Robert I (Flanders)

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Robert I the Friesian (French: Robert le Frison , lat .: Robertus Friso ; * around 1033; † October 12 or 13, 1093 ) was a Count of Flanders from the House of Flanders . He was a younger son of Count Baldwin V of Flanders and Adela , a daughter of King Robert II the Pious .


According to the will of her father, Robert's older brother Baldwin VI. in the county of Flanders, while Robert himself should remain without a significant legacy. According to a story by Lampert von Hersfeld , his father is said to have given him money and a fully equipped boat with the advice to seek happiness on the other side of the sea. Then Robert went on a multi-year adventure trip, during which he fought the Moors in Spain and was shipwrecked on the way to the holy land. After that he was in the service of the Byzantine Emperor's Varangian Guard in Constantinople for some time . The credibility of this story is rated as rather low, in any case Robert moved to Friesland in 1063 to marry the widow of Count Florens I and then to rule there for the next few years as the guardian of his underage stepson, Count Dietrich V. Its contemporary nickname results from this.

Count Baldwin VI died in 1070. from Flanders and left only two young sons, whose mother Richilde took over the reign in Flanders. Robert immediately used the uncertain situation in Flanders in his favor and upset the north of the county against his sister-in-law, which secured him control of Ghent and Bruges . When he wanted to win the south for his cause, he was captured by Count Eustach II of Boulogne and imprisoned in Saint-Omer . Around the same time, however, Richilde fell into the captivity of his followers, whereupon the castellan of Saint-Omer, Wulfric Rabel, released him in exchange for the release of the countess. This allied with King Philip I of France and the Anglo-Norman Queen Mathilde , who was Robert's sister. On February 22, 1071, the battle of Cassel was the decisive battle, when Robert achieved a complete victory over his enemies. His nephew, Count Arnulf III. the unfortunate one fell in battle and Richilde fled with her second son to their native Hainaut . Robert quickly came to an understanding with King Philip I, to whom he left the Abbey of Corbie and in return was recognized by him as Count of Flanders. Together they allied themselves against the Norman Empire of William the Conqueror , this alliance was further deepened by the marriage of the king to Robert's stepdaughter, Bertha .

For Robert, when Flanders won, Friesland lost. Bishop Wilhelm I of Utrecht had allied himself against him with Duke Gottfried IV the Hunchback of Lower Lorraine , by whom he was defeated in the summer of 1071 in a bloody battle near Leiden . The Lorraine then gained full control of Friesland after driving out the defeated Dietrich V there. In the following years Robert was busy with the consolidation of his rule in Flanders; There were repeated revolts against him, especially in the south of the county, which he put down militarily. In order to pacify the country, he promoted the God's peace movement in Flanders, which was emerging in his time . He made Bruges his permanent capital, thus encouraging the early urban development of Flanders. He also supported the canonization of Godeleva , a knight's daughter from the Boulonnais, who was murdered by her North Flemish husband in 1070 during the struggle for succession. With her canonization Robert was able to reconcile himself with the Count of Boulogne, who was once an enemy of him.

Robert remained implacable towards his most dangerous enemy, Wilhelm the Conqueror. In 1072 he offered the pretender Edgar Ætheling asylum in Flanders and in 1077 supported Robert Kurzhose's revolt against his father. He regained his influence in Friesland in 1076 with the murder of Duke Gottfried the Buckligen and the simultaneous death of the Bishop of Utrecht, whereupon he was able to lead his stepson Dietrich V back to his hereditary land. By 1085 Robert had consolidated his rule sufficiently to organize an invasion of England with his son-in-law, King Canute IV of Denmark , which forced William the Conqueror to raise a large army of mercenaries in France. The invasion and other fighting did not take place after the Danish king was murdered in 1086, which freed Robert on a long-term pilgrimage to Jerusalem , which he began that same year. On the way he probably took part in the reconquest of Beroia in 1087 by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos , at least his daughter Anna Komnena named him in her historical work ( Alexiade ) in this context at the side of her father. Robert promised the emperor that one day he would send 500 knights to fight the enemies of Byzantium. On his way home, Robert apparently made a stopover in Apulia , where he was able to arrange his daughter's marriage to the Norman Duke Roger Borsa . By April 1090 at the latest he was back in Flanders, where a letter from Emperor Alexios arrived that same year, reminding him of his promise and describing a threatening situation in the Byzantine Empire. The emperor had sent such requests for help to several princes of the Latin West, which provided a cause for the first crusade , which was proclaimed a few years later . In any case, Robert kept his promise, because Anna Komnena reported the arrival of the 500 knights from Flanders as early as 1091.

