About Robert FitzWalter of Woodham, Baron of Little Dunmow, Surety of the Magna Carta
CURATOR'S NOTE (updated 12-30-2015 Pam Wilson)
Robert FItzWalter Baron of Woodham Walter, Baron of Little Dunmow in Essex (whose barony descended to him from his grandfather Robert FitzRichard, who had received it from Henry I upon the forfeiture of William Baynard of Castle Baynard) was a chief leader of the Barons assembled in arms against King John leading to the Magna Carta; please see Nigel Saul's account, below. The Barons constituted Robert FitzWalter to be general of their armies--styling himself ‘Marshal of the Army of God and the Holy Church’. Born c. 1180, to parents Walter FitzRobert and Matilda de Lucy. First wife was Gunnora, daughter and heiress of Robert de Valognes. Second wife was Rohese (last name unknown). He died on 9 December 1235 and was buried in Dunmow Priory. Since his oldest son Robert had predeceased him, his heir was his minor son Walter from his second marriage to Rohese. Other children were two daughters of his first marriage, Matilda and Christine, who married sons of Geoffrey de Mandeville.
http://magnacarta800th.com/schools/biographies/the-25-barons-of-magna-carta/robert-fitzwalter/ The following text courtesy of Professor Nigel Saul and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee
Robert FitzWalter (d. 1235) has as good a claim as anyone to being regarded as the leader of the baronial opposition to John, styling himself in letters ‘Marshal of the Army of God’. An enigmatic personality, by turns shifty, querulous, conspiratorial and high-principled, he played a major part in the events of 1215 and so contributed substantially to Magna Carta becoming part of the fabric of English political society.
Robert was born around 1180, the son of Walter FitzRobert, lord of Dunmow (Essex) and Baynard’s Castle, London, and Matilda, daughter of Henry II’s justiciar, Richard de Lucy. Robert’s grandfather, another Robert, the king’s steward, was a younger son of Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, a relationship which meant that Robert himself had ties of cousinage with greatest baronial family in Essex and Suffolk and another family involved in the rebellion of 1215. When he succeeded his father in 1198, Robert inherited a barony of over 66 knights’ fees, to which he could add another 32 fees brought to him by his wife Gunnora, daughter and heiress of Robert de Valognes. The combined barony made him, in the words of the Histoire des Ducs de Normandie 'one of the greatest men in England and one of the most powerful'.
The most controversial episode of Robert’s early life was one in which he was involved with Saer de Quincy, later earl of Winchester, and a fellow member of the Twenty Five. The pair had been entrusted with the command of the castle of Vaudreuil in the Seine valley, a key point in the defence of Normandy against the French. In 1203, however, they surrendered the stronghold to King Philip and his forces without striking a blow, provoking accusations of cowardice and even of collusion with the enemy. The episode is a mysterious one, and it is not at all clear what lay behind the men’s move. On 5 July the pair obtained letters from the king saying that the castle had been surrendered at his command and that the castellans and garrison were to be unmolested. Robert and Saer were to remain close allies. Robert’s later use of the Quincy arms on his heraldic seal indicates that the two had become brothers-in-arms, a chivalric relationship signifying mutual assistance and protection in the field and the sharing of any of the profits of war afterwards.
