Brian FitzCount

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The ruins of Wallingford Castle, the center of Brian FitzCount's estates

Brian FitzCount (also called Brian de Wallingford) (* around 1090, † around 1149) was an Anglo-Norman nobleman and one of the leading supporters of Empress Matilda during the English Civil War from 1135 to 1154 .

Origin and advancement

Brian was believed to be the illegitimate son of Alain IV , the Duke of Brittany and an unknown mistress, perhaps a Lucy, a sister of Hamelin de Ballon . He did not inherit any property from his father, so that he is mentioned in 1114 in the entourage of King Henry I of England. Before 1119 he inherited Abergavenny Castle and Upper Gwent in south-east Wales from his uncle Hamelin de Ballon . Also before 1119 he married Matilda, heiress to Miles Crispin , Lord of Wallingford, so that he came into the possession of the great Wallingford rule in Berkshire . After 1125 he belonged to the royal household and accompanied Henry I in England and Normandy. During this time Heinrich I tried to establish his daughter Matilda as his successor. In May 1127 Brian and Heinrich's illegitimate son Robert of Gloucester accompanied Matilda to Rouen , where she was betrothed to Gottfried Plantangenet .

Supporter of King Stephen

In the summer of 1135, however, Henry I fell out with his daughter, which enabled her cousin Stephan von Blois to proclaim himself king after Henry's death on December 1st. Brian initially accepted this, so that Robert of Gloucester, the half-brother of the Empress, also recognized Stephen's succession in April 1136. Both Robert and Brian's lands in Wales were threatened by the Welsh uprising that broke out after the death of Henry I. Brian accompanied Richard FitzGilbert de Clare , Lord of Ceredigion , when he rode through his rule Abergavenny towards Cardigan , but contrary to Brian's warning he then rode on with a small entourage and was killed in a Welsh ambush on April 15, 1136.

Change of sides and leading supporter of Empress Matilda

However, after the Empress Matilda landed in England in the autumn of 1139 to fight for her claim to the throne, Brian was persuaded by his cousin Miles de Gloucester to side with the Empress. King Stephen immediately besieged Wallingford Castle , but the castle withstood the siege. When Miles de Gloucester's son-in-law Humphrey II de Bohun gathered troops in Trowbridge , Stephan moved to Wiltshire to ward off the threat , so that Miles could finally relieve Wallingford. After the Battle of Lincoln Brian accompanied the Empress to St Albans , Westminster and, after the expulsion from London, to Oxford . After the defeat at the Battle of Winchester, Brian escorted the Empress to Devizes . Presumably he was with her when she was besieged by King Stephen at Oxford Castle in 1142 and fled to Wallingford on December 20th in an adventurous escape across the frozen Thames . From there she retired to the difficult-to-conquer castle in Devizes, where she stayed until her departure from England in 1148.

Escape of the Empress from Oxford Castle

After the Empress withdrew to the west of England, Wallingford became an endangered frontier castle and Brian struggled to keep the castle. He focused on the defense of Wallingford and therefore renounced his Welsh possessions. Since he had no sons himself, he gave Abergavenny to Miles de Gloucester, while he gave the royal castle Grosmont Castle , conquered in 1139, to the second eldest son of Miles, Walter de Hereford. In return, Miles had to provide him with three knights to defend Wallingford. The guerrilla war between the opposing parties made it difficult to supply the castle, but an attack by King Stephen and the Earl of Chester on Wallingford in 1146 failed . Brian's wife Matilda bequeathed two estates near Ogbourne in Wiltshire to Bec Abbey in 1150 or 1151 , so that Brian had probably died shortly before. In 1152 Wallingford Castle was defended against King Stephen by Roger Fitzmiles , the eldest son of Miles de Gloucester. After his early death in 1155, Wallingford fell to the crown.


  • Edmund King: [1] Brian fitz Count (c.1090 – c.1149) In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press 2004, accessed November 28, 2013

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Neil Phillips, Abergavenny Castle, 1087-1535 , Gwent Local History, No 88, 2000, p. 27
  2. ^ Castles of Wales: Grosmont Castle. Retrieved November 28, 2013 .
  3. Jim Bradbury: Stephen and Matilda. The civil war of 1139-53. Sutton Pub., Stroud 1998. ISBN 978-0-7509-1872-5 , p. 182