Turstin (Toustaine) FitzRou le Blanc, Standard Bearer in the Battle of Hastings

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Turstin (Toustaine) FitzRou le Blanc (FitzRolf), Standard Bearer in the Battle of Hastings

Birthplace: Bec-de-Mortagne, Pays-de-Caux, Normandy, France
Death: after 1086
Immediate Family:

Son of Rolf (Rou, Rollo) "le Blanc"

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About Turstin (Toustaine) FitzRou le Blanc, Standard Bearer in the Battle of Hastings

Turstin FitzRolf

From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turstin_FitzRolf

This knight depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry is sometimes stated to depict Turstin FitzRolf, but is in fact more likely to be Eustace II, Count of Boulogne as the knight appears below the marginal legend E[...]TIUS, a Latinised version of Eustace.[1] His finger pointing to Duke William, whose left hand holding a club before the word DUX can be seen on the left side of the frame, seems to depict his urging the Duke to retreat, as the account in William of Poitiers relates of Eustace. The attribution to Turstin FitzRolf might otherwise have been plausible, due to the depicted figure's carrying of a pennon depicting a cross, apparently the Papal Banner. Turstin was described as having carried the "Gonfannon of the Normans" by Orderic Vitalis

Turstin FitzRolf was a Norman magnate, one of the few "Proven Companions of William the Conqueror" who fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. As his name indicates, he was the son of (fils de) a certain Rolf, synonymous with Rou (Norman-French popular form) and Rollo (latinization). His first name appears as Tosteins, Thurstan and other variants.[2] He appears to have originated in Bec-de-Mortagne, Pays-de-Caux, Normandy, according to the Roman de Rou poem written by Wace in about 1170. He was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as holding as a sub-tenant, the castle of Caerleon, at the southern end of the English frontier with unconquered Wales. He also appears to have been the first holder of the extensive Barony of North Cadbury, Somerset, which included several manors in nearby counties. He is chiefly remembered as the standard bearer of William the Conqueror at Hastings, as recorded by the reliable 12th.c. Chronicler Orderic Vitalis.


1 Origin 2 Disambiguation 2.1 Turstin Sheriff of Cornwall 2.2 Turstin the Fleming of Wigmore 2.3 Turstin de Crispin de Bec Crispin 2.4 Turstin, Count of Avranchin 3 Fights at Hastings 4 Holds Caerleon Castle 5 English Manors held by Turstin 5.1 Held from the King 5.2 Held from Bishop of Worcester 5.3 Held from Abbot of Westminster 5.4 Held from Walter Giffard 6 Succession 7 Sources 8 External Sources 9 References


Turstin appears to have originated in Bec-de-Mortagne, Pays-de-Caux, Normandy, about 5 miles SE of Fécamp, according to the Roman de Rou poem written by Wace (c.1115-1183):

Tosteins fitz Rou-le-Blanc out non, Al Bec en Caux aveit meison

(Turstain FitzRou le Blanc au nom, au Bec-en-Caux avait maison: Turstin FitzRou the White by name, had home at Bec-en-Caux)


At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 there existed various other prominent Turstins as follows, which should not be confused.

Turstin Sheriff of Cornwall

This Turstin is recorded in Domesday as holding 27 manors in Cornwall from Robert, Count of Mortain, 1st Earl of Cornwall. He was described consistently as “Turstin the Sheriff”. In none of these Cornwall entries is he described as “FitzRolf” or variants thereof.[3]

Turstin the Fleming of Wigmore

This Turstin was the husband of Agnes de Merleberge, da. Of Allured de Merleberge who held the Herefordshire manors of Ewyas Harold and "Cowarn" (mod: Little Cowarne & Much Cowarne) in chief. Turstin Flandrensis (i.e. Turstin of Flanders or "Turstin the Fleming") is referred to in 3 entries in Domesday, in respect of lands close to Wigmore in the Welsh Marches, but only as a sub-feoffee of 2 of these manors, not as tenant-in-chief. The manors in question are:

Cowarn, held by Agnes “the wife of Turstin de Wigmore”, held from her father Allured de Merleberge.

