Sunday, May 27, 2012

Robert Curthose invasion of England in 1101

Robert, Duke of Normandy, nicknamed Curthose for the shortness of his legs and hence his leggings, was the oldest, nicest and least effective of William the Conqueror’s three sons. Brave, generous, good-natured and trusting, he was easily outmatched in statecraft, ruthlessness and cunning by his younger brothers – William Rufus and Henry.
Their father had no confidence in Robert as a ruler and arranged for Rufus to succeed him on the throne of England. Then, when Rufus died in 1100, Henry was on the scene. He seized the royal treasury instantly and had himself crowned within three days.

Robert was on his way back from crusade. Insisting that the crown was rightfully his, he won support from prominent figures in Normandy and England, including Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham and a favourite of Rufus. Henry had incarcerated the bishop in the Tower of London, but in February 1101 he got his guards drunk, shinned down a rope and got away to Normandy. Duke Robert gathered an army, with which he crossed the Channel to Portsmouth in July. Henry meanwhile had expected him at Pevensey where he had assembled his English troops, whom he personally instructed in the art of resisting Norman cavalry.
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