Geoffrey II (Mandeville) de Mandeville
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Geoffrey (Mandeville) de Mandeville (abt. 1092 - abt. 1144)

Geoffrey (Geoffrey II) "Earl of Essex" de Mandeville formerly Mandeville
Born about in Oxford, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1129 [location unknown]
Died about in Mildenhall, Suffolk, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 1 Feb 2011
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Geoffrey II (Mandeville) de Mandeville was a member of aristocracy in England.
Notables Project
Geoffrey II (Mandeville) de Mandeville is Notable.

Excerpt from: "English Anarchy & Geoffrey de Mandeville - Scourge of the Fens"

Geoffrey de Mandeville was the Earl of Essex in the time of King Stephen (1135-1154). He is famous for his treachery and violence around the time of the civil war waged between Stephen and Henry Ist's daughter, the empress Matilda. As we shall see, his ability to wreak havoc and suffering was to be felt heavily by the people of Cambridgeshire. He was killed by an arrow attacking Burwell Castle in September 1144.

Titles of Geoffrey de Mandeville, (Richardson, Royal Ancestry):

Earl of Essex
Constable of the Tower of London
Sheriff and Chief Justice of Essex
Justice and Sheriff of London, Middlesex, Essex and Herefordshire

Succeeded his father as constable of the Tower of London in or shortly before 1130. Though a great Essex landowner, he played no conspicuous part in history till 1140, when Stephen created him earl of Essex in reward for his services against the empress Matilda. After the defeat and capture of Stephen at Lincoln (1141) the earl deserted to Matilda, but before the end of the year, learning that Stephen's release was imminent, returned to his original allegiance. In 1142 he was again intriguing with the empress; but before he could openly join her cause he was detected and deprived of his castles by the king. In 1143-1144 Geoffrey maintained himself as a rebel and a bandit in the fen-country, using the Isle of Ely and Ramsey Abbey as his headquarters. He was besieged by Stephen in the fens, and met his death in September 1144 in consequence of a wound received in a skirmish. His career is interesting for two reasons. The charters which he extorted from Stephen and Matilda illustrate the peculiar form taken by the ambitions of English feudatories. The most important concessions are grants of offices and jurisdictions which had the effect of making Mandeville a viceroy with full powers in Essex, Middlesex and London, and Hertfordshire. His career as an outlaw exemplifies the worst excesses of the anarchy which prevailed in some parts of England during the civil wars of 1140-1147, and it is probable that the deeds of Mandeville inspired the rhetorical description, in the Peterborough Chronicle of this period, when " men said openly that Christ and his saints were asleep."

Geoffrey de Mandeville, who like his fellow (the 2nd (meaning Algernon Capell, 2nd Earl of Essex of the 1641 creation)) Earl of Essex of the present creation was Constable of the Tower of London, was created Earl of Essex in 1140 by King Stephen. He already held numerous manors in Berks, Bucks, Essex, Herts, and Middlesex, which had belonged to his grandfather, another Geoffrey, at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. The family originated in Normandy, but precisely where is unclear, since there are several place names there akin to Mandeville (which seems originally to have been in Latin 'Magna Villa' or "Great Town"). De Mandeville later sided with the Empress Maud, who granted him a more generously framed charter, including a clause making the post of Constable of the Tower hereditary. Later still de Mandeville again sided with Stephen but subsequently rebelled yet again. His son was recreated Earl of Essex by Maud in Jan 1155/6, the rebellious habits of the father and perhaps also the appointive nature of earldoms at the time requiring a regrant.

After the death of the 3rd de Mandeville Earl, right to the title passed through a female branch but these descendants of the original de Mandevilles took the old family name (Mandeville) and were recognised as Earls of Essex in the time of King's John and Henry III. [Burke's Peerage, page 1004]

