The man who should have been king...

by David Swatton January. 19, 2016 1897 views

The tomb of Robert Curthose in Gloucester Cathedral.

William the Conqueror had three remaining sons when he died, Robert (known as Curthose because of his short stature), William (known as Rufus because of his red hair) and Henry (known as Beauclerc from his scholarly education). He decreed that Robert should inherit the Duchy of Normandy, William should inherit the crown of England and Henry should inherit sufficient monies to purchase his own lands.

On the Conqueror’s death the elder brothers, Robert and William, agreed to be each other’s heirs. Thus, when, on 2 August 1100, William II was killed by an arrow in a hunting accident in the New Forest, Duke Robert was the legitimate heir. However, he had not yet returned from the First Crusade and, in his absence, Prince Henry seized the royal treasury at Winchester and succeeded to the throne of England, guaranteeing his succession in defiance of William and Robert's earlier agreement.

Needless to say Duke Robert was not best pleased by this state of affairs. In 1101 he failed in an attempt to seize the throne that was rightfully his and he retreated to his lands in Normandy where he continued to stir up discord to the extent that in 1105 Henry launched his own invasion of Normandy to settle their differences once and for all.

On the morning of 28 September 1106, the decisive battle between his two surviving sons, Robert Curthose and Henry Beauclerc, took place in the small village of Tinchebrai. The running battle which ensued was spread out over several kilometres. Towards evening Robert tried to retreat but was captured by Henry's men.

Robert was imprisoned for the rest of his long life, first in Devizes Castle before being moved to Cardiff. In all be would spent 28 years a prisoner until his death in 1134, at the age of 84.

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Gillian Parsons 3 years, 10 months ago

Interesting information, can't even think of what that amount of time in prison in those days would be like.

3 years, 10 months ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble 3 years, 10 months ago

He must have been well cared for !!!
Considering the times, that's a ripe old age!

3 years, 10 months ago Edited