Raoul de Roche-Tesson

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Raoul II de Taisson (de Roche-Tesson), Lord of Cingueleiz, possibly Vicomte de Cotentin

French: Tezzon de Taisson (de Roche-Tesson), Lord of Cingueleiz, possibly Vicomte de Cotentin
Also Known As: "Raoul Taisson", "Rollo de Tesson", "Taxo", "Rodulfi", "Cinglais", "rodolph", "Ralph", "Tezzon"
Birthdate: (66)
Birthplace: TAISSON, , NORMANDY, France
Death: October 20, 1066 (66)
Battle of Hastings, Sussex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Radulphus (Raoul) I "le Vieux" de La Roche-Tesson, of Angers and Alpaïde
Husband of Albérède de Moulins
Father of Gilbert de Tyson, Lord of Alnwick & Malton; Lord Osberne fitz Tezzon de Dodleston and Ralph de la Roche-Tesson, III
Brother of Robert FitzErneis de La Roche-Tesson

Managed by: Kaylene Hansen
Last Updated:

About Raoul de Roche-Tesson

"Old" Ralph and his wife Alpais probably arrived in Normandy between 1017 and 1024. The base of their power became the Cinglais, a small largely forested region situated to the south of Caen between the Orne and the Laize, Their home became Thury (a name that served a a cri-de-guerre at Val-es-Dunes). After teh death of old Ralph, his territory was divided between his two sons, Raoul I Taisson and Erneis. This started a bellicose rivalry between the two branches of the family. Raoul inherited the surname of Taxo ("the badger") carried by his father. He was a part of the famous story (see below) that occurred at the battle of Val-es-Dunes in 1047 when a group of rebellious barons rose up against William 'the Bastard' (later the Conqueror); Raoul was on the rebel side but decided not to carry through with his promise to kill William, instead shifting his loyalty to the Duke. In 1050 Raoul de Tessain founded the Abbey of Fontenay. He seems to have become seigneur de Saint-Vaaset as well. [adapted and translated from Joseph Decaens, "Les origines du village et du chateau de Saint-Vaast-sur-Seulles (Calvados)," pp. 83-100 in Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies 1987, edited by R. Allen Brown (available on Google Books), pp. 90-91].


"Tyson or Tisson, a baronial name.The Tessons were commonly said to have possessed a third of Normandy. The name of this family was originally Ticio, and it is stated to have been seated in the vicinity of Angouleme (whence its Gothic origins may be inferred), and to have been distinguished in war against the Saracens, c 725 (Des Bois, Art. Achard).The Tessons were afterwards seated in Anjou (Vaultrier, Apud Mem. Soc. Ant. Norm. x 78).

Radulphus Taxo, of Angers, in 1028 witnessed a charter regarding the Abbey of Coulombs (Gall. Christ. viii.297. Instr.). Ralph T. led 120 knights of his barony to the aid of Duke William at the Battle of Val des Dunes, 1047, and was created Viscount of the Cotentin. He founded the Abbey of Fontenay, near Caen, and from him descended the powerful family of Tesson in Normandy. Gilbert Tyson or Tesson, his brother, obtained the barony of Alnwick from Edward the Confessor, and fell at the Battle of Hastings. William, his son, had a daughter who married Ivode Vesci. Gilbert Tyson, another son, held great estates in York, Lincoln and Notts 1086 (Domesd.). Adam Tyson granted lands in Notts to the Hospitallers, t. Rich I (Mon. ii) and to Thurgarten Priory (Ib.93). In the 13th century Warin Fitzgerold held lands late the fee of Ralph Tesun (Testa 77). This family appears also to have been the origin of those of PERCY, MARMION and BYRON."

excerpted from The Norman people and their existing descendants in the British dominions and the United States of America (author unknown), Henry S. King & Co, 1874, p. 427. Reprinted online (Google Books and archives.com).


excerpted from The Battle Abbey Roll: With Some Account of the Norman Lineages, Volume 3, edited by Catherine Lucy Wilhelmina Powlett, Duchess of Cleveland (London: John Murray, 1889) pp. 162-164 [available on Google Books]:

Trisoun, for Tesson or Taisson, the Norman-French for badger: Tisoun in Leland's list . An r has been either substituted or mistaken for an e in the spelling of this name.

The Tessons, Lords of Cinglais, one of the most powerful houses of Normandy, are by some derived from Botho, a kinsman of Rollo; by others from the Counts of Anjou; and according to Des Bois, were first seated near Angouleme (from whence their Gothic origin may be inferred), and distinguished by feats of arms against the Saracens in the eighth century. "They obtained their sirname, the badger, from their peculiar talent of burrowing or fixing their claws wherever they could gain possession; a significant, if not a noble epithet . 'La-Roche-Tesson,'—it was also a common saying—'holds one third of broad Normandy: one third of Normandy belongs to La-Roche-Tesson.' ".—Sir Francis Palgrave.