Robert’s relations with John came to a crisis point in 1212. Again, what lies behind the story is obscure, and we have only the uncertain testimony of the chroniclers to guide us. According to the St Albans and Dunstable writers, as John was mustering an army at Chester for an expedition against the Welsh, word reached him of a plot on his life, causing him suddenly to abandon his plans and instead march north to crush the sources of insurrection there. Apparently the two ringleaders were Eustace de Vesci and Robert FitzWalter, both of whom then fled the realm, in the latter’s case to France. What lay behind Robert’s disaffection is not clear. The chroniclers’ explanations appear scarcely to go to the heart of the matter. According to Wendover at St Albans, the cause of the problem was a quarrel between FitzWalter and his own abbey over his rights in their dependent house of Binham Priory, in which he felt let down by the king. FitzWalter alleged that, contrary to the priory’s foundation charter granted by his wife’s ancestor, the abbot of St Albans had demanded excessive hospitality, had installed too many monks and had taken far too much revenue; worse still, during FitzWalter’s absence with the king on service in Ireland, he had installed a new abbot. FitzWalter responded by laying siege to the priory, provoking the king, on the abbot’s appeal, to send troops against him. Whether or not events unfolded exactly as the chronicler records, the episode hardly seems important enough to justify a plot on the king’s life. Another source, the Histoire des Ducs de Normandie offers alternative explanations for FitzWalter’s flight. According to one story, told apparently by the Englishman to the French king, the former was resentful that John had attempted to seduce his daughter Matilda, the wife of Geoffrey de Mandeville, while, according to another, more plausible account, he was angry that John had threatened to hang de Mandeville for killing an esquire at court, threatening 'You’ll see 2,000 knights in your land before you hang him!'. Perhaps of greater relevance than either of these stories is the matter of his ties with the Braose family, who were bitter enemies of John. FitzWalter’s brother Walter was archdeacon of Hereford and thus an associate of Giles de Braose, bishop of Hereford, brother of William de Braose, whom John in a venomous feud had driven from the realm.
In 1213 Robert and his fellow conspirator, Eustace de Vesci, were both reconciled with the king, and restored to their lands, as part of the general settlement John negotiated with the Church. Robert’s relations with John remained testy, however, and he did not accompany the latter on his expedition to Poitou in 1214; nor did he contribute to the scutage levied to defray the costs of the expedition. Wendover, the St Albans writer, records that he attended the celebrated meeting at Bury St Edmunds in November 1214, at which the barons swore to compel the king to confirm the coronation charter of Henry I. By early 1215 the signs are that he was moving to the forefront of the baronial leadership. In January he was present at the barons’ meeting with the king at which John pledged to answer their grievances at Easter. By the end of April, after John had refused satisfaction, he took up arms with the other eastern lords and somewhere between Stamford and Northampton linked up with the Northerners, who were making their own way south. On 5 May, probably at Brackley, the rebels formally defied John, renouncing their oaths of homage, and chose Robert FitzWalter as their leader. After the fall of London Robert was involved in strengthening the city’s defences, demolishing the houses of the Jews for building material. At Runnymede after the making of the Great Charter he was named to the committee of Twenty Five. On 19 June he was named first among the barons with whom John made a treaty laying down that unless he violated the Charter, London would be yielded to him by15 August.
FitzWalter’s main priority in the war that followed King John’s rejection of Magna Carta in the autumn was to ensure the retention of baronial control of London. In October, to prevent an assault by the king’s mercenary force on London, he and his allies seized Rochester Castle, placing William d’Albini in charge of its defence. As soon as the king laid siege to the castle, however, and in the process destroyed the bridge over the Medway, FitzWalter was forced to withdraw, judging that he would be the loser in any confrontation with the royalists. Early the next year, with the king quickly regaining the military initiative, FitzWalter and his comrade-in-arms Saer de Quincy travelled to France to seek the help of the French king’s son, Louis, to whom they offered the crown. Louis landed at Pegwell Bay on 21 May, and on 3 June, the day after his arrival in London, FitzWalter and the mayor, William Hardel, led the barons and citizens in performing homage to him.
FitzWalter remained firmly in the rebel camp in the wake of John’s death in October 1216, and in April 1217 led the relief of the earl of Chester’s siege of de Quincy’s castle at Mountsorrel (Leics.). Once the earl had withdrawn his men, he and his French allies turned east to Lincoln to assist in their siege of Lincoln Castle, which was being held for the king. On 19 May, however, a royalist relieving force under the Marshal arrived, and there was a difference of opinion in the baronial camp over how to respond. FitzWalter is reported to have advised an attacking strategy, but he was overruled, and the barons, playing for safety, withdrew into the walled city. The decision turned out to be a terrible misjudgement. The royalists found a way in, routed their opponents, and virtually the whole of the baronial leadership were taken prisoner. FitzWalter regained his freedom under the terms of the general settlement negotiated at Kingston in September, and he was at large again by the following month. He attended a great council held at Westminster at the end of October at which the former rebels performed homage and fealty to the king. In 1219 he and his old partner Saer embarked on the Fifth Crusade and took part in the siege of the Egyptian city of Damietta. After his return to England he actively involved himself in the politics of the Minority, evidently reconciled to the court, and witnessed the final and definitive reissue of the Charter on 11 February 1225. He died on 9 December 1235 and was buried in Dunmow Priory. His elder son Robert, who had fought with him at Lincoln, had predeceased him, and his heir was a minor, Walter, the son of his second marriage to Rohese.
