Robert Curthose "Shortstockings"

William the Conqueror, married ‘Matilda’ of Flanders in 1052, on his death on 9th September 1087, his eldest son Robert Curthose, nickname of ‘Shortstockings’, was made Duke of Normandy and his second eldest William Rufus, 'Red Hair' became King of England, his youngest son Henry was given money to buy land.This arrangement did not go well with princes and barons who owned lands in Normandy and England the rebels were led by William’s elder half-brothers Odo of Bayeux and Robert, Count of Mortain and the most powerful barons in England. Roger Bigod in Norfolk, and Roger of Montgomery in Shrewsbury. Odo controlled Kent; Northumberland was controlled by Robert de Mowbray, planned to dispose King Rufus and untie Normandy and England under a single King, Duke Robert.

In 1088 began the hostilities having fortified their castles and stocked them with provisions the rebels began their campaign to lay waste to the king’s lands and supporters, and they waited for the King to respond, and for Robert’s invasion force to arrive from Normandy.

The Kings response was to divide his enemies with promises of land and money. He also appealed to the people, for support in fighting the rebels promising them “the best law that had ever been in this land”. William Rufus then attacked the rebels laying siege to Pevensey castle for six weeks, and captured the main rebel leader Odo, Rufus then took Rochester Castle.

The troops that Robert ‘Shortsockings’, was supposed to be sending from Normandy did not materialise due to bad weather in the channel crossing, so the rebels were forced to surrender. Odo, previously the richest man in England, was stripped of his belongings and banished to Normandy, while his brother Robert of Mortain was allowed to stay in England. Robert of Montgomery had changed sides after the king’s promises of land and money was given his rewards.

Robert ‘Shortstockings’ went on the First Crusade to the Holy Land in 1096, being short of money he had mortgaged his duchy to his brother William for the sum of 10,000 marks. When William Refus died on 2nd August 1100, Robert was in the process of returning from the Crusade to marry for money in hope to raise the funds to buy back his duchy, so his brother Henry was able to seize the crown of England for himself. On his return Robert claimed the right to the English crown and with the help of several Anglo-Norman barons led an invasion to oust his brother, landing at Portsmouth, but Henry was able to repel the invasion, and forced Robert to renounce his claim to England, in the ‘Treaty of Alton’. In 1105 due to Robert’s stirring discord with his brother, and the civil discord in Normandy prompted Henry to invade Normandy in 1106. Henry defeated Robert’s army at the ‘Battle of Tinchebray’, claiming Normandy as a possession of the English crown.

Robert was imprisoned in Devizes Castle for twenty years before moved to Cardiff Castel where he died in 1134, Robert Curthose was buried in Gloucester Cathedral.

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