Their castle of La-Roche-Tesson was near St . Lo: and their forest of Cinglais was among the most celebrated in the Duchy. When, in 1047, the Norman and French armies encountered at Val-e's-dunes, near Cinglais, the lord of the fief appeared on the field with a great following, but held aloof from either party. "Raol Tesson de Cingueleiz saw the Normans and French advancing, and beheld William's force increasing. He stood on one side afar off, having six score knights and six in his troop, all with lances raised, and trimmed with silk tokens" (called guimples, no doubt their ladies' colours). "The King and Duke William spoke together: each armed, and with helmet laced. They divided their troops, and arranged their order of battle, each holding in his hand a baton; and when the King saw Raol Tesson with his people standing far off from the others, he was unable to discover on whose side he was, or what he intended to do. 'Sire,' said William, 'I believe those men will aid me: for the name of their lord is Raol Tesson, and he has no cause of quarrel or anger against me.' Much was then said and done, the whole of which I never heard: and Raol Tesson still stood hesitating whether he should hold with William.

"On the one hand the Viscounts besought him and made him great promises: and he had before pledged himself, and sworn upon the saints of Bayeux to smite William wherever he should find him. But all his men besought and advised him for his good, not to make war upon his lawful lord, nor to fail of his duty to him in any manner. . . . They said William was his natural lord; that he could not deny being his man; that he should remember having done him homage before his father and his barons; and that the man who would fight against his lord had no right to fief or barony. "' That I cannot dispute,' said Raol, 'you say well, and we will do even so.' So he spurred his horse from among the people with whom he stood, crying Tur aie,* and ordering his men to rest where they were, went to speak with

[* Thor-aide, the old Scandinavian eri de guerre, once in general use among the Northmen, which was exchanged for Dtx-aie (Dieu-aide), their war-cry at the battle of Hastings.]

Duke William. He came spurring over the plain, and struck his lord with his glove, and said laughingly to him, 'What I have sworn to do that I perform: I had sworn to smite you as soon as I should find you: and as I would not perjure myself, I have now struck you to acquit myself of my oath : and henceforth I will do you no wrong or felony.' Then the Duke said, ' Thanks to thee!' and Raol went his way back to his men."— Wace.

This Ralph Tesson, the founder of the Abbey of Fontenay, was the father of Ralph II., who married a cousin-german of the Conqueror's, and was present at Hastings, where he, and old Roger Marmion, " carried themselves as barons ought, and afterwards received a rich guerdon for their service." No such guerdon, however, appears to have been offered to Ralph, whose name is not written in Domesday; but we there find a Gilbert Tison or Tesson, holding a barony in York, Notts, and Lincoln. It is conjectured that Ralph II. was either slain in the battle, or died before 1086: when his eldest son, Ralph III., inherited the great fief of La-Roche-Tesson : and that Gilbert was his second son, who then received or succeeded to the English possessions that rewarded his services. "Gilbert has been called Lord of Malton and Alnwick (Reg. of Alnwick Priory); and though the former was Crown land at the date of the Survey, 'it is not improbable,' as Mr. Stapleton remarks, 'that the defence of. Alnwick Castle in the turbulent district N. of Tyne was undertaken by this great military officer, and that he made it the caput of his barony:' and that 'the influence of Roger de Mowbray, the Earl of Northumberland, may have, in that case, drawn him in to share in the rebellion (1095) which ended in the expulsion from their seigneuries of many Norman barons, whom the chroniclers omit to name.'

"There is no doubt this barony was escheated about this time, and divided by William Rufus between Nigel de Albini and Ivo de Vesci. Under Henry I., Gilbert could never regain his estates, but he continued to hold a large share of them as tenant to the grantees, one of whom (Ivo), it is not improbable, was his son-in-law or brother-in-law."—A. S. Ellis.

Dugdale makes Ivo de Vesci's wife Alda, the daughter and heiress of William Tyson, and granddaughter of Gilbert Tyson, who fell fighting on Harold's side at Hastings. But in this case the son would never have been allowed to inherit: and the statement that the Tysons were Saxon, although it has been generally accepted, seems to be no longer tenable. Neither could Ivo have received his bride and his barony at the hand of the Conqueror, since, as a matter of fact, he never obtained Alnwick until the following reign.

Gilbert survived till about 1131, and left at least two sons, Adam and Richard. "Adam Tison, who succeeded to his father, gave to Selby Abbey, with consent of Emma his wife and William his son, Atoncroft on Spalding Moor, and to the Knights Hospitallers his manor of Winkburne. He was also a benefactor to the Priories of RufTord and Thurgarton. William was living 1166 (Liber Niger), when he held his inheritance as seventeen knight's fees; fifteen of Roger de Montgomeri and two of William de Vesci. He seems to have left daughters and co-heirs, represented by Constable and Belver.

