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the First Crusade

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Author Topic: the First Crusade  (Read 6202 times)
Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #150 on: March 02, 2009, 05:30:46 am »

In 1096, Robert left for the Holy Land on the First Crusade. At the time of his departure he was reportedly so poor that he often had to stay in bed for lack of clothes. In order to raise money for the crusade, he mortgaged his duchy to his brother William for the sum of 10,000 marks.

Robert and William had agreed to name each other the Heir Presumptive of England and Normandy respectively. Therefore, when William II died on 2 August 1100, Robert should have inherited the throne of England. But he was on his return journey from the Crusade, marrying a wealthy young bride to raise funds to buy back his duchy. As a result, his brother Henry was able to seize the crown of England for himself.

Upon his return, Robert, urged by Flambard and several Anglo-Norman barons, led an invasion of England to retake the crown from his brother Henry. In 1101, Robert landed at Portsmouth with his army, but his lack of popular support among the English as well as Robert's own mishandling of the invasion tactics enabled Henry to resist the invasion. Robert was forced by diplomacy to renounce his claim to the English throne in the Treaty of Alton. It is said that Robert was a brilliant field commander, but a terrible general in the First Crusade. His government (or misgovernment) of Normandy as well as his failed invasion of England proves that his military skills were better than his political skills.

In 1105, however, Robert's continual stirring of discord with his brother in England, as well as civil disorder in Normandy itself, prompted Henry to invade Normandy. Orderic reports on an incident at Easter 1105, when Robert was supposed to hear a sermon by the venerable Serlo, Bishop of Sées. Robert spent the night before sporting with harlots and jesters, and while he lay in bed, sleeping off his drunkenness, his unworthy friends stole his clothes. He awoke to find himself naked, and had to remain in bed and missed the sermon.

In 1106, Henry defeated Robert's army decisively at the Battle of Tinchebray and claimed Normandy as a possession of the English crown, a situation that endured for almost a century. Captured after the battle, Robert was imprisoned in Devizes castle for 20 years, before being moved to Cardiff.

In 1134, he died in Cardiff Castle, in his early eighties. Robert Curthose, sometime Duke of Normandy, eldest son of the Conqueror, was buried in the abbey church of St. Peter in Gloucester. The exact place of his burial is difficult to establish - legend states the he requested to be buried before the High Altar. His effigy carved in bog oak, however, lies on a mortuary chest decorated with the attributed arms of the Nine Worthies (missing one - Joshua, and replaced with the arms of Edward the Confessor). The effigy dates from about 100 years after his death, and the mortuary chest much later. The church subsequently has become Gloucester Cathedral.

The name 'Curthose' can still be seen today, in France as Courtoise and in Britain as Curthoys.

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