EARLDOM OF ESSEX (I) 1140 to 1144

GEOFFREY DE MANDEVILLE [b], of Great Waltham,Saffron Walden, High Easter, and Pleshey, Essex, Edmonton and Enfield, Middlesex, Sawbridgeworth, Herts, Quarrendon and Amershann, Bucks, Streatley, Berks, Long Compton, co. Warwick, &c., Constable of the Tower of London, son and heir of William DE MANDEVILLE, of the sarne (who died in or just before 1130), by (it is said, but probably erroneously) Margaret, daughter and heir of Eoun [a] de RIE, Dapifer, of Colchester, Essex: which William was son and heir of Geoffrey DE MANDEVILLE (who had held the aforesaid manors at the Domesday Survey), by his 1st wife, Athelaise. For reasons which are somewhat obscure, the King created him EARL OF ESSEX,, by charter given at Westminster between June and December 1140. He deserted the King on the downfall of the latter in February 1140/1, and obtained from the Empress Maud, at Westminster, just before Midsummer 1141, a more extensive charter, recognising him as Earl of Essex and hereditary Constable of the Tower, and granting him 100 librates of land, the service of 20 knights, and the offices of hereditary Sheriff and Chief justice (Capitalis Justicia) of Essex. He deserted the Empress soon afterwards, and obtained from the King, at Canterbury, about Christmas 1141, a charter granting him 400 librates of land, the custody of the Tower, the offices of hereditary Justice and Sheriff of London, Middlesex, Essex, and Herts, and 60 milites feudatos. He drove the rebels from the Isle of Ely early in 1142, but soon after the King's illness in April he extorted from the Empress, then at Oxford, a charter (convencio et donacio) confirming to hirn all his lands and the grants from herself and the King, and giving hirn the lands and the office of Eoun Dapifer. He founded the Abbey of Walden.

He married Rohese, sister of Aubrey, 1st EARL OF OXFORD, and daughter of Aubrey DE VER, Chamberlain of England, by Adelise, daughter of Gilbert Fitz RICHARD, of Clare and Tonbridge. About October 1143 he was accused of treason, but he ridiculed the charge. He was, however, arrested at St. Albans, and imprisoned till he surrendered his castles (the Tower, Walden, and Pleshey) to avoid being hanged. He then broke into open revolt, seized and fortified the Abbey of Ramsey, sacked Cambridge, and ravaged the fen country, until, when besieging Burwell Castle, co. Cambridge, in August 1144, having removed his headpiece on account of the heat, he was mortally wounded by an arrow. He died at Mildenhall, Suffolk, 14 or 16 September 1144. His body was taken by the Knights Templars to their Old Temple in Holborn, but, as he had died under excommunication, could not receive Christian burial till absolution was granted in 1163, when it was buried in the grave-yard of the New Temple Church. His widow married Payn de BEAUCHAMP, of Bedford, with whom she founded the Priory of Chicksand (where she was buried. He died before Michaelmas 1156. She survived her son, Geoffrey, the 2nd Earl. [Complete Peerage V:113-16, XIV:309, (transcribed by Dave Utzinger)]

(c) [p. 113/XIV:309] The family of Geoffrey de mandeville probably derive their name from Manneville [Seine-Maritime, arrondisement Dieppe, canton Bacquville, now in the combined commune of le Thil-Manneville], or perhaps Colmesnil-Manneville, in the same department and arrondissement, but canton Offranville. See L.C. Loyd, The Origins of Some Anglo-Norman Families, 1951, p. 57 [for the Mandevilles of earl's Stoke, pp. 57-8; K.S.B. Keats-Rohan, medieval prosopography, vol. 14, 1993, p.8.

(a) [p. 114] Eudo is the Latin form of Eon, Eoun, Ion, or Ioun, and Odo that of Eude or Eudes, the two names being quite distinct, as M. Auguste Longnon well observes.

