Robert FitzWalter
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Robert FitzWalter (abt. 1180 - 1235)

Robert "Lord of Dunmow Castle, Essex" FitzWalter
Born about in Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married before 13 Oct 1199 [location unknown]
Husband of — married 27 Dec 1207 in Woodham Walter, Essex, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 55 in Englandmap [uncertain]
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Magna Carta Surety Baron
Robert FitzWalter was one of the twenty-five medieval barons who were surety for Magna Carta in 1215.
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Contents

Biography

Origins

Robert was the son of Walter FitzRobert and Mathilde de Lucy.[1][2] Hs birth date in not known, nor has any firm information survived about his earlier life.[2] Professor Saul suggests a birth date of about 1180.[3]

Lands

The death of his father in 1198 made Robert one of the wealthiest and most powerful English Barons. He inherited the Barony of Little Dunmow, based in Essex.[4] His lands - spread across a number of counties[1] - comprised 66 knights' fees.[2]

Through his marriage Robert also held the Barony of Benington, based in Hertfordshire[5] and held a further 32 knights' fees.[2]

In 1204 Robert was co-heir to Kentish lands of his uncle Godfrey de Lucy.[1][2] In 1207 his wife inherited lands in Yorkshire from the widow of her uncle Geoffrey de Valoines.[1]

By 1213 he also held 11 knights' fees in Cornwall, inherited from another de Lucy uncle, Richard de Lucy.[6]

Besides estates in England, Robert held knights' fees in Poitou.[2]

1200-1210

Robert appears in records from 1200. That year he confirmed a gift by his father[1] and was surety for half the fine imposed on his brother Simon for marrying without royal permission.[2]

In 1203 Robert and Saher de Quincy were entrusted with the castle of Vaudreuil in Normandy. Even though this was a strong fortification, they surrendered to Philippe Auguste of France without a blow being fought. He and Saher de Quincy were held captive:[1][2] he agreed to a ransom of 5000 marks.[1]

Robert was with King John on his 1206 expedition to Poitou,[2] and, in October 1206, was a witness to a truce between King John and Philippe Auguste.[1][2] Four years later, in 1210, he served with King John in Ireland.[1][2]

1212 Plot

In 1212 Robert, along with Eustace de Vescy and Llyweyn ap Iorwerth, was a leading figure in a plot to assassinate King John. The conspiracy never prospered, and Robert fled to France. He was outlawed, his estates were seized several of his castles were demolished.[1][2] A reconciliation with King John was patched up the next year, as part of a wide-ranging agreement between King John the Pope, and his lands were restored.[2]

Magna Carta and Rebellion

In 1215 Robert was one of the group of Barons who compelled King John to sign the Magna Carta, and became a main leader, being termed "Marshal of the Army of God and Holy Church".[1][2]

That summer the Barons entrusted Northamptonshire to Robert. Soon afterwards open rebellion broke out. In October 1215, Robert was defending the bridge at Rochester, Kent against royal forces, but was forced to retreat to London.[2] In December 1215 he and other rebel Barons were excommunicated.[1]

Robert and Saher de Quincy went to France to enlist the support of Prince Louis, returning with French troops in January 1216.[1] Robert continued in rebellion the rebels' defeat at the second Battle of Lincoln in 1217, when he was taken prisoner. He was released in October 1217, and his lands were restored.[1][2]

Later Life

In 1219 Robert went on crusade, taking part in the siege of Damietta during the 5th Crusade. He returned home sick.[2] In 1223 he fought in Wales with the forces of the government of Henry III.[2]

In 1225 he was a witness to Henry III's confirmation of Magna Carta rights.[1][2]

In 1230 Robert was among those appointed to hold an assize of arms in Essex and Hertfordshire.[1][2]

Marriages and Children

Robert married twice. Before 13 October 1199 he married Gunnora de Valoines as her second husband.[1][7] They had at least two children:

Gunner was still alive in 1208.[1][7] The Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois d’Angleterre mentions also an unnamed son,[7] who, assuming he existed, must have died in his father's lifetime as it was Robert's son by his second marriage who inherited.[2][4][7]

Robert's second wife was Rohese, whose family origins are uncertain.[1][7] They had one son:

  • Walter,[1] who was born in about 1219 as he came of age in 1240,[4] and who was Robert's main heir[2][4][7]

Death and Burial

Robert died on 9 December 1235 and was buried at Dunmow Priory, Essex.[1][2] He was survived by his second wife Rohese, who may have lived on to 1256.[1]

Research Notes

1180 Tournament

The Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal mentions a Robert FitzWalter as one of the knights taking part in the retune of Henry the Young King at a major tournament in 1180. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography speculates that this may be the Robert of the profile.[2] Even if Robert was born before 1180, the date suggested by Professor Saul[3] - which is possible - he is likely to have been too young to have participated in the tournament.

Speculation of Causes of Quarrel with King John

The reason for Robert FitzWalter's split from King John is not known. Francis Blomefield in his An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk records a story that it was because King John had unsuccessfully sought to make Robert's daughter his mistress in about 1213,[8] but this is likely to be just gossip - and Robert was plotting against King John in 1212.

