she might marry him without any dishonour to herself.
"Hereupon divers gallant men, from forrain parts hasting to Paris; amongst others, came this our William de Albini bravely accoutred: and in the Tournament excelled all others; overcoming many, and wounding one mortally with his Lance: which, being observed by the Queen, shee became exceedingly enamoured of him, and forthwith invited him to a costly Banquet, and afterwards bestowing certain Jewels upon him, offered him Marriage. But having plighted his troth to the Queen of England, then a Widow, refused her. Whereat she grew so much discontented, that she consulted with her Maids, how she might take away his life: and in pursuance of that designe, inticed him into a Garden where there was a secret Cave, and in it a fierce Lion, unto which she descended by divers steps, under colour of shewing him the Beast. And when she told him of his fierceness, he answered that it was a womanish and not manly quality to be affraid thereof. But having him there, by the advantage of a folding dore, thrust him into the Lion. Being therefore in this danger, he rolled his Mantle about his Arm; and putting his hand into the mouth of the beast, pulled out his Tongue by the root; which done he followed the Queen to her Palace, and gave it to one of her Maids to present to her.
"Returning thereupon to England, with the fame of this glorious exploit, he was forthwith advanced to the Earldome of Arundel, and for his arms the Lion given him."
It would, however, appear that the great honour of Arundel—comprising ninety-seven knight's fees—was the dowry of Adeliza de Louvain, the widow of Henry I.; and that he acquired it only when, "not long after that, the Queen of England accepted him for her husband." He became Earl of Arundel by tenure—the only Earldom so held in England; and was also styled Earl of Chichester; "yet it was," says Dugdale, "of the county of Sussex that he was really Earl, by the Tertium Denarium of the pleas of Sussex, granted to him: which was the usual way of investing such great men (in ancient times) with the possession of an Earldom." Nor was the lion granted to him alone, for Nigel de Albini transmitted it to his descendants, the Mowbrays: the elder brother bearing a golden, and the younger a silver lion. The arms of their kinsmen in the Cotentin were totally different; for a seal of Bertrand d'Aubigny (who lived about the end of the twelfth century) shows the homelier bearing of three pots, two and one.
The new Earl was "a stout and expert soldier," and having been one of those who solicited the Empress Maud to come to England, he received her on her landing at his port of Arundel, and nearly lost his life in her quarrel, "being unhorsed in the midst of the water," during a sharp skirmish, and almost drowned. His timely interference, however, it was that checked further bloodshed in 1172, when, at the siege of Wallingford Castle, he declared, "If it be considered that there are in each army, not only kinsmen and nephews; but brothers against one another: If we joyn battle, it cannot be avoided, but many will be guilty of little less than parricide: Let therefore this pernicious fury of a Civil Warr he set aside; and fit persons chosen to compose all differences." This led to a truce and eventual agreement. He was afterwards constantly employed by Henry II. He died in 1176, leaving by his wife, Queen Adeliza, four sons and three daughters; but the line failed with his two great grandsons. Both died without posterity; Hugh, the fifth and last Earl, "in the prime of his youth" in 1243; and his four sisters divided his great inheritance. Mabel de Tateshall, the eldest, had Buckenham Castle; Isabel FitzAlan, the second, the castle and honour of Arundel (thus conveying the Earldom to her descendants), Nichola de Someri, the third, had Barwe in Leicestershire; and Cecily de Montalt, the fourth, the Castle of Rising in Norfolk.
The widow of the young Earl Hugh was also richly dowered. She was the daughter of Earl Warrenne: a lady of haughty spirit and ready tongue, who "not speeding in a suit" she had made to the King, plainly told him, "That he was by God Almighty constituted to govern: but that he did neither govern himself nor his subjects as he ought to do." The King was at first amused, and asked, "What is that you say? Have the Peers framed a Charter, and made you their Advocate to speak for them, by reason of your Eloquence?" But when she burst forth—"What are become of those Liberties of England, so often solemnly recorded, so often confirmed, nay so often purchased? I, though a Woman, and all the free-born people, do appeal to the Tribunal of God against you! and Heaven and earth shall bear witness how injuriously you have dealt with us!" and rated him soundly, "the King," says Dugdale, was "much astonished, knowing his own guilt." It was obviously the last favour she ever asked of Henry III.
Aybeuare. Here, I believe, r should be l, giving us Aybevale or Aubevel (Brompton) from Auberville, near Caen. Four of this name are found in Domesday, disguised under the various spellings of Otburvilla, Oburvilla, Odburvile, Otburgvile, and Odburcuilla. Roger de Auberville held a barony in Essex and Suffolk: William de Auberville, Lord of Berlai, one in Herts: Robert de Auberville another in Somerset, where he held the office of Chief Forester; and Seri or Seric de Auberville was a mesne-lord in Cambridgeshire.
Dugdale ignores all but the two first-named Barons, who are said (though not by him) to have been brothers; and gives his attention to Roger's descendants only. Of these there were in all five generations. His son and successor Hugh—the "Hugh de Albertivilla" of Kent, entered in the Pipe Roll of 1130, was the father of Sir William de Auberville, whom he left a minor at his death in 1139, and for whose wardships Turgis de Abrincis paid "one hundred marks of silver, one mark in gold, and a Courser." Sir William was seated at Westenhanger in East Kent, where he founded the Premonstratensian Priory of East Langdon in 1192; and he was likewise a benefactor of Christ Church. His wife Maud was the eldest of the three daughters among whom the great Justiciary, Ralph de Glanville, divided his estate before departing with Coeur de Lion for the Holy Land; and she had for her share the manor and advowson of Balham. The next heir, Hugh, died in 1212, again leaving a son under age, whose guardianship was a far more costly prize than his grandfather's had been; for it was first purchased by William de Ainesford for one thousand two hundred marks; and the following year transferred to William Briwer for one thousand more. With this last William de Auberville the line expired. He left as his heiress his daughter Joan, married first (in 1247) to Sir Henry de Sandwich of Dent-de-Lion in the Isle of Thanet; and secondly, to Nicholas de Criol, Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Sheriff of Kent. There is no mention of any children by her first husband; but by the second she had a son who bore his father's name.
Banks gives the coat of the Aubervilles as Argent, three bars, in chief an Escutcheon Gules; but it was certainly not that of the Sir William who founded Langdon; for, "as appears by his seal appendant to a deed in the Surrenden library, he bore Parted per dancettee, two annulets in chief, and one in base."—Hasted's Kent.
It is obvious that the other Aubervilles must have left some descendants, for "Radulfo de Ouvervilla" witnesses a deed of Ralph Gernon, Earl of Chester (1121-53); and Richard de Haubervyle occurs about 1272 (Rot Hundred). But I have met with no account of them. "William de Obervill, Lord of Pittencrieff, granted in 1291 to the Abbot and convent of Dunfermline a charter enabling them to work some coal pits and quarries on his estate. This is one of the earliest notices of coal in Scotland."—Chalmers' Dunfermline. John de Obervill—perhaps William's father—is mentioned in 1231.—Ibid.
- ↑ His barony was afterwards increased by a grant of the lands of Geoffrey de Wirce.
- ↑ John FitzAlan, Baron of Clun, in Wales, was in possession of Arundel Castle, as the representative of his mother, Isabella de Albini, heiress of her two brothers, the last earls of that name, but though in favour at court he never enjoyed, nor did his son after him, the title of Earl, though this is contrary to a popular opinion of its tenure. His grandson, Edmund, was the first of the name summoned to Parliament as Earl of Arundel."—Blauw's Barons' War.