FitzWalter can easily come across as an unsavoury figure - haughty, aggressive, petulant, unsubtle, unpredictable, motivated more by personal grievance than concern for the common good. Like others among the Twenty Five, he used political quarrel as a vehicle for the pursuit of family claims. Much of his time was spent in trying to recover Hertford Castle, to which he had a tenuous claim through his wife. At the same time, however, he was resolute in his opposition to John, and his involvement in the crusade and support for the Minority government belie his image as a turbulent malcontent. Matthew Paris, the St Albans chronicler, was no admirer of his, and yet penned a generous obituary on his death. FitzWalter, he said, could ‘match any earl in England: valiant in arms, spirited and illustrious … generous, surrounded by a multitude of powerful blood relatives and strengthened by numerous relatives in marriage’. Matthew’s tribute reminds us just how important blood ties were in bringing together and sustaining the opposition of 1215. Yet the many enigmas that surround Robert highlight for us the sheer difficulty of determining baronial motivation from a distance of eight hundred years."
From Charles Cawley http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLISHNOBILITYMEDIEVAL3D-K.htm#_Toc429897363 (updated 12-30-15)
ROBERT FitzWalter of Woodham Walter, Essex (-9 Dec 1235, Dunmow Priory).
- A manuscript history of the foundation of Dunmow Priory records the succession of “Robertus filius Walteri” on the death of “Walterus filius Roberti”, adding that in 1216 the dispute between the barons and King John was triggered in 1216 because the king desired “Matildis…filia domini Roberti filii Walteri”.
- The Red Book of the Exchequer records "Robertus filius Walteri" holding 15 knights’ fees "Wodeham" in Essex in [1210/12].
- He went with Saher de Quincy Earl of Winchester (his cousin through his paternal grandmother) to invite Louis de France to England in early 1216.
- Matthew Paris records, in 1218, the arrival at Damieta in Egypt of “...Roberto filio Walteri...”.
- Bracton records a claim, dated 1225, by "Ricardus filius Reginaldi et Roysia uxor eius" against "Robertum filium Walteri" for part of "terre…in Lewes" inherited from "Roysia de Douera auia sua", the defendant stating that "Matillis mater sua et Aleisia mater Ricardi de Umframuilla et Auelina auia Ricardi de Muntfichet fuerunt sorores" all of whom inherited part of the land in question.
- A manuscript history of the foundation of Dunmow Priory records the death in 1234 of “Robertus filius Walteri, patronus ecclesie de Dunmowe”, his burial at Dunmow, and the succession of “Walterus filius eius”, the same source providing numerous details about his descendants.
- Matthew Paris records the death "in Adventu Domini” 1235 of “Robertus filius Walteri”.
m firstly (after 1194) as her second husband, GUNNOR de Valoignes, widow of DURAND de Ostill, daughter of ROBERT de Valoignes & his wife Hawise --- (-after 1208).
- Bracton records an inquiry, dated 1234/35, whether "Cristiana de Mandevilla soror Walteri filii Roberti" was seised of part of land "in Dersingham", which descended to her "ex parte Gunnore matris sue" and was inherited by "Henricus de Bailloil et Lora uxor eius" because "idem Walterus non fuit frater predicte Cristiane nisi ex parte patris", noting that "tres fratres fuerunt…Petrus, Robertus, Philippus ex parte patris et matris", that Robert was father of "Gunora mater predicte Cristiane".
- “Durandus de Steill camerarius domini regis et Gunnora de Valoniis uxor eius” confirmed donations made to Binham priory by “Rogerus de Valoniis” by undated charter.
- Her first marriage is confirmed by the Rotuli de Dominabus of 1185 which records property “Hortfurdburia et Hochwelle” held by her paternal grandmother “Agnes de Valeines…l annorum”, property “Hecham et Leic” held by “Agnes de Valuines…plusquam lx annorum”, and “Redefelde” held by “Agnes de Valuines…soror Pagani filii Johannis” adding that her heir is “filia eius et heres data est Durando de Ostili”.
