William de Normandy, Lord of Tortosa

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William de Normandy, Lord of Tortosa

Birthplace: Normandy, France
Death: 1111 (27-37)
Battle of Jerusalem, Palestine (Palestine, State of) (Died in Battle)
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert II "Curthose", Duke of Normandy and Agnes Giffard
Brother of Sir Richard the Niger (illegitimate)
Half brother of Henry of Normandy; William Clito and IIlegitimate daughter of Robert "Curthose" Duke of Normandy

Managed by: Eric Michael Anderson
Last Updated:

About William de Normandy, Lord of Tortosa

William, Lord of Tortosa (Guillaume) de Normandy 1079-1111 was the firstborn (but illegitimate) son of Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy. Some records say he was the son of Agnes, widow of the Walter Giffard; while other records say he was the son of another mistress who was a "beautiful concubine of a priest near the Norman-French border."

William of Tortosa should not be confused with his legitimate younger half-brother William (Guillaume) de Normandy "Clito" Count of Flanderswho was the only legitimate son of Robert Curthose and his wife Sibylle di Conversano. Sybille died shortly after, said to be poisoned by supporters of Agnes Giffard, mistress of Robert.

From Medlands:


GUILLAUME, WIILLIAM, LORD OF TORTOSA ([1079/80]-killed in battle Jerusalem [1111]). His parentage is stated by Orderic Vitalis[312]. He left for Jerusalem after his father's defeat in 1106. Albert of Aix records the participation of "Guillaume son of Robert Prince of Normandy" at the siege of Sidon, at which he was ordered to Jerusalem for reinforcements by King Baudouin I before leading a major attack on Arab positions in the trans-Jordan area in [Aug 1108][313]. He was placed in command of Tortosa after the town was captured by Bertrand Count of Tripoli in [1110][314].

Parentage Notes:

According to Orderic Vitalis, the second mistress of Robert Curthose Duke of Normandy, was the "beautiful concubine of an old priest near the frontier with France" whom Robert met during his exile after his rebellion in 1079. She was acknowledged by Duke Robert as the mother of his two sons Richard and Guillaume (William) of Tortosa) after she "publicly carried the red-hot iron and escaped without the least burn."

Guillaume de Jumièges records that Duke Robert Courtethuese married "Sibylle sœur de Guillaume comte de Conversano"[269]. Orderic Vitalis records that Sibylle (the legal wife of the Duke) was poisoned and died "during Lent"[271]. (According to William of Malmesbury, she died "by disease"[272].%29 Others said she died in childbirth. However, Orderic Vitalis alleges that Countess Agnes de Ribemont, widow of Walter Giffard Earl of Buckingham, fell in love with Duke Robert, had a son by him, and states that he believed Agnes poisoned Robert's wife Sibylle, although he does not directly attribute blame for her murder[273] Both Robert of Torigny and Orderic Vitalis suggest Sibylle was actually murdered by a cabal of noblewomen who were in favor of the Duke's mistress, the widow Countess Agnes Giffard. After Sybylle died, the marriage between Sibylle and Duke Robert was annulled posthumously.

The wife of Robert Curthose died in Lent 1103. Orderic attributes her death to poison, and implies that it was contrived by Agnes, the widow of Walter Giffard [see Gifarad, Walter], who, by promising Robert the enjoyment of her wealth and the support of her powerful kinsfolk, had induced him to promise in return that he would marry her, ‘and put the whole government of Normandy into her hands’ if his wife should die; a promise which his warfare with Henry left him no leisure to fulfil. William of Malmesbury says that Sibyl died from bad nursing after the birth of a child; if so, the infant did not survive her.

The only known legitimate offspring of Robert's marriage was William ‘the Clito,’ born in 1101 (Ord. Vit. l. x. c. 16, ed. Le Prévost, iv. 98; cf. l. xii. c. 24, ib. 402). In 1128 Robert, then in prison at Devizes, dreamed that a lance-thrust deprived him of the use of his right arm. ‘Alas! my son is dead,’ he said on awaking; and the dream was quickly followed by the news of William's death from just such a wound, received in a skirmish in Flanders (July).

Robert Curthose had a natural daughter, married in 1089 to Elias of Saint-Saëns; and also two natural sons, William of Tortosa and Richard, born during the years when he was in rebellion against his father. These boys were brought up by their mother in her home on the French border till they reached manhood, when she brought them to Normandy, presented them to the duke as his sons, and by successfully undergoing the ordeal of hot iron compelled him to acknowledge them as such.

Richard was accidentally shot dead in the New Forest in May 1100.

Guillaume William of Tortosa went after Tinchebray to the Holy Land (Ord. Vit. l. x. c. 13). In August 1108 King Baldwin I entrusted him with the command of two hundred horse and five hundred foot, with which he captured a noble Arabian lady and her train, consisting of a number of youths and maidens, four thousand camels, and other spoil, with a loss of only two men of importance on his own side (Albert, l. x. c. 47). In 1110 William held the lordship of Tortosa, and was one of the princes who mustered at Antioch in September to defend it against the Turks (ib. l. xi. c. 40). He seems to have fallen shortly afterwards, probably in battle with the infidels (Ord. Vit. 1. x. c. 13).


SOURCE: Brewer's British Royalty David Williamson, Cassell Wellington House, 125 Strand, London, 1996 pg 307-8

Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, (son of William the Conqueror) would have wished the crown to one of his lineal sons (albeit bastard-born) after the death of his legal, but second-born son William Clito.