Following is from Ramsey Abbey website: There was, at this time, among the king's adherents, one Geoffrey de Mandeville, a man remarkable for his great prudence, his inflexible spirit in adversity, and his military skill. His wealth and his honours raised him above all the nobles of the realm; for he held the Tower of London, and had built castles of great strength round the city, and in every part of the kingdom which submitted to the king; being everywhere the king's representative, so that in public affairs he was more attended to than the king himself, and the royal commands were less obeyed than his own. This occasioned jealousy, particularly among those who were familiarly and intimately connected with the king, as Geoffrey, it appeared, had managed to usurp all the rights of the king: and, moreover, report said that he was inclined to confer the crown on the Countess of Anjou (Matilda). They, therefore, secretly persuaded the king to arrest Geoffrey on the charge of treason, and to obtain the forfeiture of his castles, for his own security and his kingdom's peace. The king hesitated for some time, being unwilling to involve the royal majesty in the disgrace of false accusations, when a sudden strife arose between Geoffrey and the barons, in which abuse and menaces were exchanged between the parties. The king interfered to settle the dispute, but while he was endeavouring to do so, some persons came forward and accused Geoffrey boldly of a conspiracy against the king and his party. Instead of taking the least pains to clear himself of the charge, he treated it with ridicule, as an infamous falsehood; whereupon the king and the barons present arrested him and his followers. This happened at St. Albans. The king brought Geoffrey to London, in close custody, and threatened to hang him if he did not give up the Tower of London and the castles he had erected with wonderful skill and labour. By the advice of his friends, to escape an ignominious death, he submitted to the king's will, and agreed to the surrender; and being thus set at liberty, he escaped out of the hands of his enemies, to the great injury of the whole kingdom. For, being turbulent and fierce, by the exercise of his power he gave strength to rebellion through all England; as the king's enemies, hearing that he was in arms against the royal cause, and relying on the support of so great an earl began, with new spirit, to raise insurrections in every quarter; and even those who appeared to be the king's supporters, as if they had been struck by a thunderbolt, were more and more humiliated by his secession from the king's party. Geoffrey now assembled all his dependents, who were bound to him by fealty and homage, in one body, and he also levied a formidable host of mercenary soldiers and of freebooters, who flocked to him gladly from all quarters. With this force he devastated the whole country by fire and sword; driving off flocks and herds with insatiable cupidity, sparing neither age nor profession, and, freely slaking his thirst for vengeance, the most exquisite cruelties he could invent were instantly executed on his enemies. The town of Cambridge, belonging to the king, was taken by surprise, when the citizens were off their guard , and, being plundered, and the doors of the churches being forced with axes, they were pillaged of their wealth, and whatever the citizens had deposited in them; and the town was set on fire. With the same ferocity Geoffrey devastated the whole neighborhood, breaking into all the churches, desolating the lands of the monks, and carrying off their property. The abbey of St. Benedict, at Ramsey, he not only spoiled of the monks' property, and stripped the altars and the sacred relics, but, mercilessly expelling the monks from the abbey, he placed soldiers in it and made it a garrison. Whilst the abbey was so garrisoned, blood exuded from the walls of the Church and the cloisters caused by the anger of God fortelling the destruction of the ungodly. This was seen by many, and I observed it with my own eyes. As soon as the king heard of this bold irruption, and the lawless invasion by Geoffrey of a wide extent of country, he hastened with a powerful array of troops to check the progress of the sudden outbreak. But Geoffrey skilfully avoided an encounter with the king, at one time betaking himself hastily to the marshes, with which that country abounds, where he had before found shelter in his flight; at another, leaving the district where the king was pursuing him, he appeared, at the head of his followers, in another quarter, to stir up fresh disturbances. However, for the purpose of checking his usual inroads into that country, the king caused castles to be built in suitable places, and placing garrisons in them, to overawe the marauders, he went elsewhere to attend to other affairs. As soon as the king was gone, Geoffrey devoted all his energies to reduce the garrisons which the king had left for his annoyance, supported by the king's enemies, who flocked to him from all quarters; and, forming a confederacy with Hugh Bigod, a man of note, who was very powerful in those parts, and had disturbed the peace of the kingdom' and opposed the king's power, as before mentioned, he ravaged the whole country, sparing, in his cruelties, neither sex nor condition. But at length God, the just avenger of all the grievous persecutions, and all the calamities which he had inflicted, brought him to an end worthy of his crimes. For, being too bold, and depending too much on his own address, he often beat up the quarters of the royal garrisons; but at last was outwitted by them and slain; and as while he lived he had disturbed the church, and troubled the land, so the whole English church was a party to his punishment; for, having been excommunicated, he died unabsolved, and the sacrilegious man was deprived of Christian burial.