Stratford, Herefordshire, now a small village 4 miles north of Tewkesbury, held by Turstin from his father-in-law Allured.

Wigmore. In 1086 this was held by Ralph de Mortimer, but the entry states that it was formerly held by Turstin the Fleming, who had been granted it by William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford between 1066 and 1070. It appears that Turstin's overlord in 1086, by then Roger the son of William FitzOsbern, had been ousted following his rebellion against William Rufus, and thus Turstin had lost his position as a sub-feoffee.

The stated place of origin in Domesday of this Turstin in the "county" of Flanders is about 150 miles north of Bec in Normandy, the place of origin given by Wace for Turstin FitzRolf of Bec. There thus seems little valid reason for a confusion of the 2 identities, unless of course Wace himself is in error, for Domesday certainly is reliable in providing correct nomenclatures. Turstin of Flanders had a son called Eustace who granted to the Abbey of St Peter's, Gloucester, 1 hide called "Sudenhale" in Pencombe, Herefordshire, 1 mile NW of Little Cowarne.

Turstin de Crispin de Bec Crispin

The family of Crispin was associated with Bec Abbey at Le Bec Hellouin (also known as Bec Crispin or Bec Crespin) in the Eure departement, on the River Risle approximately 30 miles south east of Le Harvre. Bec-de-Mortagne in the Pays-de-Caux, on the other hand is about 20 miles north-east of Le Harvre.[4] The name Turstin was common in this family, and for this reason it seems that Stacey Grimaldi, writing in 1832, confused some of the Turstins of Domesday as the same person.[5]

Turstin, Count of Avranchin

Alfred Ellis in his 1879 article Landholders of Gloucestershire in the Domesday Book[6] suggests the existence of yet another prominent Toustain FitzRou from the family of the Viscounts of the Avranchin, even further south from Le Harvre than Le Bec Hellouin mentioned above. This person he states to have witnessed a charter of William FitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford, to Lyre Abbey, (printed in Gallia, Chr. XI, Instr., p.123). His reasoning is that Wace referred to Turstin the standard-bearer as "Le Blanc", i.e. "white-haired", apparently in order to differentiate him from another Turstin FitzRolf, who presumably had darker hair. Richard, Vicomte of the Avranchin, was the son of Turstin Goz and the father of Hugh d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester[7]

Fights at Hastings

Orderic Vitalis(d.1142) wrote sometime after 1110: “Turstinus filius Rollonis vexillum Normannorum portavit” (Turstin son of Rollo carried the standard of the Normans).[8]

Wace wrote in his cronicle Roman de Rou as follows (loosely translated and dramatised by Sir Edward Creasy(d.1878)):

"Then the Duke called for the standard which the Pope had sent him, and, he who bore it having unfolded it, the Duke took it and called to Raoul de Conches. “Bear my standard” said he “for I would not but do you right; by right and by ancestry your line are standard-bearers of Normandy, and very good knights have they all been”.

But Raoul said that he would serve the Duke that day in other guise, and would fight the English with his hand as long as life should last. Then the Duke bade Walter Giffard[9] bear the standard. But he was old and white-headed, and bade the Duke give the standard to some younger and stronger man to carry. Then the Duke said fiercely, “by the splendour of God, my lords, I think you mean to betray and fail me in this great need”. Giffard replied “Sire, not so! we have done no treason, nor do I refuse from any felony toward you; but I have to lead a great chivalry, both hired men and the men of my fief. Never had I such good means of serving you as I now have; and, if God please, I will serve you; if need be I will die for you, and will give my own heart for yours”. "By my faith” quoth the Duke, “I always loved thee, and now I love thee more; if I survive this day, thou shalt be the better for it all thy days”. Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard much praised, Tosteins Fitz-Rou le Blanc by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux. To him he delivered the standard, and Tosteins took it right cheerfully, and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly and with good heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their inheritance on this account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold their inheritance forever".[10]

