Ralph de Gaël

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Ralph de Gaël de Montfort , called de Guader or Engl. Wader (also Raoul , Randolf, Randulf, Ranulf , * before 1040; † around 1097), was lord of Gaël and Montfort (-sur-Meu) , as well as 2nd Earl of East Anglia from the noble family Montfort-Laval .


Ralph de Gaël is of Anglo-Breton origin. He was probably born in Hereford shortly before 1040 . His father was Ralph Stalre (Ralph the stable master) († 1069), Herr von Gaël, a loyal advisor to the English King Edward the Confessor , after whose death he joined Wilhelm the Conqueror . He was married to Agatha, the sister of a large landowner in Norfolk. "Ralph Stalre" is mentioned as "Radulfus Anglus" in several ducal documents of the Dukes of Brittany from the first half of the 11th century. William the Conqueror made him 1st Earl of East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) in 1067, that is, immediately after the conquest of England .


When his father died, he inherited the great barony of Gaël in Brittany , which consisted of more than 40 parishes. In England he inherited (or received by concessions from the Crown) large estates in Norfolk , but also in Suffolk , Essex , Hertfordshire and probably other counties. Undoubtedly he received some of these goods from his father, but it is doubtful whether he was given the title of count immediately after his death.

Before 1075

In 1065 he supported Duke Conan II of Brittany in the siege of Combourg Castle , in which the lord of the castle Riwallon , Lord of Dol, was entrenched. In the following year he took part in the conquest of England at Wilhelm's side and received numerous goods in East Anglia as a reward . In 1069 he drove out the Vikings who had raided Norfolk and occupied Norwich . In 1070 he was appointed "Earl of East Anglia" ( lat. East-Anglorum comes ) by Wilhelm , his county comprised the later Earldoms of Norfolk , Suffolk and Cambridge . In the official census, he and his father are counted as 1st and 2nd Earl of Norfolk .

Marriage and revolt

He married Emma von Hereford, daughter of the late William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford († 1071), without the consent of the king. In 1075 he took part in the uprising of the counts with his brother-in-law Roger de Breteuil, 2nd Earl of Hereford , and Waltheof II, Earl of Northumbria , which quickly collapsed. Ralph was deposed and expropriated, fled to Denmark , where he sought the support of Canute of Denmark , the son of King Sven Estridsson . He returned to England with 200 ships to find that the revolt had long since ended, after which he again left the country and retreated to Brittany. His wife, who had held Norwich Castle for three months until she and her followers were promised safe conduct on condition that she leave the country within 40 days, also went to Brittany.

From his Breton possessions, Ralph and his ally Gottfried Cranon, a son of Duke Alain III. of Brittany , continued the fight against William in his Norman duchy. In return, Wilhelm allied himself with Duke Hoël II of Brittany, of whom Ralph was included in the castle of Dol in 1076 . Despite all of Wilhelm's siege skills, Ralph managed to repel all attacks on the castle, until a relief army finally arrived under King Philip I of France and Count Fulko IV of Anjou . With heavy losses, Wilhelm had to break off the siege and flee to Normandy, which inflicted his first defeat at all. Ralph had lost his English possessions, but he remained one of the most powerful feudal princes in Brittany.

Between 1086 and 1091 Ralph had Montfort Castle built. A few years later, he and his wife joined Duke Robert II of Normandy for the First Crusade . He took part in the siege of Nicaea , but died a little later on the way to Palestine, as did his wife.


  • Guillaume de Gaël († 1102), who followed his father as Lord of Gaël.
  • Raoul de Gaël, successor to his brother; Lord of Monfort, 1099 Lord of Breteuil .
  • Alain de Gaël, lord of Le Largez ; accompanied his parents on the First Crusade, died there unmarried in 1101.


  • André Chédeville, Noël-Yves Tonnerre: La Bretagne féodale, XIe-XIIIe siècle. Ouest-France Université, Rennes 1987, ISBN 2737300142 .
  • Raoul Ier de Gaël. In: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911
  • David C. Douglas: William the Conqueror. Eyre & Sottiswood Ltd., London 1964.

Web links


  1. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , AD 1075: "Ralph was Breton through his mother, but his father, who was also called Ralph, was English"
predecessor Office successor
Ralph Stalre Earl of East Anglia
English crown domain
Ralph Stalre Lord of Gaël
–– Lord of Montfort
1086 / 91-1097
Ralph II.