Per DNB: Mandeville, Geoffrey de, first earl of Essex (d. 1144), magnate, was the son and heir of William de Mandeville, constable of the Tower of London, and Margaret, daughter of Eudo de Ryes, royal dapifer (‘steward’) and lord of Colchester. According to a charter of the 1140s in favour of Geoffrey de Mandeville, his paternal grandfather, also Geoffrey, had been constable of the Tower and sheriff of Essex, London and Middlesex, and Hertfordshire. The elder Geoffrey de Mandeville was one of William I's wealthier tenants-in-chief, eleventh (and last) among Corbett's ‘Class A’ Domesday landholders, with lands worth a total of £740 a year concentrated in Essex, Middlesex, and Hertfordshire, and extending into seven other counties. Unlike the ten other ‘Class A’ magnates, all of whom came from prominent continental families, Geoffrey and his family were of such minor importance before the conquest that their place of origin in Normandy defies certain identification. It may have been Colmesnil-Manneville (arrondissement Dieppe, canton Offranville) but it is impossible to be certain: place names such as Manneville, Magna Villa, and Magnevilla occur in France with perplexing frequency.


Geoffrey left three known sons. The eldest, Ernulf, was illegitimate. With his wife, Rohese de Vere, he had Geoffrey (d. 1166) and William de Mandeville (d. 1189), who were successively earls of Essex and important curiales of Henry II. In restoring the earldom of Essex to the younger Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1156 Henry II granted him, among other things, perpetual hereditary right to Walden, Sawbridgeworth, and Great Waltham: ‘And the lien that my grandfather King Henry had on the aforesaid three manors is quitclaimed forever’ (Round, 235–6, 241).

Per 1893 DNB: Mandeville, Geoffrey de, EARL OF ESSEX (d 1144), rebel, was the son of William de Mandeville, constable of the Tower, and the grandson of Geoffrey de Mandeville, a companion of the Conqueror, who obtained a considerable fief in England, largely composed of the forfeited estates of Esgar (or Asgar) the staller. Geoffrey first appears in the Pipe Roll of 1130, when he had recently succeeded his father. With the exception of his presence at King Stephen's Easter court in 1136, we hear nothing of him till 1140, when he accompanied Stephen against Ely (Cott. MS. Titus A. vi. f. 34), and subsequently (according to WILLIAM OF NEWBURGH) took advantage of his position as constable of the Tower to detain Constance of France in that fortress, after her betrothal to Eustace, the son of Stephen, who bitterly resented the outrage. He must, however, have succeeded in obtaining from the king before the latter's capture at Lincoln (2 Feb. 1141) the charter creating him Earl of Essex, which is still preserved among the Cottonian Charters (vii. 4), and which is probably the earliest creation-charter now extant.

From this point his power and his importance rapidly increased, chiefly owing to his control of the Tower. He also exercised great influence in Essex, where lay his chief estates and his strongholds of Pleshy and Saffron Walden. On the arrival of the Empress Maud in London (June 1141), he was won over to her side by an important charter confirming him in the earldom of Essex, creating him hereditary sheriff, justice, and escheator of Essex, and granting him estates, knights' fees, and privileges. He deserted her cause, however, on her expulsion from London, seized her adherent the bishop, and was won over by Stephen's queen to assist her in the siege of Winchester. Shortly after the liberation of the king Geoffrey obtained from him, as the price of his support, a charter (Christmas 1141) pardoning his treason, and trebling the grants made to him by the empress. He now became sheriff and justice of Hertfordshire and of London and Middlesex, as well as of Essex, thus monopolising all administration and judicial power within these three counties. Early in the following year he was despatched by Stephen against Ely to disperse the bishop's knights, a task which he accomplished with vigour. His influence was now so great that the author of the ‘Gesta Stephani’ describes him as surpassing all the nobles of the land in wealth and importance, acting everywhere as king, and more eagerly listened to and obeyed than the king himself. Another contemporary writer speaks of him as the foremost man in England. His ambition, however, was still unsatisfied, and he aspired by a fresh treason to play the part of king-maker. He accordingly began to intrigue with the empress, who was preparing to make a fresh effort on behalf of her cause. Meeting her at Oxford some time before the end of June (1142), he extorted from her in a new charter concessions even more extravagant than those he had wrung from Stephen. He also obtained from her at the same time a charter in favour of his brother-in-law, Aubrey de Vere (afterwards Earl of Oxford), another Essex magnate. But the ill-success of her cause was unfavourable to his scheme, and he remained, outwardly at least, in allegiance to the king. His treasonable intentions, however, could not be kept secret, and Stephen, who already dreaded his power, was warned that he would lose his crown unless he mastered the earl. It was not, however, till the following year (1143) that he decided, or felt himself strong enough, to do this. At St. Albans, probably about the end of September, Geoffrey, who was attending his court, was openly accused of treason by some of his jealous rivals, and, on treating the charge with cynical contempt, was suddenly arrested by the king after a sharp struggle. Under threat of being hanged, he was forced to surrender his castles of Pleshey and Saffron Walden, and, above all, the Tower of London, the true source of his might. He was then set free, ‘to the ruin of the realm,’ in the words of the ‘Gesta Stephani.’