In the last years of his life, Robert broke with King Philip I after he had cast out his stepdaughter for Bertrada von Montfort in 1092 , and instead allied himself with his former Norman arch opponent, King Wilhelm II Rufus . In the summer of 1093 he crossed over to Dover in order to personally seal the alliance with Wilhelm Rufus. Shortly after his return, he died in Flanders on October 12 or 13, 1093, and his son could undoubtedly succeed him.


Robert the Friesian was married to Gertrude Billung († 1113), a daughter of Duke Bernhard II of Saxony and widow of Count Florens I of Holland , since 1063 . Their children together were:


  • Pieter Lodewijk MullerRobert I. the Frisian . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 28, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1889, pp. 717-720.
  • C. Verlinden : Le chroniqueur Lambert de Hersfeld et les voyages de Robert le Frison, Comte de Flandres , in: Annales de la Société d'Emulation de Bruges 76 (1933), pp. 83-94
  • C. Verlinden: Robert I le Frison, comte de Flandre; étude d'histoire politique (Antwerp, 1935)
  • E. Joranson: The Problem of the Spurious Letter of Emperor Alexius to the Count of Flanders , in: American Historical Review (AHR) 55 (1950), pp. 811–832 ( DOI: 10.2307 / 1841162 )
  • F.-L. Ganshof : Robert le Frison et Alexis Comnène , in: Byzantion 31 (1961), pp. 57–74, here pp. 64–65 ( JSTOR 44201823 )
  • M. de Waha: La lettre d'Alexis Comnène à Robert I le Frison , in: Byzantion 47 (1977), pp. 113-125 ( JSTOR 44170502 )
  • W. Mohr: Richilde vom Hennegau and Robert der Friese: Theses for a re-evaluation of the sources , in: Revue belge de philosophie et d'histoire 58 (1980), pp. 777-796 ( doi: 10.3406 / rbph.1980.3299 ) and 59 (1981), pp. 265-291 ( doi: 10.3406 / rbph.1981.3325 )

Individual evidence

  1. Lamperti Hersfeldensis Annales , ed. by Oswald Holder-Egger in MGH SS rer. Germ. 38: 121-125 (1894)
  2. Les Annales de Saint-Pierre de Gand et de Saint-Amand , ed. P. Grierson (Brussels, 1937), p. 27
  3. Renée Nip: The Canonization of Godelieve of Gistel , in: Hagiographica II (1995), pp. 145-156
  4. on the murder of Duke Gottfried the Buckligen see inter alia: Lamberti Hersfeldensis Annales , ed. by Oswald Holder-Egger in MGH SS 5, (1894), p. 243 and Chronicon sancti Huberti Andaginensis , ed. by LC Bethmann and W. Wattenbach in MGH SS 8 (1848), p. 588
  5. Florentii Wigorniensis monachi Chronicon ex chronicis II, ed. by Benjamin Thorpe (London, 1848-9), p. 18
  6. Alexiad , Book VII, §6; ed. by Elizabeth A. Dawes (1928), p. 179
  7. Alexiad , Book VIII, §3; ed. by Elizabeth A. Dawes (1928), p. 199
  8. Eadmer , Historia novorum in Anglia , ed. by M. Rule in Rolls Series 81 (1884), p. 39
  9. For the day of death on October 12, see. Annales Blandinienses , ed. P. Grierson (1973), p. 31. For October 13, see: Annales Formoselenses , ed. P. Grierson (1973), p. 31
predecessor Office successor
Arnulf III. the unfortunate one Count of Flanders
Robert II of Jerusalem