Robert de Montbray

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Robert de Montbray (Latin: Rodbertus de Molbraio , in England: Mowbray , † 1106 (as a monk) or 1125 (in prison)), a Norman , was Earl of Northumbria from 1086 to 1095 when he was due to rebellion against King William II. was deposed from England . He was the son of Roger de Montbray and nephew of Geoffroy de Montbray , Bishop of Coutances (see House Mowbray ). The family name comes from the place Montbray in the department of Manche , Mowbray is its Anglicisation .

Earl of Northumbria

Robert was named Earl of Northumbria after Aubri de Coucy , his predecessor, decided that he no longer wanted to remain in that office. Coucy had been made Earl in 1080, but gave up perhaps the same year and returned to Normandy , losing all of his property in England. He was only replaced by Robert de Montbray in 1086.

In 1088 Robert and his uncle Geoffroy sided with Robert Curthose , Duke of Normandy against Wilhelm Rufus , King of England, and both were militarily active ( rebellion of 1088 ). The rebellion was put down, but the king pardoned both and Robert retained his post as Earl of Northumbria.

In November 1093, Malcolm III fell. from Scotland for the second time after 1091 in Northumbria and attacked Alnwick . Robert de Montbray raised an army and attacked the Scots, surprising them on November 13th (St. Brice's Day). In the following Battle of Alnwick , Malcolm and his son Edward were killed. At the beginning of the same year Geoffroy de Montbray had died and Robert de Montbray managed to conquer the great lands of his uncle and thus become one of the most powerful barons in the kingdom.

1095 married Robert de Montbray Matilda, the daughter of Richer de l'Aigle, a niece of Hugh d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester from the House of l'Aigle

Rebellion and fall

In 1095 Montbray took part in an uprising aimed at transferring the crown from the sons of the conqueror to Stephen of Aumale . It appears that there was a conspiracy that involved several barons, but when the time came for action, most of the conspirators abandoned the plan and exposed Montbray and his co-conspirator, William II of Eu . The incident that exposed the matter was that Montwbray seized four Norwegian ships in the Tyne . The merchants who owned the ships complained to the king and Montbray was asked to explain his act to the Regis Curia . Montbray did not appear and also ignored further summons, so that Wilhelm eventually led an army against him. Montbray holed up in his fortress Bamburgh Castle . Wilhelm besieged Bamburgh and built a makeshift castle next to it, known as "Malvoisin" or "Bad Neighbor". For some reason during the siege, Montbray left the castle with a small group of knights and was pursued by his besiegers and forced to take refuge in Tynemouth . After six days of siege he was wounded in the leg, captured and taken back to Bamburgh, where his wife continued to withstand the besiegers. She finally submitted when the besiegers threatened to blind her husband.

Captivity and death

As a result of his participation in the rebellion, Mowbray forfeited his property and was imprisoned for life, initially in Windsor Castle . According to the chronicler Florentius of Worcester , he spent many years in prisons "to grow old without offspring," and according to Ordericus Vitalis he was allowed to become a monk in St Albans Abbey . There is some doubt about the date of his death. On the one hand, it was claimed that he had spent 30 years in prison and that the year he died was therefore 1125. However, William Dugdale claimed that Mowbray died a monk in 1106.

Montbray's co-conspirator Wilhelm von Eu and his cousin Wilhelm von Aldrie were punished more severely. Wilhelm von Eu was emasculated and blinded, Wilhelm von Aldrie sentenced to death by hanging.


Ordericus Vitalis gives the following description of Robert de Montbray: “Powerful, rich, bold, fierce at war, haughty, he despised his own kind and, swollen with vanity, disregarded obeying his superiors. He was of great stature, strong, dark and hairy, bold and cunning, strict and grim, was given more meditation than language, and he seldom smiled in conversation. "

Mowbray's wife, Matilda, was granted the annulment of her marriage by Pope Paschal II , and shortly after 1107 she became the wife of Nigel d'Aubigny, a cousin of Robert de Montbray, to whom Montbray's defunct goods were also given. The couple remained childless and the marriage ended in divorce in 1118. Nigel d'Aubigny married Gundred de Gournay, daughter of Gerard de Gournay and Edith de Warenne, who in turn was the daughter of William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey . From this marriage Nigel d'Aubigny had a son, Roger , who inherited the forfeited property of Robert de Montbray. When Roger came into his inheritance, he changed his name to Mowbray on the instructions of King Henry I , so that the name Montbray was continued without any male relationship to Roger de Montbray.


Web link

  • Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, England, Earls 1138-43 ( online )


  1. a b c d Aird
  2. ^ Cokayne, p. 706
  3. ^ Cawley
  4. Alicia de Montbray, the sister of Geoffroy de Montbrays and aunt Robert de Montbrays, was married to Roger d'Aubigny, Nigel d'Aubigny was their son (see Mowbray house )
predecessor Office successor
Aubri de Coucy Earl of Northumbria