Ellie Wood Keith Genealogy

Robert II \'le Bossu\' de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester[1]

Male 1104 - 1168  (64 years)


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  • Name Robert II \'le Bossu\' de Beaumont 
    Suffix 2nd Earl of Leicester 
    Born 1104 
    Gender Male 
    History Robert was born in 1104, the son of Robert I de Beaumont, 1st earl of Leicester, comte de Meulan, and Elisabeth de Vermandois. He was the twin brother of Galeran IV. There is no knowing whether they were identical or fraternal twins, but the fact that they are remarked on by contemporaries as twins indicates that they probably were in fact identical.

    The two brothers were adopted into the royal household shortly after their father\'s death in June 1118 (upon which Robert inherited his father\'s second title of Earl of Leicester). Their lands on either side of the Channel were committed to a group of guardians, led by their stepfather, William de Warenne, 2nd earl of Surrey, 2nd earl of Warenne. They accompanied King Henry I to Normandy, to meet with Pope Calixtus II in 1119, when the king incited them to debate philosophy with the cardinals. Both twins were literate, and Abingdon Abbey later claimed to have been Robert\'s school, but though this is possible, its account is not entirely trustworthy. A surviving treatise on astronomy carries a dedication \'to Earl Robert of Leicester, the man of affairs and profound learning, most accomplished in matters of law\' who can only be this Robert. On his death he left his own psalter to the abbey he founded at Leicester, which was still in its library in the late fifteenth century. Its existence indicates that like many noblemen of his day, Robert followed the canonical hours in his chapel.

    In 1120 Robert was declared of age and inherited most of his father\'s lands in England, while his twin brother took the French lands. However in 1121 royal favour brought Robert the great Norman honours of Breteuil and Pacy-sur-Eure, with his marriage to Amicie de Gael, dame de Breteuil et de Pacy-sur-Eure, daughter of Raoul, seigneur de Montfort-Gael et de Brecilien, Breteuil et Pacy, and Havoise, dame de Hede et Montauban. Their son Robert and three daughters would all have progeny.

    Robert spend a good deal of his time and resources over the next decade integrating the troublesome and independent barons of Breteuil into the greater complex of his estates. He did not join in his brother\'s great Norman rebellion against King Henry I in 1123-4. He appeared fitfully at the royal court despite his brother\'s imprisonment until 1129. Thereafter the twins were frequently to be found together at Henry I\'s court.

    Robert held lands throughout the country. In the 1120s and 1130s he tried to rationalise his estates. Leicestershire estates of the See of Lincoln and the earl of Chester were seized by force. This enhanced the integrity of Robert\'s block of estates in the central midlands, bounded by Nuneaton, Loughborough, Melton Mowbray and Market Harborough.

    In 1135 the twins were present at King Henry\'s deathbed. Robert\'s actions in the succession period are unknown, but he clearly supported his brother\'s decision to join the court of the new king Stephen for Easter 1136. During the first two years of the reign Robert is found in Normandy fighting rival claimants for his honour of Breteuil. Military action allowed him to add the castle of Pont St. Pierre to his Norman estates in June 1136 at the expense of one of his rivals. From the end of 1137 Robert and his brother were increasingly caught up in the politics of the court of King Stephen in England, where Galeran secured an ascendancy which lasted until the beginning of 1141. Robert participated in his brother\'s political coup against the king\'s justiciar, Roger of Salisbury (the bishop of Salisbury).

    The outbreak of civil war in England in September 1139 brought Robert in conflict with Robert de Caen, 1st earl of Gloucester, the bastard son of Henry I and principal sponsor of Empress Matilda. His port of Wareham and estates in Dorset were seized by Gloucester in the first campaign of the war. In that campaign the king awarded Robert de Beaumont the city and castle of Hereford in a bid to establish the earl as his lieutenant in Herefordshire, which was in revolt. It is disputed by scholars whether this was an award of a second county to Robert. Probably in late 1139, Robert refounded his father\'s collegiate church of St. Mary de Castro in Leicester as a major Augustinian abbey on the meadows outside the town\'s north gate, annexing the college\'s considerable endowment of the abbey.