It is thought by some that Turstin is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry as standard bearer, yet the mounted knight so depicted is more likely to be Eustace II, Count of Boulogne, due to the embroidered annotation above E...TIUS, apparently a Latinised form of Eustace. The figure is shown in conversation with Duke William, and points to the rear, urging a retreat, as he is recorded as having done by William of Poitiers: "With a harsh voice he (Duke William) called to Eustace of Boulogne, who with 50 knights was turning in flight and was about to give the signal for retreat. This man came up to the Duke and said in his ear that he ought to retire since he would court death if he went forward. But at the very moment when he uttered the words Eustace was struck between the shoulders with such force that blood gushed out from his mouth and nose and half dead he only made his escape with the aid of his followers".[11]

Yet the matter is not certain as William of Poitiers does not mention Eustace as having been a standard bearer, whilst the figure otherwise so convincingly Eustace in the Tapestry clearly is holding what appears to be the papal banner, depicting a cross.

Holds Caerleon Castle

Caerleon Castle was a Motte and Bailey castle erected by the Norman invaders on the site of a Roman castle known as Ischia. It was located on the western bank of the River Usk, which formed the early western border of England with Wales, thus it appears to have been just within Welsh territory. Turstin did not hold the castle directly from the king, but from William de Scohies (or de Ecouis), a magnate with lands in Hereford and the Marches, Norfolk and in several other counties. Domesday Book of 1086 recorded Turstin as holding the manor of Caerleon, which consisted of eight carucates of land west of the Usk. On the manor were 2 serfs and one plough within the demesne lands. Also listed on the manor were 3 Welshmen with 3 ploughs, who were permitted to continue their Welsh customs (leges Walensi viventes). The manor was valued at 40 shillings. It should also be noted that he held Aust in Gloucestershire on the east bank of the River Severn estuary, an important crossing point into Chepstow, Wales, just east of Caerleon.

English Manors held by Turstin

The Domesday Book records Turstin FitzRolf as holding the following manors in 1086, presumably all royal grants for loyal service:[12]

Held from the King


Alvington, Gloucestershire (Alwintune)

Ampney Crucis, Gloucestershire (Omenel). There were 2 other holdings here, “Baldwin” from the King and Humphrey the Chamberlain.

Fretherne, Gloucestershire (Fridorne)

Hillesley, Gloucestershire (Hildeslei). Sub-enfeoffed to Bernard (Pancevolt?)

King's Stanley, Gloucestershire (Stantone). Tovi also held a manor here.

Oakley, Gloucestershire (Achelie). There were 3 manors here, thought to have lain to the immediate west of Cirencester, by Coates. Turstin's is thought to have been Oakley Wood.

Tortworth, Gloucestershire (Torteword)


Blackford, Somerset (near Wincanton) (Blacheford/Blachafort). There were 2 manors here, one held by Glastonbury Abbey, sub-enfeoffed to “Alwaker”, the other held by Turstin sub-enfeoffed to “Alfward”.

Little Keyford, Somerset (Caivel/Chaivert/Kaivert). 2 manors, one held by Geoffrey de Montbray, Bishop of Coutances, sub-enfeoffed to “Nigel”, the other held by Turstin, sub-enfeoffed to “Norman”.

Maperton, Somerset (Malpertone/Malperettona). Sub-enfeoffed to “Geoffrey”.

North Cadbury, Somerset (Cadeberie/beria). The later caput of the eponymous barony which retained many of Turstin's landholdings.

Pitcombe, Somerset (near present Godminster Farm) (Pidecome/coma)

South Cadbury, Somerset (Sudcadeberie/Sutcadaberia/deberia). Sub-enfeoffed to Bernard Pancevolt “a clerk and an Englishman”. Thought to be the site of Camelot Castle.

