Ellie Wood Keith Genealogy

Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk

Male Abt 1095 - 1177  (~ 82 years)


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  • Name Hugh Bigod 
    Suffix 1st Earl of Norfolk 
    Born Abt 1095 
    Gender Male 
    History Hugh was born in Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, the second son of Roger Bigod and Alice/Adelicia de Tosny, dame de Belvoir. Roger was sheriff of Norfolk, and founded the Bigod name in England. Hugh inherited large estates in East Anglia on the death of his brother William, who perished without issue in the sinking of the White Ship on 26 November 1120. He succeeded his aunt Albreda - and by extension, her eldest brother Berengar - as heir both to Berengar\'s tenancy-in-chief in Lincolnshire and the Norman lands of Robert de Tosny of Belvoir. He became constable of Norwich Castle and governor of the city of Norwich in 1122. He enjoyed the favour of Henry I.

    Before 1140 Hugh married Juliane de Vere, daughter of Abrey de Vere, great chamberlain of England, and Alice de Clare. They had a son Roger who would have progeny, but the marriage was dissolved before 1168. Hugh\'s second marriage was to Gundred de Beaumont, daughter of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd earl of Warwick, and Gundred de Warenne.

    Hugh was first a supporter of King Stephen during his struggle with the Empress Matilda. His initiation in history was on the death of Henry I in 1135, when Matilda expected to succeed to the throne of England, but her cousin Stephen usurped the throne, breaking an oath he had previously made to defend her rights. Hugh claimed that Henry I (Matilda\'s father and Stephen\'s uncle) intended for Stephen to become king at the expense of the empress. Civil war resulted when in 1139 Matilda could command the military strength to challenge Stephen within his own realm. Matilda\'s greatest triumph came in February 1141, when her forces defeated and captured King Stephen; he was made a prisoner and effectively deposed. Her advantage lasted only until July of that year, and she released Stephen in December. In 1147 Matilda was finally forced to return to France, following the death of Robert of Gloucester, her strongest supporter and half-brother.

    King Stephen had initially kept his followers together, but in 1136 he was stricken with sickness. The report of his death was quickly spread abroad. A rising of the turbulent barons necessarily followed, and Hugh was the first to take up arms. He seized and held Norwich; however Stephen, quickly recovering, laid siege to the city and Hugh was compelled to surrender. Acting with unusual clemency, Stephen spared the rebel, who for a short time remained faithful. In 1140 Hugh is said to have declared for the empress, yet early in the next year he was in the ranks of Stephen\'s army fighting in the disastrous First Battle of Lincoln, after which Hugh deserted him and assumed a position of armed neutrality during the civil war that followed.

    Later the disagreement between King Stephen and Archbishop Theobald in 1148 created yet another scenario for Hugh to come forward; this time he sided with the archbishop and received him in his castle of Framlingham, but he joined with others in achieving a reconciliation.

    In 1153, when Henry, duke of Normandy, soon to be King Henry II, landed in England to assert his claim to the throne, Hugh vested his interests with the rising power, and held out in Ipswich against Stephen\'s forces, while Henry, on the other side, laid siege to Stamford. Both places fell. In the critical state of his fortunes Stephen was in no position to punish the rebel. Negotiations were also going on between the two parties, and Hugh again escaped retaliation.

    On Henry II\'s accession in December 1154, Hugh at once received confirmation of the possession of his earldom and stewardship by a charter issued apparently in January of the next year. The first years of the new reign were spent in restoring order to the shattered kingdom, and in breaking the power of the independent barons, which had grown out of control during King Stephen\'s reign.

    Not before long, Hugh became agitated under the rule of law initiated by Henry. He grew restless with measures such as the scutage, a fee paid by vassals in lieu of military service, which became the central feature of Henry II\'s military system of operation by 1159. Hugh showed signs of resistance, but was at once put down. In 1157 Henry II marched into the eastern counties and received Hugh\'s submission.

    After this incident Hugh makes no significant appearances in the chronicles for some time; he is named among those who had been excommunicated by Becket, in consequence of his retention of lands belonging to the monastery of Pentney in Norfolk.

    In 1173 the young crowned prince Henry (also known as Henry \'the Young King\'), raised a revolt against his father Henry II. This gave Hugh yet another chance for rebellion, along with the league of the English barons with the kings of France and Scotland in his favour. He at once became a leader in the cause, perhaps eager to revive the feudal power which Henry II had curtailed. The custody of Norwich Castle was promised by the young prince as his reward.

    The king\'s energy and good fortune were equal to the occasion. While he held in check his rebel vassals in France, the loyal barons in England defeated his enemies there. Robert de Beaumont, 3rd earl of Leicester, landed at Walton in Suffolk on 29 September 1173 and marched to Framlingham, joining forces with Hugh. Together they besieged and took the castle of Hagenet in Suffolk on 13 October, held by Randal de Broc for the crown. But the earl of Leicester was defeated and taken prisoner by the justiciar, Richard de Lucy, and other barons. These then turned their arms against Hugh. Not strong enough to fight, he opened negotiations with his assailants. It is said he bought them off and at the same time secured a safe passage home for the Flemings in his service.

    Though defeated and compelled to surrender his castles, Hugh kept his lands and his earldom, and lived at peace with Henry II until his death reportedly in Palestine. To fix his date of death it is worth noting that on 1 March 1177 his son Roger Bigod appealed to the king on a dispute with his stepmother. Hugh being dead at this time, the date of his death is fixed \'ante caput jejunii\', (i.e. before 9 March). If he died in Palestine, his death must have taken place in the preceding year, 1176, to allow time for the arrival of the news in England. Henry II took advantage of Roger\'s appeal to seize upon Hugh\'s vast estates.  [1
    Died 9 Mar 1176/1177 
    Person ID I2614  Ellie Wood Keith
    Last Modified 27 Mar 2018 

    Father Roger Bigod,   b. Abt 1050,   d. Sep 1107, Earsham Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 57 years) 
    Mother Alice (Adelicia) de Tosny, Dame de Belvoir 
    Family ID F1694  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Juliane de Vere,   d. Aft 1185 
    Children 
    +1. Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk,   b. Abt 1150,   d. Bef 2 Aug 1221  (Age ~ 71 years)
    Last Modified 27 Mar 2018 
    Family ID F1692  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S64] Genealogics, Leo Van de Pas, http://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00165068&tree=LEO.