Note: This, and the inter-related Profiles are being studied by a Pre-1500 research team. For input please discuss with Vivienne Caldwell or Doug Straiton.
Isabel de Vermandois, Countess of Leicester (c.1081 - 13 Feb 1131) was distantly related to English kings, Norman dukes, and Flanders counts. By Carolingian ancestry, she was also related to almost every major nobleman in Western Europe. Nevertheless, Isabel was very much her own person.
Wonderfully controversial, her love life is something else. She had two husbands -- both Anglo-Norman magnates -- and a lot of kids..
Marriage to Robert de Meulan, 1st Earl of Leicester
m.1 (1096-1115) Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan (c.1046 - 05 Jun 1118)
Elizabeth married Meulan around aged 9 or 11. But the old count was at least 35 years her senior ... Yes. Unusual even for this time period. But he was a nobleman of some significance in France, who inherited lands from his maternal uncle Henry, Count of Meulan. He also fought his first battle with distinction at Hastings when he was only 16. He didn't have an English earldom when they got married, but his younger brother was Henry de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Warwick.
The marriage produced several children, including most notably two sons who were twins (born 1104), and thus remarkable in both surviving and both becoming important noblemen. They are better known tohistorians of this period as the Beaumont twins, or as Waleran de Beaumont, Count of Meulan and his younger twin Robert Bossu (the Humpback) or Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester. (Readers of Ellis Peters' Cadfael historical mystery series will find both twins mentioned frequently). Another notable child of this marriage was Elisabeth or Isabel de Beaumont, one of the youngest mistresses of Henry I of England and later mother (by her first marriage) of Richard Strongbow.
Some contemporaries were surprised that the aging Count of Meulan (b circa 1049/1050) was able to father so many children, given how busy he was with turmoil in England and Normandy from 1102 to 1110 (or later) and acting as Henry I's unofficial minister. One explanation is offered below; another might simply be an indication of his good health and energy (expended mostly in dashing from one troublespot in Normandy to England back to Normandy).
William II of England died suddenly in a purported hunting accident, and was hastily succeeded not by the expected heir but by the youngest brother Henry. This seizure of the throne led to an abortiveinvasion by the older brother Duke Robert of Normandy, followed by an uneasy truce between the brothers, followed by trouble in both England and Normandy for some time (stirred up by Duke Robert, andby an exiled nobleman Robert of Bellême, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury). Finally, Henry invaded Normandy and in the Battle of Tinchebray (September 28, 1106) destroyed organized opposition to his takeover of Normandy and imprisoned his ineffectual older brother for his lifetime. Meulan and his brother Warwick were apparently supporters of Henry during this entire period, and Meulan was rewarded with theearldom of Leicester in 1103. By 1107, Meulan was in possession of substantial lands in three domains. In 1111, he was able to revenge himself on the attack on his seat Meulan by Louis VI of France. He avenged himself by harrying Paris.
Elizabeth, apparently tired of her aging husband at some point. The historian Planche says (1874) she was seduced by or fell in love with William de Warenne (c. 1071-11 May 1138). It was said he wanted a royal bride, and Elizabeth met his requirements, even though she was also another man's wife.
In 1115, Warenne abducted the Countess to hide their long-standing affair. But eventually, the old Count of Meulan died -- supposedly of chagrin and mortification from publicly humiliation -- at the Abbey of Preaux, Normandy on 5 June 1118. So Elizabeth got to marry her lover after all.
Elizabeth and Warenne had several children -- all born during her marriage to Meulan. One daughter was born when they were living out of wedlock (1115-1118). It is unclear if it was Ada de Warenne.
William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey and Warenne (b. 1119 1147) dau Isabelle de Warenne, Countess of Surrey m.1 William, Count of Boulogne. m.2 Hamelin Plantagenet Issue.
Gundrada de Warenne, (Gundred) m.1 Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick. Issue.
William de Warenne, Earl of Warenne and Surrey
Ada de Warenne (d. c.1178) m. Henry of Scotland, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon
Marriage: Robert de Caen
m. Robert de Caen (b. 1046)
The later life of Elizabeth de Vermandois is not known.
The original Vermandois arms were "checky or and sable" but there was no black tincture in early medieval heraldry until sable was discovered, being the crushed fur of this animal. A very deep indigo was used instead which faded into blue so the Vermandois arms became "checky or and azure".
The Vermandois arms were inherited by the earls of Warenne and Surrey, the Newburgh earls of Warwick, the Beauchamp earls of Warwick and Worcester and the Clifford earls of Cumberland.
↑ 15.015.115.2 Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America before 1700, Edition: 7th ed. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Editor: Sheppard Jr., Walter Lee. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1992
↑ heiress of Vermandois, and descendant of a junior patrilineal line of descent from Charlemagne. The first Count of Vermandois was Pepin of Vermandois. He was a son of Bernard of Italy, grandson of Pippin of Italy and great-grandson of Charlemagne and Hildegard.
↑ Born in Pont-Audemer, Beaumont. Normandy. Son of Roger de Beaumont and Adeliza Meulent. died in Leicestershire.
↑ Issue: 3 sons (including twin elder sons); 6 dau
↑ Planche states Elizabeth agreed willingly but this means little in the context. Despite the age difference, this was a good marriage for its time. Meulan was a respected advisor to three reigning monarchs: William II of England, Robert Curthose and Philip I of France.
↑ Medieval brides were often betrothed young - 8 being the legal age for betrothal and 12 for marriage (for women). The young betrothed wife would often go to her husband's castle to be raised by his parents or other relatives and to learn the customs and ways of her husband's family. The actual wedding would not take place until much later. Some genealogists speculate that the usual age at which a noble bride could expect the marriage to be consummated would be 14. This is consistent with the date of birth of Elizabeth's first child Emma in 1102 when she would be about 15 to 17.
↑ His parents Roger de Beaumont, Lord of Beaumont-le-Roger and Pont-Audemar and Adeline of Meulan, heiress of Meulan died long before; Roger had been a kinsman and close associate of William the Conqueror. Meulan had inherited lands in Normandy after his father died circa 1089, and had also been given lands in the Kingdom of England after his participation in the Norman conquest of England.
↑ betrothed as an infant to Aumari, nephew of William, Count of Évreux, but the marriage never took place. She probably died young, or entered a convent.
↑ Her eldest son Waleran, Count of Meulan was active in supporting the disinherited heir William Clito, son of Robert Curthose until captured by King Henry. He was not released until Clito's death without issue in 1128.
↑ granddaughter Isabella of Gloucester was first wife of King John.
↑ Robert inherited his father's English estates and the earldom of Leicester and married the heiress of the Fitzosbern counts of Breteuil.
↑ Issue: Richard Strongbow -- invaded Ireland 1170
↑ Isabel became a concubine or mistress at a young age; it's unclear whether her mother's own life or her eldest brother's political and personal travails played a part in this decision. Before her mother died, Isabel m. Gilbert de Clare, later (1147) Earl of Pembroke.
↑ Her sons by her first marriage appear to have a good relationship with their half-brother William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey although on opposing sides for much of the wars between Stephen and Matilda.
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