- Round suggests that "filia eius" in this passage is an error for "neptis eius", as Gunnor was the senior heiress of her grandmother as only daughter of the latter’s second surviving son, and pointing out that "Durandus de Osteilli" paid scutage in Essex/Hertfordshire of £15/3/4 in the Pipe Roll 1190, equivalent to the 30 and one third knights’ fees on which the barony of Valoignes paid had paid in 1166, and on which "Gunnore de Valoniis" paid in 1194.
- The Red Book of the Exchequer, listing scutage payments in [1194/95], records that "Gunnore de Valoniis" paid "xx s, i militem" in Norfolk, Suffolk, and also paid in Essex, Hertfordshire.
- The Red Book of the Exchequer, listing scutage payments in [1196/97], records "Gunnore de Valoniis" paying "xxx l, xxx milites" in Essex, Hertfordshire.
- "Rob fil Walteri et Gunnor ux eius" paid a fine for the inheritance of "Gaufri de Valon avunculi ipsius Gunnor", dated 1208.
m secondly ROHESE, daughter of ---. This second marriage is confirmed by Bracton who records an inquiry, dated 1234/35, whether "Cristiana de Mandevilla soror Walteri filii Roberti" was seised of part of land "in Dersingham", which descended to her "ex parte Gunnore matris sue" and was inherited by "Henricus de Bailloil et Lora uxor eius" because "idem Walterus non fuit frater predicte Cristiane nisi ex parte patris". The primary source which confirms her name has not yet been identified.
Robert & his first wife had three children:
i) MATILDA (-1212, bur Dunmow Priory). The 13th century Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois d’Angleterre records that "Joffrois de Mandeville" married "la fille Robiert le fil Gautier". m GEOFFREY de Mandeville, son of GEOFFREY FitzPiers & his first wife Beatrice de Say (-London 23 Feb 1216, bur Trinity Prior within Aldgate). He succeeded his father in 1213 as Earl of Essex.
ii) CHRISTINE (-before 17 Jun 1232, bur Shouldham Priory). The 13th century Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois d’Angleterre records that "Robiert le fil Gautier" had two daughters and one son, adding that the second daughter married "Guillaume de Mandeville, qui freres fu Joffroi". “Christiana de Maundeville...in mea...viduitate”, as successor of “Roberti de Valoniis avi mei et Roberti filii Walteri patris mei, Gunnore uxoris sue matris mee”, confirmed the donation of revenue from “ecclesia de Baketona in Suffolchia” to Binham priory made by “Robertus filius Walteri pater meus et Gunnora mater mea”, for the souls of “Willelmi de Maundeville comitis Essexie quondam mariti mei...Roberti filii Walteri patris mei et Gunnore uxoris sue matris mee”, by undated charter, witnessed by “...Gondreda de Warenne soror mea”. The Annals of Dunstable record that “Hubertus de Burgo…Remundus nepos eius” married “comitissam Essexiæ” in 1227. An order dated [Nov] 1227 refers to "Reymundus de Burgo…et Christiana uxore eius". King Henry III granted "duos damos in foresta de Wauberg" to "Christiane uxori Remundi de Burgo”, dated 1229. The History of the foundation of Walden abbey records that “Cristiana uxore sua, comitissa Essexiæ” was buried with her (first) husband “apud Soldham”. m firstly (before 18 Nov 1220) WILLIAM de Mandeville Earl of Essex, son of GEOFFREY FitzPiers & his first wife Beatrice de Say (-8 Jan 1227, bur Shouldham Priory). m secondly ([9 Jan/15 May] 1227) RAYMOND de Burgh of Dartford, Kent, son of --- de Burgh & his wife --- (-drowned 1230, bur Dover).
iii) son . The 13th century Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois d’Angleterre records that "Robiert le fil Gautier" had two daughters and one son.
Robert & his second wife had one child:
iv) WALTER FitzRobert of Woodham Walter, Essex (-shortly before 10 Apr 1258). Bracton records an inquiry, dated 1234/35, whether "Cristiana de Mandevilla soror Walteri filii Roberti" was seised of part of land "in Dersingham", which descended to her "ex parte Gunnore matris sue" and was inherited by "Henricus de Bailloil et Lora uxor eius" because "idem Walterus non fuit frater predicte Cristiane nisi ex parte patris".
