Geoffroy de Montbray

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Geoffroy de Montbray or Geoffroy de Coutances (sometimes called Mowbray in England ; † February 2, 1093 in Coutances ) was Bishop of Coutances from 1049 to 1093 and one of the closest advisers to Duke William II of Normandy , who later became William the Conqueror he also accompanied the conquest of England .


Geoffroy de Montbray comes from a Norman family who were wealthy in the Cotentin , the Lords of Montbray (today the Department of Manche ). He became Bishop of Coutances in 1048 or 1049. At the Council of Reims in 1049 he was - like others - accused of having bought the office ( simony ). He admitted that his brother had bought it for him, but that he himself refused his ordination when he found out, and that he even fled to protect himself. The council finally accepted the oath he made and confirmed his appointment. It was consecrated on March 12, 1049 in Rouen , probably by Archbishop Mauger .

Before 1066 he was one of the pioneers of church reforms in Normandy. His diocese was in a deplorable state. The Church of Coutances had only five clerics but no Bible. She had lost most of her property and next to no income, so Geoffroy's first step was to find money. In April 1050 he traveled to Rome and met members of the Hauteville family , who came from Hauteville-la-Guichard within his diocese and who now ruled southern Italy. He seems to have received a treasure from them, since on his return he was able to buy half of the city of Coutances from the Duke and start building a palace. He also set up a fund for the construction of the Cathedral of Coutances (which was consecrated in December 1056). Most of his activities in the diocese must have been completed before 1066, since he was practically only on the island after the conquest of England by the Normans . The income he earned there was also used to build the cathedral.

As a close advisor to the Duke of Normandy, he accompanied him to England in 1066. William of Poitiers reports that he - like Bishop Odo von Bayeux - only took part in the Battle of Hastings to pray for victory, but did not intervene in the battle. He also took part in the coronation of Wilhelm on December 25, 1066 in Westminster.

As a confidante of the new king, he was rewarded for participating in the conquest of England: he received a total of 280 goods, 76 of them in Somerset and 97 in Devonshire .

During the uprising of the Counts in 1075, he and Odo von Bayeux commanded the army against Raoul de Gaël , the Earl of Norfolk . They besieged Norwich Castle , but eventually negotiated a rebel withdrawal. Geoffroy de Montbray became known in this context by demanding that the insurgents' right foot be chopped off so that they could be better recognized in the future.

With the death of William the Conqueror in 1087, his eldest son Robert inherited Normandy, while his younger son Wilhelm received the English crown. This decision threw the Norman barons into conflicts of loyalty, as almost all of them owned property on both sides of the English Channel and thus had to serve two masters in the future. Geoffroy de Montbray was one of those who wanted a uniform command structure. He therefore took part in the uprising of 1088 , which had the goal of replacing Wilhelm II with Robert II. Together with his nephew Robert de Montbray , Earl of Northumberland , he sacked Bristol , Bath , Berkeley and much of Wiltshire . The rebellion failed, but the king generously pardoned the insurgents. He still tried to influence the king in the trial of William of Saint-Calais , one of the instigators of the uprising, but then preferred to withdraw to Normandy in view of the hostilities Lanfrank von Becs .

His nephew Robert de Montbray inherited his English property, but was expropriated in 1095 when he again joined a plot against Wilhelm II.

See also: House Mowbray


  • Christopher Teyerman: Geoffrey of Coutances. In: Who's Who in Early Medieval England, 1066–1272. Ed. Shepheard-Walwyn, 1996, ISBN 0856831328 , pp. 26-27, source DC Douglas: William the Conqueror. 1964, is given.
  • John le Patourel: Geoffrey of Montbray, Bishop of Coutances 1049-1093. In: The English Historical Review. Volume 59, No. 234, May 1944, pp. 129-161.


  1. See also: Companion of Wilhelm the Conqueror
  2. ^ A b c d e f g John Le Patourel: Geoffrey of Montbray, Bishop of Countances, 1049-1093. In: The English Historical Review. Volume 59, No. 234, May 1944, pp. 129-161.
  3. ^ Frank Barlow: William Rufus. Yale University Press, 1983, ISBN 0300082916