This seems to have caused some tensions ...

THE PRIORY OF BINHAM

Thomas was prior in 1199 and 1200. (fn. 5) The removal of this prior from his office by the abbot of St. Albans provoked considerable dispute, which is recited at length by Matthew Paris. Robert Fitzwalter, a powerful baron, was a friend of Prior Thomas. Resenting his dismissal, the baron asserted his claim to be patron of the cell, and alleged that he possessed a deed from the parent abbey by which it was stipulated that no prior could be removed without the patron's assent. He therefore impleaded the abbot in the king's court, (fn. 6) charging him with coming to the priory of Binham to lodge there with more men and horses than he ought to have, and also with increasing the number of monks there resident, and extorting much money from the men of the priory, from which he ought only to receive one mark yearly. Finally he alleged that the abbot had infringed his rights by removing the prior during his absence with the king in Ireland (in 1210). The defence was apparently a denial of Fitzwalter's claim to the patronage, and seems to have been successful. Having therefore obtained no satisfaction from the law he assembled his retainers, and so closely beset the priory that the monks then in residence could not get anything to drink save rain water, or anything to eat save bread made of bran. When King John heard of this outrage he sent an armed force to relieve Binham, and Fitzwalter fled the kingdom. He died some years later, in the reign of Henry III, but to the last persisted in retaining the deed by which he claimed a right over the appointment of the prior. On his death, his friend and fellowsoldier, Adam Fitzwilliam, having learnt where the forged deed had been concealed, delivered it up to the abbot of St. Albans, and presented a silver-gilt pix for the high altar in expiation of his share in the crime, having been privy to the transaction. (fn. 7)[9]

FitzWilliam received some of FitzWalter's property ...

Robert son of Walter. Writ of extent of the manors of Reyndon and Beninton to Adam son of William, 24 May, 20 Hen. III. Extent (undated). [Essex.] Reyndun manor (full extent given).[10]

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Biography

For the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015, Professor Nigel Saul wrote a set of biographies of the Surety Barons. He and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee generously gave permission for them to be reproduced on WikiTree. They can be viewed here.

Sources

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham, 2nd edition (Salt Lake City: the author, 2011), Vol. II, pp. 202-205, FITZWALTER 1, partly viewable in snippets on Google Books
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Fitzwalter, Robert (d. 1235)', print and online 2004, available online via some libraries
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nigel Saul. Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Biography of Robert FitzWalter
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 I J Sanders. English Baronies, A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1960, pp. 129-130
  5. I J Sanders. English Baronies, p. 12
  6. Daniel Lysons and Samuel Lysons. 'General history: Principal landholders', in Magna Britannia, Volume 3, Cornwall (London, 1814), pp. lxiv-lxxii, British History Online, accessed 28 March 2020
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Charles Cawley. "Medieval Lands": A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families © by Charles Cawley, hosted by Foundation for Medieval Genealogy (FMG). See also WikiTree's source page for MedLands. Entry for Robert Fitzwalter
  8. Blomefield, Francis. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk', Vol. I, 1739, p. 3, Google Books: "[He was the] Leader of those Barons that rose against King John, the Beginning of which was on this Occasion as the Book of Dunmowe inform us. About the Year 1213, there arose a great Discord between King John and his Barons, because of Matilda Sirnamed the Fair, Daughter of Robert Fits-Walter, whom the King unlawfully loved, but could not obtain her, nor her Fathers Consent thereunto...poisoned a boiled or potched Egg..., whereof she died in 1213."
  9. 'Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of Binham', in A History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London, 1906), pp. 343-346. British History Online [1] [accessed 20 June 2020].
  10. 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry III, File 1', in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Volume 1, Henry III, ed. J E E S Sharp (London, 1904), pp. 1-6. British History Online [2] [accessed 20 June 2020].
  • Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. 2nd edition. Salt Lake City: the author, 2011. Vol. II, pp. 202-205. See also WikiTree's source page for "Magna Carta Ancestry".
  • Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Salt Lake City: the author, 2013. See also WikiTree's source page for ‘’Royal Ancestry’’. Vol. II p. 646-650, FITZWALTER 6
  • Cawley, Charles. "Medieval Lands": A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families © by Charles Cawley, hosted by Foundation for Medieval Genealogy (FMG). See also WikiTree's source page for MedLands. Entry for Robert Fitzwalter
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Fitzwalter, Robert (d. 1235)', print and online 2004, available online via some libraries
  • Wikipedia: Robert Fitzwalter.

Acknowledgements

Magna Carta Project

As a surety baron, Robert FitzWalter's profile is managed by the Magna Carta Project. See FitzWalter-101 Descendants for profiles of his descendants that have been improved and categorized by the Magna Carta project and are in a project-approved trail to a Gateway Ancestor. See this index for links to other surety barons and category pages for their descendants. See the project's Base Camp for more information about Magna Carta trails.
This profile was reviewed, revised and approved for the Magna Carta Project by Michael Cayley in March 2020.






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