One of his "natural sons" was named Richard, which is the first name of Captain Hill-Male that was continued in the family lineage. After the death of Richard, the first son of Duke Robert, William of Tortosa, joined a Crusade with his father and perished in the same (The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, edited and translated by Marjorie Chibnall,Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1978, Vol 3, pgs 259-260).

William's mother was a beautiful widowed French noblewoman Agnes de Ribemont Giffard, a daughter of a bishop, who sired children by him. She presented these sons to Robert when they were grown. Both of her sons died without assuming the throne of England or Normandy and her daughter Ros was married.

Sometime after the death of William of Tartosa in the Crusade, his young son who was not yet grown, approached Duke Robert, his grandfather, while the Duke was held in prison in Glamorgan to ask that he be his heir - as his only surviving direct male descendant.

This, assuredly, Duke Robert did, not wanting to see his lineage die. This can be ascertained by the laws of heraldry at the time displayed in the boy's arms. There were granted Two Battle Axes to represent his father and grandfather's battle as well as the Spear that Robert used to kill the Saracean King (showing his descent from Robert).

By coincidence, William the Bastard Conqueror was sired by Robert Duke of Normandy and history repeated itself for William the Bastard's son Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, who then also sired a Bastard son that he also named William.

Thus, William of Tartosa's son used the two Battle Axes in Saltire to represent this double lineage and double battles that brought them to power.

There is a Blue Ribbon that serves to connect the Spear to the small Shield on which appear the Two Battle Axes.

William of Tortosa was raised by his mother, who was the Countess of Ribement. "Ribe" means ribbon and the surname Hill is the English translation of "mont".

Furthermore, the ribbon connects the Shield of Accomplishment to the Spear, and there is only one person who is famous for using a Spear in any of the Crusades - Duke Robert Curthose. The ribbon was also used anciently to show the order of birth between sons which indicates that William might have sired more than one son before he went on the Crusade.

"Riband or Ribbon. A subordinary containing the eighth part of the bend. The Ribbon applied as a difference of the younger sons is of very high antiquity." A Dictionary of Heraldry by C.N Elvin, 1889, reprinted Heraldry Today, marlborough, 1969

This unnamed juvenile son of William of Tartosa was in Glamorgan at the time of Robert's death and escorted his father's body back to Gloucester where he was buried and where was spent a small fortune to build Duke Robert an effigy.

While in Gloucester, the juvenile son of William met with his cousin, Robert Earl of Gloucester (Robert's Curthose's nephew) who would have sealed the right to the Ducal Crown.The boy was possibly offered the earldom of Glamorgan by his uncle.

With the death of his grandfather Robert, who had been imprisoned by his brother, there was only a dangerous future for his young grandson, unless a warrior of great resources, training cunning-- and allied by powerful men, with a willingness to do battle against competing relatives for the throne.

This heir remained in Glamorgan and one of his descendants was Captain Richard Hill-Male.

When a descendant Sir John removed from Glamorgan, the Spear and Battle Axe was dropped from the Inescutcheon and replaced with a Saltire, keeping the Leopard with the Crown. However, in both his and Captain Richard's shield the Leopard is a Demi leopard and this is of royal significance as Robert's grandson and heir, as the son of a bastard as King William was before him. This is signified in the crest by the Demi-leopard. Demi-leopard means untaken or illegitimate royal descendant. William of Tartosa and William the Conqueror were both royal bastard sons and the young grandson did not attempt to take power.

The royal use of the crowned leopard needed to be authorized with proof of lineage. "But if under a will or deed of settlement an illegitimate child is required to assume the name and arms of its father or of its mother, a Royal License to assume such name and arms is considered to be necessary, such petition is granted on proper proof of the facts, if made in due form to the proper channels. The Royal License to that effect is then issued. But the document contains two conditions, the first being that the arms shall be exemplified according to the laws of arms 'with due and proper marks of distinction.'"

In the ancient Welsh language, the word 'male' means prince as the only persons who could afford Mael or Mail armour at the time were noblemen. "*mael, eg. 1. arfogaeth. ARMOUR. 2. tywysog, pennaeth. PRINCE, LORD." ("Welsh-English, English-Welsh Dictionary", H. Meurig Evans, M.A., Saphrograph Corp., 194 Elizabeth Street, New York, Ny, 1969, pg 321).

The prince of England that bore a Crowned Leopard as his crest was Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy and son of William the Conqueror.

As Captain Richard was "the son of the Prince" the Crowned Leopard was given as his crest and the escutcheon of accomplishment, as well as the nickname Gambaron, which means exactly the same.

His descendants dropped the title "Mal", retaining the last name Hill and the White Leopard with the Duke's Crown to show their lineage. The royal title 'mael' was dropped because in the English language, "mal" came to mean "bad or evil" (i.e. Malefactor etc),

These symbols (Leopard, Crown, Spear, Red Shield, Battle Axe's in Saltiere, Glamorgan, Gambaron, Hill-Male etc., gather together into one crest according to the laws of the heraldry of the times, which combine together to show that Sir John Hill, is a direct descendant, through Captain Richard, son of the prince, from crown prince Robert Curthose also son of a prince, as son of William the Bastard Conqueror King of England and Normandy, who is himself a direct descendant, through Robert Duke of Normandy, via Rolo and Halfdan and Machir via the Monarchy established in Normandy.

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