Syndercombe, Somerset (now flooded by Clatworthy Reservoir) (Sindercome)

Woolston, Somerset (in South Cadbury) (Ufetone/tona/tuna). There were 2 holdings here: Robert, Count of Mortain, 1st Earl of Cornwall, held one part, sub-enfeoffed to “Drogo”, the 2nd part was held by Turstin FitzRolf, seb-enfeoffed to “Leofgeat”. The connection to Robert Mortain should not be taken as evidence of any identity of Turstin with Turstin Sheriff of Cornwall, as Robert held many hundred manors throughout the kingdom.

Berkshire Sparsholt, Berkshire (now Oxon.) Coleshill, Berkshire. (now Oxon.)Turstin held 1 of 5 manors here. Childrey, Berkshire (now Oxon.) (“Celrea”). Turstin held 1 of 3 manors here, sub-enfeoffed to Roger. Upton, Berkshire (now Oxon.). (“Optone”) Buckinghamshire Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire (“Kemble Parva”). Sub-enfeoffed to Albert. Hardwick, Buckinghamshire (“Harduic”). 1 of 3 manors held by Turstin, others held by Robert of Mortain and Miles Crispin, both sub-enfeoffed. Dorset Gillingham, Dorset (“Gelingeham”) Turstin held 1 manor of 5 or 6, subenfeoffed to Bernard (Pancevolt?) Allington, Dorset (“Adelingtone”) Nyland, Dorset (“Iland”/”Inlande”) 1 of 2 manors held by Turstin, the other by Robert of Mortain. Stoke Wallis, Dorset (“Stoche”) 1 of 2 manoprs held by Turstin, sub-enfeoffed to Ranulf. Herefordshire Little Marcle, Herefordshire (“Merchelai”). 1 of 2 manors held by Turstin, sub-enfeoffed to another “Turstin”. The other manor was held by Roger de Lacy. Hampshire Newton Valence, Hampshire (“Newentone”)

Held from Bishop of Worcester Gloucestershire Aust, Gloucestershire (Austreclive). 5 hides. Gotherington, Gloucestershire (Godrinton).

Held from Abbot of Westminster Glos./Worcs. Hasfield, Gloucestershire (Hasfelde). 1 ½ hides. Eckington, Worcestershire (“Aichintune”) 1 of 3 manors held by Turstin.

Held from Walter Giffard Walter Giffard, 1st Earl of Buckingham(d.1102) was a Norman magnate and fellow proven Companion of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The caput of his feudal honour was at Crendon, Buckinghamshire. Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire


Clearly Turstin had "kindred" and "heirs" as referred to by Wace, yet these may have been in Normandy only, since no record of any familial inheritance exists for his English holdings. Turstin is said by some sources to have had a son named Ralph (FitzTurstin) who went on crusade to the Holy Land, where he died. Most of Turstin's lands, which later constituted a feudal barony, did not pass to his son, if indeed such existed, but to another apparently unrelated Norman magnate Wynebald de Ballon, who served for a time as seneschal of Caerleon Castle, whilst his elder brother Hamelin de Ballon had founded Abergavenny Castle 15 miles higher up the River Usk, and founded a barony seated at Much Marcle, i.e. next to, and possibly subsuming, Turstin's own manor of Little Marcle. Wynebald also inherited, almost intact, the lands comprising Turstin's fief, which is known collectively as the barony of North Cadbury. The reason for this transfer is not clear, whether by death or by his having fallen out of royal favour. It is possible that Turstin was a supporter of Duke Robert of Normandy, the Conqueror's eldest son who tried to wrest the kingdom of England from William Rufus, his younger brother who had had himself crowned very rapidly at Westminster following the Conqueror's death. Turstin would therefore have found himself on the losing side, and as is known to have happened to others in that situation, would have forfeited his lands. It is interesting to note that such banishment is known to have been the fate of Turstin's other 2 neighbours at Oakley in Gloucestershire, Gislebert FitzTurold and Roger de Lacy, both banished from the kingdom in 1088.