Rushing forth from the presence of the king, ‘like a vicious and riderless horse, kicking and biting’ in his rage, the earl burst into revolt. With the help of his brother-in-law, William de Say, and eventually of the Earl of Norfolk, he made himself master of the fenland, the old resort of rebels. Advancing from Fordham, he secured, in the absence of Bishop Nigel, the Isle of Ely, and pushing on thence seized Ramsey Abbey, which he fortified and made his headquarters. From this strong position he raided forth with impunity, burning and sacking Cambridge and other smaller places. Stephen marched against him, but in vain, for the earl took refuge among the fens. The king, however, having fortified Burwell, which threatened Geoffrey's communications, the earl attacked the post (August 1144), and while doing so was wounded in the head. The wound proved fatal, and the earl died at Mildenhall in Suffolk about the middle of September, excommunicate for his desecration and plunder of church property. His corpse was carried by some Templars to the Old Temple in Holborn, where it remained unburied for nearly twenty years. At last, his son and namesake having made reparation for his sins, Pope Alexander pronounced his absolution (1163), and his remains were interred at the New Temple, where an effigy of him was, but erroneously, supposed to exist.

His effigy can be seen at the Temple Church in central London. As with other effigies at Temple Church, there is not a tomb for a body with it.

The earl, who presented a perfect type of the ambitious feudal noble, left by his wife Rohese, daughter of Aubrey de Vere (chamberlain of England), at least three sons: Ernulf (or Ernald), who shared in his revolt, and was consequently exiled and disinherited, together with his descendants; and Geoffrey (d 1166) and William Mandeville [q.v.] , who succeeded him in turn, and were both Earls of Essex.


  • Richardson, Royal Ancestry 2013 Vol. IV p. 560-561
  • 1911 Encyclopedia
  • Phillips, Weber, Kirk and Staggs Families of the Pacific Northwest, by Jim Weber,
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Farrer, William & Brownbill, J. The Victoria History of the County of Lancaster (Archibald Constable and Co. Limited, London, 1906) Vol. 1, Page 300
  • Davis, Henry. Regesta Regum Anglo Normannorum, 1066–1154 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1969) Vol. 4, Plate XXXII
  • Wikipedia:Geoffrey_de_Mandeville,_1st_Earl_of_Essex
  • Round, John. Geoffrey de Mandeville, A Study of the Anarchy (Longmans, Green & Co., London and New York, 1892) Page 332
  • J. C. Holt, "1153: The Treaty of Winchester" in The Anarchy of Stephen's Reign (Oxford: 1994), p. 298, n. 24.
  • C. Warren Hollister, "The Misfortunes of the Mandevilles", History, vol. 58, pp. 18–28, 1973
  • R. H. C. Davis, J. O. Prestwich, "The Treason of Geoffrey de Mandeville", The English Historical Review, vol. 103, no. 407, pp. 283–317, 1988;
  • Prestwich, "Geoffrey de Mandeville: A Further Comment", EHR, vol. 103, no. 409, pp. 960–966;
  • Prestwich, Davis, * "Last Words on Geoffrey de Mandeville", EHR, vol. 105, no. 416, pp. 670–672, 1990.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Mandeville, Geoffrey de". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • George Shipway Knight in Anarchy (Cox & Wyman Ltd., London, 1969)
  • "English Anarchy & Geoffrey de Mandeville - Scourge of the Fens",_1st_Earl_of_Essex



1. Oxon T1, p. 331
2. Eng. 153
3. A1 C20, p. 309
4. Eng. V, v. 4, p. 669

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Categories: Early Barony of Pleshy | Earls of Essex | Notables