||Magna Carta Surety Baron|
Robert de Ros was one of the twenty-five medieval barons who were surety for Magna Carta in 1215.
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Robert de Ros (or Roos) was the son and main heir of Everard de Roos and Rose Trussebut. He was said to be 13 in 1183 and had livery of his lands in 1191, pointing to a birth date of about 1170-1172.
Robert was nicknamed "Fursan": the reason for this is unknown.
In early 1191 Robert de Ros married Isabel of Scotland, illegitimate daughter of William the Lion, King of Scotland, widow of Robert de Brus, at Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland. They had two sons:
Through inheritance and by his marriage, Robert de Ros held extensive lands in the North of England, a substantial part of which were in Yorkshire and Northumberland. Among them were the baronies of Helmsley (formerly called Hamlake) and Hunsingore in Yorkshire and Wark in Northumberland. He rebuilt Helmsley Castle in stone. Through his mother he inherited lands in Normandy, including Bonneville-sur-Touques.
Robert was in Normandy in the mid-1190s, and in 1196 Richard I entrusted to him a captured wealthy French knight. When William d'Épinay, whom Robert de Ros had put in charge of Bonneville Castle, allowed the prisoner to escape, Richard I had d'Épinay hung and imposed a substantial fine on Robert.
Robert was for some years closely associated with King John, and witnessed a number of royal charters. In 1200 and 1209 he escorted his father-in-law William the Lion to do homage to King John. In 1203 he was again in Normandy, fighting for King John against the French. He was back in England by February 1204. But in 1205 King John ordered the seizure of his lands, though they were fairly soon restored.
In 1206 Robert was granted permission to mortgage his lands if he took the cross and went to the Holy Land, though there is no evidence he took a crusading vow. The following year he was fined when another royal prisoner entrusted to him escaped.
Robert was back in royal service in 1213. That year King John made him Sheriff of Cumberland and he was a witness to John's formal submission to the Pope. He was still closely linked with John in 1214 and the first months of 1215, when the king granted him confiscated manors in Cumberland as compensation for the loss of estates in Normandy, but the following year he sided with other Barons against John, and was one of the Surety Barons for the Magna Carta. This led to his excommunication at the end of the year. His lands were given to William, Count of Aumale.
It was not until late 1217 that Robert de Ros returned to royal allegiance and in the meantime his son William had been captured in the Second Battle of Lincoln. In November 1217 he was made one of the escorts for Alexander, King of Scotland, when he came to England. Over the next few years his lands were restored.
In 1221, during the rebellion of Wiliam, Count of Aumale, he helped in the siege of Skipsea Castle, Yorkshire. Four years later, in 1225, he was a witness to the reissue of the Magna Carta.
Soon after this he formally joined the Knights Templar, to whom he had been a benefactor. He had also made gifts to Rievaulx Abbey and in about 1225 he founded a hospital for lepers in Northumberland.
On 23 December 1226 Robert's son William did homage for his father's lands. 1226 may not, though, be the year of Robert's death: William may have acquired the lands because his father had become a Templar rather than because his father had died. Douglas Richardson gives a death year of 1227. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says he died in 1226 or 1227. Robert was buried in the Temple Church in London. The barony of Helmsley passed to his older son William, while his younger son Robert held the barony of Wark.
"Robert de Ros (c. 1182-1226/7), kinsman through marriage of Eustace de Vesci, and the son of Everard de Ros and Roese, née Trussebut, was a Yorkshire lord, the owner of extensive estates centring on Helmsley in the North Riding of Yorkshire and Wark-on-Tweed in Northumberland. He was married, at an unknown date, to Isabella, an illegitimate daughter of William the Lion, king of Scotland, and widow of Robert III de Brus.
"In the early 1200s Robert is found co-operating actively with King John, witnessing a number of his charters, chiefly at locations in northern England, and in 1203 assisting in the king’s defence of Normandy, where by descent from his mother he held the hereditary office of bailiff and constable of Bonneville-sur-Touques in the lower part of the duchy. In 1205, however, a year of rising political tension, there are signs that his relations with the king were worsening, and John ordered the seizure of his lands and, apparently shortly afterwards, had his son taken hostage. Robert, a little later, recovered his lands, but an indication that he might have been interested in leaving England is given by his acquisition of a licence to pledge his lands for crusading. It is not known, however, if he ever actually did embark for the East.
"In 1212 Robert seems to have entered a monastery, and on 15 May that year John handed over custody of his lands to one Philip de Ulcot. His monastic profession, however, cannot have lasted for long, for on 30 January 1213 John appointed him sheriff of Cumberland, and later in the same year he was one of the witnesses to John’s surrender of his kingdom to the pope. In 1215, as relations between the king and the baronial opposition worsened, John seems to have tried to keep Robert on his side, ordering one of his counsellors to try to secure the election of Robert’s aunt as abbess of Barking. By April, however, Robert was firmly on the baronial side, attending the baronial muster at Stamford and, after June, being nominated to the committee of twenty-five.
"When war between the king and his opponents broke out towards the end of the year, Robert was active on the baronial side, forfeiting his lands as a result and suffering the capture of his son at the battle of Lincoln in May 1217. After Louis returned to France, Robert submitted to the new government and recovered most, although not all, of his lands. He witnessed the third and definitive reissue of Magna Carta on 11 February 1225. Sometime before 1226 he retired to a monastery and he died either in that year or early in 1227. At some stage he was received into the ranks of the Templars and on his death he was buried in the Temple Church in London, where a few years earlier William Marshal, the one-time Regent had been buried. An effigy in that church sometimes associated with him dates from at least a generation later.
"Robert is an enigmatic individual who had close ties with Eustace de Vesci but did not openly join the rebellion until just before Runnymede. He probably felt a conflict between his sense of loyalty to his fellow Northerners and his obligation of obedience to the king."
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