  • Transactions of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1879–80, vol.4, On the Landholders of Gloucestershire Named in Domesday Book, by Alfred S. Ellis, esp. chap. LXVII, TVRSTINVS FILIVS ROLF, pp. 186–188 (www.bgas.org.uk)[4]
  • www.domesdaybook.co.uk; [5]
  • Douglas, D.C. & Greenaway, G.W. (eds.) English Historical Documents 1042-1189, London, 1959.

External Sources

  • Whitney Research Group & Tim Doyle, 2006. Article on Turstin the Fleming of Wigmore, apparently confounded with Turstin of Bec-en-Caux
  • Ancestry of Robert Roy and Related Families by Robert Roy, 2010. Article on Turstin the Fleming, apparently confounded with Turstin of Bec-en-Caux
  • genealogy.com Refers to and quotes from the article by Stacy Grimaldi in Gentleman's Magazine of Oct. 1832 which confuses the Grimaldi-Crispin family of Le Bec Hellouin with Turstin from Bec in Pays de Caux, in Normandy.


  1. ^ Douglas, David C. (ed.) English Historical Documents 1042-1189, London, 1959. Bayeux Tapestry, p.238
  2. ^ From Old Norse Þórstæinn (Thorstein = Thor 's stone). The names Tostain or Toutain still exist in France nowadays, but as a surname, that was still concentrated in Normandy before W.W.II. [1][2]
  3. ^ Lysons, Daniel & Samuel. Magna Britannia, vol. 3, Cornwall, 1814, Division of Property at the Time of the Domesday Survey, pp.50-64
  4. ^ Michelin Road Atlas of France
  5. ^ Stacey Grimaldi, Gentleman's Magazine, October 1832, Genealogy of Grimaldi-Crispin-Toustain FitzRou de Bec.
  6. ^ BGAS, 1879-80, vol.4, p.186, op.cit.
  7. ^ Douglas, D.C. & Greenaway, G.W. (eds.) English Historical Documents 1042-1189, London, 1959, p.919
  8. ^ Orderic Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica
  9. ^ Walter Giffard, Lord of Longueville, later 1st Earl of Buckingham. His presence at Hastings is certain in view of his having been listed as such by William of Poitiers
  10. ^ Roman de Rou quoted by Creasy, Sir Edward Shepherd, The Norman Conquest of England, Battle of Hastings[3]
  11. ^ Wm. of Poitiers, per Douglas (1959), pp.228-9
  12. ^ www.domesdaybook.co.uk


Turstin held estates in Herefore and the Marshes of Wales. Turstin was a major player in the Battle of Hastings, as part of William the Conqueror's invading force. He purportedly carried the banner of William at the head of the invading army, when it had already been refused by other men on account of how dangerous the task was. He is listed numerous times in the Domesday Book. See the account of the Battle of Hastings below.

"About nine in the morning the army began to move, crossed the interval between the two hills, and slowly ascended the eminence on which the English were posted. The papal banner, as an omen of victory, was carried in front by Toustane the fair, a dangerous honor, which two of the Norman Barons had successively denied." One chronicler wrote "He bore the Gonfanon boldly, high aloft in the breeze, and rode beside the Duke, going wherever he went. Whenever the Duke turned he turned also, and wherever he stayed his course there he stayed also." Another chronicler says "Fast by the three brothers" (Duke William, Odo and Robert) the consecrated banner, says he, "was borne by Toustain the white, the son of Rou, a knight of the less famous Bec in the land of Caux. Two men of higher rank and greater age had already declined the honorable office... Thick around Toustain and the chiefs beside whom he rode were gathered the chivalry of Normandie, the future nobility of England." This indicates that Rolf, or Rou, father of Turstin, was a knight in the land of Caux, perhaps Pays de Caux, an area in Normandy and from Bec, perhaps Bec Abbey.


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