The source of the following text is unknown. If you can identify it, please let the curator know. Thank you!
He fought in Ireland in 1210. He was one of the Barons who fell under the suspicion of King John in 1213, and fled with his wife and children to France, whereupon his house of Baynards Castle was demolished by the King. He was temporarily reconciled on 21 July 1213, but breaking out again into rebellion, all his lands in Cornwall, descended to him from the Lucy family, were seized. He then became one of the most active against the King, and being elected General of the Baronial army, by the title of Marshall of the Army of God and the Church, besieged the castles of Northampton and Bedford. On 15 June 1215 he became a Magna Carta Surety. He was one of the envoys sent by the Barons to call in Prince Louis of France. On his return to England, in company with his cousin, William de Huntingfield, he subdued Essex and Suffolk, but the Royalist party making headway, after the death of King John, under the able leadership of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, FitzWalter and his companions were utterly defeated at Lincoln on 19 May 1217, and he, with nearly all the other leaders of his party, taken prisoner. He made his peace with the King, and had restitution of his lands on 8 Oct. 1217, and afterwards fought with the King at the siege of Bitham Castle in 1221. Robert died 9 Dec. 1235. His wife, Rohese, survived him and allegedly died in 1256. They were buried before the high altar at Dunmow Priory.
Robert was the son of Walter FitzRobert and Matilda, daughter of Henry II's justiciar Richard de Lucy. Henry I had granted the honours of Dunmow and Baynard's Castle to Walter's father, Robert, the king's steward, a younger son of Richard fitz Gilbert de Clare. The date of Fitzwalter's birth is unknown, as are the circumstances of his upbringing, though he may be the Robert Fitzwalter mentioned in the Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal as fighting in the Young King's retinue of over 200 knights at the great tournament at Lagny-sur-Marne in 1180.
On the death of his father in 1198, FitzWalter inherited a barony of over 66 knights' fees, which he could add to the 32 fees already brought to him by his wife, Gunnora, daughter and heir of Robert de Valognes. This combined barony made him, in the words of the Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois d'Angleterre, one of the greatest men in England, and one of the most powerful.
In the scutage roll (1213-20), he is said to have been possessed of 11 knights' fees in Cornwall, which had belonged to his uncle Richard de Lucy.
Robert fitz Walter of Woodham1 b. say 1182, d. 9 December 1235
Father Walter fitz Robert2 b. circa 1114, d. 1198 Mother Maud, Lady of Diss1 b. say 1162
Also called Robert fitz Walter the Surety. Robert fitz Walter of Woodham was born say 1182. He was the son of Walter fitz Robert and Maud, Lady of Lucy Diss.
2,1 Robert fitz Walter of Woodham was third lord of Dunmow Castle and leader of the Magna Charta Barons and their Army, styled "Marshal of the Army of God and the Holy Church".
3 He died on 9 December 1235 (NOTE: ACCORDING TO HISTORICAL EVENTS, THE SIEGES AND BATTLES AT DAMIETTA, EGYPT, WERE IN 1169-1170, 1217, 1219, AND 1279. THERE WERE NO SIEGES AT DAMIETTA, EGYPT IN 1235)
1 Robert fitz Walter of Woodham was buried in Dunmow Priory.
Child Christian FitzWalter
Child Sir Walter fitz Robert+ b. s 1212, d. b 10 Apr 12581
Citations [S215] Revised by others later George Edward Cokayne CP, V:472. [S603] C.B., LL.D., Ulster King of Arms Sir Bernard Burke, B:xP, pg. 212. [S577] Magna Charta Barons, online www.magnacharta.org. [S603] C.B., LL.D., Ulster King of Arms Sir Bernard Burke, B:xP, pg. 352.
Robert FitzWalter of Woodham, Baron of Little Dunmow, Surety of the Magna Carta's Timeline
Woodham Walter, Essex, England
December 9, 1235
Damietta, Damietta, Damietta Governorate, Egypt
Little Dunmow, Essex, England