Guillaume de Grandmesnil, Heir of the honour of Grandmesnil

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Guillaume de Grandmesnil, Heir of the honour of Grandmesnil

Also Known As: "William", "Hugh", "Hugues"
Birthdate: (92)
Birthplace: Hinckley, Leicestershire, England
Death: February 10, 1184 (88-96)
Apulia, Italy
Place of Burial: St. Evroult, Normandy, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert FitzHugh de Grandmesnil, II and Emma de Stuteville, d'Estouteville
Husband of Lady Alice le Fleming
Father of Petronille (Pernel) de Grandmesnil
Brother of Beatrice de Grandmesnil
Half brother of Ivo de Grandmesnil; Guillaume de Grandmesnil; Yves de Grandmesnil and Aubrey de Grandmesnil

Occupation: Baron of Hinckley, of Hinkley, Sieur, de Hutley, Sénéchal, d'Angleterre
Managed by: Pam Wilson, Curator-on-hiatus
Last Updated:

About Guillaume de Grandmesnil, Heir of the honour of Grandmesnil

from Medieval English Genealogy site (by Chris Phillips)

Some corrections and additions to the Complete Peerage: Volume 7: Leicester

from The Complete Peerage Volume 7, page 532: [Robert, Earl of Leicester (d. 1190)] m., before 1155-1159, Pernel (Petronilla), heiress of the Norman honour of Grandmesnil, great-granddaughter of Hugh de Grandmesnil, the Domesday tenant, but her ancestry has not been discovered. (h)

Note h: Hugh de Grandmesnil, the Domesday tenant, had five sons - Robert, William, Hugh, Ives and Aubrey ... Robert, the eldest son, inherited the Norman lands which are later found in Robert FitzPernel's hands [i.e. Robert, Earl of Leicester (d. 1204), the son of Pernel]. He m., 1stly, Agnes, da. of Ranulph de Bayeux; 2ndly, Emma, da. of Robert d'Estouteville; and, 3rdly, Lucy, da. of Savary FitzCana (Orderic, vol. iii, p. 359). ... If she [Pernel] inherited the Norman lands, she would in all probability be a daughter of a son of Hugh's son Robert. Hugh's father and son are both called Robert, and if this alternating nomenclature - a very usual system - was continued, a son of Robert the younger would be named Hugh. This is the name given to Pernel's father in the foundation narrative of Leicester Abbey, and although the story told there is fictitious ... it is possible that the writer may have had before him a document such as a list of obits giving the authentic name. It is not claimed that this suggested descent is more than speculative.

Chris Phillips: In fact, Pernel's father was called William, as shown by a charter for St-Evroult discovered by David Crouch [The Beaumont Twins, p.91, citing the Cartulary of St-Evroult, ii, fo 33v]. However, the argument that her grandfather is likely to have been Robert, the eldest son of Hugh de Grandmesnil, still seems sound. To some extent it is supported by the following evidence.

In 1157, Henry II confirmed gifts made to the hospital of Falaise by William de Grentmesnil and others [Cal. Docs France, no 1157]. By an undated charter (perhaps from 1160 or later), one Beatrix de Rye gave land to the abbey of St Jean of Falaise, for the well-being of her mother Emma and of her brother William de Grentemesnil [Lechaude d'Anisy, Extrait des Chartes ... dans les archives du Calvados, vol.1, p.232, no 9 (1834)]. It seems likely that this Beatrix was a daughter of Robert de Grandmesnil by his second wife, Emma d'Estouteville, particularly as the name Beatrix occurs in the Estouteville family, and was possibly borne by Emma's mother [C.T. Clay, ed., Early Yorkshire Charters, vol.9, p.2 (1952)]. If so, this would confirm that Robert also had a son William, who would probably be Pernel's father.

Note that K.S.B. Keats-Rohan [Domesday People I, p.263 (1999)] states that Pernel's father William was the son of Robert by Emma d'Estouteville, but no evidence is cited for the relationship.

William de Grandmesnil aka Guillame de Grandmesnil, was a well known crusader and son in law of Robert Guiscard. He is mentioned in several contemporary texts regarding the First Crusade. He was at the Battle of Antioch with Bohemond, but fled with Stephen of Blois on the eve of the battle back to Constantinople, and finally to England. (1099). Stephens wife Adele was so ashamed of his cowardice that she sent him back to the Holy Land where he died. William too, was accused of cowardice and retreated to his holdings in Italy. There he continued quarrels with the other lords. From "Deeds of the Franks" Book 9, Chapter 22 & 23

"Meanwhile some were fighting outside the city, others inside on the fifth day of the week through the whole day all the way to nightfall. Among these was William de Grandmesnil, his brother Alberic (Aubrey), Guy Trousseau, and Lambert the Poor, these men were trembling with fear from the battle yesterday that lasted all the way til night. So they snuck out secretly by night over the wall and, fleeing on foot, headed for the sea and thus nothing remained on their hands and feet but the bones. Many men fled with them; I do not know who." From FMG:

"He took part in Robert Guiscard's campaign against Durazzo in 1081 and was summoned by Duke Robert to his deathbed. He was granted land in the valleys of the Crati, the Coscile and at Cotrone, although it is not known whether this refers to part of the "15 castles" of his wife's dowry...or whether they were grants made to Guillaume in his own right before his marriage. Either way, it is clear that Guillaume's career in Apulia must have been particularly successful for him to have risen from a relatively obscure background and to have made such a prominent marriage. Orderic Vitalis reports that in [Jul] 1097 Guillaume and his brother Aubrey were among those who, fearing that Antioch would be recaptured by the Turks, let "themselves down the wall with ropes" in order to escape and "were called clandestine rope-dancers to their lasting disgrace". Albert of Aix records "Guillaume", married to the sister of Bohémond, and formerly domestikos of the Emperor at Constantinople, who escaped "out of fear" from Antioch to Alexandretta, believing that the crusading army was doomed after it was besieged by Kerbogha atabeg of Mosul. He died in Apulia after returning from Antioch according to Orderic Vitalis, the text suggesting that this was before 1114."

Other research showed William was disgraced in England and returned to the Levant and was given a small Lordship by the Byzantine emperor. It is said he died in an earthquake.

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Guillaume de Grandmesnil, Heir of the honour of Grandmesnil's Timeline

Hinckley, Leicestershire, England
Age 43
Leicester, Leicestershire, England
February 10, 1184
Age 92
Apulia, Italy
Baron of Hinckley
Constable of Leicester Castle
St. Evroult, Normandy, France