    The Battle of Lincoln on 2 February 1141 saw the capture and imprisonment of King Stephen. Although Robert\'s brother Galeran valiantly continued the royalist fight in England into the summer, he eventually capitulated to the empress and crossed back to Normandy to make his peace with the empress\'s husband Geoffrey V, comte d\'Anjou et Maine. Robert had been in Normandy since 1140 attempting to stem the Angevin invasion, and negotiated the terms of his brother\'s surrender. He quit Normandy soon after and his Norman estates were confiscated and used to reward Norman followers of the empress. Robert remained on his estates in England for the remainder of King Stephen\'s reign. Although he was a nominal supporter of the king, there seems to have been little contact between him and Stephen, who did not confirm the foundation of Leicester Abbey until 1153. Robert\'s principal activity between 1141 and 1149 was his private war with Ranulph de Meschines, 2nd earl of Chester. Though details are obscure it seems clear enough that he waged a dogged war with his rival that in the end secured him control of northern Leicestershire and the strategic Chester castle of Mountsorrel. When Robert de Caen, earl of Gloucester, died in 1147, Robert of Leicester led the movement among the greater earls of England to negotiate private treaties to establish peace in their areas, a process hastened by the empress\'s departure to Normandy, and complete by 1149. During this time the earl also exercised supervision over his twin brother\'s earldom of Worcester, and in 1151 he intervened to frustrate the king\'s attempts to seize the city.

    The arrival in England of Duke Henry, son of Empress Mathilda, in January 1153 was a great opportunity for Robert. He was probably in negotiation with Henry in that spring and reached an agreement by which he would defect to him by May 1153, when the duke restored his Norman estates to the earl. The duke celebrated his Pentecost court at Leicester in June 1153, and he and the earl were constantly in company until the peace settlement between the duke and the king at Winchester in November 1153. Earl Robert crossed with the duke to Normandy in January 1154 and resumed his Norman castles and honours. As part of the settlement his claim to be chief steward of England and Normandy was recognised by Henry.

    Robert began his career as chief justiciar of England as soon as Duke Henry succeeded as King Henry II in October 1154. The office gave the earl supervision of the administration and legal process in England whether the king was present in or absent from the realm. He appears in that capacity in numerous administrative acts, and had a junior colleague in the post in Richard de Luci, another former servant of King Stephen. The earl filled the office for nearly fourteen years until his death, and earned the respect of the emerging Angevin bureaucracy in England. His opinion was quoted by learned clerics, and his own learning was highly commended.

    He died on 5 April 1168, probably at his Northamptonshire castle of Brackley, for his entrails were buried in the hospital in the town. He was received as a canon of Leicester on his deathbed, and buried to the north of the high altar of the great abbey he had founded and built. He left a written testament of which his son the third earl was an executor, as we learn in a reference dating to 1174.

    In addition to the abbey of St. Mary de Pré, in Leicester, Robert founded in England the Cistercian abbey of Garendon in 1133, the Fontevraldine priory at Nuneaton between 1155 and 1160, the priory of Luffield, and the hospital of Brackley. He refounded the collegiate church of St. Mary de Castro as a dependency of Leicester Abbey around 1164, after suppressing it in 1139. Around 1139 he refounded the collegiate church of Warcham as a priory of his abbey of Lyre in Normandy. His principal Norman foundations were the priory of Le Désert in the forest of Breteuil and a major hospital in Breteuil itself. He was a generous benefactor of the Benedictine Abbey of Lyre, the oldest monastic house in the honour of Breteuil.  [2
    Died 5 Apr 1168 
    Person ID I2167  Ellie Wood Keith
    Last Modified 23 Mar 2018 

    Father Robert I De Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester, Comte de Meulan,   b. Abt 1046,   d. 5 Jun 1118  (Age ~ 72 years) 
    Mother Elisabeth (Isabel) De Vermandois,   b. About 1081,   d. Abt 31 Mar 1131  (Age ~ 50 years) 
    Married 1096 
    Family ID F1546  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Amicie de Gael, Dame de Breteuil et de Pacy-sur-Eure,   d. Aft 31 Aug 1168 
    Married Aft Nov 1120 
    Children 
    +1. Hawise de Beaumont,   d. 24 Apr 1197
    Last Modified 23 Mar 2018 
    Family ID F1369  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Amicie de Gael, Dame de Breteuil et de Pacy-sur-Eure,   d. Aft 31 Aug 1168 
    Married Aft Nov 1120 
    Children 
    +1. Marguerite de Beaumont,   b. Abt 1125,   d. Aft 1185  (Age ~ 61 years)
    Last Modified 23 Mar 2018 
    Family ID F1547  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 3 Amicie de Gael, Dame de Breteuil et de Pacy-sur-Eure,   d. Aft 31 Aug 1168 
    Married Aft Nov 1120 
    Children 
    +1. Robert III \'Blanchemains\' de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester, Steward of England,   b. Bef 1135,   d. 1190, Durazzo, Greece Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 55 years)
    Last Modified 24 Mar 2018 
    Family ID F1587  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S12] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_de_Beaumont,_2nd_Earl_of_Leicester.

    2. [S64] Genealogics, Leo Van de Pas, http://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00120987&tree=LEO.