Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk

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The ruins of Bungay Castle in Suffolk, begun by Hugh Bigod in the 1160s

Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk (* before 1107; † between 1176 and March 9, 1177) was an English magnate . He was one of the most powerful English nobles for over five decades and served four kings.

Origin and heritage

Hugh Bigod was the second son of Roger Bigod , the founder of the Anglo-Norman aristocratic Bigod family . It came from his father's second marriage to Alice de Tosny. His father died in 1107, and Hugh became heir to his father's extensive East Anglia estate in 1120 after his elder half-brother William was killed in the sinking of the White Ship . In addition, he took over the post of Royal Steward from his half-brother . After the death of his aunt Albreda de Tosny he inherited further estates in Yorkshire around 1130 . By 1135 his estate had grown to 125 Knight's Fee .

Courtier under Heinrich I and role in the succession of Stephen to the throne

Hugh Bigod was part of King Henry I's retinue from 1120 and is mentioned as a witness in 47 documents until 1135. After the king's death in 1135, he played an important role in the succession to the throne. Although it was later claimed that he was absent from the king's death, Bigod swore that Henry would have bequeathed the crown to his nephew Stephan von Blois and not his daughter Matilda on his deathbed . This convinced Wilhelm von Corbeil , the Archbishop of Canterbury, to crown Stephan as the new king, which was initially accepted by the majority of the Anglo-Norman nobility, but soon led to a lengthy war of succession between Stephan and Matilda, the so-called anarchy .

Ranks and power gains during the civil war

As King Stephan quickly confirmed Bigod's office as Royal Steward, but the relationship between the two was not free of tension. The main focus of Bigod's lands was in Suffolk , where his two castles, Framlingham and Walton, were. It was evident that he wanted to extend his power to Norfolk , where he occupied Norwich Castle in 1136 on news of the alleged death of Stephen . In 1140 he undertook two more revolts against the king, who then concluded an agreement with him in August and made him Earl of Norfolk . In January 1141, Bigod supported the king in the Battle of Lincoln , but fled the battlefield as the battle began. At a council meeting in Oxford in 1141 he switched to the side of Empress Matilda, who, however, did not recognize the titles of her rival Stephan and therefore reappointed Bigod as Earl of Norfolk. Bigod could not enforce this claim to rule in Norfolk. The county sheriff controlled Norwich and eastern Norfolk while the Warenne and Aubigny families , the leading aristocratic families in western Norfolk, remained on King Stephen's side. In eastern Suffolk, however, Bigod was able to maintain his rule and appropriate royal goods during the civil war. In 1144 he supported Geoffrey de Mandeville in his rebellion against King Stephen, and in 1147 he took Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, who had been driven out by Stephan, into Framlingham Castle. There the bishops of London, Norwich and Chichester visited the archbishop who, as a primate of the English Church under Bigod's protection, decided in spiritual disputes. Until the end of the Civil War, King Stephen was unable to restore his royal authority in eastern Suffolk, and it was not until 1153 that Bigod gave him Ipswich Castle . Stephan had previously made his younger son William Lord of Norfolk, which was confirmed in the 1153 Treaty of Winchester. In a compromise, presumably at the instigation of Henry Plantagenet , Stephan gave Bigod again the title of Earl and a third of the Norfolk income, but without territorial rule over the county. For this he gave Bigod four royal estates in East Anglia, which Bigod brought in additional income of £ 114. When Henry Plantagenet became King of England in 1154 as Henry II, he confirmed these awards including the title of Earl of Norfolk. As part of a general pacification of East Anglia, however, he occupied the castles of William of Blois and Hugh Bigod in 1157. Bigod's headquarters, Framlingham Castle, was held by mercenaries on behalf of the king and was not returned to Bigod until 1165.

Magnate under King Heinrich II.

In the late 1150s and early 1160s, Bigod was a regular part of the king's entourage. During the King's campaign against Wales , Bigod took over the administration of Norfolk and Suffolk from 1157 to 1158. From 1164 to 1165 he supported the king's renewed campaign against Wales with a contingent of his vassals. In 1165 there was a dispute between Bigod and Pentney Priory in Norfolk, for which Bigod was excommunicated in 1166 by Archbishop Thomas Becket . It was not until 1169 that the excommunication was lifted by a decision of the royal council. In 1165 Bigod was supposed to pay the king a fee of £ 1000, presumably in exchange for payment of this fee he was allowed to build Bungay Castle in Suffolk. Bigod never had to pay the sum in full, but the king had Orford Castle built , presumably in response to Bigod's new castle .

Participation in the rebellion of Henry the Younger

From 1172 Bigod supported the rebellion of Henry the Younger against his father King Henry II. After the Earl of Leicester landed with Flemish mercenaries at Walton in Suffolk on September 29, 1173 , Bigod supported him. Together, the two Earls were able to conquer Haughley Castle on October 13 , but their attacks on Walton Castle and the city of Dunwich failed. The two Earls retired to Framlingham Castle and were decisively defeated on October 17th in the Battle of Fornham . While Leicester was captured, Bigod narrowly escaped. On May 15, 1174, however, other Flemish mercenaries landed at Orwell in Suffolk, which Count Philip of Flanders sent to support young Henry. On July 1, 500 bigods joined them, allowing the rebels to capture Norwich Castle . However, since the rebellion of young Henry failed, Bigod also had to surrender to the king on July 25, 1174 in Framlingham and swear allegiance to him. The Flemish mercenaries were allowed to leave England again, but the king had Framlingham Castle destroyed. Bigod was allowed to keep his Earl of Norfolk title, Bungay Castle and the four royal estates received in 1153, but is believed to have lost his share of the Norfolk tax revenue and was fined £ 466. In 1176 he began a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but died on the way. His body was brought back to England and buried in Thetford Abbey , which he had sponsored like his father.

Marriages and offspring

Bigod was married twice. In his first marriage he married Juliana de Vere († 1199/1200), a daughter of Aubrey de Vere . With her he had a son:

Bigod had his marriage with Juliana annulled and married Gundred († 1206/1208), a daughter of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick , in his second marriage . With her he had two other sons:

  • Hugh († around 1203)
  • William

After Bigod's death, a protracted inheritance dispute began between his son Roger from his first marriage and his two sons from his second marriage, which could not be finally settled in Roger’s favor until 1199.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Robert Bartlett: England under the Norman and Angevin kings, 1075-1225 . Oxford University Press, London 2002, ISBN 0-19-925101-0 , p. 258
  2. ^ John D. Hosler: Henry II. A medieval soldier at war, 1147-1189. Brill, Leiden 2007. ISBN 978-90-04-15724-8 , p. 216
predecessor Office successor
New title created Earl of Norfolk
1140-1176 / 7
Roger Bigod