Robert (de Bellême), Earl of Shrewsbury elder brother and heir, being the 2nd but 1st surviving son and heir of the 1st Earl by his 1st wife, was born probably between between 1052 and 1056, and baptized at Sées Abbaye Saint-Martin. As a child he was at Sées with his elder brother, Roger, attesting a charter for Sées Abbaye Saint-Martin, and, probably after Roger's death, he attested a charter for Angers Abbaye Saint-Aubin (1060-62).
After the death of his great-uncle, Yves Bishop of Sées in 1070, he accompanied his parents to Bellême, which had devolved on his mother. In 1073, he served in the Conqueror's invasion of Maine and was knighted by the King at the siege of Fresnay-le-Vicomte. Probably he was now of age and began to act independently of his father; and about 1077, he joined the party of Robert Curthose.
On his mother's death, 2 Dec. 1079, he succeeded her in France as Lord of Bellême; and either then or on his father's remarriage, he succeeded to the Norman lordships of Alençon and Domfront. In 1086, he is found holding his court of justice at Bellême. In Sep. 1087, he was on his way to the King's court, when he heard of William's death; and turning back he expelled the King's officers from Alençon, Belléme, and his other castles. He then conspired with the Conqueror's half-brothers and other nobles to dethrone William II in favour of Robert Curthose. Crossing to England, he joined the other rebel leaders, who were besieged in Rochester Castle; and in June 1088, they were forced to surrender. He was soon reconciled to the King, and returning to Normandy with Prince Henry, he was arrested when he landed by Duke Robert and imprisoned at Neuilly-l'Evêque; but his father soon obtained his release.
The Duke seems to have appointed Robert one of his Stewards. In 1090, Robert supported the Duke against the Norman rebels who favoured William Rufus. In 1092, his town of Domfront revolted and called in Prince Henry, thus depriving Robert of one of his strongest castles. It was probably also in 1092, that he took a leading part in the successful siege of the castle of Breval by the King of France and the Duke of Normandy. In 1094, he made private war on his hereditary enemy Robert Géré, the lord of St. Céneri. On his father's death in 1094, he suc. to all Roger's possessions in Normandy. When William Rufus invaded France in 1097, Robert was his "princeps militiae", and built for him the original castle at Gisors. In 1097, 1098, and 1099, he was at war with Hélie Count of Maine.
After the death of his brother Hugh in 1098, Robert obtained Hugh's Earldom and lands in England and Wales from the King on payment of a relief of £3000 and thus became Earl of Shropshire (Shrewsbury). He also bought for a large sum, the honor of Blythe and all the land of his kinsman, Roger de Busli. He built the castle of Bridgnorth on the Severn, carried on the war against the Welsh, and built a castle at "Caroclove" in Wales.
He was in Normandy when William Rufus was killed; and hastening to England he did homage to Henry I, who confirmed him in the possession of his lands and dignities. In Oct. 1100, by the death of his father-in-law, he became Count of Ponthieu. In 1101, with other nobles, he stirred up Robert of Normandy to invade England; and when the Duke arrived in the autumn, he deserted Henry to join him; but the Royal brothers came to an agreement.
In 1102, Henry I summoned Robert de Bellême to his court to answer 45 accusations; but the Earl fled and fortified his castles; and he devastated Staffordshire with a force of Normans and Welsh. The King took his castles of Arundel, Blythe, and Bridgnorth and besieged him in Shrewsbury, while he incited the Duke of Normandy to take up arms against Robert in the Duchy. Finally Robert surrendered and was given a safe-conduct to the sea; but he was deprived of all his honours and lands in England and Wales. Thereby the Earldom of Shrewsbury became extinct.
Robert retired to Normandy, where in 1103, he defeated the ducal army on the road from Exmes to Sées; but in the early summer of 1104, he made peace with the Duke. About 1105, he was at war with Rotrou, Count of Perche, who had claimed a share of the great Bellême inheritance, and who defeated him. In the autumn of 1105, he attacked Henry's supporters in Normandy. However, before Christmas he went to England to treat with the King; but he returned to Normandy unreconciled.
When Henry invaded Normandy in the early autumn of 1106, Robert adhered to the Duke. He commanded the rear division at the Battle of Tinchebrai, 28 Sep., but fled when the front division was badly cut up. Failing in an attempt to seduce the Count of Maine from his alliance with Henry, Robert made peace with the King on advantageous terms. On 17 May 1110, he was with Henry at Dover, when a treaty was made there with the Count of Flanders; but in 1111, he took a leading part in the plot to restore Normandy to Duke Robert's son William Clito, and in 1112, he rebelled and aided the Count of Anjou against the King.
Later in that year, the King of France sent him as Ambassador to Henry, to demand the release of Duke Robert, but the King seized him. He was tried on 4 Nov. 1112, at Bonneville-sur-Touque, on various charges, and was condemned in the King's court to the most rigorous imprisonment. He was confined at Cherbourg, and all his honours, lands, and castles were forfeited. In July 1113, the King took him to England, where he was imprisoned in Wareham Castle, Dorset. He then disappears from history; but he was still living and presumably in Wareham Castle at Michaelmas 1130, when the Pipe Roll records payments under Dorset and Wiltshire of £18.5.0 for the maintenance, and 40 shillings for the clothes, of Robert de Bellême. Before 1092, Robert expelled the Canons from St. Leonard of Bellême and gave the church to the Abbot of Marmoutier, who replaced them by monks and a prior William. As Earl of Shrewsbury, he gave the church of Catford to La Sauve-Majeure Abbaye Notre-Dame (diocese of Bordeaux), so that, as a canon died, a monk might receive his prebend.
He m. before 9 Sep. 1087, Agnes, 1st daughter and coheir of Guy I, Count of Ponthieu, by Ada. Agnes, who was sole heir to her father's "comté", was treated cruelly by her husband, who kept her shut up for a long time in his castle at Bellême. She escaped by the help of a faithful chamberlain, took refuge with Adela Countess of Blois, and retired to Ponthieu, whence she never returned to her husband. She was living on 6 Oct 1100, but died probably not very long afterwards.
Robert died 8 May, not earlier than 1131, (e-696) almost certainly in Wareham Castle and was presumably buried at Sées Abbaye Saint-Martin. (d-696)
NOTES: (d-696) - According to Henry of Huntingdon (p. 310) there was not even a rumour of the day of his death; but the date must have been communicated to Robert's son, for in the Obituary of St. Martin of Sées, it is entered under 8 May. His s. and h., William Talvas, Count of Ponthieu, confirmed gifts…. granted to St. Martin of Sées the right of fishing in the rivière de la Roche at Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, the 2 feasts of St. Martin, and the anniversaries of his father Robert, his grandfather Roger, his grandmother Mabel, and his son Philip, who was buried in the abbey.
(e-696) - As he was living on 29 Sep. 1130, 8 May 1131 is the earliest possible date for his death.
(f-696) - Probably secretly, in a nameless grave. All the authorities agree in denouncing Robert as lawless, faithless and wicked; and above all they insist on his inhuman cruelty (Orderic, vol. iii, pp. 300-01, 422-23; vol. iv, pp. 304-05; Will. Malmesbury, pp. 475-76; Hen. Huntingdon, p. 310; R. de Torigny, in additions to Will. de Jumièges, p. 320). According to Orderic (vol. iii, p. 422) he was called "Talvas;" but there is no other evidence that he was known by this nickname, for which see follg. note. [CP I:689-696]
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Robert II de Montgomery
Father: Roger II de Montgomery
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England
May 8, 1131
Wareham Castle, Droset, England
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