"The other son, Richard Tyson, had from his father, it is said, the manor of Shilbottel, in Northumberland and other lands (two knight's fees of the barony of Alnwick, 1166). He founded the chapel of the nuns at Gayzance, dedicated to St. Wilfrid, and witnessed the foundation charter of Alnwick Abbey by his feudal lord, Eustace FitzJohn. The Hiltons are descended from the daughter and heiress of his grandson German Tyson, but Tysons still exist, derived from one of the younger sons."—A. S. Ellis.

"M. le Prevost speaks of an opulent family existing in France, that claims descent from the Norman Lords of Cingueleiz."—-J. R. Planche.


Excerpted from History of William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1899), pp. 81-84 [available on Google Books]

The conspirators now found that it was useless any longer to attempt to conceal their plans. In fact, they were already all exposed, and they knew that William would immediately summon his troops and come out to seize them. They must, therefore, either fly from the country or attempt an open rebellion. They decided on the latter—the result was a civil war. In the end, William was victorious. He took a large number of the rebels prisoners, and he adopted the following very singular plan for inflicting a suitable punishment upon them, and at the same time erecting a permanent monument of his victory. He laid out a public road across the country, on the line over which he had been conducted by the sons of Hubert, and compelled the rebels to make it. A great part of this country was low and marshy, and had been for this reason avoided by the public road, which took a circuitous course around it. The iebe\ prisoners were now, however, set at -woik to raise a terrace or embankment, on a line surveyed by William's engineers, which followed almost exactly the course of his retreat. The high road was then laid out upon this terrace, and it became immediately a public thoroughfare of great importance. It continued for several centuries one of the most frequented highways in the realm, and was known by the name of the Raised Road—Terre levee—throughout the kingdom. In fact, the remains of it, appearing like the ruins of an ancient rail-road embankment, exist to the present day. In the course of the war with these rebels a curious incident occurred at one of the battles, or, rather, is said to have occurred, by the historians who tell the story, which, if true, illustrates very strikingly the romantic and chivalrous ideas of the times. Just as the battle was commencing, William perceived a strong and finely-equipped body of horsemen preparing to charge upon the very spot where he himself, surrounded by his officers, was standing. Now the armor worn by knights in battle in those times covered and concealed the figure and the face so fully, that it would have been impossible even for acquaintances and friends to recognize each other, were it not that the knights were all accustomed to wear certain devices upon some part of their armor—painted, for instance, upon their shields, or embroidered on little banners which they bore—by means of which they might be known. These devices became at length hereditary in the great families—sons being proud to wear, themselves, the emblems to which the deeds of their fathers had imparted a trace of glory and renown. The de! vices of different chieftains were combined, sometimes, in cases of intermarriage, or were modified in various ways; and with these minor changes they would descend from generation to generation as the family coat of arms. And this was the origin of heraldry.

Now the body of horsemen that were advancing to the charge, as above described, had each of them his device upon a little flag or banner attached to their lances. As they were advancing, William scrutinized them closely, and presently recognized in their leader a man who had formerly been upon his side. His name was Rollo de Tesson. He was one of those who had sworn fealty to him at the time when his father Robert presented him to the council, when setting out upon his pilgrimage. William accordingly exclaimed, with a loud voice, " Why, these are my friends!" The officers and the soldiers of the body-guard who were with him, taking up the cry, shouted " Friends ! friends.'" Rollo de Tesson and the other knights, who were slowly coming up, preparing to charge upon William's party, surprised at being thus accosted, paused in their advance, and finally halted. Rollo said to the other knights, who gathered around him, " I was his friend. I gave my oath to his father that I would stand by him and defend him with my life; and now I have this morning sworn to the Count of Cotentin"—the Count of Cotentin was the leader of the rebellion—" that I would seek out William on the battle-field, and be the first to give him a blow. I know not what to do." "Keep both oaths," replied one of his companions. "Go and strike him a gentle blow, and then defend him with your life." The whole troop seconded this proposal by acclamation. Rollo advanced, followed by the other knights, with gestures and shouts denoting that they were friends. He rode up to William, told him that he had that morning sworn to strike him, and then dealt him a pretended blow upon his shoulder; but as both the shoulder and the hand which struck it were armed with steel, the clanking sound was all the effect that was produced. Rollo and his troop—their sworn obligation to the Count of Cotentin being thus fulfilled—turned now into the ranks of William's soldiery, and fought valiantly all day upon his side.

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Raoul de Roche-Tesson's Timeline

Age 35
Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, France
January 7, 1038
Age 38
Cheshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 45
Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, France
October 20, 1066
Age 66
Battle of Hastings, Sussex, England